Tintin - 'Le Temple du Soleil'. © Hergé/Moulinsart 2012.

Hergé was a Belgian comic artist, widely regarded as one of the most important and influential comic creators in history. With his iconic humorous adventure series 'Tintin' (1929-1983), he almost singlehandedly launched the modern Belgian comic industry. Together with Morris' 'Lucky Luke' and René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo's 'Astérix', 'Tintin' is one of the bestselling European comics worldwide. Despite counting only 23 regular book titles, the series has been translated in every conceivable language, including dialects. Tintin is a young, quiffed reporter who gets entangled in epic adventures all over the globe. The storylines range from intrigueing mysteries and exotic journeys to spellbinding crime thrillers. Suspenseful cliffhangers and witty comedy make the stories entertaining page-turners. Hergé created a believable, realistic universe around his hero, full with colorful characters. Among Hergé's other notable creations are the gag comic 'Quick & Flupke' (1930-1941) and the children's adventure series 'Jo, Zette et Jocko' (1936-1940). His graphic style, nicknamed the "Ligne Claire" ("Clear Line"), became a highly influential artistic movement. His signature hero received his own magazine, Tintin (1946-1993), that became one of the most important European comic magazines of all time. In a time when comics were deemed mere children's entertainment, Hergé gave the medium prestige, combining technically perfect drawings with thoroughly researched plots. 'Tintin' was one of the earliest known European comics dealing with mature, complex themes and plotlines, while still appealing to young readers. The series is praised for its political satire and reflection of changes in society and technology. Some of Hergé's stories were so ahead of their time, that they predicted certain political-scientific events. Later in his career, Hergé went on a more experimental route, toying with narrative clichés, including his own. His work set a standard for many comic artists, a reputation he still maintains today. Particularly in Europe, the 'Tintin' stories have become part of collective memory and are regularly referenced, homaged, parodied and plagiarized. Hergé's life and work have also been subject of controversy and debate. Some stories have been condemned for featuring racially offensive stereotypes, while his ties with far-right, Catholic editorial boards in the 1930s and 1940s were also held against him. On the other hand, most of Hergé's later comics endorse interest and respect for other cultures and races. Together with Walt Disney and Charles M. Schulz, Hergé's mysterious personality and rich oeuvre have made him one of the most analyzed cartoonists in the world. No small feat for a little Belgian. 

Early life and influences
Hergé was born in 1907 in Etterbeek, a municipality of the Belgian capital Brussels, as George Prosper Remi. His father Alexis was an employee in the Demoulin confectionery factory. As a boy, Remi already filled his school books with drawings and sketches. He took up art studies at the Institut Saint-Luc in Brussels, but since he didn't want to be told what to draw, he left after only one course. Hergé was therefore mostly self-taught, learning his craft from studying other artists. Among his main graphic influences were illustrators like René Vincent and classical painters such as Hieronymus Bosch, Pieter Bruegel, Johannes Vermeer, Hokusai and Jean-Dominique Ingres. Hergé was also fond of contemporary art. Throughout his life, he kept track of the latest artistic movements, while collecting original works of art. For instance, he admired modern painters like Joan Miró, Lucio Fontana, Serge Poliakoff, Constant Permeke, Auguste Herbin and Roy Lichtenstein. In the field of comics, Hergé regarded George McManus, Émile-Joseph PinchonBenjamin Rabier (who in 1898 created a quiffed little boy with the name 'Tintin-Lutin'), Rudolph Dirks, Winsor McCay, Rube Goldberg and especially Alain Saint-Ogan as his main influences. Hergé based Tintin's face on Pinchon's character Bécassine, while Bertha the dog from Rube Goldberg's 'Boob McNutt' inspired the design of Tintin's dog Snowy. Later in life, Hergé also held Georges BeuvilleAndré Franquin, Moebius, FredRobert Crumb, Hugo PrattBob van den BornClaire Bretécher and Milo Manara in high regard.

Hergé enjoyed reading adventure novels by classic authors like Alexandre Dumas, Jules Verne, Paul d'Ivoi, Robert Louis Stevenson and Arthur Conan Doyle. Yet the art form with the most profound impact on his comics was film. The slapstick movies of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd gave him a knack for visual comedy and setting up gags. Film serials learned him the importance of intrigueing cliffhangers. Action thrillers sharpened his sense of dynamic movement, editing and suspense building. Particularly 'Tintin' has a strong cinematic feel. 

Flup, Nénesse, Poussette and Cochonnet
The people caricatured in the picture are famous journalists of the 1920s, among them Albert Londres, Joseph Kessel and Henri de Monfreid. © Hergé/Moulinsart 2012.

