Spielberg film to boost Tintin’s worldwide profile

Hergé's graphic novels are most popular in Europe.
Hergé's graphic novels are most popular in Europe.

To say Tintin inspired me to become a journalist would be an overstatement. He was, after all, merely a cartoon character who lived inside the covers of my favourite books at the local public library. As a child, I checked out those volumes again and again.

But it probably was Tintin who established the notion in a young, impressionable mind that some people were, by vocation, reporters. Tintin was such a person, even though, throughout his “graphic novel” existence, he never filed a story, content to criss-cross the globe solving mysteries and pursuing crooks, accompanied by the colourful cast of characters that were his friends. Illustrator Georges Remi, who adopted the pen name Hergé (the French pronunciation of his initials, reversed) had me in his spell.

It hasn’t yet made many waves in North America, but in Europe, anticipation of Steven Spielberg’s 3D treatment of the young reporter’s adventures is already arcing upward. The Spielberg project is in post-production, slated for release in the fall of 2011. It stars Jamie Bell as Tintin, Andy Serkis as Captain Haddock and Daniel Craig as Red Rackham. Given that Spielberg’s first Tintin film follows the plot of The Secret of the Unicorn, speculation is already rampant about a sequel, which would naturally be Red Rackham’s Treasure.

Born in Brussels in 1907, Remi’s first drawings appeared in a scouting magazine when he was only 14. Six years later, he’d been hired by the daily newspaper Le Vingtième siècle to be editor-in-chief of Le Petit vingtième, its children’s supplement. The Tintin series was launched in 1929.

Remi managed to spin nearly two dozen tales of intrigue and adventure featuring Tintin, his mostly incompetent allies and a notorious collection of villains, before the illustrator’s death on March 3, 1983. As remarkable as the stories, however, were Herge’s illustrations. At a time when newspapers were just beginning to grasp the reader appeal of the funnies, Tintin’s creator took the art to new levels. Scenes were rendered in great detail compared to the work of his contemporaries; foreign landscapes, besides being vividly appealing, were topographically correct. The plots, too, were fairly complex: spies, arms merchants, smugglers, capitalists and communists, thieves, traitors and assassins abounded, always to be exposed by our hero and his pals.

Today, Hergé’s legacy is carefully guarded by his estate and its conservators in Belgium, who operate the official website. A small band of Tintin enthusiasts worldwide collects trivia and monitors developments, including the international team of bloggers, programmers and moderators at Tintinologist.org, among them Simon Doyle (@tintinologist on Twitter), and British webmaster Chris Tregenza (@TintinMovie on Twitter), who runs TintinMovie.org. An Hergé museum in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, opened earlier this year.

Below, a short clip in which Hergé draws his famous hero and dog Snowy.

3 Replies to “Spielberg film to boost Tintin’s worldwide profile”

  1. Many thanks for the name-check! Yes, tintinologist.org gathers together fans from all over the globe (even the U.S.!), so if any of your readers would like to check out our lists and and Hergé related information – or even join our forums! – please, feel free!

    Tintin actually has quite a long history in the U.S.: the books were initially published there by The Golden Press from 1959, and soon after that Larry Harmon and his studios were instrumental in animating much of the Hergé’s Adventures of Tintin serial cartoons shown round the world from the sixties.
    The magazine Children’s Digest also serialized the stories over the years too, and of course the Nelvana produced TV series has both been broadcast, and is also soon to be re-released on DVD, there.

    So the ground work has been done…!

  2. The geographic spread of Tintin is very wide and not at all predictable.

    A quick check of TintinMovie.org’s traffic by country compared with the country’s population suggests that The UK is three times more interested in Tintin than the U.S. Canada is about two-thirds as interested in Tintin as the UK but Australia is marginally more interested than the UK.

    India and Indonesia also seem very keen on Tintin, as does Brazil but Argentina is almost a Tintin free zone.

    The coverage of Tintin around the world owes a lot to Europe’s colonial past as existing language and trade links made its spread easier. Though cultural issues undoubtedly played it’s part, such as in the US where Tintin lost out to flashier superheros.

    The film is likely to change this and help Tintin spread into those parts of the world that have previously held out against him.

  3. There is nothing like the pivotal childhood illustrators to unleash those vivid memories of wonder and possibilities. I am now looking forward to the movie. Thanks for the great report!

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