“[Hergé] once showed me a letter from a nine-year-old Indian boy who said he wanted to follow Tintin’s example,” Farr recalls. “With a tear in his eye, Hergé told me: ‘But I wrote this 50 years ago for Belgian boys and girls!’” The global popularity was something of a surprise for Tintin’s creator, who Farr describes as “one of the most charming, modest and unassuming people I have ever come across”.
Despite Hergé’s modesty, it’s the series’ global popularity that has allowed Farr to pursue his research. He describes Tintinology as “the study of all things relating to Tintin, for fun!” but anyone who speaks to ardent Tintin fans and experts will quickly realise that it’s also an established branch of study with an extensive pool of literature and resources. A simple Google search of Tintinology brings up all manner of journal articles and published books. Farr himself has written several, including Tintin: The Complete Companion, the go-to tome for any Tintin fan.
It’s the timelessness of this un-ageing boy-hero that Farr believes keeps the series as popular as ever. “I believe Tintin has such timeless appeal because of the quality of Hergé’s work,” he explains. “The narrative and the drawing, its intense reality, its page-turning excitement and abundant humour. It is a classic of its kind.”
For Farr, one of the most interesting aspects of the series is that despite years of study, it continues to surprise him. “It’s not that the way I read The Adventures of Tintin has changed over the years, but I surprise myself at how often I can read [the comics] and discover new qualities and aspects each time,” he says.
As a subject, Tintinology largely focuses on the richly depicted variety of Tintin’s adventures; Farr attributes this to Hergé’s attention to detail and varied interests. “[Hergé] saw humour in everything and, like Tintin, supported those who were exploited or oppressed,” he says. “[Hergé] was captivated by modern art as well as new technology and developed a particular interest in Eastern philosophy and religion. Tintin developed out of a European tradition pioneered by Hergé, one based on realism and probability.”
Michael Farr, Tintinologist will give a lecture, ‘The Art of Tintin’ in blueprint on Saturday 18 November as part of The World of Tintin: Conferences.
Read more: https://www.eventbrite.hk/e/the-world-of-tintin-conferences-tickets-39213621999?aff=es2
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.
Follow @artistreehk on Instagram for all the #tintin_Artistree action