Saturday, 11 April 2015

Tintin. The Art of Hergé

Hergé is probably the most important figure in cartooning and Tintin his most popular creation. This coffee table tome runs to almost 500 pages of reproductions from the Archives of the Hergé Museum, and will delight anyone who has enjoyed the books.

The first chapter is dedicated to the Hergé Museum, which is a shame, as it gives the book the feel of a catalogue, which would be a disservice to such a wonderful book. I feel this chapter should be the last chapter, especially as, chronologically it comes last in the Tintin story.

However, that's a small fault, in an otherwise very satisfying book, crammed full of treasures. There are early sketches of Hergé, from when he was a young teenager of 16 years old - fine drawings, showing he was a talented draftsman from the start. It contains some pages from his early cartoon, Totor, the boyscout, a forerunner of Tintin, and important frames from the first Tintin drawings, black and white, printed in Le Petite Vingtième in 1929, for example, the moment Tintin gets his quiff, as the wind blows back his hair as he speeds away in a car.

There are also many photographs, documenting important events, for example, the moment a young lad and a bleached fox terrier arrived at Gard du Nord station, met by crowds of children, already fans of the young reporter.

There are also examples of his other cartoons. Quick and Flupke and Jo, Zette and Jocko, which featured a family, in response to Tintin's unmarried status! Also of interest are the examples of Hergé's graphic design and advertising illustrations and posters, very much of it's time, but beautiful nonetheless.

The book reproduces many working drawings, black and white line art, as well as some of the original versions (the books that most of us know where later workings of serialised adventures, many originally reproduced in black and white.

The book plots the development of Hergé, as he became more interested in accuracy and detail, and documents some of the source information he used: postcards; newspaper cuttings; museum exhibits.

The real hero shots in the book, however, are the enlarged colour panels, watercolour on printed proof, showing the artwork in all its subtlety.

The book has a debossed, black and white reproduction of Tintin's iconic head, enlarged many times over. The edges of the pages have a pleasing red and white, checkered pattern from the rocket in Explorers on the Moon. Unfortunately the process made the pages of my copy stick together, which took a while to unstick. But that was just a tiny fly in a beautiful ointment!

View the book here.

Written by Mike Stonelake, illustrator, cartoonist and designer. See

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