“Tintin is not a superhero; nor does he possess special powers. He is an ordinary person to whom extraordinary things happen. Curious to a fault, Tintin has been known to follow a story to the ends of the earth, even if this means entering the shadowy worlds of smugglers, jewel thieves, gun runners, tomb robbers and extraordinarily ruthless crime lords! The stakes are always high and the odds are stacked against him, but Tintin has one thing his enemies don’t count on – the support and assistance of a Sea Captain with a drinking problem and the undying loyalty of a little white dog, called Snowy.”
Excerpt from news article. Full article found here.
Many of you probably never heard of a wonderful magazine called Explore!
Explore! was a children’s magazine that ran from 2000 to 2001. It featured top-notch photography and incredible articles full of the wild, wacky, and wondrous. Always informative, always quality, this magazine featured only non-fiction . . . except for one section.
Every issue had a comic section – a serialization from graphic novels entitled . . Tintin.
September 2000 began an infatuation for a young hero with a cowlick that just wouldn’t lie down.
When I met Tintin, I was struggling to read; nothing about reading came easily to me. It was so hard, it didn’t even seem worth the effort.
But art – now that was something I understood. I had been drawing since I could hold a pencil. I was captivated by artwork, stimulated by my eyes.
A new children’s magazine was exciting in theory, but I wasn’t truly interested (bah, more black squiggles on paper!) until I turned a page and saw the opening illustrations for The Black Island.
Talk about starting off with a bang!
Here was an incentive to get even the most reluctant reader to start sorting through words. As you can see, the storyboard itself (the artwork and “cinematography” of each frame) is so intuitive, one can almost follow the basic story without even reading.
Certain old comics produce an unusual reader response. These comics possess artwork that is so well crafted and cinematic, with a pacing so flawless – I actually enter in to the comic itself. It becomes an immersive 3-D experience. I am not just watching a movie, I’m inside of it. If you’ve never read some of these great graphic novels, it’s hard to describe.
And so the adventure began. Every month we got a new issue – and every month, my siblings and I fought over who would read it first. Tintin was always the highlight.
For some reason that I cannot now recall, we missed an issue, and it was years before I found out how Tintin got out of that burning building when the last time we saw him he was lying unconscious on the floor. Fortunately, the puzzle was completed years later, but for a time, that part of the adventure was missing and a real frustration.
We reached the end of that remarkable adventure called The Black Island, and, sadly, Explore! came to a untimely end after only a year. We were extremely disappointed not to have the magazine anymore . . . everyone but me. At that time, I hadn’t really read the other articles (I read them a few years later and loved them) . . . all I cared about was Tintin.
Tintin was one of the many beloved elements that opened a whole new world for me because it encouraged me to read; and now opportunity and success are at my fingers because of it.
Thank you, Tintin, for captivating my interest and forcing me to learn.
Thank you, also, for teaching me how to insult people with great style and imagination.
Fortunately for all of us, our adventures with Tintin did not end with Explore! Some time later, we discovered a genie’s cave. SunDog Books.
No matter where we are on a vacation, you can be sure that we locate a bookstore, and this beautiful little shop in Destin Florida could not escape our exploration.
And tucked in the corner of this marvelous little bookstore – was treasure.
You can only imagine the joy of my siblings and I as we pounced upon our discovery – stacks of Tintin comics!
Fortunately, there was at least six comics and we all got one – otherwise I can guarantee you there would have been fur flying over who got to read Tintin first. We were barely out of the parking lot before each sibling had cracked open a Tintin. In we slid into this adventurous and colorful world; as easy as slipping into a pool of water.
On that particular vacation, I had been gifted with a disposable camera. Looking back over the photos I snapped makes me smile. There are multipule photos of my siblings caught reading, their respective noses buried in a Tintin book.
Those books kept us in adventures for many years as we returned to them over and over again. The pages became more worn as the journeys were taken again and again.
Years later, along came the Internet (yes, I actually had a childhood without the Internet). As we entered our teens, we realized there was a source at our fingertips that could bring the missing Tintin volumes we had not yet collected into our lives.
Thank you Ebay and Amazon. Our collection and our victory was complete.
We became Tintin gurus – perhaps just a little shy of becoming full-fledged Tintinologists (yes, that is a real thing). My twin purchased Tintin books in the original French and also bought translations in German – working her way through different versions. We purchased an incredible book called Tintin: The Complete Companion to study how the comics were made and to learn more about their creator – the immensely talented Herge.
The insight we gained into the behind the scenes of Tintin was extraordinary. As you can see from the images above, Herge was almost obsessive in his research and contained vast files of reference documents and photos. One particular adventure, The Calculus Affair, is so meticulously researched it is boggling. Herge traveled to Geneva, Switzerland to draw the hotel our hero stays in – even the placement of elevator doors was accurate. One sequence featured a car driving off the road and into a lake, and Herge hired a taxi and finally found a route from Geneva that ran parallel to a pond that he could you as a basis for his drawings. The illustrations in these sequences are all based on the reference photos he took of that real road. His dedication to quality was truly astounding.
I even had a Tintin-themed birthday party. I’m the “Mistress of the Revels” (i.e. – Party Planner) in our house, and I was trying to pick a theme. The difficulty was picking a theme that suited both me and my twin. What was one thing we both loved with equal fervor?
Tintin, of course. Hence, my Tintin-esque attempt at birthday decorations – a table full of Tintin memorabilia and decorations that only hardcore Tintin fans would appreciate. The paper in the typewriter even had the lyrics of the Jewel Song, Bianca’s infamous go-to aria.
