The Adventures of Tintin: Wikis


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The Adventures of Tintin

The main characters and others from The Castafiore Emerald, one of the later books in the series. In the centre of the group is Tintin, the main eponymous hero of the series.
Created by Hergé
Publication information
Publisher Casterman
Le Lombard
Methuen Publishing
Formats Original material for the series has been published as a strip in the comics anthology(s) Le Petit Vingtième, Le Soir and Tintin and a set of graphic novels.
Original language French
Genre Action/adventure
Publication date 1929 – 1976
Main character(s) Tintin and Snowy
Captain Haddock
Professor Calculus
Thomson and Thompson
Creative team
Writer(s) Hergé
Artist(s) Hergé with
Bob de Moor
Edgar P. Jacobs
Colourist(s) Josette Baujot
Creator(s) Hergé
The series has been reprinted, at least in part, in Dutch, English, and German.

The Adventures of Tintin (Les Aventures de Tintin) is a series of comic strips created by the Belgian artist Georges Rémi (1907–1983), who wrote under the pen name of Hergé. The series first appeared in French in Le Petit Vingtième, a children's supplement to the Belgian newspaper Le Vingtième 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 magazine and adapted for film and theatre. The series is one of the most popular European comics of the 20th century, with translations published in more than 50 languages and more than 200 million copies of the books sold to date.[1]

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 (Dupond et Dupont). 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.[2][3][4][5] Engaging,[6] well-researched[6][7][8] 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 sophisticated satire, and political and cultural commentary.



Tintin is a 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.[9]

Though Tintin's adventures are formulaic — presenting a mystery which is then solved logically — Hergé infused the strip with his own sense of humour,[9] and created supporting characters who, although predictable, were filled with charm that allowed the reader to engage with them. This formula of comfortable, humorous predictability is similar to the presentation of cast in the Peanuts strip or The Three Stooges.[10] 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.[8]

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.[8] 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.[11] 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.[8] However, Hergé was able to continue with Tintin's adventures, publishing four books and serialising two more adventures in a German-licensed newspaper.[8] 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.[12] 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";[13] 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".[14] 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.[15]

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.[8] 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.[8] Hergé notes this fact, stating "I consider my stories as movies. No narration, no descriptions, emphasis is given to images".[16]

Hergé's personal life also affected the series; Tintin in Tibet was heavily influenced by his nervous breakdown. His nightmares, which he reportedly described as being "all white",[8] 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".[8] 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,[17] although it is unknown whether he really dies at the end of the story.

List of titles

This is the list of the books as named in English. The publication dates are those of the original French versions. Books 2 to 10 were re-published in colour and in a fixed 62-page format during the 1940s. Book 11 was the first to be originally published in colour. Books 16 to 23 and revised editions of books 2, 4, 7 and 15 were published with Studios Hergé.

1. Tintin in the Land of the Soviets (1929–1930)
2. Tintin in the Congo (1930–1931; 1946, 1975)
3. Tintin in America (1931–1932; 1945)
4. Cigars of the Pharaoh (1932–1934; 1955)
5. The Blue Lotus (1934–1935; 1946)
6. The Broken Ear (1935–1937; 1943)
7. The Black Island (1937–1938; 1943, 1966)
8. King Ottokar's Sceptre (1938–1939; 1947)
9. The Crab with the Golden Claws (1940–1941; 1943)
10. The Shooting Star (1941; 1942)
11. The Secret of the Unicorn (1942–1943)
12. Red Rackham's Treasure (1943–1944)
13. The Seven Crystal Balls (1943–1948)
14. Prisoners of the Sun (1946–1949)
15. Land of Black Gold (1948–1950; 1972)
16. Destination Moon (1950–1953)
17. Explorers on the Moon (1950–1954)
18. The Calculus Affair (1954–1956)
19. The Red Sea Sharks (1958)
20. Tintin in Tibet (1960)
21. The Castafiore Emerald (1963)
22. Flight 714 (1968)
23. Tintin and the Picaros (1976)
24. Tintin and Alph-Art (1986, 2004)
Published posthumously

A comic was also released based on the film Tintin et le lac aux requins.


Tintin and Snowy

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 and is less colourful than the supporting cast. In this respect, he represents the everyman. However, he does not seem to have a boss, nor any coworkers, nor an employer of any kind.

