Tintin and his creator Hergé have always have legions of admirers: Charles de Gaulle once said ‘my only international rival is Tintin’. Pop artists Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein admired his comic strips, as have almost every comic book writer that has followed. Seth, in his picture novella ‘It’s a good life if you don’t weaken’ wrote the memorable line “Whenever I see a train, I think of Tintin”, and many comic book readers and creators see life through Tintin-shaped goggles.
There have been many biographies about Hergé and Tintin, and now José-Louis Bocquet, Jean-Luc Fromental and Stanislas Barthélémy have added a cartoon biography. Titled ‘The Adventures of Hergé’, following the format of the Tintin albums, the book is a pleasing romp through his life, from seven year old boy to his death in 1983.
In the first caption Hergé’s grandmother sings Bianca Castafiore’s signature aria the Jewel Song from Faust: “Ah my beauty past compare…”, the first of the book's many hints and references to the inspiration for his characters, which the Tintin fan can amuse themselves by spotting.
The creators also do not sweep the problematic elements of his life under the carpet, and tell the full story of working for the Nazi paper ‘Le Soir’, contrasting his own treatment with that of others who were shot for collaborating.
Hergé’s depression and marriage difficulties, are all documented, along with his love of art and his ideas of giving up cartooning to concentrate on painting.
The artist includes many iconic images from the Tintin series: the house of Professor Tarragon from ‘The Seven Crystal Balls’, the flying boat from ‘King Otokar’s Sceptre’, the Alfa Romeo from ‘The Calculus Affair’ and the telescope from ‘The Shooting Star’, which make a parade of memorable images from the books, which is, after all, the reason anyone would read this book in the first place.
Written by Mike Stonelake, illustrator, cartoonist and designer. See www.mikestonelake.com