Amazing Adventures of Tintin- The Genius of Hergé
The Original Boy Adventurer
Long before Indiana Jones walked into my life with his fedora and his whip, long before Harry Potter burst across the skies on his Nimbus 2000 chasing the snitch, there was a boy who took me away from the dreary backstreets of Madras on his globetrotting adventures.
I followed him to the ends of the earth, across continents, breathless with anticipation of what happens next. I laughed at the antics and pratfalls, I chewed my cuticles at the insane tension of the set pieces- be it a wild chase in the desert, an avalanche in Tibet, a row across the Amazon, an encounter with a lost tribe of Incas or a shoot out in the suburbs of America.
The School was pretty boring with its large class sizes and teachers more dictatorial than an unholy combination of Hitlers, Mussolinis and Stalins. Where they failed to ignite a passion for knowledge in geography, history, language and science, reading the adventures of this boy helped me explore the world beyond and taught me curiosity, imagination and creativity.
Just like I did all those years ago, every year another generation of young minds discover the pleasures and the wide eyed wonders of this boy reporter. It is no wonder those creative geniuses behind Indiana Jones and Lord of the Rings - Messrs. Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson, are currently filming the adventures in eye popping 3D using up to date technology that will bring to life Hergé’s drawings.
Welcome to the amazing adventures of Tintin, and the genius of the man who created them - Georges Prosper Rémi (1907 – 1983) or Hergé as he is known worldwide.
The Amazing Adventures of Tintin
The adventures of Tintin is the most popular European comic book series of the 20th century with over 350 million copies sold and has been translated into 80 languages. It has inspired many young minds. The comic books (or albums as the French call them) are adventure/thrillers set in the 20th century spanning the globe and transcend culture and ethnicity. They are meticulously researched, authentic in a lot of realistic detail and drawn with such clarity and vividness, the images burst from the pages like a motion picture. They are unique in their dedication to detail as every panel is meticulously rendered with the artistic eye of a filmmaker.
They follow the adventures of a boy reporter (of indeterminate age!) Tintin and his faithful companion , the fox terrier Snowy ( Milou in French). Originally composed for a childrens supplement, they soon were published as complete graphic albums, moved from black and white to colour and became popular with adults and children alike.
The plots straddle so many genres: nautical adventures, cold war thrillers, quest, archaeological wonders, science fiction, journey across ravaged landscapes and many more.They reference history as it happens- be it the Bolshevik uprising, The cold war, the unsettled revolutions in South America, the race for moon landing – Tintin is always there at the midst of it all.
Georges Prosper Remi ( his pen name is the French pronunciation of his reversed initials RG – Hergé) was born in Brussels, Belgium in 1907 and displayed a natural skill at drawing even during school days. He never really had any formal art schooling having only had a few lessons at his school. He first started publishing his cartoons and strips in the School Scout newsletter. He was an ardent Scout and the themes of honour and adventure that weave through Tintin represent the Boy Scout spirit.
After a strict Catholic secondary School education he went to work at the at the Catholic newspaper Le XXe Siècle as a journalist. When his drawing abilities were noticed he was first in charge of illustrating a strip written by another staff member for the weekly children’s supplement called Le Petit Vingtième called The Adventures of Flup, Nénesse, Poussette, and Cochonnet . This rather insipid series wasn’t very original. It followed the vogue in those days where the dialogue and the story appeared beneath the panels rather than in the panel itself. Dissatisfied with this endeavour Remi strived to create his own series. He had done a previous one involving a boy scout called Tortor- he decided to upgrade and update this strip.
The Editor, Father Norbert Wallez asked Remi to create an adventure strip with a Good catholic hero who would travel the world and fight evil and Remi was game for this.
On 10th of January 1929 , Hergé launched Tintin in the land of the Soviets and history was born. The original strip was in black and white and featured the Bolshevik uprising. There are various apocryphal tales as to what inspired the creation of Tintin. Artistically Remi owed much to the French illustrator Alain Saint-Rogan who first mixed dialogue within panels for his strip The Adventures of Zig and Puce and pioneered the use of speech balloons in European comic strip.
Remi travelled to Paris to meet this artist who was his inspiration and sought advice and counsel. The pair remained good friends throughout their life. Remi had always insisted the adventures of Tintin was for ages 7 to 77. In 1972, at the age of 77, the illustrator Alain cheekily requested the age to be lifted to 88 so he could continue enjoying the adventures!
Herge always looked to America for inspiration and was aided by his fellow reporter Leon Degrelle, who had been dispatched to Mexico by the Le XX siècle editors for reporting about the troubles there. He regularly sent Remi the local American periodicals and Herge devoured the cartoon strips that were going through a Golden age in the US. Strips such as Little Orphan Annie, Bringing up Father and others fed his imagination further.
