Saturday, 8 October 2011

The Adventures of Tintin : "The Secret of the Unicorn" by Spielberg and Jackson is coming soon ... but do you really Know something about Tintin ?

The Adventures of Tintin (Les Aventures de Tintin) is a series of classic comic books created by the Belgian artist Georges Rémi (1907–1983), who wrote under the pen name of Hergé. The series is one of the most popular European comics of the 20th century, with translations published in more than 80 languages and more than 350 million copies of the books sold to date.Its popularity around the world has been attributed to its "universal appeal" and its ability to transcend "time, language and culture."

The series first appeared in French in Le Petit Vingtième, a children's supplement to the Belgian newspaper Le XXe Siècle on 10 January 1929. The success of the series saw the serialised strips collected into a series of twenty-four albums, spun into a successful Tintin magazine, and adapted for film, radio, television and theatre.

Set during a largely realistic 20th century, the hero of the series is Tintin, a young Belgian reporter. He is aided in his adventures from the beginning by his faithful fox terrier dog Snowy (Milou in French). Later, popular additions to the cast included the brash, cynical and grumpy Captain Haddock, the highly intelligent but hearing-impaired Professor Calculus (Professeur Tournesol) and other supporting characters such as the incompetent detectives Thomson and Thompson (Dupont et Dupond). Hergé himself features in several of the comics as a background character, as do his assistants in some instances.

The comic strip series has long been admired for its clean, expressive drawings in Hergé's signature ligne claire style. Its "engaging", well-researched plots straddle a variety of genres: swashbuckling adventures with elements of fantasy, mysteries, political thrillers, and science fiction. The stories within the Tintin series always feature slapstick humour, accompanied in later albums by satire, and political and cultural commentary.


Tintin is a young reporter, and Hergé uses this to present the character in a number of adventures which were contemporary with the period in which he was working, most notably, the Bolshevik uprising in Russia and World War II, and sometimes even prescient, as in the case of the moon landings. Hergé also created a world for Tintin which managed to reduce detail to a simplified but recognisable and realistic representation, an effect Hergé was able to achieve with reference to a well-maintained archive of images.

Though Tintin's adventures are formulaic – presenting a mystery which is then solved logically – Hergé infused the strip with his own sense of humour,[11] and created supporting characters who, although predictable, were filled with charm that allowed the reader to engage with them. Hergé also had a great understanding of the mechanics of the comic strip, especially pacing, a skill displayed in The Castafiore Emerald, a work he meant to be packed with tension in which nothing actually happens.

Hergé initially improvised the creation of Tintin's adventures, uncertain how Tintin would escape from whatever predicament appeared. Not until after the completion of Cigars of the Pharaoh was Hergé encouraged to research and plan his stories. The impetus came from The Reverend Gosset, chaplain to the Chinese students at Louvain University. Gosset introduced Hergé to Zhang Chongren, a Chinese student, who further encouraged him to avoid perpetuating the perceptions Europeans had of China at the time. Hergé and Zhang collaborated on the next serial, The Blue Lotus, which is cited by critics as Hergé's first masterpiece. Interestingly, The Blue Lotus includes a reference to the European stereotypes associated with China, in a context that causes them to appear ridiculous.

Other changes to the mechanics of creating the strip were forced on Hergé by outside events. The Second World War and the invasion of Belgium by Hitler's armies saw the closure of the newspaper in which Tintin was serialised. Work was halted on Land of Black Gold, and the already published Tintin in America and The Black Island were banned by the Nazi censors, who were concerned at their presentation of America and Britain. However, Hergé was able to continue with Tintin's adventures, publishing four books and serialising two more adventures in a German-licensed newspaper. During and after the German occupation Hergé was accused of being a collaborator because of the Nazi control of the paper (Le Soir), and he was briefly taken for interrogation after the war. He claimed that he was simply doing a job under the occupation, like a plumber or carpenter. His work of this period, unlike earlier and later work, is politically neutral and resulted in stories such as The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham's Treasure; but the apocalyptic The Shooting Star reflects the foreboding Hergé felt during this uncertain political period.

The Shooting Star was nonetheless controversial. The story line involved a race between two crews trying to reach a meteorite which had landed in the Arctic. Hergé chose a subject that was as fantastic as possible to avoid issues related to the crisis of the times and to thereby avoid trouble with the censors. Nonetheless politics intruded. In the original version, the crew Tintin joined was composed of Europeans from Axis or neutral countries ("Europe") while their underhanded rivals were Americans, financed by a person with a Jewish name and what Nazi propagandists would dub "Jewish features"; later editions would substitute a fictitious country for the United States. Tintin himself uses a World War II Arado 196 German reconnaissance aircraft. In a scene which appeared when the story was being serialised in Le Soir, two Jews, depicted in classic anti-Semitic caricature, are shown watching Philippulus harassing Tintin. One actually looks forward to the end of the world, arguing that it would mean that he would not be obliged to settle with his creditors.

