Updated: Jan 14
There are a very few memories of childhood, which I remember so vividly. I was some 9 years old. My father introduced me to one of the most popular characters of the cartoon world. The most celebrated reporter of the world. He was fearless. He travelled to places and uncovered the deepest mysteries. And, jumped into the gorge of danger, accompanied by none other than his dog, Snowy. Yes, I am talking about Tintin. The most legendary reporter who set a landmark in the world of comics, since his inception.
Today, as we celebrate the 92nd birthday of this legendary investigator reporter, let’s take a look at what it took to make Tintin what it is.
He was created in 1929 and first appeared in the Belgian newspaper Le Vingtième Siècle.
He is an adventurer, reporter, a 14 to 19 years old boy, who has a sharp intellect, can defend himself, quick thinker, kind-hearted, and all-around good in nature. Tintin has a neutral personality, which unlike other characters allows his readers to follow his mysteries and get absorbed in that adventure. It is something we all could relate to. He is fearless. Something we all are, in our childhood. Whenever the story had two options, the sane one, and the wilder one, Hergé always sided with the wilder option. The stories are nothing extraordinary, nothing unbelievable, nothing which can make one go like “chal fek mat”. Unlike Bollywood films, the stories had the ability to connect with the audience. Of every age. When my father gifted me my first Tintin comic at the age of 9, little did he know that his 19 years old son will be reading the same comic series during his semester break. The character unleashed the fearlessness in us. How can you forget the character which introduced you to the most extraordinary feeling ever?
Tintin, a series of 24 bande dessinée albums was created by Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi, under the pen name Hergé. The series first appeared in French on 10 January 1929, in Le Petit Vingtième (The Little Twentieth), a youth supplement to the Belgian newspaper Le Vingtième Siècle (The Twentieth Century). The success of the series led to serialised strips published in Belgium's leading newspaper Le Soir (The Evening) and spun into a successful Tintin magazine. In 1950, Hergé created Studios Hergé, which produced the canonical versions of 11 Tintin albums.
The main reason behind its worldwide admiration is it’s clean, expressive drawings, a new category of bright and clear colours, well-researched plots, and their twists, straddle across a variety of genres perfect amalgamation of the elements of mystery, fantasy, action, political thriller, science fiction blended with the slapstick humour and dashes of sophisticated satire with a pinch of political or social and cultural commentary.
With Tintin, Hergé created and pioneered a complete new style of comic art known as Ligne claire (French for "clear line”. It uses clear strong lines of equal width, with no hatching and a strong downplay of contrast. Cast shadows are often illuminated, and the style often features strong use of vibrant colours and a combination of cartoon characters against a realistic background. All these elements together combine to give a flat aspect to this kind of comics.
The Beauty Of Tintin
As a kid, I always dreamt of visiting places outside my country, especially, the western world. I always found the underground crime racket very fascinating and had a deep desire to investigate one. I wanted to visit the Mayan civilisation, the land of Pharaohs, set on a thrilling journey through the seas sailing in an old pirate ship. Dig deep into the seas, in search of treasure. Fights pirates, save my fellow crewmates. Drink whiskey and dance to ol’ sea songs.
Lastly, set on an adventure that is out of this world. Literally. Set foot on the moon. Travel through space. Fight crimes there. Roam on the lunar surface. Experience low gravity.
It has been my dream summer vacation for several years throughout my entire childhood.
My dream was fulfilled by none other than this Belgian reporter, who accompanied me through these astounding adventures. Not to forget, Snowy’s company. The mighty dog is intelligent, loyal, and does whatever it takes to stand by his friend (yes, Tintin is not the owner of Snowy. He is a friend). What’s even more fascinating is, this tiny creature also has a world of his own. I remember, he drank Captain’s whiskey in space.
Ahhh! Captain. Captain Archibald Haddock. We will talk about him. In a while. First, let’s revisit the pages of Tintin’s extraordinary travel diaries.
The Great American Adventure
He conquered America!!!
The Adventure Through The Seven Seas
The Most Challenging Places On The Earth
And Sometimes, Beyond.........
Tintin speaks: “For the first time certainly in the history of mankind, there is an explorer on the Moon!” Who would have guessed, reading the story in 1954, the words of Neil Armstrong 15 years later: “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.”
So, now we know who actually won the space race.
How can I forget the ones, who made my excitement go through the roof? I would verify their presence each and every time I picked up an adventure. I refused to go to Congo because they were not there.
Captain Archibald Haddock is a Merchant Marine sea captain and Tintin's best friend. Introduced in The Crab with the Golden Claws, Haddock is initially depicted as a weak and alcoholic character, but later evolves to become genuinely heroic and even a socialite after he finds a treasure from his ancestor, Sir Francis Haddock.
Captain proves the proverb "A Friend In Need Is A Friend Indeed". He may be a drunkard. He may be weak hearted in the beginning, yes, he may have a lot of characteristics, which may not be "heroic". But, every time Tintin needs him, he never fails to be with him. He came out of character and dived into whatever it took to help his friend, even if it took him an entire bottle of whiskey to do so. He is the ideal man for an adventure. He can do whatever it takes to make it a success. Remember, on their journey to the moon, he didn't smoke for so many days, due to the presence of limited oxygen? And could take only 2 bottles of whiskey with him, because the book he used to hide them, could not hold any more?
A sheer display of self-control. He has my respect for that.
And what would we do, without those golden words, "Thundering Typhoons and Blistering Barnacles"
But, jokes apart, whenever you land on the sea, he was the man you need, at any cost. He knows the seas better than the warts on his mom's face. Better than the back of his hands. A man, who can look at the globe and tell, if one tiny island is out of place. So, whenever the master of the seas will call out, I will never ever fail to report:
"AYE! AYE! CAPTAIN!!!"
YEAH! HE IS MY FAVOURITE!
Snowy is a rough-haired Fox Terrier of an atypical whiteness. Snowy is always there alongside Tintin. They talk to each other. Even though he speaks, Snowy is above all just a normal dog. Even though he talks a great deal, he remains a simple dog for Tintin. Tintin and Snowy are totally on the same wavelength even when they are in conversation.
Be strong Snowy!
Even if Snowy gives the impression that he likes to set-off on another adventure, he in fact prefers a peaceful life. Being both generous and faithful forces him to follow Tintin, who is always on the move. Snowy's flair and courage will often save Tintin from imminent danger.
Sometimes Snowy succumbs to temptation. Especially when food is concerned. He remains curious and let's not forget that dogs have their own instincts. However, when courage is required, you can rely on Snowy to help his master.
Snowy. My best friend. My forever companion. The reason, why I wanted a dog, in real life. And the reason, why my mom had to repeat the same phrase every day, and I quote "NO".
I love snowy.
Writing this blog made me go again through the numerous comics, the endless websites and hours of googling exactly like I used to do, a few years back before life happened, when reading comics was not a waste of time when Tintin had a permanent place on the bookshelf.
Writing this blog, made those childhood days come back. Time and again. It is so fascinating that seeing these images, immediately makes me equally excited as I used to be. Maybe some things don't change. Maybe they don't need to. More importantly, I don't want them to.
A small tribute to my childhood friends, who took me on a marvellous journey with them around the world, through the seas, to the ocean bed in search of hidden treasure, off to the moon, and beyond. Who made my summer vacations, beautiful!