#1. In the Land of the Soviets
Billed as the 'reporter for ' Le Petit Vingtième ', Tintin travels with snowy to the Soviet Union via Berlin. He encounters an agent of the OGPU who blows up the train and implicates Tintin. Arriving in Russia, Tintin discovers a Bolshevik conspiracy to 'make him disappear'. After various hair rising adventures including joining the army in disguise, Tintin stumbles on the underground consipracy to deny the 'people of the Soviet' of their wealth and livelihood.
Some say that the character of Tintin was inspired by Herge’s brother Paul Remi who was a soldier in Belgian army. Others point to a Danish Teenager called Palle Huld. In 1928 a Danish newspaper ran a competition to celebrate the spirit of Jules Verne at his centennial. The winner would replicate the voyage of Phileas #Fogg and would be asked to travel around the world in 80 days. It was restricted to only teenage boys.
It was won by a ‘fresh faced, freckled, snub nosed teenager Palle Huld with a shock of red hair and a penchant for plus fours’ and he duly travelled around the world including Manchuria and Russia and returned to a hero’s welcome 44 days later. As this was the year before Tintin ws launched one cannot deny the similarities. Hulld went on to become a famous Danish actor and always claimed he was the real Tintin!
Tintinologists ( or Tintinophiles- choose whichever) also claim that the wartime journalist Robert Sexe who became famous in Belgium for his exploits in the motorcycle and travelling around the world reporting on adversity and adventure, could also be a strong influence.
It is rather curious that Robert’s first country of travel matches Tintin’s. His first trip was to Russia, and the timing of his next adventures match the Tintin albums.The similarities don’t just stop there, The correspondent's travel companion and close friend on the motorcycle rides was called Rene Milhoux. Tintin’s faithful companion Snowy is called Milou in the original French. Coincidence or Curiosity?
#2.Tintin in the Congo
Travelling to Congo ( which was then a Belgian Colony) , the intrepid reporter Tintin and his faithful dog Snowy encounter the cheering natives, jealous witchdoctors, wild animals and ultimately learn of a villain only known as A.C who is trying to control the diamond trade. After triumphing through various escapades, Tintin comes to realise A.C is none other than Al Capone.
Research and Authenticity
Even for his first book Hergé read voraciously ensuring he was basing his observations on meticulous research. His opinion of the Bolshevik uprising reflects the mood around Europe and the ethos of the strict catholic newspaper, which was very anti communist. A view he did regret later.
Hergé used travel books, reportage and photographic archives to draw authentically. The first adventure as one can imagine was in black and white and is a weaker story among all, with none of the fantastic characters’ that emerged later. He benefited but equally suffered due to the various view points and has been accused of colonialism and Nazi sympathies when all he wanted was to tell a good story.
He had to re-edit several panels in Tintin and Congo and also The Shooting star to avoid public retort during later years when political correctness became vogue and the world was a different place of Equality and Diversity. As with many popular authors with a global audience and a career spanning across the wars, it is inevitable as times change the author is accused of biased view points.
Hergé always strived to maintain authenticity of the local customs and even strived to brush up on the local language to include a few words of the native text- Cyrillic in Tintin and the soviets, Swahili in Congo, Hindi in Tintin and Tibet, Mandarin in Blue Lotus and so on.
Although initially, Hergé, the eternal perfectionist, took the duties of writing drawing colouring and research all by himself, he was soon exhausted by the painstaking process. He would collect archival files full of information about articles, places and also subscribed to the National geographic making him the perfect armchair traveller.
He had catalogue models of pistols, motor cars, aeroplanes making every panel in his albums authentic and painstakingly rendered. Post war, he formed a studio called Herge studios- and employed a collection of talented artists who would further enhance his vision. Each had a strong point providing even more authenticity and colour to the panels. The post war Tintin took on a wider and more colourful canvas, often rendering panels that were full page, inked in with extraordinary details and panoramic set pieces.
He used techniques then that are now used by animators at Pixar- he modelled every nuance, every posture so as to capture the characteristics with such fluid detail that the images feel like they are in constant motion. He even made replicas- like the moon-rocket in Destination Moon- so as to render each panel from a different viewpoint and not lose perspective. He was a master craftsmen where no detail was spared. Success such as his are not happenstance- it is a testament of all the hard work he has put in- a lesson to us all!
#3.Tintin in America
Tintin is dispatched to Chicago, Illinois and encounters once again the deadly enmity of Al Capone. He pursues another gangster, Bobby smiles across the Mid West only to be captured by the Blackfoot Indian Tribe. After many escapades and a dreaded concrete boot drowning in Lake Michigan, Tintin and snowy escape and capture all the Criminal syndicate and are honoured by a ticker tape parade by the grateful residents of Chicago.