After the war Hergé admitted that: "I recognize that I myself believed that the future of the West could depend on the New Order. For many, democracy had proved a disappointment, and the New Order brought new hope. In light of everything which has happened, it is of course a huge error to have believed for an instant in the New Order". The Tintin character was never depicted as adhering to these beliefs. However, it has been argued that anti-Semitic themes continued, especially in the post-war story Flight 714.

A post-war paper shortage forced changes in the format of the books. Hergé had usually allowed the stories to develop to a length that suited the story, but with paper now in short supply, publishers Casterman asked Hergé to consider using smaller panel sizes and adopt a fixed length of 62 pages. Hergé took on more staff – the first ten books having been produced by himself and his wife –, eventually building a studio system with the Studios Hergé. The adoption of colour allowed Hergé to expand the scope of the works. His use of colour was more advanced than that of American comics of the time, with better production values allowing a combination of the four printing shades and thus a cinematographic approach to lighting and shading. Hergé and his studio would allow images to fill half pages or more, simply to detail and accentuate the scene, using colour to emphasise important points. Hergé notes this fact, stating "I consider my stories as movies. No narration, no descriptions, emphasis is given to images".

Hergé's personal life also affected the series; Tintin in Tibet, perhaps his most cerebral and emotional story, was heavily influenced by his nervous breakdown. His nightmares, which he reportedly described as being "all white", are reflected in the snowy landscapes. The plot has Tintin set off in search of Chang Chong-Chen, previously seen in The Blue Lotus, and the piece contains no villains and little moral judgment, with Hergé even refusing to condemn the Snowman of the Himalayas as "abominable". Hergé's death on 3 March 1983 left the twenty-fourth and final adventure, Tintin and Alph-Art, unfinished. The plot saw Tintin embroiled in the world of modern art, and the story ended as he is about to be killed, encased in perspex and presented as a work of art, although it is unknown whether he really dies at the end of the story.

List of The Adventures of Tintin characters

Tintin (character) and Snowy (character)

Tintin is a young Belgian reporter who becomes involved in dangerous cases in which he takes heroic action to save the day. Almost every adventure features Tintin hard at work in his investigative journalism, but he is seldom seen actually turning in a story without first getting caught up in some misadventure. He is a young man of more or less neutral attitudes. In this respect, he represents the every man. However, he does not seem to have a boss, nor any coworkers, nor an employer of any kind. His surname is never given. It is stated, though, in the opening panel of the first book, that he works for Le Petit XXe and is one of their top reporters.

Snowy, a white Fox terrier, is Tintin's four-legged companion. They regularly save each other from perilous situations. Snowy frequently "speaks" to the reader through his thoughts (often displaying a dry sense of humour), which are supposedly not heard by the human characters in the story except in Tintin in America, wherein he explains to Tintin his absence for a period of time in the book. Like Captain Haddock, Snowy is fond of the Loch Lomond Single Malt brand of whisky, and his occasional bouts of drinking tend to get him into trouble, as does his arachnophobia.

Captain Archibald Haddock

Captain Archibald Haddock, a seafaring captain of disputed ancestry (he may be of Belgian, French, or United Kingdom origin), is Tintin's best friend, and was introduced in The Crab with the Golden Claws. Haddock was initially depicted as a weak and alcoholic character, but later became more respectable. He evolves to become genuinely heroic and even a socialite after he finds a treasure captured by his ancestor, Sir Francis Haddock, in the episode Red Rackham's Treasure. The Captain's coarse humanity and sarcasm act as a counterpoint to Tintin's often implausible heroism; he is always quick with a dry comment whenever the boy reporter seems too idealistic. Captain Haddock lives in the luxurious mansion Marlinspike Hall.

Haddock uses a range of colourful insults and curses to express his feelings, such as "billions of blue blistering barnacles" (sometimes just "blistering barnacles", "billions of blistering barnacles", or "blue blistering barnacles"), "ten thousand thundering typhoons" (sometimes just "thundering typhoons"), "Caveman|troglodyte", "bashi-bazouk", "visigoths", "kleptomaniac", "ectoplasm", "sea gherkin", "anacoluthon", "pockmark", "nincompoop", "abominable snowman", "nitwits", "scoundrels", "steam rollers", "parasites", "floundering oath", "carpet seller","blundering Bazookas", "Popinjay", "bragger", "pinheads", "miserable slugs", "ectomorph", "maniacs", "freshwater swabs", and "miserable molecule of mildew", but nothing that is actually considered a swear word. Haddock is a hard drinker, particularly fond of rum and of Loch Lomond Single Malt whiskey. His bouts of drunkenness are often used for comic effect.

