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Tintin, Boy Reporter

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11.12.21

This December brings a spate of book-related movies worth seeing. One is Steven Spielberg's computer-animated motion-capture presentation of "The Adventures of Tintin", adapted from the beloved comic strip by Belgian artist Herge.

Herge was the pen name of Georges Remi, born in Belgium in 1907. His comic strip about Tintin, intrepid boy reporter, first appeared in January 1929 in a Belgian newspaper and sent Tintin into "The Land of the Soviets" to battle socialist authorities. From there, Tintin took on dangerous assignments in the Belgian Congo, the United States, Egypt, India, China, Tibet, and the United Kingdom, as well as such fictional places as San Theodoros in Latin America and Syldavia in Eastern Europe. Accompanied by his faithful white fox terrier Snowy, he bravely enters perilous situations but, through heroic action, always saves the day.

As a youth, Herge, which is the French pronunciation of Georges Remi's initials reversed, was active in Scouting, and devoured such classics as "Huckleberry Finn", "Treasure Island", and "Robinson Crusoe", all of which are reflected in Tintin's sense of adventure and can-do spirit.

Herge's work initially reflected the political landscape of the time, beginning with the right-wing views of the newspaper for which he worked. His own thinking evolved but, with the Nazi invasion of Belgium in 1939, was repressed in his work throughout the war. Tintin continued but he transformed himself from a reporter to an explorer, a non-controversial arena for his adventures. He was such a popular character that Charles de Gaulle once remarked that "My only international rival is Tintin".

Tintin first appeared in English in 1951 and his previous adventures were first translated in the late 1950s. Golden Books published some of his tales early on, but today they are exclusively published by Little, Brown and Company. Herge continued to produce Tintin adventures, a total of 23 volumes, until his death in 1983.

Herge's work influenced many comic strip artists, and his unique, clean drawing style, known as "ligne claire", was adopted by Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.

The series has been compared to Harry Potter, in that the boy hero must rely on his reasoning and character to solve problems, and that the series is one action-packed adventure after another, drawing reluctant readers in to devour the stories in spite of their resistance to reading. Tintin comics are excellent vocabulary builders.

While the series was wildly popular in Europe, it was, unfortunately, not very well known in the U.S. But it should be, and maybe the movie, featuring Jamie Bell as Tintin, with Daniel Craig and Andy Serkis  will change that. This movie is based on three Tintin adventures, "The Crab with the Golden Claws", "The Secret of the Unicorn", and "Red Rackham's Treasure". Two sequels are planned.

For the comic book versions of Tintin's adventures, visit us at www.tcplweb.org or call 988-2541.

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