#4.Cigars of the Pharaoh
Originally published as Tintin in the Orient, this globe trotting tale starts with Tintin in a Mediterranean cruise where he encounters the Egyptologist Prof Sarcophagus who claims to have found the lost tomb of pharaoh Khi -oshk. Tintin follows the trail through Port Said in Egypt, across Arabia and then onto India to track down a drug cartel, mysterious fakirs and encounters with Arab Sheikhs and Indian Princes.
#5.The Blue Lotus
With a renewed commitment to authenticity, interweaving historical incidents such as the Japanese invasion of China, including the Mukden Incident, occupation of Shanghai, colonial bullying and sympathy with the Chinese- Hergé displays a new found freedom away from his right wing Editor and strives for a balanced view point but never letting go of the rip-roaring adventure. Spanning between India and china- he encounters the drug cartel again, a poison of madness, blowing up of a railway line, opium smuggling and a struggle to save an orphaned Chinese boy.
#6.The Broken Ear
Following the trail of a stolen Idol leads Tintin and snowy to South America where they encounter lost tribes down Arumbaya river, rival revolutionaries, assassination attempts and oil companies feuding with each other. Here Tintin eludes capture, fights for his life and ultimately saves the day.
The Storylines and Influences
As an active journalist, Hergé always had his ear to the current news and included period details in his albums. The Bolshevik uprising, the St valentine’s massacre, the Tibetan crisis, South American revolution, Egyptology, Moon landing, Oil crisis all feature in his books and he often anticipated future events with unnerving accuracy.
As he grew more confident, his storylines grew even more ambitious , meticulously plotted and spanning several countries. After the adventures in Soviet, Congo and America where Tintin meets al Capone, his first Indiana Jones style adventure was Cigars of the Pharoah where he meets an Egyptologist Dr Sarcophagus and also features the first appearance of Thomson and Thompson ( Dupont and Dupond in French) the two bumbling detectives that became series regulars.
It was in The Blue Lotus that Hergé hit his stride- featuring meticulously researched Chinese landscapes and historical details, he was aided by a Chinese student Chang- Chong-Jen who was then studying in Brussels. Grateful for the support, Hergé introduced him as a character the Chinese boy Chang chong-Chen who featured in that story and later reappeared in the fantastic Tintin and Tibet.
The onset of war and Nazi occupation of Belgium meant that there were heavy censorship on the subjects. This was perhaps for the best as Hergé was able to tap into swashbuckling boys own adventures and science fiction subjects as in The Shooting Star, Secret of the Unicorn, Seven Crystal Balls etc. His newspaper was Nazi controlled and Hergé was later accused of Nazi sympathies even though he merely continued to work in the newspaper as did many other workers under Nazi occupation.
Blending various sources, Hergé has created a perfect cocktail of imagery, authenticity in his story lines. With superb detail and genre hopping that could have been the precursor of many attempts to mimic him since. While the American comics were going off on a tangent seeking super heroes and mutants, his stories were firmly rooted in reality and history of that era.
Bolshevik uprising ( Land of Soviets), Diamond smuggling Belgian Congo ( Tintin in Congo), Gangsters and bootlegging, St Valentine's day massacre (Tintin in America), Egyptology and curse of the mummies as well as opium trail( Cigars of the pharaoh), Japan- China conflict, opium smuggling ( The Blue Lotus), Rival oil companies funding revolution in South America ( The Broken Ear) , Counterfeiters, strange hauntings on a Scottish island ( The Black Island) , Balkan mischief and rivalry of Eastern European nations ( King Ottokar's sceptre) , Drug smuggling and shipping ( Crab with the Golden claws) Meteorite on a collision course, discovery of a new metal and scientific rivalry ( Shooting Star), A treasure hunt featuring an old pirate map ( Secret of the Unicorn/ Red Rackham's treasure)
The attempt to taint the oil reserves of the world (Land of Black Gold) , the manned mission to moon ( Destination Moon/ Explorers on the Moon) , the discovery of an advanced civilization of ancients who had technology ( Flight 714), Piracy and Slave Trade ( Red Sea Sharks) , Stealing of modern technology for making weapons ( Calculus Affair), A country house mystery ( Castafiore Emerald), Aztec mayhem and an adventure in the Andes( Seven Crystal Balls /Prisoners of the Sun), Himalyan adventure looking for a lost boy from a plane crash, encounter with Yeti ( Tintin in Tibet), a political rivalry in south American Republic ( Tintin and the Picaros) .
No genre was out of bounds to Hergé. Many have dismissed Tintin as a children's comics - but his books are a testament of never talking down to children and trusting their vivid imagination.That's why his books are loved by all ages.
