Visiting the Louvre through the Eyes of Outstanding Cartoonists

Each time I visit Paris I think, maybe this time I’ll make it to the Louvre. There are so many things to see and do, however, that I never seem to get there. A quick eyeballing of the swarms in the Louvre’s main courtyard and the throng serpentining in front of its entrance is enough to deter me. Besides, I can spend 3 to 4 hours in a museum that is one-tenth the size and after that length of time, I need a break anyway. Earlier this week, however, I decided to visit an exhibit at the Comics Art Museum in Brussels that gave me a taste of the Louvre while also indulging my love of bandes dessinées.

Variations on Mona Lisa
Variations on Mona Lisa, on display at the Comics Arts Museum in Brussels.

An Easy Day Trip

Happily, with France’s highspeed trains, Brussels is just 80 minutes away and the thrill of an air-cushioned ride, while traveling at speeds exceeding 180 mph, makes for a fun day trip. My husband Andy and I love to walk and the route from the train station to the museum afforded a perfect way for us to explore the center of Brussels on foot. Unfortunately, many streets, and the famous Grand Place, were encumbered with construction fences, work crews and equipment, mounds of dirt, and a fair amount of litter, so I did not come away with the shining impression of Brussels I’d been expecting. Nevertheless, our final destination was well worth joining the hoards of tourists that jostled along the narrow walkways bordered by construction barriers.

An Ingenious Partnership

Since 2005, the French publisher Futuropolis has been partnering with the Louvre to create a collection of graphic novels that is anchored by the museum’s history, art collection, and architecture. Over the years, 20 exceptional cartoonists have been given carte blanche access in order to shine a contemporary light on the centuries-old institution. The result is a spectacular collection of illustrated stories that allow readers to discover the richness of the museum’s offerings without ever stepping inside. The 150 original frames from these novels, currently on display at the Comics Art Museum, exceeded my already high expectations of a spectacular exhibit. Below is a small sampling.

The Louvre through the Eyes of…

Bernar Yslaire 

Cartoon of the Louvre by Bernar Yslaire
Le ciel au-dessus du Louvre features the story of a painting that Robespierre commissioned to the French painter David during the French Revolution, which was never realized. Story by Bernar Yslaire and Jean-Claude Carrière.

Enki Bilal

Cartoon of the Louvre by Enki Bilal
Les fantômes du Louvre features 22 famous works of art housed in the Louvre and imagines a colorful collection of phantoms that haunt them.

Taiyo Matsumoto

Cartoon of the Louvre by Taiyo Matsumoto
Les chats du Louvre features a feline night watchman and his family of cats who have worked in the Louvre for generations. Colored by Isabelle Merlet.

Stephane Levallois

The Louvre by Stephane Levallois
Léonard 2 Vinci features an intergalactic conflict in which various sketches and paintings by de Vinci are used to represent the characters, vessels, and architecture within the story.

You may recognize the name of Stephane Levallois who has worked on several Hollywood blockbusters, creating the fantastic worlds in films like Alien, King Kong, and Harry Potter.

Nicola de Crécy

The Louvre by Nicola de Crécy
Période Glaciale features a future Earth covered in ice and a scientific expedition to discover lost civilizations.

[Pay no attention to the man in front of the curtain.]

Naoki Urasawa

Cartoon of the Louvre by Naoki Urasawa
Le Signe des rêves follows the story of an indebted Japanese business owner who enlists his young daughter to help him on a mysterious mission that leads them to Paris and the Louvre.

Florent Chavouet

Cartoon of the Louvre by Florent Chavouet
L’îsle Louvre transforms the Louvre into an island where, notebook in hand, the author encounters workers, visitors, galleries, and exhibits.

Jiro Taniguchi

Cartoon of the Louvre by Jiro Taniguchi
Les gardiens du Louvre tells the story of a disillusioned and homesick artist that finds solace in the galleries of the Louvre.

This panel doesn’t do justice to Taniguchi’s talents. I’ve written more about him here.

Etienne Davodeau

Cartoon of the Louvre by Etienne Davodeau
Le chien qui louche features the amusing story of Fabian, a guard at the Louvre, who reluctantly tracks down the provenance of a questionable painting, owned by his new girlfriend’s parents.

Eric Liberge

Cartoon of the Louvre by Eric Liberge
Aux Heures Impaires features fanciful after-hours visits to the Louvre and introduces the stewards and security personnel that play a fundamental role in protecting the collection.

