Hergé, Tintin’s creator, as seen by Assouline

I’ve written before in this space about my childhood fascination with the fictional boy reporter Tintin and his escapades, thanks to the imagination of Georges Remi, the Belgian cartoonist of the last century. But I’ve not yet seen Pierre Assouline’s book, Hergé: The Man Who Created Tintin.

A review by Charles McGrath in today’s New York Times, however, puts the book on my Christmas list — or at least at the top of my shopping list for the inevitable trip to the bookstore during the upcoming holidays.

McGrath’s review isn’t especially flattering, but holds out the promise that Assouline delves into considerable detail about the man whose artistic style became distinct and who, through his storytelling, delved into topics that, for his time, pushed the boundaries of what could be accomplished through the medium of the graphic novel. I’ll be interested in learning more about a man who, at least for many North American readers, has remained rather two-dimensional, much like his drawings.

Interest in Hergé, his characters and the story lines of his Tintin series will likely continue to grow as we approach the premiere of the first of three motion pictures, directed by Steven Spielberg, based on the novels. The Secret of the Unicorn is slated for release in the fall of 2011. Accompanying the film are sure to be the long-simmering controversy about whether Remi was a tool of the Nazi occupation and the question of whether the racism reflected in some of his work — which he later regretted and, quite literally, tried to erase — negated some of his genius.

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