Thursday, 10 January 2019

Happy 90th birthday Tintin

The boy reporter and his dog made his first appearance 90 years ago today. The artist responsible for this icon of the "bandes dessinees" was Georges Remi, whose initials GR, when reversed RG are pronounced "Hergé", the name by which he is universally known. Although aimed at children the works were first published by a Catholic newspaper in Belgium, headed by a very reactionary Abbe, Norbert Wallez. This may have influenced the early overseas trips of Tintin, to Russia and the Congo (still then a Belgian colony with Catholic missionaries who appear in the album). It was Wallez who insisted that Remi should, as with all his employees, be married and introduced him to his wife Germaine.
It seems that Wallez was actually a brilliant promoter of the books and persuaded Remi to share the rights 50/50. But his open collaboration with the Nazis and admiration for Mussolini lead him to be removed from his position in the church and later imprisoned. Despite this he remained a friend of Hergé (though he had won back all the rights to his creation). After Wallez's death in 1951 Remi and his hero Tintin became worldwide best sellers and nowadays, although drawn by other artists, the early editions and artwork command huge sums. As they say on "Flog It", check in your attic - especially our French and Belgian readers.