Hergé often stated that the boy scouts movement was the only thing that brightened up his boring childhood. In 1922, the official Belgian scouts magazine Le Boy-Scout Belge offered room for his graphic debut. He illustrated covers, articles and short stories, which he signed with the pseudonym "R.G.". The initials stood for "Rémi, Georges", his last and first name, which later evolved into the phonetic contraction "Hergé". Between July 1926 and July 1929, Le Boy-Scout Belge also featured Hergé's first professional comic series: 'Totor, C.D. des Hannetons' (1926-1929), following the adventures of the young boy scout Totor and his travels to the United States. In terms of design, personality and storylines, Totor already resembles Tintin. The narrative was created as a text comic, with sentences underneath the images. A young Flemish boy scout, Willy Vandersteen (the future creator of 'Suske en Wiske'), enjoyed 'Totor' so much that he created fanfiction comics around the character, published in his own boy scout magazine.

Hergé's earliest drawings also appeared in Le Blé qui Lève ("The Wheat That Grows"), a publication of the Catholic Association of the Belgian Youth. By 1924, Belgian cartoonist/illustrator Pierre Ickx guided him in his craft. He and Ickx briefly ran the Atelier de la Fleur de Lys, an association for Christian cartoonists.

Clear Line
At the start of his career, Hergé developed his characteristic graphic style. It was born out of necessity, rather than artistic choice. Since the ink in newspaper prints sometimes tended to overflow, he had to keep his lines thin, bright and clean, while avoiding hatches, shadow effects or overly details. Initially all his comics appeared in black-and-white. For the 1940s book publications Hergé picked out bright colors for his stories. Countless cartoonists, especially in Franco-Belgian comics, have imitated Hergé's clean and instantly readable style. It was originally dubbed the "School of Brussels", but in the 1970s, Dutch comic artist Joost Swarte coined its current name: "Le Ligne Claire", or "The Clear Line". Many comic artists in Hergé's later magazine Tintin adopted the style, turning it into a genuine artistic movement. To make each drawing look as technically accurate and believable as possible, Hergé's assistants had to do tons of research, making preliminary sketches. Although the "Clear Line" looks appealing, 'Tintin' expert Benoît Peeters observed that, especially towards the end of Hergé's career, it became too premeditated and lacked spontaneity. Also, it considerably slowed down Hergé's production process. 

original of the first Tintin story, by Hergé 1929
'Tintin au Pays des Soviets' (Le Petit Vingtième, 10 January 1929). © Hergé/Moulinsart 2012.

Le Petit Vingtième
In October 1925, Hergé joined Le Vingtième Siècle, a right-wing Catholic newspaper published by the Société Nouvelle Presse et Librairie, headed by the Catholic priest Norbert Wallez (1882-1952). After an August 1926-August 1927 interruption due to his military service in Mons, Hergé's employment with the newspaper switched from errand boy to illustrator and reporter/photographer. Among his early assignments were illustrating three stories written by paper's bookkeeper, René Verhaegen. During this time, Hergé also met his girlfriend and future first wife Germaine Kieckens, who joined the paper as Wallez's secretary. In 1928, Hergé was asked to create the paper's weekly youth supplement, titled Le Petit Vingtième. Launched on 1 November 1928, he was both chief editor and main illustrator. Three other artists joined his team, namely Jean Vermeire (Jiv), Eugène van Nijverseel (Evany) and Paul Jamin (Jam). In the debut issue, Hergé launched his comic strip 'L'Extraordinaire Aventure de Flup, Nénesse, Poussette et Cochonnet' (1928-1929), that ran for five months until 7 March 1929. It was written by a certain "Smettini" - a pseudonym for sports journalist Desmedt - and centered around two young boys, a girl and her inflatable pig. Bland and forgettable, the comic strip was mostly notable for its use of speech balloons. Hergé had noticed this phenomenon in U.S. newspaper comics and the French comic series 'Zig et Puce' by Alain Saint-Ogan. Apart from 'Flup, Nénesse, Poussette & Cochonnet', Hergé also used the balloon format in a couple of one-shot gag strips he created for the satirical weekly Le Sifflet. Nevertheless, these early balloon comics were still partial text comics, with the narration running in captions underneath the images. 

