The Adventures of Tintin (Les Aventures de Tintin) is a series of comic strip narratives developed by Georges Remi, better known as Hergé. In 1929, they first appeared in French in a supplement to the Belgian newspaper Le Vingtième Siècle for children. Featuring a diverse cast of well-developed characters and vivid surroundings, The Adventures of Tintin takes place in a world that has been meticulously studied to reflect our own. For more than 70 years, the series has been a favorite of readers and critics alike.
Tintin is the protagonist of the series, a young reporter and traveler. Snowy (Milou in French), his beloved dog, has been by his side throughout his exploits. Eventually, Captain Haddock and other characters were added to the cast, making the show more popular.
Because of the series ‘ success, serialized strips were collected into albums, spun into a popular magazine, and used in film and theater adaptations. One of the most widely read European comics of the twentieth century, the series has been translated into more than 50 languages and has sold more than 200 million copies worldwide.
Hergé’s signature ligne claire technique has long been praised for the comic strip’s clean, expressive visuals. A wide range of genres is represented in these well-researched stories, including swashbuckling adventures with fantasy overtones, mysteries, political thrillers, and science fiction. Later albums in the Tintin series offer more nuanced satire and political/cultural criticism to balance out the slapstick humor.
Overview of Adventures of Tintin
Hergé takes advantage of Tintin’s role as a reporter to have him appear in several stories that took place at the same time as the events in which he was reporting, including the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, World War II, and the moon landings. Hergé used a well-maintained image database to create a simplified but realistic representation of Tintin’s universe, a result of which Hergé could achieve by reducing detail.
Hergé imbued Tintin’s adventures with his own sense of humor and developed supporting characters who, despite being predictable, were full of charm that allowed the reader to connect with them, even though they were formulaic. The Three Stooges or the Peanuts cartoons use a similar comforting, hilarious predictability formula. Moreover, Hergé was well-versed in the mechanics of the comic strip’s rhythm, as demonstrated in The Castafiore Emerald, a work he intended to be tense despite the lack of action.
Before planning out Tintin’s escapades, Hergé had no idea how the character would get out of any jams he encountered. Cigars of the Pharaoh was Hergé’s first opportunity to investigate and plot his stories. Zhang Chongren, a Chinese student who heard Hergé was planning to send Tintin to China in his next adventure, advised him to avoid perpetuating Europeans’ perceptions of China at the time. After The Blue Lotus, Hergé and Zhang cooperated on the next serial, which critics have dubbed Hergé’s first masterpiece.
Characters of Tintin
Tintin and Snowy
As a young Belgian reporter and an experienced fighter pilot, Tintin is frequently called upon to take heroic action to save the day in dangerous situations. Tintin is almost always seen working on an investigation as part of his job as a reporter, yet he is almost never shown completing an article. While the supporting cast members are more vibrant in their personalities, he is less so.
Tintin’s four-legged sidekick, Snowy, is an extremely white terrier who goes everywhere with him. Dog and Tintin have a strong friendship that often saves them both from dangerous situations.
Snowy, like Captain Haddock, is a fan of Loch Lomond whisky. This, combined with his irrational fear of spiders, often gets him into trouble. Despite the fact that Snowy’s French name is “Milou,” it has nothing to do with snow or white. Hergé’s childhood love, Marie-Louise Van Cutsem, Hergé’s nickname for her was “Milou.”
Captain Haddock’s character
Tintin’s best friend is Captain Archibald Haddock, a nautical captain of disputed origins (he may be of English, French, or Belgian background). As his character’s development progressed, Haddock’s flaws were revealed, and he gained respectability. In the episode “Red Rackham’s Treasure,” he transforms into a hero worthy of his illustrious ancestor, Sir Francis Haddock, and even becomes a socialite. As a counterbalance to Tintin’s often improbable valor, Captain’s gruff humor and sarcasm provide a dry critique anytime, the child reporter appears too idealistic. Marlinspike Hall is Captain Haddock’s palatial home (“Moulinsart” in the original French).
