Boy reporter Tintin is 80

The much loved and adored Tintin’s birthday falls on January 10. He has had interesting adventures which first appeared on January 10, 1929 in a children supplement to the Belgian newspaper Le Vingtième Siècle, and children and adults since then have been addicted to his adventures.

Tintin is the brainchild of Belgian artist Herge, the pen name of Georges Remi. It was in Russia with Tintin in the Land of the Soviets that his adventures began. Hergé went on to create 23 complete adventures — the 24th unfinished at the time of the artist’s death.

In the earlier versions, Tintin’s characters was very much based on an earlier character created by Hergé, a chubby boy-scout named Totor. Later on in the comic book series, Tintin is seen as a young reporter. And it is dangerous international schemes that entice him and though he gets into odd situations, the witty and courageous Tintin along with his luck is able to save the day.

Hergé was inconsistent or vague about assigning Tintin a nationality and has depicted him as broadly European. Another fact which has never actually been revealed about Tintin is his age and is described as an ‘adolescent’ and at times a ‘kid’. It seems that Tintin’s age is static as he has been in different adventures in different times from 1935 to 1968. However, in the cartoon series of The Secret of the Unicorn showing Tintin’s passport states his birth year as 1929.

Tintin is apparently devoid of sexual or romantic feeling. He is quite intelligent and imaginative and good in deduction. He has a knack for foreign languages and reads extensively on a variety of subjects. He is multi-talented and is skilled at driving automobiles, motorcycles, tanks, riding horses and flying planes or helicopters. He is athletic and possesses great physical strength, being able to knock out enemies much larger than him. Another noteworthy part about him is that he is an excellent swimmer, does yoga and somehow manages to come out without any injuries even in dire circumstances.

As for his family there is no mention about anyone, but it does seem that the earlier version of Tintin was inspired by Hergé’s younger brother, Paul Remi, a career soldier.

Throughout much of the series, Tintin’s attitude is seen to have inquisitive tendencies and a noble, forgiving nature. It is his idealistic nature that wins him the admiration of many, but also places him in danger at times. As for his political views they are generally ambiguous, but his dislike for war is quite evident and is also seen wearing a Peace helmet in the starting phases. As for his religious side though the earlier ones portray him as being a Belgain Catholic, such ideas are left out in later ones. But one can see his character changing towards the end of the series. It is obvious Tintin no longer has the same amount of enthusiasm for adventure and the idealism he held has been taken over by a more cynical outlook. Commenting on this change Hergé said, “Tintin has lost control, he is not on top of events anymore, he is subjected to them.”

However, in the unfinished album Tintin and Alph-Art, Tintin regained much of his old adventurous personality, actively investigating suspicious events and murder threats.

In his adventures Tintin has some faithful friends which include his faithful fox terrier dog Snowy (Milou) from the very beginning. Later, other popular additions include the brash, cynical and grumpy Captain Haddock, the bright but hearing-impaired Professor Calculus (Professeur Tournesol) and other colourful supporting characters such as the incompetent detectives Thomson and Thompson (Dupond et Dupont).

Creator Herge, born in 1907 and died in 1983, wasn’t keen on the idea of someone taking Tintin over from him. He put it to his wife before he died that he didn’t want anyone to do it and asked her if she could make sure that the adventures ended with him. And that’s exactly what has happened. There have been musicals and plays but no new adventures.