Created by Belgian artist Georges Prosper Remi who wrote under the pen name of Hergé, ‘The Adventures of Tintin’, is a series of classic comic books that reached iconic status in the 20th century. The comic strip has been long admired for its clean, expressive drawing in Hergé’s signature ligne clair style.
The protagonist of the series is Tintin, a young Belgian reporter, who takes on unusual and dangerous cases, which almost always end up with him heroically saving the day. Tintin is considered to be a neutral entity: an everyday man who the masses can identify with. He is said to represent Hergé’s Boy Scout ideals and is described as an open-ended, intelligent, courageous and creative character. Almost as famous as him is his ever faithful white fox terrier, Snowy, who accompanies him every step of the way. Snowy often “speaks” to the readers through his thoughts, displaying a dry sense of humour. The bond between the two of them runs deep and they have often saved each other from dangerous situations. (Not counting the times Snowy gets distracted by bones or whisky that is…)
Other recurring prominent characters include the brilliantly intelligent yet slightly lost Professor Calculus, the brash, cynical and grumpy Captain Haddock, the whimsical opera singer Bianca Castafiore and the extremely clumsy and incompetent twin detectives Thompson and Thomson.
The reason for the series’ soaring success is the painstaking details that the cartoonist went into while creating it-“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”. Hergé mingled fictional and real lands into his stories and he went on to create the imaginary nations of Syldavia and Borduria (complete with travel brochures and specific cultures) and the Kingdom of Gaipajama in India.
The rising interest in the series by literary critics gave rise to a study known as ‘Tintinology’, where the elements of fantasy, mystery, supernatural and science fiction that prevailed in the comics were studied. Tintin comics were accused, by some, of propagating racial stereotypes, fascist and colonialist leanings and animal cruelty. Hergé, accepted these claims saying that, “”I was fed the prejudices of the bourgeois society that surrounded me.”
Take time in reading these comics. Chew on them. Inwardly digest them. Be challenged by them and challenge them. And we promise, you’ll be screaming
“Billions of bilious blue blistering barnacles!” before you even finish.
By Sanjana Ahuja