David Prudhomme

Cartoon of the Louvre by David Prudhomme
La Traversée du Louvre features the author’s amblings through the vast halls and galleries of the Louvre, sketching works and tourists from all over the world.

I hope you’ve enjoyed a bit of my meta-visit to the Louvre. Have any favorites? In case you’re interested, the online bookstore Lireka carries all of the books featured in the exhibit. The average price is 18 euros (under $19) and the cost of shipping to the United States is ONLY 1 cent.

About Carol A. Seidl

Serial software entrepreneur, writer, translator, and mother of 3. Avid follower of French media, culture, history, and language. Lover of books, travel, history, art, cooking, fitness, and nature. Cultivating connections with francophiles and francophones.


  1. These artists are all new to me. Thanks for the introductions.

  2. Bilal is very good. I have several of his albums. The others. must be new… But worth it. That museum is one of my favourites. Are you still in Brussels? Go to Magritte if you still can.

  3. PS. I know Yslaire too. He’s a good artist.

  4. Looks excellent! I need to get over to Paris at some point. Not been since around 2000. Must… indulge… in great culture like this.

    We have Manchester Art Gallery here, though. Not quite on the same level, but it does have some fancy stuff.

    • “Indulge” is a great word for basking in the cultural glory of Paris. So far, I feel as though I’ve barely scratched the surface. Hope you find time to make the trip.

  5. I envy you! I always found going to the Louvre on a weekday and as soon as it opens helps enormously. I do love small Parisian museums, too. Musée Jacquemart-André is very fun.

    • One of these days I hope to get there Laura. Thanks for the tips. I also learned of but didn’t have time to see a museum called the Musée Marmottan Monet. There are so many smaller gems like this one that I always end up feeling like the Louvre can wait.

  6. It’s not surprising that the Louvre is crowded. That’s happening with tourist attractions in general. As the world gets more prosperous, more and more people can afford to travel. The Covid pandemic discouraged travel for a while, but now the pent-up demand is coming out. I’m sure Laura Jones is right that going early and on a weekday helps. I do that with restaurants to avoid crowds.

    I’m fairly familiar with Enki Bilal’s work, but I didn’t realize he was French. The name sounds like something from ancient Sumerian, if anything. I wasn’t familiar with the other artists shown here — I guess I’m out of touch. Prudhomme’s drawing of a Mesopotamian carving is impressive.

    That must be quite something riding on a train at 180 miles per hour. In Japan I rode one that went at 130 miles an hour, which was considered fast at the time (1995). Wonder if we’ll ever get high-speed rail in the US.

    • I wouldn’t expect people to know these artists unless that were really into bande dessinée or graphic novels. I looked up Bilal. His parents immigrated to France from Yugoslavia when he was 5. How did you know of him?

      Good question regarding high-speed train in the U.S. It seems a long way off. People here really appreciate mass transit. It’s been so nice seeing people of all ages and all walks of life boarding buses, and trams, and metro cars, and commuter trains. Bike share is everywhere, including electric bikes. Such an advantage for young people that are years away from owning a car. I don’t know how Uber or taxi drivers can even make a living in this country.

      • How did you know of him?

        Years ago I was an avid reader of a magazine called Heavy Metal which featured the work of various graphic-novel artists, mostly Belgian, French, and Spanish, also some American and Italian, largely science-fiction and fantasy themes. Bilal appeared there fairly frequently. Heavy Metal was either inspired by, or a translation of, a French magazine called Metal Hurlant.

        The US would seem to be a natural for high-speed rail, given the huge size of the country, but I agree that it’s a long way off. The investment would be enormous and the car lobbies are too powerful. Yet another way in which we’re falling behind.

  7. What a fun post, thanks!

  8. I love seeing these perspectives of the Louvre from all over the world. Thank you for your post!

  9. What an array! Great fun!

  10. What a delightful tour! Hard to pick a favorite, but Levallois and Chavouet particularly struck me. So glad you’re enjoying this trip. I must double back to your previous post tomorrow. (I have ongoing techie problems that require me to put a lot of thought into making these connections if I miss a post the day it appears.)

    And yes–it’s a damn shame we don’t have high-speed rail in the US.

    • Yes. I thought Levallois was extraordinary Annie. I don’t recall the details but remember that when the Louvre was featuring a DaVinci exhibit, they used Levallois’ art in the promo materials.

      Good luck with your tech trials and thanks for reading Annie.

  11. Happy Bastille Day! (As I assume it is by now, over there.)

  12. I’ve always wanted to visit Paris- hopefully I can someday. It’s so fascinating to see all these artists different styles. Really interesting post.

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