By Siobhan Brewood-Wyatt
Few cartoonists have sold more than 230 million copies of their work in over 100 different languages, but Tintin creator Georges Prosper Remi – more commonly known as Hergé – can hardly be described as your average comic book artist.
Hergé’s distinctive style maps out each scene lovingly with finesse, dotted with his signature light humour and the almost obligatory spoonerisms, usually uttered by Captain Haddock – fans are familiar with the much-loved exclamations of “Blistering Barnacles!” and “Blistering blundering birdbrain!”. So apart from his drawing skills, what else do we know about the man behind the multi-million dollar boy-reporter series?
Born in Belgium in 1907, he would go on to create The Adventures of Tintin
, introducing the world to one of the 20th century’s most iconic illustrated heroes. The series would become Hergé’s most significant work from the 40-plus years of his career, journeying far beyond his death in 1983.
Growing up in a family of modest means, Hergé developed a keen love of cinema (especially of Charlie Chaplin) from a young age. He was also an avid Boy Scout, joining when he was 12 years old. Many biographers attribute this to having had a significant impact on his moral stance as well as his work. Often described as the ‘ultimate’ Boy Scout, Pierre Assouline and Charles Ruas write, in Hergé: The Man Who Created Tintin
, “the philosophy of Scouting was the alpha and omega of [Hergé’s] moral sense.”
After Tintin in the Land of the Soviets
first appeared in the newspaper Le Petit Vingtième
in 1929, the series continued to attract fans over the following decades, although there were a few brushes with controversy. During World War II Tintin was published in Le Soir
, a French newspaper that was controlled by the Nazi party, causing some disquiet among Belgian readers who branded Hergé as disloyal. However, Hergé managed to avoid too much scandal and continued, post-war, to publish the increasingly popular series.