Supporting characters

Hergé's supporting characters have been cited as far more developed than the central character, each imbued with a strength of character and depth of personality which has been compared with that of the characters of Charles Dickens. Hergé used the supporting characters to create a realistic world in which to set his protagonists' adventures. To further the realism and continuity, characters would recur throughout the series. It has been speculated that the occupation of Belgium and the restrictions imposed upon Hergé forced him to focus on characterisation to avoid depicting troublesome political situations. The major supporting cast was developed during this period.

Professor Cuthbert Calculus (Professeur Tryphon Tournesol {Prof. Sunflower} in French), an absent-minded professor and half-deaf physicist, is a minor but regular character alongside Tintin, Snowy, and Captain Haddock. He was introduced in Red Rackham's Treasure, and based partially on Auguste Piccard, a Swiss physicist. His appearance was initially not welcomed by the leading characters, but through his generous nature and his scientific ability he develops a lasting bond with them. He has a tendency to act in a very aggressive manner when someone says he's "acting the goat." He also often, due to his deafness, misunderstands what people are saying, making them repeat themselves, and still getting it wrong. This in particular annoys Captain Haddock.
Thomson and Thompson (Dupont et Dupond) are two bumbling detective twins, whose only discernible difference is the shape of their moustaches. They provide much of the comic relief throughout the series, being afflicted with chronic spoonerism, and are shown to be mostly incompetent in their tasks. The detectives were in part based on Hergé's father and uncle, identical twins who wore matching bowler hats.
Bianca Castafiore is an opera singer whom Haddock absolutely despises. She seems to constantly be popping up wherever he goes, along with her maid Irma and pianist Igor Wagner. She is comically foolish, whimsical, absent-minded, and talkative, and seems unaware that her voice is shrill and appallingly loud. Her speciality is the Jewel Song (Ah! je ris de me voir si belle en ce miroir) from Gounod's opera, Faust, and sings this at the least provocation, much to Haddock's dismay. She tends to be melodramatic in an exaggerated fashion and is often maternal toward Haddock, of whose dislike she remains ignorant. She often confuses words, especially names, with other words that rhyme with them or of which they remind her; "Haddock" is frequently replaced by malapropisms such as "Paddock," "Harrock," "Padlock", "Hopscotch", "Drydock," "Stopcock", "Maggot", "Bartók", "Hammock", and "Hemlock," while Nestor, who is Haddock's butler, is confused with "Chestor" and "Hector." Her own name means "white and chaste flower," a meaning to which Prof. Calculus refers when he offers a white rose to the singer in The Castafiore Emerald. She was based upon opera divas in general (according to Hergé's perception), Hergé's Aunt Ninie, and, in the post-war comics, on Maria Callas.
Other recurring characters include Nestor the butler, General Alcazar the South American leader, Jolyon Wagg (Séraphin Lampion in French) an (infuriating, to Haddock) insurance salesman, Kalish Ezab the Arab emir, Abdullah the emir's mischievous son, Chang the loyal Chinese boy, Dr. J.W. Müller the evil Nazi German doctor, Cutts, a local butcher that is repeatedly called by accident by Haddock and whose phone number is repeatedly mixed up with Haddock's, Rastapopoulos, the criminal mastermind and Allan, Rastapopoulos' henchman and formerly Haddock's first mate.
Settings in The Adventures of Tintin

The settings within Tintin have also added depth to the strips. Hergé mingles real and fictional lands into his stories, along with a base in Belgium from where the heroes set off. This is originally 26 Labrador Road, but later Marlinspike Hall. Marlinspike Hall was modelled on Château de Cheverny, which is a castle in the Loire Valley, France. This is best demonstrated in King Ottokar's Sceptre, in which Hergé creates two fictional countries (Syldavia and Borduria) and invites the reader to tour them in text through the insertion of a travel brochure into the storyline. Other fictional lands include San Theodoros, San Paolo, and Nuevo Rico in South America, the kingdom or administrative region of Gaipajama in India, and Khemed on the Arabian Peninsula which replaced the setting of Mandate Palestine used in the first edition of Land of Black Gold. Along with these fictitious locations, actual nations were employed such as Belgium, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Soviet Union, Congo, Peru, India, Egypt, Indonesia, Nepal, Tibet, and China. Other actual locales used were the Sahara Desert, the Atlantic Ocean and the Moon.