#7.The Black Island
A plane crash and subsequent investigation leads Tintin to England and then to a remote and mysterious Scottish island feared by locals. while investigating the local myths and the reason for the plane crash, Tintin and snowy discover the counterfeit money racket run to by two master criminals.
After an encounter with a Gorilla, shadowy dealings off the Scottish coast and daredevilry in a ruined castles Tintin triumphs with a little help from his faithful Snowy.
Hergé's ' ligne claire' ( clear line) approach to drawing meant all lines were of equal emphasis with no cross hatching or shadowing. This featured cartoonised versions of characters set against hyper realistic backgrounds giving a strong sense of authenticity. He relied on photographs of places, National Geographic features, models and often sent his studio artists away to research the location to ensure authenticity as he grew more successful. When someone complained that the Black Island featured outdated version of England, he promptly dispatched one of his artists to redraw the locales.
His revisions updated and upgraded the albums and the addition of colour meant a startling sense of realism that is not matched by anyone else. His unique approach to drawing has had many admirers from comics, films and other media. He used storyboarding techniques and painstakingly posed for every posture and expression. He drew all the characters, the story and dialogue and had a batch of assistance- very much like a film director- who filled in bakcgrounds under his guidance. He asked to built live models of objects so he could draw the best perspective for cinematic effect.
He employed long shots, dynamic movement, close-ups, chase sequences and utilised the POV like a movie camera, enriching the experience for the reader.
In many ways he was the precursor of companies such as Pixar who strive for authenticity and research meticulously. The stories are enriched by such attention to detail. Many European comic book artists were influenced by Hergé's art. There is no doubt many film makers did too.
Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein both stated Hergé's artistic style as a major influence to their own.
#8. King Ottokar's Sceptre
Cleverly integrating Balkan intrigue, Hergé tells the story of two rival Kingdoms in Eastern Europe, Syldavia and Borduria through this adventure of Tintin. Accompanying a sigilographer, Alembick, Tintin discovers a plot to steal the sceptre of King Ottokar of Syldavia. If the reigning king does not possess the sceptre on a festival he will be forced to abdicate.
Investigating the disappearance, Tintin stumbles upon a nefarious plot to overthrow the King thought to be by the rival nation of Borduria. But all is not as it seems and he encounters many, many adventures while doing so eventually retrieving the stolen heirloom and maintaining peace. He receives the Knight of the Order of the Golden Pelican by the King himself for his help.
Even with exquisite artwork and meticulous plotting the stories would have not been a great success if not imbued with recurring characters with great personalities. Here Herge delivers in spades. His understanding of characterisation, comic timing, the children ( and adults) ability to laugh at repeat in-jokes in second to none.
The eternal boy-reporter whose intrepid adventures enthral everyone is perhaps the blandest of all the characters, representing the observer, the everyman. He is fiercely uncomplicated with a clear focus on the matter at hand, detective instincts and journalistic sensibilities. Snub nosed, freckle faced with that famous quiff of hair and his plus fours, Tintin remains an enduring image for all. He never ages throughout his 25 adventures. He is always accompanied by his faithful companion, the Fox-terrier snowy.
Snowy ( Milou)
Snowy is delightful little dog, always close by his master, world weary, talking in speech bubbles directly to the reader. He has a very dry sense of humour and like Captain Haddock a taste for Loch Lomond scotch whiskey which he knows he is forbidden to drink but laps up at every opportunity to much comic effect. He hates spiders. He even has his own angel-snowy and the devil-snowy advising him on what to do and what not to do.
Captain Archibald Haddock
A seafaring captain with a penchant for pipe and a taste for Loch Lomond shiskey, he is introduced in the Crab with the Golden claws. He became a series regular gradually transforming from a scruffy ruffian to a landed gent and ultimately became the owner of the stately home Marlinspike hall after discovering a treasure left by his ancestor Sir Francis Haddock in the adventure Red Rackham’s treasure. Known for his fierce temper and his colourful swear words that have become so popular in the English language translations.
Thompson and Thomson ( Dupont et Dupond)
The two bumbling detectives with a serious problem with spoonerism, they first appeared in Cigars of the Pharoah. They are identical apart from the spelling ( One thompson has a ‘p’) and sporting a small upward curl in one of their moustaches. Despite the issue wth their surnames they are revealed to be identical twins. They endure several pratfalls and complications to much comic effect and love saying ‘to be precise...’ Highly incompetent, their gentle spirit and impeccable timing make them worthy successors of the Keystone cop era.
