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What’s He All About? Tintin 101


By Amanda Sheppard

The loveable teen with the trademark quiff and an unending thirst for adventure sought to journey the world over. His travels are chronicled in 24 tales in 100 languages, with over 230 million copies of the comic albums in print – and eight of these works will be showcased at THE WORLD OF TINTIN at the new ArtistTree from 17 November to 26 December.

“Hergé created a legacy that has stood the test of time”

Through his youthful creation, Belgian cartoonist Hergé (real name Georges Remi) carved a space in the imagination of readers everywhere, and created a legacy that has stood the test of time; 25 years after Tintin and the Alph-art was posthumously released, he was given the silver screen treatment and resurrected by lifelong fan Steven Spielberg.

Ever the paladin, Tintin the young journalist spoke volumes not only of Hergé’s vivid imagination, but also served as a gauge of the social climate – reflecting on the Europe around him; born into occupied Belgium, journeying through the Soviet Union, the Belgian Congo and beyond, he had many a tale to tell. Hergé’s ligne claire style (highly detailed, with thick lines and bold colouring), much like the depictions of Tintin himself, changed little over his lifetime.

Tintin’s predecessor was Totor, a boy scout. Introduced to the Belgian public in 1926, Totor is credited with having a profound influence on the boy detective who followed suit.

Four years later, Tintin made his debut in Le Petit Vingtième, the youth supplement to a Catholic broadsheet. The stories were serialised here until his popularity required the creation of an independent Tintin magazine in 1946.

Tintin’s first adventure, Tintin in the Land of the Soviets, saw him at ideological loggerheads in a confrontation with the Soviet secret police. As the events of the Second World War began to unfold, newspapers across Belgium were forced into closure – including Le Petit Vingtième. “The Adventures of Tintin” was later published in the youth supplement of Belgium’s main news outlet, Le Soir, where he transformed from a journalist into an intrepid explorer, rendering him less political and less contentious a character.

As Tintin’s adventures became more ambitious, so too did Hergé, whose team at Studios Hergé grew until his passing in 1983. The adventures drew to a close in 1986, and the studio was later transformed into a non-profit foundation celebrating the life of the ever-young, eternal optimist.

Think you know our beloved teen hero? Here are a few facts that even his legion of followers may have overlooked: 

● Tintin’s age is never stated; Hergé has speculated him to be roughly 14 years old, but he ages a mere handful of years in a career spanning four decades.

● Hergé makes several cameo appearances as a seemingly nondescript blond man in Tintin in the Congo, King Ottokar's Sceptre and The Calculus Affair

● Of Tintin’s adventures, Tintin in Tibet is the only one written without a villain, focusing instead on a story of friendship.

● A man ahead of the times, Tintin landed on the moon 15 years before Neil Armstrong.

● Hergé never visited the places he sent Tintin on assignment himself, choosing instead to see the world through the eyes of his young explorer.

The HOCA Foundation, in collaboration with The Hergé Museum, presents THE WORLD OF TINTIN  

Wednesday – Sunday, 17 November – 10 December at the new ArtisTree. Due to popular demand, the exhibition will be open daily from 11 – 26 December.

See the Tintin programme page for more details. 

Follow @artistreehk on Instagram for all the #tintin_Artistree action

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