Hergé's extensive research began with The Blue Lotus, Hergé stating: "it was from that time that I undertook research and really interested myself in the people and countries to which I sent Tintin, out of a sense of responsibility to my readers".

Hergé's use of research and photographic reference allowed him to build a realised universe for Tintin, going so far as to create fictionalised countries, dressing them with specific political cultures. These were heavily informed by the cultures evident in Hergé's lifetime. Pierre Skilling has asserted that Hergé saw monarchy as "the legitimate form of government", noting that democratic "values seem underrepresented in [such] a classic Franco-Belgian strip". Syldavia in particular is described in considerable detail, Hergé creating a history, customs, and language, which is actually the Flemish dialect of Brussels. He set the country in the Balkans, and it is, by his own admission, modeled after Albania. The country finds itself threatened by neighbouring Borduria with an attempted annexation appearing in King Ottokar's Sceptre. This situation parallels the Italian conquest of Albania and of Czechoslovakia and Austria by expansionist Nazi Germany prior to World War II.

Hergé's use of research would include months of preparation for Tintin's voyage to the moon in the two-part storyline spread across Destination Moon and Explorers on the Moon. His research for the storyline was noted in New Scientist: "The considerable research undertaken by Hergé enabled him to come very close to the type of space suit that would be used in future Moon exploration, although his portrayal of the type of rocket that was actually used was a long way off the mark". The moon rocket is based on the German V2 rockets.


In his youth Hergé admired Benjamin Rabier and suggested that a number of images within Tintin in the Land of the Soviets reflected this influence, particularly the pictures of animals. René Vincent, the Art Deco designer, also had an impact on early Tintin adventures: "His influence can be detected at the beginning of the Soviets, where my drawings are designed along a decorative line, like an 'S'..".[28] Hergé also felt no compunction in admitting that he had stolen the image of round noses from George McManus, feeling they were "so much fun that I used them, without scruples!"

During the extensive research Hergé carried out for The Blue Lotus, he became influenced by Chinese and Japanese illustrative styles and woodcuts. This is especially noticeable in the seascapes, which are reminiscent of works by Hokusai and Hiroshige.

Hergé also declared Mark Twain an influence, although this admiration may have led him astray when depicting Incas as having no knowledge of an upcoming solar eclipse in Prisoners of the Sun, an error attributed by T.F. Mills to an attempt to portray "Incas in awe of a latter-day 'Connecticut Yankee'".

Tintinology and literary criticism

The study of The Adventures of Tintin is known as Tintinology, with its followers being varyingly known as Tintinologists, Tintinophiles, Tintinolators, Tintinites or Hergélogues. One notable Tintinologist is the Belgian Philippe Goddin, who published Hergé et Tintin reporters: Du Petit vingtième au Journal Tintin (1986, later republished in English as Hergé and Tintin Reporters: From "Le Petit Vingtieme" to "Tintin" Magazine in 1987) and Hergé et les Bigotudos (1993) amongst other books on the series. In 1983, Benoît Peeters published Le Monde d'Hergé, subsequently published in English as Tintin and the World of Hergé in 1988. Although Goddin and Peeters were native French-speakers, the English reporter Michael Farr also published works on Tintinology such as Tintin, 60 Years of Adventure (1989), Tintin: The Complete Companion (2001), Tintin & Co. (2007)and The Adventures of Hergé (2007), as had English screenwriter Harry Thompson, the author of Tintin: Hergé and his Creation (1991).

The Adventures of Tintin have also been examined by literary critics, primarily in French-speaking Europe. In 1984, Jean-Marie Apostolidès published his study of the Adventures of Tintin from a more "adult" perspective as Les Métamorphoses de Tintin, although it would only appear in English as The Metamorphoses of Tintin, or Tintin for Adults in 2010. In reviewing Apostolidès' book, Nathan Perl-Rosenthal of The New Republic thought that it was "not for the faint of heart: it is densely-packed with close textual analysis and laden with psychological jargon." Following Apostolidès's work, French psychoanalyst Serge Tisseron examined the series in his books Tintin et les Secrets de Famille ("Tintin and the Family Secrets"), which was published in 1990, and Tintin et le Secret d'Hergé ("Tintin and Hergé's Secret"), published in 1993.

