TinTin – The Art Of Hergé by Michael Daubert (book review).

February 27, 2016 | By | Reply More

Comic fans are known for their obsession but countries like Japan and Belgium take it to different extremes. For Belgium, its TinTin, Hergé’s nineteen year-old reporter/detective with his hair in a constant quiff having been blown that way in his first adventure. He even has a museum dedicated to him. Can you imagine that with any of the characters in other countries? Well, all right, maybe Disney has but not to a single character.

TinTinHerge

Hergé is the name that Georges-Prosper Remi is better known as. His pseudonym coming from his initials RG in reverse, which phonetically is Hergé. No, I haven’t figured out why why initials are back-to-front, neither. His career started doing a comicstrip for ‘Le Boy-scout belge’ as Hergé was a devout scout in his teens. This got him his job as a cartoonist and his first ‘TinTin’ story, ‘The Black Island’ out in 1937-38 and printed as a graphic novel in 1943. I should point out that all the samples, many of them original pre-translation in this book are in French (Belgium has two languages, the other being Flemish or Dutch) with no English translations. As cartoons depend on visual language, you can get some of the gist from some of them. I should point out that Hergé insisted on word balloons than subtexts served him in good stead.

It’s rather interesting seeing Hergé’s art develop. Certainly from his layouts and other material, it’s obvious he had a wide range of artistic talent. He also grew up a team to fulfil his deadlines but obviously held control right up to his death of leukaemia in 1983. When you consider that the ‘TinTin’ books have been printed in over one hundred languages and over 23 million sold world-wide, it’s understandable that cartoons and the recent film ‘The Secret Of The Unicorn’ added to this. Lest you didn’t know, TinTin even went to the Moon in two books ‘Destination Moon’ and ‘Explorers On The Moon’. The red rocket used throughout was actually made as a model to ensure consistency throughout, with interiors, and there are photos of it from the museum. Indeed, there are also photos of the cars and ship TinTin and his mates went on to help as drawing guides.

After covering Hergé’s history, author Michael Daubert turns to the characters themselves where you can gather bits of information. I mean did you know that Captain Haddock’s first name is Archibald or the way to tell the difference between the two Thompson Twins is to look at their moustaches. Oddly, there is no reveal as to what TinTin’s surname is although there is reference to a Benjamin Rabier character called TinTin-Lutin which looks like a pre-teen version.

To say Hergé was purely a Belgium icon belies the photos of his travels and his fans world-wide, including Andy Warhol who did a four version print of him. Just in case you thought this was all Hergé drew, there are also sample of ‘Kwik en Flupke’ (‘Quick And Flupke’) based around a pair of kids.

Although the page length looks huge, much of it is devoted to illustrations and photos and will give you a comprehensive knowledge of TinTin and his continuing success. It also gives you a lot of knowledge about Hergé himself and despite his success, his own insecurities. Even if you’re not a TinTin fan, the insights into how the work was put together will certainly attract your attention.

GF Willmetts

February 2016

(pub: Abrams Comicarts. page illustrated large square hardback. Price: £30.00 (UK), $45.00 (US), $52.00 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-4197-1093-3)

check out websites : www.abramsandchronicles.co.uk, www.tintin.com and www.museeherge.com

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Category: Books, Comics, Illustration

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About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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