Professor Cuthbert Calculus ( Prof. Typhon Tournesol)
The half deaf and absent-minded physicist who has a thing with the pendulum, is a genius at science. His creations and contraptions make him the James Bondian ‘Q’ of the Tintin series. His partial deafness leads to many misunderstandings and mischiefs.Professor Calculus seems ot be a genius at any scientific discipline, dabbling in physics, space exploration, optics, botany, meteorology, astrology etc.
This opera singing Diva is a thorn in Captain Hasting’s side. She appears in many adventures often singing the opera at various destinations as she is an international super star much like Maria Callas of that era. She annoys Captain Haddock constantly firstly by her singing voice and next by getting his name wrong continually- variously as Padlock, Paddock, Stopcock, Hammock and Hemlock! Her favourite song is the Jewel song from the Opera Faust, translated as Ahh my beauty past compare... She often sings this at the slightest provocation.
Other recurring characters
There are several others, Haddocks’ Jeeves like long suffering butler Nestor, the insurance salesman Jolyon Wagg and his clan, an Arab Sheikh Khalish Ezab, his mischievous son Ahmed, and Cutts the local butcher at Marlinspike whose phone number gets mixed up with Captain Haddock's, with a Fawlty towers like jollity.
There are villains galore such as Rastopopulous, Allan (who used to be Captain Haddock's first mate), Dr Muller( a German scientist) and others..
#9. The Crab with the Golden Claws
A dying man scrawls the name Karaboudjan on a scrap of paper and the trail leads Tintin to a ship where shady activities are taking place. At first he suspects the perennially drunk Captain Haddock ( who is introduced in this book) as the culprit and only to realizes he is too sozzled to mastermind anything.
Tintin realizes that the Captain's crew are smuggling opium wight under his big red nose in tins of crab meat. Escaping together the Captain and Tintin crash land in Sahara after a sojourn n Morocco and many hilarious shenanigans commence eventually culminating in the capture of the said gang of criminals.
The Complete Tintin
The Complete Tintin
Published as graphic album
Tintin in the Land of the Societs
Tintin in the Congo
1931 (revised 1946)
Tintin in America
1932 (revised 1945)
Cigars of the Pharoah
1934 ( revised 1955)
The Blue Lotus
1936 ( revised 1946)
The Broken Ear
1937( revised 1943)
The Black Island
1938 ( revised 1943, 1966)
King Ottokar's Sceptre
1939 (revised 1947)
The Crab with the Golden Claws
The Shooting Star
The Secret of the Unicorn
Red Rackham's Treasure
Seven Crystal Balls
Prisoners of the Sun
Land of Black Gold
Explorers on the Moon
The Calculus Affair
Red Sea Sharks
Tintin in Tibet
The Castafiore Emerald
Tintin and the Picaros
Tintin and Alph-art
2004 Unfinished work, published posthumously
#10. The Shooting Star
Out on a walk with Snowy, Tintin discovers an extra star in the constellation of Ursa Major ( Great Bear). He rings the observatory to check what is going on and is told it is under observation. soon he realises that it is a meteorite headed for earth on a collision course. Mishap is averted when the meteorite narrowly avoids the Earth apart from a chunk of it that falls into the Arctic ocean.
A spectroscopic analysis of the meteorite photo confirms it is an unknown element with strange properties. Tintin, Captain Haddock and Snowy lead an expedition of scientists aboard the Aurora to try and find the retrieve the new element if possible. After much drama and intrigue from a rival trawler Peary, Tintin and Snowy eventually find the meteorite fragment and discover it's very strange properties.
#11. The Secret of the Unicorn
The first of a two parter, this wonderfully gripping tale of swashbuckling adventure and a treasure hunt begins with the finding of a cryptic clue left behind by Captain Haddock's ancestor Sir Francis Haddock in a small model ship. This is a map that could lead to the Treasure of Red Rackham a rival and a fierce pirate who was vanquished by Sir Francis Haddock.
Rival Bounty hunters are after the maps that are hidden inside two identical model ships- The Unicorn- . The plot thickens and Tintin gets kidnapped by unscrupulous antique dealers and kept incarcerated in Marlinespike Hall. Here he stumbles upon the clues that would lead to the final map to take them to the bounty of Red Rackham somewhere in the West Indies.
#12 . Red Rackham's Treasure
Following the lead of the two parchments from the previous story, Captain Haddock and Tintin hire a fishing trawler to go treasure hunting in the Caribbean. After a series of false leads and a mystery stowaway- who is revealed to be a Professor Calculus who wants to try out his new submarine design- they land in an island where the discover the trail of Captain Haddock's ancestor and further clues as to where the treasure is.
They also retrieve a box containing documents that show that Captain Haddock is actually the heir to the Marlinespike Hall. Returning without the actual treasure, they secure enough funds from the sale of kindhearted Prof. Calculus's submarine design and buy the Hall. Soon all becomes clearer and the treasure is finally found.
