The Belgian art of cartoons - How Tintin, a young journalist with a distinctive hairstyle, made it to Hollywood

A hero who, 100 years after his debut, is as popular as ever: Tintin, with his faithful dog, Snowy. The reporter with the blonde quiff has not only won many comic strip fans over the past century. He has also been the subject of numerous plays, radio and television programmes and feature films.

Tintin is the fictional protagonist of the comic strip series The Adventures of Tintin. Initially published in French, the series was created by Belgian cartoonist and writer Georges Remi. Under the pseudonym Hergé, he first published a story about the boy and his white wire-haired fox terrier in the 30 December 1928 Christmas issue of the satirical weekly Le Sifflet.

Instant hit

It was an instant hit, and was followed by another series in the youth supplement of the conservative and Roman Catholic newspaper Le Vingtième Siècle: Tintin in the Land of the Soviets. The story was serialised one panel at a time, and when it began, Tintin’s hair wasn’t yet quiffed. The haircut came a few days later when he went for a drive against the wind.

The early Tintin stories largely reflect the beliefs of the Catholic bourgeois milieu in which Hergé found himself at the time. Stories such as Tintin in the Congo and Tintin in America contain many scenes and jokes that are paternalistic or racist.

The Blue Lotus is the first book in which Hergé did more background research to create a more realistic portrayal of other countries and peoples, in this case, China. His drawing style also improved, with more detailed backgrounds and different perspectives.

Political satire

Until the Second World War, Hergé used a style of political satire. This became too dangerous under the German occupation of Belgium, and he was forced to abandon the story Land of Black Gold halfway through. In 1940, Le Petit Vingtième was closed down, and Tintin appeared in Le Soir, a newspaper published under the auspices of the occupiers.

At the end of the war, the strip was discontinued, and Hergé was accused of collaborating with the Nazis. In 1946, he was more or less rehabilitated by the publisher and former Resistance hero Raymond Leblanc, who reintroduced Tintin, now in his own comic.

From the 1960s, Hergé became less productive. Only two new books were published between 1964 and 1976. After his death in 1983, the sketches for one last unfinished album, Tintin and Alph-Art, were published. Hergé had expressed his wish that no new Tintin adventures should be published after his death.

Contemporary culture

Nevertheless, Tintin remains an integral part of contemporary culture. Numerous murals and statues have been dedicated to him, and the intrepid reporter lives on in countless plays, radio shows, cartoons and video games.

In 2011, he even appeared on the big screen in 3D when Steven Spielberg released an animated film based on the albums The Crab with the Golden Claws and The Secret of the Unicorn. And so, after almost a century, Tintin and his four-legged friend are still alive and kicking.



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