A quiff of hair, ink-spot eyes and wiry frame, that’s Tintin, the unlikely looking, yet iconic 20th century comic book boy reporter, whose following spans continents and generations. Despite muscle-bound protagonists with superhuman traits ruling the comic book universe, Tintin’s star shines bright as ever!

Tintin’s creator, Georges Remi, better known under his pen name Hergé, was a Belgian artist who first drew the character in 1929 for Le Petit Vingtième, the children’s supplement for Le XXe Siècle, a Belgian newspaper.

The comic strip’s unexpected popularity soon saw Tintin graduating to Le Soir, the top Belgian newspaper and then onto a collection of 24 albums, a Tintin magazine and adaptations for radio, TV, cinema and theatre.

The character of the ever curious, energetic and upright Tintin was based on Albert Londres, a French reporter famed for his investigative journalism. Tintin’s close companion is his fox-terrier Snowy, whose intelligence and dry humour have made him almost as popular as his master. Captain Haddock is a hard-drinking seafarer with a penchant for colourful expressions, popular examples being “Blistering barnacles!” and “Thundering typhoons!”. There’s Bianca Castafiore, a dreamy, chatterbox opera singer whose voice can shatter glass; also, two adorable bumblers, detectives Thomson and Thompson who provide much comic relief.

Since its inception, the series has been drawn in ligne Claire, Hergé’s unmistakable style that has enraptured readers with its clean, simple, yet expressive artistry.

Tintin’s adventures encompass several genres, mystery, espionage, science fiction, fantasy and political thrillers. Hergé’s access to current international affairs helped him recreate highly realistic political scenarios for early adventures like Tintin in the Land of the Soviets and Tintin in the Congo. The physical settings for Tintin’s exploits were equally eye-grabbing. Hergé’s intensive research on far-off continents that he had never visited, Asia, the Americas, Africa, coupled with his fertile imagination, spun out on paper as admirably detailed landscapes, an intriguing mix of reality and fiction. Some countries are entirely imaginary, like politically unstable Syldavia in King Ottokar’s Sceptre and Borduria, a fascist European nation in The Calculus Affair.

Tintin’s exploits were adapted as a TV animation series in 1958 and again in 1991. In 1947, The Crab with the Golden Claws became the first Tintin film, followed in 1961 by Tintin and the Golden Fleece and Tintin and the Blue Oranges in 1964. Remarkably, Tintin’s hold on audiences hasn’t faded, the latest, Steven Spielberg directed 3D film, The Adventures of Tintin (2011) has raked in both moolah and several awards.
Eighty-plus years since he first appeared, Tintin’s bright intellect, childlike curiosity and exploratory zeal continue to cast a spell on younger audiences, even as older generations cherish their Tintin book collections as precious heirlooms.

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