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By Hergé

The Adventures of Tintin

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 eponymous hero of the series.
Created by Hergé
Publication information
Publisher Casterman
Le Lombard
Methuen Publishing
Tintin in the Land of the Soviets
Tintin in the Congo
Tintin in America
Cigars of the Pharaoh
The Blue Lotus
The Broken Ear
The Black Island
King Ottokar’s Sceptre
The Crab with the Golden Claws
The Shooting Star
The Secret of the Unicorn
Red Rackham’s Treasure
The Seven Crystal Balls
Prisoners of the Sun
Land of Black Gold
Destination Moon
Explorers on the Moon
The Calculus Affair
The Red Sea Sharks
Tintin in Tibet
The Castafiore Emerald
Flight 714
Tintin and the Picaros
Tintin and Alph-Art
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
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 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 magazine and adapted for film, radio, television and theatre. 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.[1] Its popularity around the world has been attributed to its “universal appeal” and its ability to transcend “time, language and culture.”[2] [3]

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.[4][5][6][7] Its “engaging”,[8] well-researched[8][9][10] 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.[11]

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.[10]

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.[10] 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.[12] 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.[10] However, Hergé was able to continue with Tintin’s adventures, publishing four books and serialising two more adventures in a German-licensed newspaper.[10] 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.[13] 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”;[14] 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”.[15] 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.[16]

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.[10] 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.[10] Hergé notes this fact, stating “I consider my stories as movies. No narration, no descriptions, emphasis is given to images”.[17]

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”,[10] 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”.[10] 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,[18] 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 9 were re-published in colour and in a fixed 62-page format (1943-1947 & 1955). Book 10 was the first to be originally published in colour. Books 16 to 23 (and revised editions of books 4, 7 & 15) were published with Studios Hergé.

1. Tintin in the Land of the Soviets (1929-1930, 1930)
2. Tintin in the Congo (1930-1931, 1931, 1946)
3. Tintin in America (1931-1932, 1932, 1945)
4. Cigars of the Pharaoh (1932-1934, 1934, 1955)
5. The Blue Lotus (1934-1935, 1936, 1946)
6. The Broken Ear (1935-1937, 1937, 1943)
7. The Black Island (1937-1938, 1938, 1943, 1966)
8. King Ottokar’s Sceptre (1938-1939, 1939, 1947)
9. The Crab with the Golden Claws (1940-1941, 1941, 1943)
10. The Shooting Star (1941-1942, 1942)
11. The Secret of the Unicorn (1942-1943, 1943)
12. Red Rackham’s Treasure (1943, 1944)
13. The Seven Crystal Balls (1943-1946, 1948)
14. Prisoners of the Sun (1946-1948, 1949)
15. Land of Black Gold (1948-1950, 1950, 1971)
16. Destination Moon (1950-1953, 1953)
17. Explorers on the Moon (1950-1953, 1954)
18. The Calculus Affair (1954-1956, 1956)
19. The Red Sea Sharks (1956-1958, 1958)
20. Tintin in Tibet (1958-1959, 1960)
21. The Castafiore Emerald (1961-1962, 1963)
22. Flight 714 (1966-1967, 1968)
23. Tintin and the Picaros (1975-1976, 1976)
24. Tintin and Alph-Art (1986, 2004) Unfinished work, published posthumously

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



Main article: Characters in The Adventures of Tintin

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. 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.

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.

Another explanation of the origins of the two characters is possible. The first three 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. (In the original French, Snowy’s name is “Milou”) 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 Archibald Haddock

Main article: Captain Haddock

Captain Archibald Haddock, a seafaring captain of disputed ancestry (he may be of Belgian, French, or British 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” (Sometimes just “blistering barnacles”, “billions of blistering barnacles”, or “blue blistering barnacles”), “ten thousand thundering typhoons” (Sometimes just “thundering typhoons”), “troglodyte” , “bashi-bazouk“, “visigoths“, “kleptomaniac“, “ectoplasm“, “sea gherkin”, “anacoluthon“, “pockmark“, “nincompoop”, “abominable snowman”, “nitwits”, “scoundrels”, “steam rollers”, “parasites”, “floundering oath”, “blundering Bazookas“, “Popinjay“, “bragger”, “pinheads“, “miserable slugs“, “ectomorph”, “maniacs“, and “freshwater swabs” 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. He was introduced in Red Rackham’s Treasure, and based partially on Auguste Piccard,[23] 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 seems to annoy Captain Haddock.
  • Thomson and Thompson (Dupont et Dupond) are two bumbling detective twins, whose only discernible difference is 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.[11]
  • 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.


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.[8] 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[25] 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.