Tintin and the Media
There have been cartoon and live versions of Tintin in Television and Big screen. In Cinema there have been successful live action versions. In 1961 there was the Tintin and the Golden Fleece, an original story written for screen. Due to its success there was a second one made in 1964 called Tintin and the Blue oranges heavily inspired by the Tintin albums. It was also followed in 1969 by Tintin and the Temple of the sun a successful adaptation of seven Crystal balls and Prisoners of the Sun.
On Television the entire canon has been animated first in a series made in 1958 to 1962 featuring over a hundred five minutes episodes, poorly animated and received. The second more successful version- the one that is available widely on DVD – was made by Belvision- featuring 21 of the stories and running for three seasons, from 1991 to 1992. There was also a specially made for screen animation film called Tintin and the Lake of sharks which was later adopted as a comic album.
Film Tie- in : Tintin and the Lake of sharks
This story was written by Belgian comics creator Michel Regnier and the film was directed by Raymond Leblanc. The stills from the film were compiled as comic strip s for the book version. The story and visuals are a very good attempt at mimicking Hergé's style: Tintin, Calculus and Captain Haddock along with the faithful Snowy come to Syldavia for a holiday and right from the beginning all is not well. After a narrow escape from the plane crash, they stay in a holiday villa near a large lake that borders Borduria and face some mysterious happenings. They befriend two local children who eventually get kidnapped by a nefarious Mr Big whose identity is later revealed as a familiar face. The return of the 'shark submarine ' from Red Rackham's treasure, and yet another crazy invention by Professor calculus that duplicates objects, an underwater villain's lair in a submerged city form the basis of a great adventure.
#13. The Seven Crystal Balls
There is mystery afoot as one by one the seven explorers of the tomb of ancient Inca king Rascar Capac fall into a coma after returning from the expedition in the Andes. Captain Haddock and Tintin follow the trail and find out that the last remaining survivor of the expedition is Prof. Calculus best friend and stay on a night long vigil.
After a mysterious ball of light makes the ancient mummy disappear and the explorer is left in a coma. The mummified remains of Rascar Capac also disappear mysteriously. The clues lead the team eventually to Peru on the trail of the ancient Incan king and his lost civilisation.
#14. Prisoners of the Sun
Following the trail of Rascar Capac from the last story, Haddock and Tintin arrive in Callao, Peru and pick up the gang of kidnappers who have taken Prof Calculus captive. Befriending a local boy after saving him from some bullies, Tintin learns of a lineage of Incas who still live in a secret civilization deep in the Andean mountains, somewhere called the Temple of the sun.
He also comes to possess a shiny new medallion that could be the clue to the lost tribe. soon finding their way into the ancient temple, Tintin and crew are kidnapped to be sacrificed as per Incan tradition. It is only Tintin's ingenuity and bravery that save the day.
The Herge Museum
After much public demand, On January 10, 2001, birthday of Tintin, it was announced a Museum dedicated to Hergé would be built in Louvain-la-Neuve, less than 30 km from Brussels.
Eight years after the new museum became a reality. The Hergé museum opened its doors to the public in early June 2009, two years after placement of the cornerstone on May 22, 2007, birthday of the artist.
The architect Christiane de Portzanparc was awarded the most important international architectural award – the PRITZKER – in 1994 for realising this vision and aligning to so much into Herge’s ‘ ligne claire’ style
# 15. The Land of Black Gold
Interweaving the tension in Palestine and Middle east and the oil crisis storyline into one big rip roaring adventure, this is classic Hergé. Cars explode all over the country and Tintin investigates these cases. He figures out that the trail actually leads to oil from a (fictitious) Arab state of Khemed.
Along with outrageously attired Thompson and Thomson (trying to blend in!) Tintin boards the tanker Speedol Star to set sail sail to Middle east and investigates the mystery. He is at first arrested as an arms dealer later to be released when the Emir realises who Tintin is (he is a big fan on his adventures).
The Emir's young son Ahmed is kidnapped and Tintin sets off to find him and solve the mystery of the tainted oil. Mirth, mayhem and manic adventure ensues and he encounters an old enemy.
# 16. Destination Moon
Preempting the manned moon landing by nearly 17 years, this exciting space adventure involves the construction of a moon rocket by the Syldavian ( the fictional Baltic nation from King Ottokar's sceptre) government. Professor Calculus is called in as a scientific advisor to the mission and Tintin, snowy and Captain haddock tag along to visit the secret Space centre closely guarded by Syldavian secret police.They inform Tintin and crew that the secrecy is because of a rival nations plans to steal the scientific secrets.
