Tintin turned 88 this week on January 10th though technically he still is somewhere between 15 and 19 years old. The reporter-sleuth who was more of the latter than the former as his report on Soviet Union in his very first appearance ‘Tintin in the Land of the Soviets, 1929’ was perhaps ironically his only journalistic report ever shown.
Pretty ironic since his very first appearance published on Jan 10th, 1929 in ‘Le Petit Vingtieme’ (Little Twentieth), a weekly youth supplement to the ‘Le Vingtième Siècle’ (The Twentieth Century) clearly in its very first line read “At Le Petit XX we are always eager to satisfy our readers and keep them up to date with foreign affairs. We have therefore sent one of our top reporters to Soviet Russia.” Who would have imagined this reporter turned detective would go on to solve dozens of cases that would make him one of the greatest comic cults of the Twentieth century. No ordinary reporter has ever landed more scoops and no ordinary reporter has sold more books- 200 million copies, 70 different copies.
Created by Georges Prosper Remi, under his pen name Herge, Tintin was based loosely on Herge’s previous creation Totor (strikingly similar to Tintin). Some claim that Tintin was loosely based on the author’s younger brother Paul Remi, a soldier, while others claim that Tintin was inspired by a Danish Boy Scout Palle Huld, a 15 year old who had travelled around the world. Though Herge had previously created Totor which ran as a strip for three years until Tintin embarked on his first ever adventure- Tintin in the Land of the Soviets.
In one of his interviews the creator, Herge begs to differ he says, “As a child I imagined myself in the role of a sort of Tintin” (sic)
Tintin was by far the most pious of reporters found in that era abstaining from a range of habits associated with people of that day and age. An extremely well-grounded youth of the ‘Greatest Generation’ era with remarkable ideals and bravado, incredible good luck riding with him, possessed by special skills such as his ability to learn different languages, and drive different types of vehicles.
Despite what has been shared with the readers, the character still lacks a background story or even family members. Amazingly none of these omissions has ever detracted from his popularity, allowing readers to fill in the gaps themselves.
Tintin in his escapades was accompanied by Snowy ( French: Milou) a Fox Terrier inspired by a Fox Terrier at a café Herge used to frequent. Other characters in his adventures included a grumpy seafaring Captain Haddock(French: Captaine Haddock), an absent minded, half-deaf physicist named Professor Calculus, two incompetent detectives name Thomson and Thompson who were purely used for comic relief.
Tintin’s adventures were nothing short of perilous, still he brought in a ray of hope for a generation for whom democracy had proven deceptive and the New Order was the only ray of hope.
“The idea for the character of Tintin and the sort of adventures that would befall him came to me, I believe, in five minutes, the moment I first made a sketch of the figure of this hero: that is to say, he had not haunted my youth or even my dreams.“(sic) said Herge in one of his interviews in 1966.
Everybody wants to be Tintin, generations after generations and today, after 88 years, Tintin still lives on in popular culture, in the form of movies (Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, 2011) museums, cafes and comics representing an unattainable ideal of goodness, cleanness and authenticity at a tender age of somewhere between 15 and 19 years old.
Image source: http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/subcultures/the-adventures-of-tintin