Book Maneblussers: five friends rekindle Mechelen urban legend

Five friends with lots of free time and even more creativity. That’s all it took to revive the story of the Maneblussers. Ruben van de Voorde, Joren Steens, Jasper De Belder, Broos Stoffels and Inez Maes recently presented a wonderful new book that reintroduces the Mechelen urban legend from a playful and contemporary perspective. As a printing company from Mechelen, Buroform was allowed to crawl behind the printing press and of course we are very proud of that.

Just rewind to 1687, because that’s when the original story of the Maneblussers dates from. One cloudy night, a drunk stumbled out of a pub and saw that St. Rombout’s Tower was ablaze. He assumed all that, for it was actually the full moon reflecting its glow on the mist-shrouded spire. After the man raised the alarm, the Malinois came rushing in to put out the fire, and you can probably guess the sequel.

“Every Malinois knows this story and yet there was bitterly little recent reading about it, which really surprised us,” Joren Steens says. “That’s why we started thinking. Ruben, Jasper and I had wanted to do something for a while. When the story of the Maneblussers came up, the first idea was to launch a children’s book. Until we started delving more and more into the theme. It’s about the legend of our city, so we wanted to bring it in such a way that everyone could benefit from it, young and old.”

Deep colors translate atmosphere Maneblussers

The new book gives a surprising twist to the age-old story, not least because text and image complement each other in a very playful way. “The emphasis is on the drawings anyway,” Joren explains. “As soon as the concept took more shape, Inez joined us as an illustrator. We had launched a competition and her drawings overwhelmed us: she has a painterly style that perfectly captures the mystical atmosphere we wanted to convey.”

To bring out the colors properly, the book was printed offset. “At Buroform!” winked Broos, who joined the effort as a graphic designer. “We definitely wanted a printing company from Mechelen to print everything and Buroform stood out for us. The nice thing was that we were very close to the printing process at every moment. For example, important to us was the choice of paper. The bright glow of the moon really had to stand out. Both the glossy hardcover and the matte interior make the deep color contrasts stand out perfectly. Moreover, the book is bound with yarn, making it fall open nicely and easy to flip through. The illustrations are therefore maximally visible and do not disappear into the folds.”

Bookmark in form St. Rombouts tower

Also noteworthy: the text is written in rhyme form, in reference to a released text from the mid-nineteenth century. Moreover, the story is peppered with references to typical Malines characters, places and events of today. “There are many double layers in our story, so a word of explanation is sometimes in order,” Broos explained. “We had Buroform make a creative bookmark that you can unfold and close and that explains a lot of dialect words and strange references. Moreover, it takes the shape of the St. Rombout tower, which creates a special effect. We are very set up with each choice. The Mechelen identity splashes off the book.”

This year, Mechelen Feest celebrates the year of the tower, giving extra attention to the story of the Maneblussers. Interested? You can pre-order your copy of the book here .