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”.[9]

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”.[26] 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.[27] 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.[28]

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.[29]


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’..”.[30] 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!”[31]

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.[32][33]

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‘”.[10]



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.[34] 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”.[35] 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.[36] 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”.[34]

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.[5][37] 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.[38] 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),[39] Tintin & Co. (2007)[40] and The Adventures of Hergé (2007), as had English screenwriter Harry Thompson, the author of Tintin: Hergé and his Creation (1991).[41]

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.[42] 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.”[43] 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,[44] and Tintin et le Secret d’Hergé (“Tintin and Hergé’s Secret”), published in 1993.[45] 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.[46] McCarthy considered the Adventures of Tintin to be “stupendously rich”,[47] containing “a mastery of plot and symbol, theme and sub-text”[48] 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[49] to implicit sexual intercourse[50] 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.[4]


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,[51] and scholars of Hergé such as Harry Thompson have claimed that “Hergé did what he was told by the Abbé Wallez“,[51] 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.”[31]

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“.[31] 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”.[51] By 1999, some part of this presentation was being noted as far more reasonable, with right wing British newspaper The Economist declaring: “In retrospect, however, the land of hunger and tyranny painted by Hergé was uncannily accurate”.[52]

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.[53][54] 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”.[31] The perceived problems with this book were summarised by Sue Buswell in 1988[55] 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”.[51] “Dead animals” refers to the fashion for big game hunting at the time of the work’s original publication. Drawing on André MauroisLes 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.[56] 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’.”[57][58] 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.[59]

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.[60] 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.[28]

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

Adaptations and memorabilia

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.[61]

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


The first successful attempt to adapt one of the comics into a feature film came in 1947, with the cinematic adaptation of The Crab with the Golden Claws. Written and directed by Claude Misonne and João B Michiels, the film was a colour stop-motion puppet production created by a small Belgian studio.[62]

In 1961, a French live action film, Tintin and the Golden Fleece, was released, adapted not from one of Hergé’s Adventures of Tintin but instead from an original script written by André Barret and Rémo Forlani.[63] Directed by Jean-Jacques Vierne and starring Jean-Pierre Talbot as Tintin and Georges Wilson as Haddock, the plot revolves around the protagonists travelling to Istanbul in Turkey to collect the Golden Fleece, a ship left to Haddock in the will of his friend, Themistocle Paparanic. Whilst in the city however, Tintin and Haddock discover that a group of villains also want possession of the ship, believing that it would lead them to a hidden treasure.[63]

The success of the first Tintin live action film led to a second being released in 1964, Tintin and the Blue Oranges. Again based upon an original script, once more by André Barret, it was directed by Philippe Condroyer and starred Talbot as Tintin and Jean Bouise as Haddock.[63] The plot revolves around a new invention, the blue orange, that can grow in the desert and solve world famines, which has been devised by Calculus’ friend, the Spanish Professor Zalamea. An emir whose interests are threatened by the invention of the blue orange proceeds to kidnap both Zalamea and Calculus, and Tintin and Haddock travel to Spain in order to rescue them.[63]

The next feature film to be based upon the Adventures of Tintin was the animated Tintin and the Temple of the Sun (1969), adapted from the comic books The Seven Crystal Balls and Prisoners of the Sun. Produced by Belvision, who had recently finished their television series based upon the Tintin stories, it was directed by Eddie Lateste and featured a critically acclaimed musical score by François Rauber.[64] In 1970, Belvision then released an animated promotional short, Tintin et la SGM.[65]

Steven Spielberg has directed a motion capture 3-D film film, The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn, for a planned 2011 release, based on two linked stories published in the 1940s, The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham’s Treasure[67]. Peter Jackson‘s company Weta Digital will provide the animation and special effects and Jackson will direct the second movie of the trilogy, an adaptation of Prisoners of the Sun.[68].

Television and radio

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.[69] 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.[70]

The British Broadcasting Corporation produced two “The Adventures of Tintin” series in 1992 and 1993 starring Richard Pearce as Tintin and Andrew Sachs as Snowy. Captain Haddock was played by Leo McKern in Series One and Lionel Jeffries in Series Two, Professor Calculus was played by Stephen Moore and The Thompsons were played by Charles Kay.


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.[71] The documentary was broadcast in the United States as “Tintin and I” on the PBS network, 11 July 2006.[69]


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.[72] 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.[73][74][75][76][77]

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.[77][78][79][80] 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.[81] The production was directed by Rufus Norris, and was adapted by Norris and David Greig.[81] 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).


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.[61]

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.[61] 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.[82] 2004 also saw the Belgian Centre for Comic Strip Art add an area dedicated to Hergé.[61]

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.[83]

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.[84] There are now estimated to be over 250 separate items related to the character available, with some becoming collectors items in their own right.[85]

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.”[86] 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.[87]

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 in Covent Garden, London, and is now celebrating its 27th year. Tintin shops have also opened in both Bruges and Brussels in Belgium, and in Montpellier, France. The British bookstore chain, Ottakar’s, 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.[88] There are also a number of Tintin themed cafés located around the world.[citation needed].

