In Belgium comics are taken as seriously as any other art form, and they are everywhere: on the walls of buildings, occupying their own special sections in book shops, and in this excellent museum, which is inside an Art Nouveau landmark building designed by Victor Horta. "From the early beginnings man told his own story in pictures," states a sign near the entrance, and the hallway welcomes you with a life-size rocket from one of Tintin's adventures, then you're off on a whirlwind tour, learning about the history of comics at your own speed. Start with comic strips, which most likely originated with 1896's "Yellow Kid." Of course, the origins of animated storytelling go much further back. Monks may have invented the language of cartoons: they illustrated sacred texts, divided the story into panels, described movement, painted backgrounds, and even wrote dialogues in bubbles. Texts in the museum are written in French and Dutch, but only partly in English. A short guidebook is available in English, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and Chinese, and is included in the entrance fee. The Center also puts on temporary exhibitions covering different artists throughout the year. There's an impressively large book shop, a reading room, and a restaurant on the ground floor.