Tintin and Snowy, detail of a panel from the book The Black Island by Hergé, 1965

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 brand of whisky, and his occasional bouts of drinking tend to get him into trouble, as does his arachnophobia. The French name of Snowy, "Milou," has nothing to do with snow or the colour white. It has been widely credited as an oblique reference to a girlfriend from Hergé's youth, Marie-Louise Van Cutsem, whose nickname was "Milou".[18]

Another explanation to the origins of the two characters is possible. The first 3 adventures of Tintin visit places originally visited by photographer-reporter Robert Sexé, recorded in the Belgian press from the mid to late 1920s. At that time Sexé had made numerous trips round the world on a motorcycle, in collaboration with Grand-Prix champion and motorcycle record-holder René Milhoux, and these trips were highly publicized at the time. Sexé has also been noted to have a similar appearance to Tintin, and the Hergé Foundation in Belgium has admitted that it is not too hard to imagine how Hergé could have been influenced by the exploits of Sexé.[19] In 1996, a biography of Robert Sexé by Janpol Schulz was published, titled Sexé au pays des Soviets (meaning Sexé in the Land of the Soviets) to mimic the name of the first Tintin Adventure.[20]

Captain Haddock

Captain Archibald Haddock, a seafaring captain of disputed ancestry (he may be of Belgian, French, or English 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 (François de Hadoque in French), 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 ("Moulinsart" in the original French).

Haddock uses a range of colourful insults and curses to express his feelings, such as "billions of blue blistering barnacles," "ten thousand thundering typhoons," "troglodyte," "bashi-bazouk," "kleptomaniac," "ectoplasm," "sea-gherkin," "anacoluthon", "pockmark, "nincompoop", "abominable snowman", and "freshwater swab" but nothing that is actually considered a swear word. Haddock is a hard drinker, particularly fond of rum and of Loch Lomond whisky. His bouts of drunkenness are often used for comic effect. Hergé stated that Haddock's surname was derived from a "sad English fish that drinks a lot."[1] Haddock remained without a first name until the last completed story, Tintin and the Picaros (1976), when the name Archibald was suggested. Tintin and Alph-Art maintained this suggestion by having him introduce himself as such.

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.[21] 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.[22]

  • 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. Introduced in Red Rackham's Treasure, and based partially on Auguste Piccard,[23] 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 seems to annoy captain Haddock.
  • Thomson and Thompson (Dupont et Dupond) are two bumbling detective twins, with the only discernible difference being the shape of their moustaches.[24] 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. While their different names would suggest that they are not related, they are confirmed to be identical twins in the original French-language version of Red Rackham's Treasure.
  • 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.[9]
  • 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 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. No young women feature as any main or side characters, and in fact only occasionally feature in the background.


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. 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.[6] 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 in the Middle East. Along with these fictitious locations, actual nations were employed such as Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States, Soviet Union, Congo, Peru, India, Egypt, Sahara Desert, Indonesia, Nepal, Tibet, China, and Japan. Another setting was the Moon, the Atlantic Ocean and in the first edition of Land of Black Gold, Palestine, though this was later replaced by the fictional Khemed.

Creating the works


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".[7]

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".[25] 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.[26] 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.[27]

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: "[T]he 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.[28]


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'..".[29] 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!"[30]

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.[31][32]

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'".[8]

Criticisms of the series

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,[33] and scholars of Hergé such as Harry Thompson have claimed that "Hergé did what he was told by the Abbé Wallez",[33] 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."[30]

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".[30] 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".[33] By 1999, some part of this presentation was being noted as far more reasonable, The Economist declaring: "In retrospect, however, the land of hunger and tyranny painted by Hergé was uncannily accurate".[34]

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".[30] The perceived problems with this book were summarised by Sue Buswell in 1988[35] 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".[33] "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.[36] 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'."[37][38] 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.[39]

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.[40] The Shooting Star album originally had an American villain with the Jewish surname of "Blumenstein". This proved to be controversial, as the character looked very stereotypically Jewish. "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.[27]

Nazi collaborator SS officer Léon Degrelle published a book insisting that he was Hergé's model for the character Tintin (See: Tintin, inspiration).

