While the world of 21st century journalism is grappled by no press freedom and fake information ridden by the web, the iconic timeless cartoon character Tintin, a Belgian reporter and a hero to many a journalist just celebrated his 90th birthday.
On January 10, 1929, the first edition of a Belgian artist Georges Remi aka Hergé’s chirpy perennial fictional character with customary blue sweater, rolled pants and flipped copper hair was published in “Le Petit Vingtieme” newspaper supplement in Brussels. Even Hergé might not have imagined that his little creation named as the “The adventures of Tintin”, showing a young journalist, always in a hurry to right the world’s wrongs, and his anomalous friends will become a global toon icon, which will be never too old to be forgotten.
In no time, Tintin and his faithful dog Snowy’s adventures started spreading beans across the world, building an image of journalists as do-gooders. Within a year, in 1930, the first Tintin comic book called ‘Land of Soviets’, bringing in other characters like the loyal white fox terrier Snowy, Captain Haddock and absent-minded Professor Calculus. The comic book became the biggest hits of all time and printed in over 70 languages, it counts a sell of 230 million copies till date. Another master piece would be the ‘Explorers on the Moon’, which was published in 1954, nearly 15 years before the actual moon landing.
Hergé has published as many as 23 complete books and one masterpiece laid off incomplete as the cartoonist, aged 76 died in 1983. ‘Alph-Art’, the last and 24th artwork, concluding ‘The Adventures of Tintin’ was published three years after the author passed away, with a revised edition of it in 2004. What makes the fictional character so popular is not just its deliberate message to reporters and journalists to become the “seekers of the truth, holding those in power to account, instead of being depicted as the “enemy of the people and purveyors of fake news; but also the fact that some of the characters are inspired by the creator’s relatives and the relationships he had with them.
As he just turned 90 years old on January 10, Tintin continues to live on in the collective imagination, and Moulinsart plans to keep the perennial journalist’s image alive, solely based on Hergé’s 24 scenarios, and out memories as the fans.