In 1929, Hergé created his first real balloon comic with 'Les Aventures de Tintin' ('The Adventures of Tintin'), which ran in Le Petit Vingtième from 10 January 1929 until 8 May 1930. The plot was commissioned by chief editor Norbert Wallez. Being an ultraconservative Catholic priest, Wallez wanted a comic strip that exposed the threat of Communism to young readers. Hergé created a young reporter, Tintin, and his pet fox terrier Milou (Snowy). In their first adventure, 'Tintin Au Pays des Soviets' ('Tintin in the Land of the Soviets'), the duo travels to Soviet Russia. Right from the start, Tintin is presented as a "famous journalist", despite the fact that he acts more like a detective, investigating and arresting criminals. Only one scene in the story (and even the entire series) shows him actually writing an article. Originally, Tintin had no distinctive hairstyle, but halfway the story a thrilling car chase kicks his iconic quiff into shape. 

Although 'Tintin in the Land of the Soviets' was a blatant propaganda tale with naïve storylines that Hergé made up as he went along, it caught on. As the narrative reached its completion, the idea rose to stage Tintin's return to Brussels in real-life. As a publicity stunt, Le Petit Vingtième hired an actor and a dog to arrive at the North Station. Much to everyone's surprise, the place was crowded with enthusiastic fans. In 1933, editors of the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf imitated the stunt, albeit at the Amsterdam station and with an actor playing the Dutch comic character 'Flippie Flink' by Clinge Doorenbos and Louis Raemaekers

Now that Tintin's popularlity was established, Hergé was commissioned to create more stories. For the second installment, he originally wanted to send his hero to the United States, but at the request of Wallez, his heroes travelled to the Belgian colony Congo instead. Like the first story, 'Tintin Au Congo' ('Tintin in the Congo', 1930-1931) was made for propaganda purposes, praising the virtues of colonials, missionaries and the necessity to educate the local black population. In 'Tintin en Amériques' ('Tintin in America', 1931-32), Tintin and Snowy finally went to the USA, where Hergé had fun pitting his hero against real-life gangster Al Capone and Native Americans. 

Tintin au Congo by Herge
'Tintin au Congo'. © Hergé/Moulinsart 2012.

Despite their historical value, the first three 'Tintin' stories don't rank as Hergé's best. Like most comic artists at the time, Hergé improvised his stories as he went along and did little to no research. This explains why the plots are chaotic, naïve and full with offensive stereotypes. Hergé felt particularly ashamed about the vicious anti-communist propaganda of his debut tale, 'Tintin in the Land of the Soviets' (1929). The 1969 reprint only came about to thwart bootleg publications and even then it was kept outside the official book collection. 'Tintin au Congo' (1930) is also a propaganda story, praising the benefits of the Belgian colony Congo. The black Africans are depicted as primitive, lazy and infantile tribespeople, needing help and protection from the paternalistic white colonials. In the same story Tintin also casually game-hunts endangered animals. In one infamous scene, a rhinoceros is blown up with dynamite! Nevertheless, the narrative was later redrawn and colorized, to make it part of the official 'Tintin' series. Hergé removed all direct references to Belgium and Belgian Congo and retitled it as 'Tintin in Africa'. In 1975 the rhino scene was altered at the request of Scandinavian publishers, so that the animal escapes unharmed. Many other questionable scenes were kept intact. It explains why 'Tintin in Africa' became more controversial from the 1960s on. It even took until 2005 before an official English translation came about. In the early 2010s, Congolese student Bienvenu Mbutu Mondondo tried to have 'Tintin in Africa' banned by court order. In 2012, a judge ruled against the decision. Due to its infamy, the comic book was frequently parodied and satirized, among others by Picha's 'Tarzoon: the Shame of the Jungle' (1975), Joann Sfar's 'Le Chat du Rabbin' (2002-2006) and Anton Kannemeyer's 'Pappa in Afrika' (2010). Hergé's third 'Tintin' story, 'Tintin in America', was in turn criticized for depicting Native Americans as villainous tribespeople. For later reprints, Hergé had the story redrawn and colorized, but without altering much scenes. 

As controversial as these three stories may appear today, they ought to be understood in their historical context. At the turn of the 1920s into the 1930s, Hergé was still a young man who didn't take his work all that seriously. He merely depicted Russia, Africa and the United States as most Europeans imagined these countries at the time. Unavoidably, he was influenced by common prejudices, stereotypes and the strong creative control of chief editor Norbert Wallez, who used Le Vingtième Siècle as a vehicle of his own political-religious viewpoints. He was an antisemitic Catholic priest who openly sympathized with Benito Mussolini - he even had a signed photograph of "Il Duce" on his desk. After his 1933 discharge, Wallez joined the Belgian Nazi Party Rex, headed by one of his former journalists, Léon Degrelle. Only then Hergé received more creative freedom, moving away from propaganda tales to more straightforward adventure stories with occasional political satire. Later in his career, he often apologized for his earliest 'Tintin' stories, distancing himself from the contested elements. 