The first English-language work of literary criticism devoted to the series was Tintin and the Secret of Literature, written by the novelist Tom McCarthy and published in 2006. In this book, McCarthy compares Hergé's work with that of Aeschylus, Honoré de Balzac, Joseph Conrad and Henry James and argues that the series contains the key to understanding literature itself. McCarthy considered the Adventures of Tintin to be "stupendously rich", containing "a mastery of plot and symbol, theme and sub-text" which, influenced by Tisseron's psychoanalytical readings of the work, he believed could be deciphered to reveal a series of recurring themes, ranging from bartering to implicit sexual intercourse[48] that Hergé had featured throughout the series. Reviewing the book in The Telegraph, Toby Clements argued however that McCarthy's work, and literary criticism of Hergé's comic strips in general, cut "perilously close" to simply feeding "the appetite of those willing to cross the line between enthusiast and obsessive" in the Tintinological community.


The earliest stories in The Adventures of Tintin have been criticised for both displaying animal cruelty as well as racial stereotypes, violent, colonialist, and even fascist leanings, including caricatured portrayals of non-Europeans. While the Hergé Foundation has presented such criticism as naïveté, and scholars of Hergé such as Harry Thompson have claimed that "Hergé did what he was told by the Abbé Wallez", Hergé himself felt that his background made it impossible to avoid prejudice, stating that "I was fed the prejudices of the bourgeois society that surrounded me."

In Tintin in the Land of the Soviets, the Bolsheviks were presented without exception as villains. Hergé drew on Moscow Unveiled, a work given to him by Wallez and authored by Joseph Douillet, the former Belgian consul in Russia, that is highly critical of the Soviet regime, although Hergé contextualised this by noting that in Belgium, at the time a devout Catholic nation, "Anything Bolshevik was atheist". In the story, Bolshevik leaders are motivated only by personal greed and by a desire to deceive the world. Tintin discovers, buried, "the hideout where Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin have collected together wealth stolen from the people". Hergé later dismissed the failings of this first story as "a transgression of my youth". By 1999, some part of this presentation was being noted as far more reasonable, with British weekly newspaper The Economist declaring: "In retrospect, however, the land of hunger and tyranny painted by Hergé was uncannily accurate".

Tintin in the Congo has been criticised as presenting the Africans as naïve and primitive. In the original work, Tintin is shown at a blackboard addressing a class of African children. "Mes chers amis," he says, "je vais vous parler aujourd'hui de votre patrie: La Belgique" ("My dear friends, I am going to talk to you today about your fatherland: Belgium"). Hergé redrew this in 1946 to show a lesson in mathematics. Hergé later admitted the flaws in the original story, excusing it by noting: "I portrayed these Africans according to ... this purely paternalistic spirit of the time". The perceived problems with this book were summarised by Sue Buswell in 1988 as being "all to do with rubbery lips and heaps of dead animals" although Thompson noted this quote may have been "taken out of context". "Dead animals" refers to the fashion for big game hunting at the time of the work's original publication. Drawing on André Maurois' Les Silences du colonel Bramble, Hergé presents Tintin as a big-game hunter, accidentally killing fifteen antelope as opposed to the one needed for the evening meal. However, concerns over the number of dead animals did lead the Scandinavian publishers of Tintin's adventures to request changes. A page which presented Tintin killing a rhinoceros by drilling a hole in the animal's back and inserting a stick of dynamite was deemed excessive, and Hergé substituted a page in which the rhino accidentally discharges Tintin's rifle while he slept under a tree. In 2007 the UK's Commission for Racial Equality called for the book to be pulled from the shelves after a complaint, stating that "it beggars belief that in this day and age that any shop would think it acceptable to sell and display 'Tintin In The Congo'." In August 2007, a complaint was filed in Brussels, Belgium, by a Congolese student, claiming the book was an insult to the Congolese people. Public prosecutors are investigating, however, the Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism warned against excess political correctness.

Mr. Bohlwinkel.Some of the early albums were altered by Hergé in subsequent editions, usually at the demand of publishers. For example, at the instigation of his American publishers, many of the black characters in Tintin in America were re-coloured to make their race white or ambiguous. The Shooting Star album originally had an American villain with the Jewish surname of "Blumenstein". This proved to be controversial, as the character exhibited exaggerated stereotypically Jewish characteristics. "Blumenstein" was changed to an American with a less ethnically specific name, Mr. Bohlwinkel, in later editions and subsequently to a South American of a fictional country – São Rico. Hergé later discovered that 'Bohlwinkel' was also a Jewish name.

Nazi collaborator SS officer Léon Degrelle published a book insisting that he was Hergé's model for the character Tintin.

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