Stamps and coinage

Tintin’s image has been used on postage stamps on numerous occasions, the first issued by the Belgian Post in 1979 to celebrate the day of youth philately.[89] 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 book 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.[90] In 2007, to celebrate Hergé’s centennial, Belgium, France and Switzerland all plan to issue special stamps in commemoration.[91]

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.[92] 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.[92]

Parody and pastiche

A frame from Breaking Free, a revolutionary socialist comic that parodies the Adventures of Tintin.

During Hergé’s lifetime, parodies were produced of the Adventures of Tintin, with one of the earliest appearing in Belgian newspaper La Patrie after the liberation of the country from Nazi German occupation in September 1944. Entitled Tintin au Pays de Nazis (“Tintin in the Land of the Nazis”), the short and crudely drawn strip lampoons Hergé for working for a Nazi-run newspaper during the occupation.[93]

Following Hergé’s death, hundreds more unofficial parodies and pastiches of the Adventures of Tintin were produced, covering a wide variety of different genres.[94] Tom McCarthy divided such works into three specific groupings: those which are pornographic, those which are political and those which are artistic.[95] In a number of cases, the actual name “Tintin” is substituted for something similar, like Nitnit, Timtim or Quinquin, within these books.[94] Some of these parodies, such as 1976’s Tintin en Suisse (“Tintin in Switzerland”) and Jan Bucquoy’s 1992 work La Vie Sexuelle de Tintin (“The Sexual Life of Tintin”) are pornographic in content, featuring Tintin and the other characters engaged in sexual acts.[94][95][96] Another such example of a pornographic Tintin parody was Tintin in Thailand, in which Tintin, Haddock and Calculus travel to the East Asian country for a sex holiday. The book circulated from December 1999 onwards, but in 2001 Belgian police arrested those responsible and confiscated 650 copies for copyright violation.[97]

Other parodies have been produced for political reasons, for instance Tintin in Iraq lampoons the world politics of the early 21st century, with Hergé’s character General Alcazar representing President of the United States George W. Bush.[94] Written by the pseudonomeous Jack Daniels, Breaking Free (1989) is a revolutionary socialist comic set in Britain during the 1980s, with Tintin and his uncle (modelled after Captain Haddock) being working class Englishman who turn to socialism in order to oppose the capitalist policies of the Conservative Party government of Margaret Thatcher. When first published in Britain, it caused an outrage in the mainstream press, with one paper issuing the headline that “Commie nutters turn Tintin into picket yob!”[94]

Other comic creators have chosen to create stories that are more like fan fiction than parody. The Swiss comic creator Exem has produced a series of adventures about Tintin’s “evil twin” Zinzin.[94] Similarly, the Canadian comic book writer and illustrator Yves Rodier has produced a number of Tintin works, none of which have been authorised by the Hergé Foundation, including a 1986 “completion” of the unfinished Tintin and Alph-art, which he drew in imitation of Hergé’s ligne-clair style.[94]

The response to these parodies has been mixed in the Tintinological community. Many Tintinologists despise them, seeing them as an affront to Hergé’s work,[94] with this being the view taken by Nick Rodwell of the Studio Hergé, who declared that “None of these copyists count as true fans of Hergé. If they were, they would respect his wishes that no one but him draw Tintin’s adventures.”[94] Where possible, Studio Hergé have taken legal action against those known to be producing such items. Other Tintinologists have however taken a different attitude, considering such parodies and pastiches to be tributes to Hergé, and collecting them has become a “niche speciality”.[94]

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,[98] who worked closely with Hergé to attain an accurate translation as true as possible to the original work.[99] 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.[100] The albums were not very popular and only six were published in mixed order.[101] 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 word play (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.[99]

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.[99]

Unlike in the United Kingdom, the books have always had very limited popularity in the United States.[102]


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”.[103] 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”.[9]

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”.[104]

In music, Tintin has been the inspiration to a number of bands and musicians. A British 1980s pop band took the name Thompson Twins after the Tintin characters.[105] Stephen Duffy, lead singer of Duran Duran before they struck fame, had a UK number 4 hit with “Kiss Me” under the name Stephen “Tintin” Duffy; he had to drop the nickname, however, under pressure of a copyright infringement suit.[106] 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 Australia’s round-faced former prime minister and subsequent foreign 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.[107] whilst Maurice Horn’s Encyclopaedia of World Comics declares him to have “spear-headed the post World War II renaissance of European comic art”.[108] 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”.[109]

On 30 May 2010, a life-sized bronze statue of Tintin and Snowy, and more than 200 other Tintin items, including many original panels by Hergé, sold for 1.08 million euros ($1.3 million USD) at a Paris auction.[110]

Charles de Gaulle once said “My only international rival is Tintin”.[111]



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Online sites

Further reading

External links




Born Georges Prosper Remi
22 May 1907(1907-05-22)
Etterbeek, Belgium
Died 3 March 1983(1983-03-03) (aged 75)
Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, Belgium
Nationality Belgian
Area(s) Cartoonist, Writer, Artist
Pseudonym(s) Hergé
Notable works The Adventures of Tintin
Jo, Zette and Jocko
Quick & Flupke
Awards full list
Official website

Georges Prosper Remi (22 May 1907 – 3 March 1983), better known by the pen name Hergé, was a Belgian comics writer and artist. “Hergé” [ɛʁʒe] is the French pronunciation of “RG”, his initials reversed. His best known and most substantial work is The Adventures of Tintin comic book series, which he wrote and illustrated from 1929 until his death in 1983, leaving the twenty-fourth Tintin adventure Tintin and Alph-Art unfinished. His work remains a strong influence on comics, particularly in Europe. He was inducted into the Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2003.