Adaptations and exhibitions

The Adventures of Tintin have been adapted in a variety of media besides the original comic strip and its collections. Hergé encouraged adaptations and members of his studio working on the animated films. After Hergé's death, the Hergé Foundation became responsible for authorising adaptations and exhibitions.[41]

The French film poster for the 1961 film, Tintin and the Golden Fleece.


There have been both live-action and animated film adaptations of The Adventures of Tintin.

Future film

A planned 2011 motion capture 3-D film will be directed by Steven Spielberg, based on two linked stories published in the 1940s, The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham's Treasure. Peter Jackson's company Weta Digital is providing the animation.


Two documentaries have been made about Tintin and his creator Hergé.

  • I, Tintin (1976), a French documentary
  • Tintin and I (Tintin et Moi), by Danish director Anders Høgsbro Østergaard in 2003, a co-production of companies from Denmark, Belgium, France, and Switzerland. This documentary was based on a taped interview with Hergé by Numa Sadoul from 1971. Although the interview was published as a book, Hergé was allowed to edit the work prior to publishing and much of the interview was excised.[44] The documentary was broadcast in the United States as "Tintin and I" on the PBS network, 11 July 2006.[45]


Two animated television series have been made, both adaptations of the comic strips rather than original stories. The first was Hergé's Adventures of Tintin, produced by Belvision. The series aired from 1958 to 1962, with 104 five-minute episodes produced. It was adapted by Charles Shows and then translated into French by Greg (Michel Regnier), then editor-in-chief of Tintin magazine. This series has been criticised for differing too greatly from the original books and for its poor animation.[45] The second series was The Adventures of Tintin, featuring twenty-one of the stories. It ran for three seasons (from 1991 to 1992), was co-directed by Stéphane Bernasconi and Peter Hudecki, and was produced by Ellipse (France), and Nelvana (Canada), on behalf of La Fondation Hergé. Traditional animation techniques were used on the series, adhering closely to the books to such an extent that some frames from the original albums were transposed directly to screen. The series was successful and it has aired in over fifty countries and was released on DVD.[46]


Hergé himself helped to create two Tintin stage plays; Tintin in India: The Mystery of the Blue Diamond (1941) and The Disappearance of Mr. Boullock (1941–1942), both of which were written with Jacques Van Melkebeke and performed in Brussels.[47] In the late 1970s and early 1980s, two Tintin plays appeared in London, adapted by Geoffrey Case for the Unicorn Theatre Company - these were Tintin's Great American Adventure, based on the comic Tintin in America, which was shown across 1976–1977, and Tintin and the Black Island, which was based on The Black Island and shown in 1980. This second play later went on tour.[48][49][50][51][52]

A musical based on The Seven Crystal Balls and Prisoners of the Sun premièred on 15 September 2001 at the Stadsschouwburg (city theatre) in Antwerp, Belgium. It was entitled Kuifje - De Zonnetempel (De Musical) and was broadcast on Canal Plus, before moving on to Charleroi in 2002 as Tintin — Le Temple du Soleil.[52][53][54][55] The Young Vic theatre company ran a musical version of Tintin in Tibet at the Barbican Arts Centre in London from December 2005 to January 2006.[56] The production was directed by Rufus Norris, and was adapted by Norris and David Greig.[56] The Hergé Foundation organised the return of this show to the West End theatre in December 2006 and January 2007 in order to celebrate the Hergé centenary (2007).

Unofficial comic books

Various unofficial comics have also been released, ranging from illegal pirated versions of original albums to pastiches and parodies, including the anarchist Breaking Free and the pornographic Tintin in Thailand, which reportedly circulated from December 1999 onwards.[57]

Yves Rodier has produced a number of Tintin works, none authorised by the Hergé Foundation, including a 1986 "completion" of the unfinished Tintin and Alph-art.[58]


Hergé's work on Tintin has formed the basis of many exhibitions, with the Hergé Foundation creating a mobile exhibition in 1991. "The World of Hergé" is described by the Foundation as being "an excellent introduction to Hergé's work". Materials from this exhibition have also formed the basis for larger shows, namely "Hergé the Draughtsman", an exhibition to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Tintin's creation, and the more recent "In Tibet With Tintin". In 2001 the Musée de la Marine staged an exhibition of items related to the sea which had inspired Hergé. In 2002 the Bunkamura Museum of Art in Japan staged an exhibition of original drawings, as well as of the submarine and rocket ship invented in the strips by Professor Calculus. Barcelona has also hosted an exhibition on Tintin and the sea, "llamp de rellamp" at the Maritime Museum in 2003.[41]

