Your New BFF: Tintin

18 Jul

Europe seems to be in love with Tintin.  In fact, they have a hard time understanding that the vast majority of Americans have no idea who this guy is.  So let’s learn a bit about him today and when that Spielberg movie comes out you can say you knew him when.

Tintin is a much beloved comic by a man named Georges Remi.  Although he took his initials, turned them around and used that for his pen name – Hergé.  He worked for a newspaper in the 1920s and began drawing Tintin for the children’s section.  His strips would form a story if you read them every day.  Soon he was on to his third tale when books were being made to collect Tintin’s adventures.  This is typical of how Belgians read comics.  Though they see them in newspapers they will typically buy the well-made books for their collections.  Over 60% of the books produced in Belgium are comics.

Tintin's loyal sidekick, Snowy, finds a leak in a whiskey car. Canine drinking is serious business.

Though Tintin first appeared in 1929, it was in 1934 that his character really began to change.  Hergé met a young Chinese student by the name of Chang.  This man helped to understand that his work needed accurate detail.  That Hergé could not make generalizations about foreign lands and people as he did.  To this day Tintin is still criticized for racial stereotypes, sexism and cruelty to animals.  Though Hergé’s work largely reflected the time, it was his meeting with Chang that helped him to see there was another route.  As time went on the research involved in one Tintin book could take as long as four years.

Walt Disney was contacted by Hergé in regards to a possible film deal but he never responded.  Perhaps Tintin was too much competition for Mickey Mouse?  He’s just as popular overseas.  Now Stephen Spielberg is making a movie of the Belgian comic hero.  Although he bought the rights in the 1980s, no project had come to life until now.  And it’s likely to be a trilogy involving Peter Jackson, from what I read.  Not too shabby.  Jackson’s connection might explain why Andy Serkis (better known as Gollum from the Lord of the Rings movies) is involved.  Jamie Bell of Billy Elliott will play Tintin.  The movie is expected to be out this fall and has some fantastic-looking previews.

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