The notable qualities of the Tintin stories include their vivid humanism, a realistic feel produced by meticulous and wide ranging research, and Hergé’s ligne claire drawing style. Adult readers enjoy the many satirical references to the history and politics of the 20th century. The Blue Lotus, for example, was inspired by the Mukden incident that led to the Chinese-Japanese War of 1934. King Ottokar’s Sceptre could be read against the background of Hitler’s Anschluss or in the context of the struggle between the Romanian Iron Guard and the King of Romania, Carol II; whilst later albums such as The Calculus Affair depict the Cold War. Hergé has become one of the most famous Belgians worldwide and Tintin is still an international success. Hergé’s work was heavily influenced by his involvement since his youth with Scouting. The long-awaited Hergé Museum was opened in Louvain-La-Neuve on 2 June 2009. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Christian de Portzamparc, the museum reflects Hergé’s huge corpus of work which has, until now, been sitting in studios and bank vaults.[1]


Childhood and early career

Georges Prosper Remi was born in 1907 in Etterbeek, in Brussels Belgium to middle class parents, Alexis Remi and his wife Elisabeth Dufour.[2] His four years of primary schooling coincided with World War I (1914–1918), during which Brussels was occupied by the German Empire. Georges, who displayed an early affinity for drawing, filled the margins of his earliest schoolbooks with doodles of the German invaders.[3] Except for a few drawing lessons which he later took at l’école Saint-Luc he never had any formal training in the visual arts.

In 1920 he began studying in the collège Saint-Boniface, a secondary school where the teachers were Catholic priests.[4] Georges joined the Boy Scouts troop of the school, where he was given the totemic name “Renard curieux” (Curious fox). Recently an old strip by him was found on a wall of this school.[5] His first drawings were published in 1922 in Jamais assez, the school’s Scout paper, and in Le Boy-Scout Belge, the Scout monthly magazine.[6] From 1924, he signed his illustrations using the pseudonym “Hergé”.[7] His subsequent comics work would be heavily influenced by the ethics of the Scouting movement, as well as the early travel experiences he made with the Scout association.[8]

On finishing school in 1925 Georges worked at the Catholic newspaper Le XXe Siècle under the editor Norbert Wallez, a Catholic abbot who kept a photograph of Mussolini in his office.[9] The following year, he published his first cartoon series, Totor, in the Scouting magazine Le Boy-Scout Belge.[10] In 1928, he was put in charge of producing material for the Le XXe Siècle’s new weekly supplement for children, Le Petit Vingtième. He began illustrating The Adventures of Flup, Nénesse, Poussette, and Cochonnet, a strip written by a member of the newspaper’s sports staff, but soon became dissatisfied with this series. Wallez asked Remi to create a young hero, a Catholic reporter who would fight for good all over the world.[9] He decided to create a comic strip of his own, which would adopt the recent American innovation of using speech balloons to depict words coming out of the characters’ mouths, inspired by their use by established French comics author Alain St. Ogan.[11]

Tintin in the Land of the Soviets, by “Hergé”, appeared in the pages of Le Petit Vingtième on 10 January 1929, and ran until 8 May 1930. The strip chronicled the adventures of a young reporter named Tintin and his pet fox terrier Snowy (Milou) as they journeyed through the Soviet Union. The character of Tintin was partly inspired by Georges’ brother Paul Remi, an officer in the Belgian army.

In January 1930 Hergé introduced Quick & Flupke (Quick et Flupke), a new comic strip about two street urchins from Brussels, in the pages of Le Petit Vingtième. For many years, Hergé continued to produce this less well-known series in parallel with his Tintin stories. In June he began the second Tintin adventure, Tintin in the Congo (then the colony of Belgian Congo), followed by Tintin in America and Cigars of the Pharaoh.

On 20 July 1932 he married Germaine Kieckens, the secretary of the director of the Le XXe Siècle,[9] whom he had first met in 1927.[12] They had no children, and eventually divorced in 1977.[13]

The early Tintin adventures each took about a year to complete, upon which they were released in book form by Le Petit Vingtième and, from 1934, by the Casterman publishing house. Hergé continued to revise these stories in subsequent editions, including a later conversion to color.