No doubt about it, the Tebo’s are hardcore.
Sometimes I’ll get onto Goodreads and scroll through reviews of Tintin. I see dozens of languages, from English to Arabic.
What is it that makes Tintin so universally appealing? Several things come to mind. Quality artwork, masterful storytelling, exciting plots – and humor that is funny the whole world over.
And let’s not forget the characters. The calm and collected Tintin, the blustery and eternally-frustrated Haddock. Calculus, the absent-minded professor who couldn’t hear an atomic bomb explode next to his ear – who might have a colossal temper if he could actually hear what people were saying. Castafiore, the dramatic and oblivious diva with a talent for making other people crazy. Abdullah the wretched little brat who remains funny because he always gets what’s coming to him – a good spanking.
You can all imagine how THIS ends.
But it’s more than all of that drawing us to Tintin. It’s something deeper and more urgently needed. It’s the thrill of an adventure.
Why? Because people are bored.
An old film features a scene that my family quotes from constantly. A crazed bush pilot counsels a man from the city on the mysteries of life, and right before he jumps out of a flying airplane, he expounds on the world’s chief problem.
“What’s wrong with people? I’ll tell you what’s wrong. Boredom. BOREDOM. And how do you beat boredom? ADVENTURE!”
But what are our libraries and bookstores inundated with? Thrillers (actually romance with a few thrills), Contemporary (actually romance in some familiar setting), historical fiction (actually romance from long ago), horror (probably featuring vampires falling in love).
By and large, audiences and writers have traded thrills for tingles – and it’s no substitute.
The pool of exciting adventure stories has dwindled at an alarming rate. It’s no wonder that unadulterated, unapologetic, rip-snorting adventure stories like Clive Cussler and Indiana Jones still hold the world – and me – entranced.
Gone are the old days when there were magazines dedicated solely to adventure stories and authors produced adventure novels for adults and children in spades.
There are very few true adventure stories being made now – and that is why comics like Tintin still grasp our imagination. It fulfills a niche that is largely unfilled by the storytellers of today.
This is THE story – boiled down to its true essence. Not mystery, not romance, not drama, not horror – but a journey. No abstractions and no distractions – no detours, no frills.
An adventure . . . the universal need and the universal story . . . because it takes you away.
Sometime in the mid-2000’s, we started hearing the rumors that a movie might be made about Tintin. We were excited but also nervous, hoping that they would do justice to Tintin. And then Steven Spielberg and John Williams were attached to the project, and we knew that all would be well. The two men that captured the iconicness of Indiana Jones would understand Tintin.
Spielberg has been an avid fan of The Adventures of Tintin comic book series since 1981, when a review compared Raiders of the Lost Ark to Tintin. The comics’ creator, Hergé became a fan of Spielberg and “thought Spielberg was the only person who could ever do Tintin justice.”
Truer words were never spoken.
We eagerly awaited a trailer. We were intrigued, but we were also a little puzzled. We had never seen a motion-capture film before.
We realized later how perfect it was. Motion capture was the only way to make a Tintin film. Tintin has a very comic feel and yet there is something incredibly lifelike about it. The comics feel so cinematic that mere animation would not do it justice. Motion capture was the perfect setting for this particular gem.
On the film’s opening weekend, my entire family was in the theater.
From the moment the opening credits began, my family and I gave gasps of delight, laughs of pure enjoyment and pleasure. Even the credits are chock-full of fan tributes and Easter Eggs. We whispered, we roared with laughter, we squealed – we were captivated.
A good film gives you no choice about being folded into its story – and this film swept us away.
^ Basically us, watching the movie ^
Jamie Bell is all that I could ever ask for the role of Tintin, perfectly capturing his intelligence, his aplomb, and youthful spirits. Haddock, while different from the book-Haddock, is an absolute treat. Snowy, simply put, is perfection.
We were dazzled. It was not only an amazing tribute to Tintin, it was a true adventure in every way, satisfying every part of us that cried out for a story – a straight-out romp, a fantastic journey full of discoveries.
People can be so distracted by the ribbons and bows, they forget about the essence of their story, the bare bones. So many writers are so busy putting clothes on a story, they forget to check whether the story has been crafted well enough to stand on its own two feet.
Tintin – in film and comic – does more than stand; it leaps and bounds. It bursts into our imagination like fireworks.
While the movie is necessarily different from the series (a condensed and tweaked take on Tintin) and the characters slightly different, I wouldn’t alter a thing.
It captured the spirit of Tintin – that ephemeral, wonder-filled wind that sometimes ruffles our thoughts and our hearts – that heady, intoxicating, addicting taste that makes us want to push the limits.
The spirit of adventure.
It captured – that universal, overwhelming need and thirst for a journey that is just beyond our finger tips.
Rumors persist that a movie sequel is on the horizon. Whether that is true or not, the journey is not yet over for me. Some day soon, I will sit down again with a Tintin comic and open it’s worn pages and be instantly transported. I might be gone for a few hours, rescuing Professor Calculus from a communist nation, or perhaps I shall visit the moon.
I’ll be back, and when I am, I shall be satisfied. I will have become a player in the immersive experience, experiencing the delights of Tintin’s stories and its artwork to the brim.
Tintin strikes that chord that only a few stories ever truly strike.
They’re playing our song. Because I am in love with adventure, and thus, I am in love with Tintin.