After a series of mishaps and misunderstandings- including the now infamous 'acting the goat' sequence involving Prof Calculus and the madcap antics of detective duo Thompson and Thomson, the team finally set off to the moon. Strangely no Syldavian national is part of the crew!
#17. Explorers on the Moon
En route to the moon, the team realise they have unplanned for castaways in the duo Thompson and Thomson . After an unscheduled and drunken spacewalk by Captain Haddock they eventually arrive on the moon. Tintin becomes the first human to set foot on the moon and experience the reduced gravity. Even little snowy has his own spacesuit! After exploration of the lunar surface at th e Hipparchus crater,
Tintin returns to the rocket for some technical equipment. He finds out that they have one more unwanted stowaway in an old enemy hellbent on destroying the mission. They figure out the rival country wants to destroy the mission to steal Syldavia of its glory. Very much mirroring the space race between USA and USSR. After a series of zany adventures and daredevilry the team return back to Terra.
The Forthcoming Film
The Future Feature Film
With creative geniuses with a similar vision to Georges Remi, Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson taking over the reins of producing the adventures of Tintin to screen, we can be assured the vision of that great artist will be safe.
Spielberg had long nursed the vision to bring the intrepid reporters adventures to screen and toyed with the idea of live action version but dropped it at the insistence of Peter Jackson who convinced Spielberg that it wouldn’t be true to Hergé’s world. Traditional animation has already been doen on TV. With the release of avatar the the ability to motion capture live performance onto CGI characters, Spielberg and Jackson hopped on the idea of making actors perform the characters but capture them on screen as 3D versions of Herge’s artwork. This would pay homage to the artist hyper real worlds with authentic detail without losing the sense of adventure and action.
For his first venture, Spielberg has chosen paired adventures the Secret of the Uncorn and its sequel Red Rackham’s treasure. It features Jamie Bell as Tintin, Andy Serkis ( Gollum, Kingkong) as Captain Haddock and Daniel Craig as Red Rackham as well as Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as the bumbling Thomson twins.
#18. The Calculus Affair
In a brilliant comic caper involving mysterious happenings around Captains Haddock's estate Marlinspike Hall, Tintin turns 'proper' detective investigating shattered glass, mysterious noises and strange happenings only to discover all trails lead to Professor Calculus secret lab. Calculus himself is away in Geneva for a conference in nuclear physics.
After discovering mysterious intruders in the lab, Tintin, Capt Haddock and of course snowy follow the trail to the conference and figure out that the mad professor has inadvertently invented a weapon of mass destruction. Rival countries are vying to secure the plans for this device to build their own. The madcap adventure leads right back to Marlinespike hall and the mystery is soon solved after much zany adventures.
#19. The Red Sea Sharks
Like a master craftsman bringing all the pieces together,Herge brings together several familiar characters back into this exciting adventure involving the slave trade and an teempt to overthrow Tintin's old friend, Mohammed Ben Kalish Ezab, the Emir of Khemed.
In a series of exciting coincidences, Tintin and Captain Haddock bump into General Alcazar on their way back from a movie and the surprises pile up further when the emir's naughty offspring Abdullah has been sent to Marlinspike hall for protection along with a large entourage much to Haddock's annoyance. Tintin discovers that Alcazar is embroiled in an arms dealing scandal and a plot to overthrow the emir. Tintin and team make their way to the middle east and get picked up by the enemies and transported in a yacht where they come to realise that the mysterious shipment are African slaves, much to their disgust. Adventure and mayhem ensue with several old friends and enemies making their appearance.
#20. Tintin in Tibet
In one of my favourite adventures ( it was also Herge's favourite) the author real life mirrors the storyline. While penning the Blue Lotus, Herge was introduced to a young Chinese student called Chong chang-jen. who advised him on all matters mandarin. Years alter he also experienced excessive stress of juggling various responsibilities and the enormous success of the Tintin adventures- he began experiencing periods of 'whiteness'. When he drew Tintin in Tibet he combined these two themes. He also tried to track down the student in china and found out he was working as a street sweeper. Herge rescued him and brought him back to Paris where Chang chong-jen lived peacefully until his death. In the story, Tintin experiences visions of Chang Chong-chen the young Chinese boy he meets in Blue Lotus. He fears for his life and his visions tell him he has bee lost in the Himalayas, in an exciting alpine adventure Tintin, Haddock and Snowy go to figure out what happened to the boy and traverse through India into Tibet in a nailbiting thriller.
Merchandise and Tie- Ins
There is no doubt with the forthcoming release of the Spielberg's Tintin film there will be an explosion of Tintin merchandise. In Europe more than America , Tintin memorabilia and toys are steadily selling more and more. The books never really took off in US during their original run but there is new found interest in his adventures worldwide.
