Tintin, journalist on an adventure
‘Tintin. That is neither a surname nor a first name, but much more. Tintin is a universe, a myth, a saga. He is the hero that everyone between the ages of 7 and 77 wants to be – or is – when they plunge into the adventures of Tintin. Tintin, that is who I am when I want to be heroic, perfect... Tintin, that is who I am... He is my eyes, my senses, my lungs, my guts... I think that I am the only one who can really bring him to life and give him a soul.’ – Hergé
Even though he does not look a day older than 18, Tintin is already over 80 years old. Belgium’s best-known reporter boarded a train bound for the Soviet Union on 10 January 1929, ready for the first of many adventures. His dog and trusted friend Bobby still accompanies him.
The first episode of the comic strip came out on 10 January 1929 in the weekly teenage magazine Le Petit Vingtième of the Belgian newspaper Le Vingtième Siècle. The first comic book is Tintin in the Land of the Soviets. The 142-page black and white comic book is the longest book of the series. Tintin and his trusted dog Bobby experienced 24 adventures in total. The last story, Tintin and Alph-Art, remains unfinished.
The first Tintin comic books especially are politically charged, but there is also room for humour, a balance which is characteristic of all Tintin cartoons. The pictures of cars, buildings, planes and even whole cities in the Tintin comic books are all based on reality. The study and research by Hergé (Georges Remi, 1907-1983) required an enormous amount of work. Unlike his adventurous brainchild, Hergé did his research closer to home. He found the information about the countries and cities where his cartoon character travelled in books or in museums.
Who does not know of Tintin, Bobby, Thomson and Thompson, Capitain Haddock, Professor Calculus, Bianca Castifiore and so many other cartoon characters? But readers who pay closer attention discover much more. Hergé could not resist occasionally slipping himself into the comic book, perhaps disguised as a reporter diligently taking notes on Tintin’s departure to the Congo, or as a farmer behind the fences of Marlinspike Hall. In Hergé’s world few characters are completely made up; most were, after all, inspired by Hergé’s nearest and dearest, by historical figures or contemporary stars.
In addition, the renowned and widely translated comic books were also adapted to animated films long and short. During the 1960s, two live-action films based on Tintin came out: Tintin and the Mystery of the Golden Fleece and Tintin and the Blue Oranges. In the 21st century, Tintin appeared in a 3D animation film: The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn.
Tintin forms a part of our collective subconsciousness: almost everyone has devoured the comic books about the little journalist, has identified with him and been taken with him on his journeys. In summary, for many of us he is an integral part of our childhood memories and despite his now advanced age, this hero still provokes a high sense of excitement.
© Photos: Hergé - Moulinsart