2004 saw exhibitions in Holland, "Tintin and the Incas" at the Royal Museum of Ethnology; the "Tintin in the City" exhibition in the Halles Saint Géry in Brussels; and an exhibition focusing on Tintin's exploits at sea at the National Maritime Museum in London.[41] The latter exhibition was in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the publication of Tintin's first adventure, and was organised in partnership with the Hergé Foundation.[59] 2004 also saw the Belgian Centre for Comic Strip Art add an area dedicated to Hergé.[41]

The 100th anniversary of Hergé's birth is commemorated with a large exhibition at the Paris museum for contemporary arts, Centre Georges Pompidou, from 20 December 2006 until 19 February 2007, featuring all 120 original pages of The Blue Lotus.[60]

Memorabilia and merchandise

Soft toy versions of Snowy (Milou)

Images from the series have long been licensed for use on merchandise; the success of the Tintin magazine helping to create a market for such items. Tintin's image has been used to sell a wide variety of products, from alarm clocks to underpants.[61] There are now estimated to be over 250 separate items related to the character available, with some becoming collectors items in their own right.[62]

Since Hergé's death, the Hergé Foundation have maintained control of the licenses, through Moulinsart, the commercial wing of the foundation. Speaking in 2002, Peter Horemans, the then director general at Moulinsart, noted this control: "We have to be very protective of the property. We don’t take lightly any potential partners and we have to be very selective ... for him to continue to be as popular as he is, great care needs to be taken of his use."[63] However, the Foundation has been criticised by scholars as "trivialising the work of Hergé by concentrating on the more lucrative merchandising" in the wake of a move in the late 1990s to charge them for using relevant images to illustrate their papers on the series.[64]

NBC Universal acquired the rights to all of The Adventures of Tintin merchandise in North America.


The Tintin Shop in Covent Garden, London

Tintin memorabilia and merchandise has allowed a chain of stores based solely on the character to become viable. The first shop was launched in 1984, located in Covent Garden, London, though subsequently branches have also opened in both Bruges and Brussels in Belgium, and in Montpellier, France. The British bookstore chain, Ottakar's, which was founded in 1987, was named after the character of King Ottokar from the Tintin book King Ottokar's Sceptre, and their shops stocked a large amount of Tintin merchandise till their takeover by Waterstone's in 2006.[65] There are also a number of Tintin themed cafés located around the world.[citation needed].


Tintin's image has been used on postage stamps on numerous occasions,[66] the first issued by the Belgian Post in 1979[67] to celebrate the day of youth philately. This was the first in a series of stamps with the images of Belgian comic heroes, and was the first stamp in the world to feature a comic hero.

In 1999, the Royal Dutch Post released two stamps, based upon the Destination Moon adventure, with the stamps selling out within hours of release. The French post office, Poste Française, then issued a stamp of Tintin and Snowy in 2001. To mark the end of the Belgian Franc, and also to celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the publication of Tintin in the Congo, two more stamps were issued by the Belgian Post on 31 December 2001. The stamps were also issued in the Democratic Republic of the Congo at the same time. 2002 saw the French Post issue stamped envelopes featuring Tintin, whilst in 2004 the Belgian post-office celebrated its own seventy-fifth anniversary, as well as the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Explorers on the Moon and the thirty-fifth anniversary of the moon landings with a series of stamps based upon the Explorers on the Moon adventure.[68] In 2007, to celebrate Hergé's centennial, Belgium, France and Switzerland all plan to issue special stamps in commemoration.[69]

Coins & Medallions

Besides stamps, Tintin has also been commemorated by coin several times. In 1995, Monnaie de Paris issued a set of 12 silver medallions to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hergé's death, which were available in a limited edition of 5000. Another coin was released to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Tintin book Explorers on the Moon, again in a limited run, this time of 10,000. Belgium minted a limited edition commemorative coin to celebrate the 75th birthday of Tintin in January 2004.[70] The coin, composed of silver and featuring Tintin and Snowy, was limited to a minting of 50,000. Although it has a face value of €10, it is, as with other commemorative euro coins of this type (i.e. not a commemorative issue of a standard euro coin), only legal tender in the country in which it was issued - in this case, Belgium.[70]


A large number of books have been published about Tintin.