Almost all the books and other merchandise can be obtained from online retailers like amazon.com as well as many others like the Belgian online store.
There is a Tintin shop in Covent garden, London as well in several major international cities. The dedicated Tintin museum has its own merchandising section and as expected there are several shops in Europe including Brussels, Paris, Holland, and also internationally in Tokyo, Lisbon, South Africa, Taiwan, Toronto and San Francisco among others.
#21. The Castafiore Emerald
A cosy little country house mystery featuring the visit of the Opera diva Bianca Castafiore to Marlinespike Hall, an indisposed and thoroughly bilious Captain Haddock, an increasingly eccentric Professor Calculus itching to dedicate a new rare rose to the name of Castafiore, a band of gypsies under suspicion for theft, the Insurance man and a film crew and Tintin and snowy trying to maintain peace and solve the mystery of the missing emerald amongst the madcap mayhem.
A brilliant departure from the globe trotting highs of the previous adventures this is funny, character driven and enchanting and equally entertaining.
One of the highlights of Tintin adventures is Captain Haddock's bilious temperament. He loses his rag so easily and swears using the most innovative use of English words ( in the English translation by Leslie-Lansdale Cooper and Michael Turner who worked closely with Herge in translating the French language versions and maintaining the spirit of the script where a literal translation was not possible- a lot of the humour wouldn't have translated very well if not for the ingenuity of these two.)
So here , for your delectation and enrichment of your vocabulary I present Captain Archibald Haddock in all his spitting fury, often doused heavily in Loch Lomond whisky / Rum, swearing without actually using swear words!
"Billions of Blue blistering Barnacles''
"Ten Thousand thundering typhoons"
"Fresh water swabs"
"abominable snowman" ( which is even funnier when he eventually meets one!)
"odd toed ungulate"
#22. Flight 714
Professor Calculus takes the team to a conference in Sydney and en route they stopover in Jakarta for a refuelling stop. They meet an eccentric millionaire Carreidas who after a sequence of slapstick misunderstandings offers the hapless team a ride. unbeknownst to all the flight has been rigged ot make a nunscheduled stopover in a volcanic island where master criminal Rastopopoulos pops up again to make the millionaire cough up his fortunes.
Escaping his clutches Tintin and co. go deeper into the island to encounter strange statues, a UFO enthusiast who is convinced he has been given a telepathic device to talk to the alien gods and technology left behind by an ancient civilization. A great thrill ride!
#23. Tintin and the Picaros
The final complete adventure brings back familiar faces- General Alcazar is overthrown yet again in South America by a general Tapioca and the state is beset by alcoholism and poverty. Tintin and Captain Haddock are accused on conspiracy against the state and despite best advice decide to travel to South America to clear their names. One of the reasons for their trip is also the fact that Madame Castafiore and the Thompson twins have also been arrested and held captive by the mad General Tapioca.
In another madcap adventure, Tintin and team get imprisoned amongst the Arumbaya Indians who have been plied with alcohol by the dictator and are hostile to the crew. With the estranged General Alcazar and his shrewish wife in tow, Tintin and team attempt to renistate order amongst chaos in adventure with plenty of usual humour and hilarity.
The Unfinished adventure: Tintin and Alph-Art
Prior to his death, Hergé' had left detailed sketches and a draft of a story outline for this final adventure that has been published as a series of rough sketches and text outlines. In what would have been another fascinating story line, Tintin encounters the world of art dealership, modern art, international intrigue and along with his faithful Snowy, Captain Haddock, Professor Calculus and many other now familiar faces, encounters an international conspiracy to mass produce fake art on a global scale. Crossing paths with a villain from the past, the story draft ends in a cliff hanger where Tintin himself is in danger of becoming a piece of modern art. One would never know how he intended to finish this and what more adventures Hergé had in mind for Tintin and crew. A must for Tintinophiles and completists.
And so we come to the end ....
I started this to share the delightful stories that have kept me entertained for decades ( and still do) and I couldn't stop what I started. Sorry for the 'mammoth' hub but hopefully it captures the sheer thrills, the artistry and the genius of the Tintin adventures and does them justice.
No other series has such authenticity, covers so many genres, mingles taut storylines, and blends mystery, slapstick, visual accuracy and artistry like Tintin.These panoramic , globe trotting adventures can match anything James Bond or Indiana Jones have produced on screen. Any child or adult would delight in receiving them as a gift.
This is a gift that keeps on giving. If you haven't tried these books, what are you waiting for?
Georges Prosper Remi is a true master at his peak with these creations. As the books grew in scope so did his techniques. He was a major influence in cinematic technique, planning, perspective, visualising and researching- I salute his genius!
Do watch this brilliant documentary produced by London Weekend Television on his art and influences.
© 2011 Mohan Kumar