Hergé reached a watershed with The Blue Lotus, the fifth Tintin adventure. At the close of the previous story, Cigars of the Pharaoh, he had mentioned that Tintin’s next adventure would bring him to China. Father Gosset, the chaplain to the Chinese students at the Catholic University of Leuven, wrote to Hergé urging him to be sensitive about what he wrote about China. Hergé agreed, and in the spring of 1934 Gosset introduced him to Chang Chong-jen (Chang Chongren), a young sculpture student at the Brussels Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts.[14] The two young artists quickly became close friends, and Chang introduced Hergé to Chinese culture and the techniques of Chinese art. As a result of this experience, Hergé strove in The Blue Lotus, and in subsequent Tintin adventures, to be meticulously accurate in depicting the places which Tintin visited. As a token of appreciation he added a fictional “Chang Chong-Chen” to The Blue Lotus, a young Chinese boy who meets and befriends Tintin.

At the end of his studies in Brussels Chang returned home to China, and Hergé lost contact with him during the invasion of China by Japan and the subsequent civil war. More than four decades passed before the two friends would meet again.

World War II

The Second World War broke out on 1 September 1939 with the Nazi invasion of Poland. Hergé was mobilized as a reserve lieutenant, and had to interrupt Tintin’s adventures in the middle of Land of Black Gold.[15] Prior to the invasion of neutral Belgium by German forces, Hergé published humoristic drawings in L’Ouest, a paper run by future collaborator Raymond de Becker and which strongly advocated that Belgium not join the war alongside its World War One allies France and Britain.[16] By the summer of 1940 Belgium had fallen to Germany along with most of Western Continental Europe.

Le Petit Vingtième, in which Tintin’s adventures had until then been published, was shut down by the Nazi occupiers.[17] However, Hergé accepted an offer to produce a new Tintin strip in Le Soir, Brussels’ leading French daily, which had been appropriated as the mouthpiece of the occupation forces.[18] He left Land of the Black Gold unfinished, launching instead into The Crab with the Golden Claws, the first of six Tintin stories which he produced during the war.

As the war progressed, two factors arose that led to a revolution in Hergé’s style. Firstly, paper shortages forced Tintin to be published in a daily three- or four-frame strip, rather than the two full pages every week which had been the practice on Le Petit Vingtième.[19] In order to create tension at the end of each strip rather than the end of each page, Hergé had to introduce more frequent gags and faster-paced action. Secondly, Hergé had to move the focus of Tintin’s adventures away from current affairs, in order to avoid controversy. He turned to stories with an escapist flavour: an expedition to a meteorite (The Shooting Star), an intriguing mystery and treasure hunt (The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham’s Treasure), and a quest to undo an ancient Inca curse (The Seven Crystal Balls and Prisoners of the Sun).

In these stories Hergé placed more emphasis on characters than plot, and indeed Tintin’s most memorable companions, Captain Haddock and Cuthbert Calculus (in French Professeur Tryphon Tournesol), were introduced at this time. Haddock debuted in The Crab with the Golden Claws and Calculus in Red Rackham’s Treasure.

The Shooting Star was nonetheless controversial. The story line involved a race between two ship crews trying to reach a meteorite which had landed in the Arctic. Hergé chose a subject that was as fantastic as possible rather than issues related to the crisis of the times to avoid trouble with the censors. Nonetheless politics intruded. The crew Tintin joined was composed of Europeans from Axis or neutral countries (“Europe”) while their underhanded rivals were Americans (although in later editions the US flag was removed from the rival ship; see the image on the The Shooting Star page), financed by a person with a Jewish name and what Nazi propagandists called “Jewish features.”[20] Tintin also flies in a German Arado Ar 196 plane.

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 (see the image on the Ideology of Tintin page).

In 1943 Hergé met Edgar P. Jacobs, another comics artist, whom he hired to help revise the early Tintin albums.[21] Jacobs’ most significant contribution would be his redrawing of the costumes and backgrounds in the revised edition of King Ottokar’s Sceptre which gave it a Balkan feel—in the original, the castle guards had been dressed as British Beefeaters. Jacob also began collaborating with Hergé on a new Tintin adventure, The Seven Crystal Balls (see above).

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 in for interrogation after the war.[22] He claimed that he was simply doing a job under the occupation, like a plumber or carpenter.

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.”[23] The Tintin character was never depicted as adhering to these beliefs. However, it has been argued that anti-Semitic themes continued, especially in the depiction of Tintin’s enemy Rastapopoulos in the post-war Flight 714,[24] though other writers argue against this, pointing out the way that Rastapopoulos surrounds himself with explicitly German-looking characters: Kurt, the submarine (or u-boat) commander of The Red Sea Sharks; Doctor Krollspell, whom Hergé himself referred to as a former concentration camp official, and Hans Boehm, the sinister-looking navigator and co-pilot, both from Flight 714.[25]