Translation into English

The process of translating Tintin into English was a complex affair, commissioned in 1958 by Methuen & Co. Ltd. of London. It was a joint-operation, headed by Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper and Michael Turner,[71] who worked closely with Hergé to attain an accurate translation as true as possible to the original work.[72] The works were also sold in the American market by Golden Books, a branch of the Western Publishing Company in the 1950s. The albums were translated from French into American English with some blocks blanked except for the speech balloons. This was done to remove content considered to be inappropriate for children, such as drunkenness and free mixing of races.[73] The albums were not very popular and only six were published in mixed order.[74] The edited albums later had their blanked blocks redrawn by Hergé to be more acceptable, and they currently appear this way in published editions around the world. Atlantic Monthly Press, in cooperation with Little, Brown and Company beginning in the 1970s, published the albums again. This time, the text features the originally translated British English text with alterations to localized British words such as jail, tyre, saloon and spanner. Currently, they are being published under the Joy Street imprint of Little, Brown and Company.

Due in part to the large amount of language-specific wordplay (such as punning) in the series, especially the jokes which played on Professor Calculus' partial deafness, it was always the intention not to translate literally, instead striving to sculpt a work whose idioms and jokes would be meritorious in their own right; however, in spite of the free hand Hergé afforded the two, they worked closely with the original text, asking for regular assistance to understand Hergé's intentions.[72] The English translators displayed a touch of genius in their rendering of the language spoken by the Arumbaya tribe (and that of their sworn enemies, the Rumbabas) in The Broken Ear by substituting an accurate transcription of Cockney turned into an Indian-looking vernacular for the original French version, which employed the Marollien (Marols in Dutch) dialect of Brussels.

More than simple translations, however, the English versions were anglicised to appeal to British customs and values. Milou, for example, was renamed Snowy at the translators' discretion. Moreover, the translation process served to colour the imagery within the book; the opportunity was taken to make scenes set in Britain more true-to-life, such as ensuring that the British police were unarmed, and ensuring scenes of the British countryside were more accurate for discerning British readers.[72]

Unlike in the United Kingdom, the books have always had very limited popularity in the United States.[75]


Tintin and his creator Hergé have inspired many artists within comics. Most notably, Hergé's ligne claire style has proven influential. Contributors to the Tintin magazine have employed ligne claire, and more recently, Jacques Tardi, Yves Chaland, Jason Little, Phil Elliott, Martin Handford, Geoff Darrow, and Garen Ewing have produced works utilising it.

Tintin's legacy includes the establishment of a market for comic strip collections; the serialisation followed by collection model has been adopted by creators and publishers in France and Belgium. This system allows for greater financial stability, as creators receive money whilst working. This rivals the American and British model of work for hire. Roger Sabin has argued that this model allowed for "in theory ... a better quality product".[76] Paul Gravett has also noted that the use of detailed reference material and a picture archive, which Hergé implemented from The Blue Lotus onwards, was "a turning point ... in the maturing of the medium as a whole".[7]

In the wider art world, both Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein have claimed Hergé as one of their most important influences. Lichtenstein made paintings based on fragments from Tintin's comics, whilst Warhol utilised the ligne claire and even made a series of paintings with Hergé as subject. He declared: "Hergé has influenced my work in the same way as Walt Disney. For me, Hergé was more than a comic strip artist".[77]

In music, Tintin has been the inspiration to a number of bands and musicians. A British technopop band of the 1980s took the name The Thompson Twins after the Tintin characters.[78] Stephen Duffy, a former member of Duran Duran, performed the minor hit single "Kiss Me" under the name "Tintin"; he had to drop the name under pressure of a copyright infringement suit.[79] An Australian psychedelic rock band and an American independent progressive rock band have used the name "Tin Tin", and British electronic dance music duo Tin Tin Out was similarly inspired by the character. South African singer/songwriter Gert Vlok Nel compares Tintin to God in his Afrikaans song "Waarom ek roep na jou vanaand", presumably because Tintin is a morally pure character. Australian cartoonist Bill Leak often portrays the bespectacled neophyte Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd as Tintin.

