The wonderful world of Tintin
I love Tintin. I always have. It was my favourite comic book growing up! I remember our local library in Madras, India had loads of Tintin books that we used to borrow over and over again. I swear I have read through each of the 24 adventures numerous times. The thing that I love most about Herge’s art is the fact that his drawings are so realistic and vivid. Whether it is a night scene at a harbor showing a drug smuggling ring in operation or Tintin and his faithful dog Snowy hijacking a steam train across the Wild West, the stories really keep your attention. Reading a Tintin book to me is like watching a movie. I remember that I used to love Herge’s drawings so much that it inspired me to create my own comic book, though of course it was no way as good as the original. But I used to draw a lot as a kid, quite nicely if I may add. And it was largely inspired by Herge.
Last year when Steven Spielberg came out with a Tintin movie I was very excited. And it turned out to be a really entertaining watch, though it didn’t quite compare to the wondrous world showcased in the books. But nevertheless I was happy that characters like Tintin, Snowy, Captain Haddock and the Thompson twins were once again in the public eye after several years. Some people were discovering these characters for the first time and others like me were reliving their childhood memories. Watching the movie made me miss the books. So I went out to a local bookstore and bought a Tintin comic book, ‘Tintin In America’. I also chanced to notice this book titled ‘Tintin: Herge & His Creation’ by Harry Thompson. Quickly flipping through it, I saw that it had chapters on every single of the 24 adventures. It was not new… first published in 1991, but nonetheless I decided to buy it.
I have just finished reading this book and it is a fantastic read! The author starts at the very beginning in the early part of the 20th century and describes Herge’s childhood in a conservative family in Brussels. Georges Remi was his real name and he started drawing Tintin for the national newspaper Le Vingtieme Siecle and later a publication called Le Soir before bringing out the books that we know now. The book wonderfully chronicles his journey from the 1930’s to the 1970’s and talks in detail about what went behind the making of each and every adventure. The author also throws light on how major happenings like World War II, Nazi fascism and the Cold War influenced Herge’s thinking. The Shooting Star in particular is one book for which Herge was unfavorably judged after the war. The author even talks about how the characters developed as the stories went on. Tintin’s dog Snowy talks a lot in the early adventures but not so much later on. Captain Haddock’s personality also changes as the years go on. There are several other fascinating aspects concerning the attention to detail that Herge gives to each of the adventures. But I will not spoil it for future readers by discussing them here. All I can say is that for serious fans of Tintin, this book is a real treasure to read through.