Post-war troubles

The occupation of Brussels ended on 3 September 1944. Tintin’s adventures were interrupted toward the end of The Seven Crystal Balls when the Allied authorities shut down Le Soir.[26] During the chaotic post-occupation period, Hergé was arrested four times by different groups.[27] He was publicly accused of being a Nazi/Rexist sympathizer, a claim which was largely unfounded, as the Tintin adventures published during the war were scrupulously free of politics (the only dubious point occurring in The Shooting Star, discussed above). In fact, one or two stories published before the war had been critical of fascism; most prominently, King Ottokar’s Sceptre showed Tintin working to defeat a coup attempt that could be seen as an allegory of the Anschluss, Nazi Germany‘s takeover of Austria. Nevertheless, like other former employees of the Nazi-controlled press, Hergé found himself barred from newspaper work. He spent the next two years working with Jacobs, as well as a new assistant, Alice Devos, adapting many of the early Tintin adventures into colour.[28]

Tintin’s exile ended on 26 September 1946. The publisher and wartime resistance fighter Raymond Leblanc provided the financial support and anti-Nazi credentials to launch the comics magazine titled Tintin with Hergé. The weekly publication featured two pages of Tintin’s adventures, beginning with the remainder of The Seven Crystal Balls, as well as other comic strips and assorted articles.[29] It became highly successful, with circulation surpassing 100,000 every week.

Tintin had always been credited as simply “by Hergé”, without mention of Edgar Pierre Jacobs and Hergé’s other assistants. As Jacobs’ contribution to the production of the strip increased, he asked for a joint credit in 1944, which Hergé refused. They continued to collaborate intensely until 1946, when Jacobs went on to produce his own comics for Tintin magazine, including the widely-acclaimed Blake and Mortimer.[30]

Personal crisis

The increased demands which Tintin magazine placed on Hergé began to take their toll. In 1947 Prisoners of the Sun was interrupted for two months when an exhausted Hergé took a long vacation.[31] Hergé, disillusioned by his treatment and that of many of his colleagues and friends after the war, planned to migrate with his wife Germaine to Argentina, but later abandoned the plan when he began a love affair.[32] In 1949, while working on the new version of Land of Black Gold (the first version had been left unfinished by the outbreak of World War II), Hergé suffered a nervous breakdown and was forced to take an abrupt four month-long break.[33] He suffered another breakdown in early 1950, while working on Destination Moon.[34]

In order to lighten Hergé’s workload Hergé Studios was set up on 6 April 1950.[35] The studio employed several assistants to aid Hergé in the production of The Adventures of Tintin. Foremost among these was artist Bob de Moor, who collaborated with Hergé on the remaining Tintin adventures, filling in details and backgrounds such as the spectacular lunar landscapes in Explorers on the Moon.[36] With the aid of the studio, Hergé managed to produce The Calculus Affair from 1954 until 1956, followed by The Red Sea Sharks in 1956-1957.

By the end of this period his personal life was again in crisis. His marriage with Germaine was breaking apart after twenty-five years; he had fallen in love with Fanny Vlamynck, a young artist who had recently joined the Hergé Studios.[37] Furthermore, he was plagued by recurring nightmares filled with whiteness.[38] He consulted a Swiss psychoanalyst, who advised him to give up working on Tintin.[39] Instead, he finished Tintin in Tibet, started the year before.

Published in Tintin magazine from September 1958 to November 1959, Tintin in Tibet sent Tintin to the Himalayas in search of Chang Chong-Chen, the Chinese boy he had befriended in The Blue Lotus. The adventure allowed Hergé to confront his nightmares by filling the book with austere alpine landscapes, giving the adventure a powerfully spacious setting. The normally rich cast of characters was pared to a minimum—Tintin, Captain Haddock, and the sherpa Tharkey—as the story focused on Tintin’s dogged search for Chang. Hergé came to regard this highly personal and emotionally riveting Tintin adventure as his favorite.[40] The completion of the story seemed also to signal an end to his problems: he was no longer troubled by nightmares, divorced Germaine in 1977 (they had separated in 1960), and finally married Fanny Vlamynck on 20 May of the same year.[41]

Last years

The last three complete Tintin adventures were produced at a much-reduced pace: The Castafiore Emerald in 1961, Flight 714 to Sydney in 1966, and Tintin and the Picaros in 1975. However, by this time Tintin had begun to move into other media. From the start of Tintin magazine, Raymond Leblanc had used Tintin for merchandising and advertisements. In 1961 the second Tintin film was made: Tintin and the Golden Fleece, starring Jean-Pierre Talbot as Tintin[42] (an earlier stop motion-animated film was made in 1947 called The Crab with the Golden Claws, but it was screened publicly only once).[43] Several traditionally-animated Tintin films have also been made, beginning with The Calculus Case in 1961.