Hergé has been lauded as "creating in art a powerful graphic record of the 20th century's tortured history" through his work on Tintin.[80] whilst Maurice Horn's Encyclopaedia of World Comics declares him to have "spear-headed the post World War II renaissance of European comic art".[81] French philosopher Michel Serres noted that the 23 Tintin albums constituted a "chef-d'oeuvre" to which "the work of no French novelist is comparable in importance or greatness".[82]


On 1 June 2006, the Dalai Lama bestowed the International Campaign for Tibet's Light of Truth Award upon the character of Tintin, along with South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu.[83] The award was in recognition of Hergé's book Tintin in Tibet, which the Executive Director of ICT Europe Tsering Jampa noted was "(f)or many ... their introduction to the awe-inspiring landscape and culture of Tibet".[84] In 2001 the Hergé Foundation demanded the recall of the Chinese translation of the work, which had been released with the title Tintin in China's Tibet. The work was subsequently published with the correct translation of the title.[85] Accepting on behalf of the Hergé Foundation, Hergé's widow Fanny Rodwell declared: "We never thought that this story of friendship would have a resonance more than 40 years later".[83]



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  • Anders Høgsbro Østergaard, Tintin and I (2003)
  • Benoit Peeters (1983) Le Monde d’Hergé, Casterman.
  • Benoît Peeters (1984) Les Bijoux ravis, une lecture moderne de Tintin. Magic-Strip.
  • Michael Farr Tintin: The Complete Companion, John Murray (2001) ISBN 0-7195-5522-1
  • "Faces of the week" by Andrew Walker, BBC Magazine, 16 December 2005, retrieved 27 January 2005

Further reading

External links

Simple English

The Adventures of Tintin (French: Les Aventures de Tintin) is a Belgian comic strip, created by Hergé (Georges Remi) starting in the late 1920s and into the 1970s. They were originally written and published in French, but have been translated into many languages and are popular around the world.


Plot and characters

The stories center around a young reporter from Belgium named Tintin, who travels the world and has many exciting adventures with his dog, a white wire fox terrier named Snowy (Milou, in French) and later (starting with The Crab with the Golden Claws in 1941) his friend, Captain Haddock, joins them on their adventures. Other popular characters include Professor Cuthbert Calculus (Professeur Tryphon Tournesol) an absent-minded and deaf scientist and inventor, and Thomson and Thompson (Dupond et Dupont), two silly detectives.

The Books

The stories are a mixture of many different genres, including adventure, satire, and social commentary and changed over time, the first story, Tintin in the Land of Soviets came out in 1929 and the last fully completed story Tintin and the Picaros in 1976, another story Tintin in Alph-Art was never officially finished following the death of Hergé in 1983. There have been many unofficial books, but most of those are parodies or not part of the official series. The books in the official series are:

  1. Tintin in the Land of the Soviets - (1929-1930)
  2. Tintin in the Congo - (1930-1931)
  3. Tintin in America - (1931-1932)
  4. Cigars of the Pharaoh - (1932-1934)
  5. The Blue Lotus - (1934-1935)
  6. The Broken Ear - (1935-1937)
  7. The Black Island - (1937-1938)
  8. King Ottokar's Sceptre - (1938-1939)
  9. The Crab with the Golden Claws - (1940-1941)
  10. The Shooting Star - (1941-1942)
  11. The Secret of the Unicorn - (1942-1943)
  12. Red Rackham's Treasure - (1943-1944)
  13. The Seven Crystal Balls - (1943-1948)
  14. Prisoners of the Sun - (1946-1949)
  15. Land of Black Gold - (1948-1950)
  16. Destination Moon - (1950-1953)
  17. Explorers on the Moon - (1950-1954)
  18. The Calculus Affair - (1954-1956)
  19. The Red Sea Sharks - (1958)
  20. Tintin in Tibet - (1960)
  21. The Castafiore Emerald - (1963)
  22. Flight 714 - (1968)
  23. Tintin and the Picaros - (1976)
  24. Tintin and Alph-Art - (finished by someone else in 1986)

Other media

The Tintin Shop in London, England

There have also been plays, films, and animated cartoons based on the stories. There are also Tintin Shops in Europe, which sell books, toys and other items based on the books. Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson are making a movie about Tintin.

Other websites

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