In order to express himself, Haddock uses a variety of colorful insults and curses, such as “billions of bilious blue blistering barnacles,” “ten thousand thundering typhoons,” “troglodytes,” “bashi-bazouk,” “kleptomaniac,” “anacoluthon,” and “pockmark,” but nothing that is actually considered a swear word. Haddock’s inebriated antics are frequently parodied in the Tintin comics as a notorious hard-drinker who prefers Loch Lomond whisky.
A melancholy English fish that drinks a lot, according to Hergé, is the origin of Haddock’s surname. Until Tintin and the Picaros (1976), when Archibald’s name was suggested, Haddock was known only by his last name.
Hergé’s supporting characters have been compared to Charles Dickens’ characters in terms of their strength of character and depth of personality, making them more developed than the protagonist. Hergé employed the supporting characters to set his protagonist’s exploits in a realistic setting. Characters would reappear throughout the series in order to maintain realism and cohesion. It has been said that Hergé was driven to focus on characterization because of the limits imposed on him during the occupation of Belgium. During this time, the majority of the supporting cast was formed.
- Professor Cuthbert Calculus: One of the supporting cast of Tintin, Snowy, and Captain Haddock, Professor Cuthbert Calculus ( “Prof. Sunflower” Professeur Tournesol, in French) is a dorky and partially deaf physicist. Initially, the main characters didn’t like him, but through his generosity and scientific prowess, he formed a lasting friendship with them, which he maintains to this day.
- Thomson and Thompson: Although they are not related by blood, Thomson and Thompson (Dupont and Dupond) seem like twins, with the only noticeable difference being their mustaches. As a result of their continuous spoonerism and incompetence, they serve as much of the series’ comic relief. They were inspired by Hergé’s father and uncle, who were identical twins and wore similar bowlers.
- Bianca Castafiore: Haddock has nothing but contempt for opera vocalist Bianca Castafiore. However, she and her staff, including maid Irma and musician Igor Wagner, appear to be everywhere they go. Based on Hergé’s Aunt Ninie, she was created.
- Nestor the butler, Alcazar the South American commander, Kalish Ezab the emir, Abdullah the emir’s son, Chang the Chinese youngster, Muller the evil German doctor, and Rastapopolous the criminal genius are some of the other recurrent characters.
Second World War
Additionally, Hergé was compelled to alter the process of generating the comic by forces beyond his control. The newspaper that had been serializing Tintin was forced to shut down due to the outbreak of World War II and the German invasion of Belgium. Tintin in America and The Black Island were both forbidden by Nazi censors because they depicted the United States and Great Britain, and work on Land of Black Gold was also put on hold. It wasn’t until Hergé published four books and serialized two more Tintin tales in a German-licensed newspaper that Tintin was free to continue.
Post-war paper shortages necessitated alterations to the books’ layouts. For the first time in his career, Hergé was requested by publishers Casterman to consider employing smaller panel sizes and adopting an arbitrary 62-page length for his stories. With the addition of more employees (after producing the first 10 volumes with his wife and himself), Hergé was able to create a studio system.
Hergé was able to broaden the scope of his work with the introduction of color. As a result of greater production values, he was able to combine the four printing hues, which allowed him to achieve a cinematographic approach to lighting and shading in his work. With the use of color and detail, Hergé and his team may cover half a page with images or just draw attention to specific elements of a subject as in Tintin’s movie. To this end, he makes the observation that the stories he writes are like movies. The focus is on visuals rather than words.
This was also reflected in Hergé’s personal life, with Tintin in Tibet being influenced by Hergé’s nightmares. It’s not hard to see how the icy landscapes represent his recurring nightmares, which he described as being “all white”. There are no villains or moral judgments in this story, and Hergé even refuses to call the Snowman of the Himalayas “abominable.”
The end of Tintin’s adventures was rushed and unnecessary. Until Hergé’s death on March 3, 1983, Tintin and Alph-Art, the twenty-fourth adventure, had not been completed. As part of the plot, Tintin was introduced to modern art, and at the conclusion, Tintin was displayed as a work of art encased in perspex.