The financial success of Tintin allowed Hergé to devote more of his time to travel. He travelled widely across Europe, and in 1971 visited America for the first time, meeting some of the Native Americans whose culture had long been a source of fascination for him.[44] In 1973 he visited Taiwan, accepting an invitation offered three decades before by the Kuomintang government, in appreciation of The Blue Lotus.[45]

In a remarkable instance of life mirroring art, Hergé managed to resume contact with his old friend Chang Chong-jen, years after Tintin rescued the fictional Chang Chong-Chen in the closing pages of Tintin in Tibet. Chang had been reduced to a street sweeper by the Cultural Revolution, before becoming the head of the Fine Arts Academy in Shanghai during the 1970s. He returned to Europe for a reunion with Hergé in 1981, and settled in Paris in 1985, where he died in 1998.[46]

Hergé died on 3 March 1983, aged 75.[47] He had been severely ill for several years, but the nature of his disease was unclear, possibly leukemia or a form of porphyria. His death was hastened by the HIV he had acquired during his weekly blood transfusions.[48]

He left the twenty-fourth Tintin adventure, Tintin and Alph-Art, unfinished. Following his expressed desire not to have Tintin handled by another artist, it was published posthumously as a set of sketches and notes in 1986. In 1987 Fanny closed the Hergé Studios, replacing it with the Hergé Foundation. In 1988 the Tintin magazine was discontinued.

A cartoon version of Hergé makes a number of cameo appearances in Ellipse-Nelvana‘s The Adventures of Tintin TV cartoon series.

Hergé gave all rights to the creation of dolls and merchandise after his death to Michel Aroutcheff. Michel was Hergé’s neighbour and a good friend. Aroutcheff then sold on these rights only keeping the right to make Tintin’s red rocket when he goes to the moon.


Only the works marked * have been translated into English

Work Year Remarks
Totor 1926–1930 Hergé’s first work, published in Le Boy Scout Belge, about a brave scout.
Flup, Nénesse, Poussette and Piglet 1928 Written by a sports reporter, published in Le Petit Vingtième
‘Le Sifflet’ strips 1928–1929 7 almost forgotten one-page strips drawn by Hergé for this paper
The Adventures of Tintin * 1929–1983 24 volumes, one unfinished
Quick and Flupke * 1930–1940 12 volumes, 11 translated to English
  early 1930s A short series Hergé made for his small advertising company Atelier Hergé. Only 4 pages.[49]
Fred and Mile 1931  
The Adventures of Tim the Squirrel out West 1931
The Amiable Mr. Mops 1932  
The Adventures of Tom and Millie 1933 Two stories written.
Popol out West * 1934  
Dropsy 1934  
Jo, Zette and Jocko * 1936–1957 5 volumes
Mr. Bellum 1939  
Thompson and Thomson, Detectives 1943 Written by Paul Kinnet, appeared in Le Soir
They Explored the Moon 1969 A short comic charting the moon landings published in Paris Match


In 1989 an Anarchist graphic novel entitled Breaking Free was published in England under the pseudonym “Jack Daniels”. The propaganda story is not related to any of the original Tintin novels, but mimics Hergé’s style and includes several Tintin characters. Since the book was published without copyright and was released into the public domain, Hergé’s estate could not take legal action.[citation needed]

This was just one of many cases of unofficial books being released, though often, as in the case of Tintin in Thailand, Hergé’s estate were able to take legal action. For a list of such books see List of Tintin parodies and pastiches.

Awards and recognition

  • 1971: Adamson Awards, Sweden
  • 1972: Yellow Kid “una vita per il cartooning” (lifetime award) at the festival of Lucca[50]
  • 1973: Grand Prix Saint Michel of the city of Brussels
  • 1999: Included in the Harvey Award Jack Kirby Hall of Fame
  • 2003: Included in the Eisner Award Hall of Fame as the Judge’s choice
  • 2005: Included in the running for De Grootste Belg (The Greatest Belgian). In the Flemish version he ended on 24th place. In the Walloon version he came 8th.
  • 2007: Selected as the main motif for a high-value commemorative coin, the 100th anniversary of Hergé’s birth commemorative coin minted in 2007, with a face value of 20 euro. On the obverse there is a self portrait of Hergé on the left. To the right of the portrait there is a portrait of Tintin. In the bottom of the coin Hergé’s signature is depicted.

According to the UNESCO‘s Index Translationum, Hergé is the ninth-most-often-translated French-language author, the second-most-often-translated Belgian author after Georges Simenon, and the second-most-often-translated French-language comics author behind René Goscinny.[51]

1652 Hergé, an asteroid of the main belt is named after him (see also 1683 Castafiore).


  1. ^ “Two New Museums for Tintin and Magritte”. Time. 30 May 2009.,8599,1901775,00.html. Retrieved 2009-05-30. 
  2. ^ Goddin, Philippe (2008) (in Dutch). Hergé. Levenslijnen. Biografie. Moulinsart. pp. 25. ISBN 9782874241710
  3. ^ Goddin, Philippe (2008). Op. cit., 49.
  4. ^ Goddin, Philippe (2008). Op. cit., 62.
  5. ^ Old Hergé mural found on the wall of his scout meeting place
  6. ^ Goddin, Philippe (2008). Op. cit., 70.
  7. ^ Goddin, Philippe (2008). Op. cit., 92.
  8. ^ Goddin, Philippe (2008). Op. cit., 76.
  9. ^ a b c Numa Sadoul. (2003). Tintin et moi. [Betacam SP]. Geneva, Canton Geneva, Switzerland: Angel Films. Event occurs at 10:20-10:40. 
  10. ^ Goddin, Philippe (2008). Op. cit., 100.
  11. ^ Goddin, Philippe (2008). Op. cit., 122.
  12. ^ Goddin, Philippe (2008). Op. cit., 108.
  13. ^ Goddin, Philippe (2008). Op. cit., 934.
  14. ^ Goddin, Philippe (2008). Op. cit., 200.
  15. ^ Goddin, Philippe (2008). Op. cit., 256.
  16. ^ Jean-Claude Valla, “La Belgique de la Jeune Europe” in Nouvelle Revue d’Histoire No. 42 Mai-Juin 2009 at p.55
  17. ^ Goddin, Philippe (2008). Op. cit., 260.
  18. ^ Goddin, Philippe (2008). Op. cit., 261.
  19. ^ Goddin, Philippe (2008). Op. cit., 280.
  20. ^ Hugo Frey, “Trapped in the Past: Anti-Semitism in Hergé’s Flight 714” in Mark McKinney ed., History and Politics in French-Language Comics and Graphic Novels at p.28
  21. ^ Goddin, Philippe (2008). Op. cit., 290.
  22. ^ Goddin, Philippe (2008). Op. cit., 330.
  23. ^ Haagse Post. March 1973
  24. ^ Hugo Frey, “Trapped in the Past: Anti-Semitism in Hergé’s Flight 714” in Mark McKinney, ed., History and Politics in French-Language Comics and Graphic Novels at p.31
  25. ^ The Metamorphoses of Tintin: or Tintin for Adults by Jean-Marie Apostolidès, Jocelyn Hoy, published in 2009 by Stanford University Press
  26. ^ Goddin, Philippe (2008). Op. cit., 325.
  27. ^ Goddin, Philippe (2008). Op. cit., 331.
  28. ^ Goddin, Philippe (2008). Op. cit., 345.
  29. ^ Goddin, Philippe (2008). Op. cit., 365.
  30. ^ Goddin, Philippe (2008). Op. cit., 373.
  31. ^ Goddin, Philippe (2008). Op. cit., 393.
  32. ^ Goddin, Philippe (2008). Op. cit., 420.
  33. ^ Goddin, Philippe (2008). Op. cit., 462.
  34. ^ Goddin, Philippe (2008). Op. cit., 489.
  35. ^ Goddin, Philippe (2008). Op. cit., 484.
  36. ^ Goddin, Philippe (2008). Op. cit., 506.
  37. ^ Goddin, Philippe (2008). Op. cit., 567.
  38. ^ Goddin, Philippe (2008). Op. cit., 632.
  39. ^ Goddin, Philippe (2008). Op. cit., 656.
  40. ^ Goddin, Philippe (2008). Op. cit., 657.
  41. ^ Goddin, Philippe (2008). Op. cit., 934.
  42. ^ Goddin, Philippe (2008). Op. cit., 695.
  43. ^ Goddin, Philippe (2008). Op. cit., 404.
  44. ^ Goddin, Philippe (2008). Op. cit., 834.
  45. ^ Goddin, Philippe (2008). Op. cit., 887.
  46. ^ Tintin’s new adventure in HollywoodThe First Post
  47. ^ Goddin, Philippe (2008). Op. cit., 975.
  48. ^ Goddin, Philippe (2008). Op. cit., 973.
  49. ^ See Benoit Peeters’ book Tintin and the World of Herge, page 148
  50. ^ “History of the Lucca festival”. 1972. Retrieved 15 July 2006. 
  51. ^ Index Translationum French top 10

Further reading

External links

v · d · eThe Adventures of Tintin by HergéThe Adventures of TintinTintin in the Land of the Soviets (1930) · Tintin in the Congo (1931) · Tintin in America (1932) · Cigars of the Pharaoh (1934) · The Blue Lotus (1936) · The Broken Ear (1937) · The Black Island (1938) · King Ottokar’s Sceptre (1939) · The Crab with the Golden Claws (1941) · The Shooting Star (1942) · The Secret of the Unicorn (1943) · Red Rackham’s Treasure (1944) · The Seven Crystal Balls (1948) · Prisoners of the Sun (1949) · Land of Black Gold (1950) · Destination Moon (1953) · Explorers on the Moon (1954) · The Calculus Affair (1956) · The Red Sea Sharks (1958) · Tintin in Tibet (1960) · The Castafiore Emerald (1963) · Flight 714 (1968) · Tintin and the Picaros (1976) · Tintin and Alph-Art (1986, unfinished)  Characters





Video games

Other series


Related names


I, Tintin (1976) · Tintin and I (2003)
Totor (1926) · Quick and Flupke (1930–40) · Popol out West (1934) · Jo, Zette and Jocko (1936–57) · Minor comics by Hergé (1928–69)