Cover vor Le Petit VingtièmeCover vor Le Petit Vingtième
Covers for Le Petit Vingtième. The first one (30 May 1935) depicts a scene from 'The Blue Lotus', the second cover (19 January 1939) from 'King Ottokar's Sceptre'. 
©Hergé/Moulinsart 2012. 

Maturing as an artist
In the fourth 'Tintin' story, 'Les Cigares du Pharaon' ('Cigars of the Pharaoh', 1932-1934), Tintin discovers a network of drug smugglers, with ties in Egypt and India. The plot was a strong improvement compared to the first three installments, and feature the mystery, suspense, adult subject matter and nightmarish scenes that became hallmarks of the series. 'Cigars of the Pharaoh' also marked the debut of three new cast members. First of all, the near-identical police inspectors Dupond and Dupont (Thompson and Thomson) who, despite their similar features and sounding names, are not related to one another. The bumbling officers have a tendency to imbecilically echo each other's statements, make wrong deductions and hurt themselves in slapstick accidents. Another new important cast member was the Greek millionaire and criminal mastermind Roberto Rastapopoulos, who became Tintin's arch enemy. 

The Blue Lotus
'Le Lotus Bleu' ('The Blue Lotus', 1934-35) - the sequel to 'Cigars of the Pharaoh' - proved the turning point for the 'Tintin' series. In this story, Tintin travels to China, where he finds the roots of the drug smuggling network of the previous episode. Unlike previous 'Tintin' adventures, Hergé depicted China and the Chinese people with more accuracy. While he was preparing his story, a chaplain at the Louvain University brought Hergé in touch with a couple of Chinese foreign exhange students. One of them, Zhang Chongren (1907-1998), became a close friend. He encouraged Hergé to take his stories more seriously and do more research. Zhang helped the Belgian cartoonist by teaching him a lot about Chinese culture and providing correct Chinese handwriting for the signs in the background of Hergé's panels. With Zhang's involvement, 'The Blue Lotus' became Hergé's first masterpiece, containing an accurate time capsule of mid-1930s China. Both the graphics and the storytelling improved. As a tribute to Zhang, Tintin befriends the Chinese boy Tchang Tchong-Yen. 'The Blue Lotus' is also notable for its political satire. One scene directly references the Mukden Incident (1931), a railroad blown up by Japanese spies to legitimize the Japanese invasion of China, that led to the Chinese-Japanese War (1931-1945). Zhang also hid secret anti-Japanese messages in the handwritten Chinese signs in the backgrounds. As a result, 'The Blue Lotus' caused controversy with some Japanese diplomats in Brussels, who wrote an official protest letter to Hergé and threatened to take the case to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. For those interested in the secret Chinese messages in 'The Blue Lotus', Marcel van Nieuwenborgh and Claire Chang's book 'China In Kuifje' (Davidsfonds, 1993), is highly recommended. Today, 'The Blue Lotus' is seen as one of the most quintessential 'Tintin' stories. In 1999, the French newspaper Le Monde placed it at the eighteenth spot in its list of "100 Books of the 20th Century". Hergé's book was not only one of the few comics to make the list, but also the highest ranking of all.

At the end of his foreign exchange schedule, Zhang had to say goodbye to his new friend and return to his home country. Because of the political turmoil in China during the Chinese-Japanese War and the subsequent rule of Mao, he and Hergé lost contact for nearly half a century. Hergé had such fond memories of their friendship and collaboration that 'The Blue Lotus' is the only early 'Tintin' story with most of the graphics left intact in later reprints, apart from the colorization and some minor alterations to backgrounds. In China, 'The Blue Lotus' was well received. In 1939, President Chiang Kai-Shek invited Hergé to visit his country. Due to circumstances, Hergé could only take the offer in 1973, when the politician had already passed away. Instead, the comic artist met his widow. 

'Tintin' in the late 1930s
'The Blue Lotus' marked a change in Hergé's working methods. Instead of improvising plot developments - sometimes only hours before the deadline - he now carefully prepared each new narrative. The comic artist visited musea, consulted experts and examined specialized literature, magazine articles and photographs. 'Tintin' became more realistic and open-minded about other cultures. Hergé also spent more attention to his graphics. Every drawing had to look believable and technically accurate. All the subsequent 'Tintin' stories became classics, giving the series its high quality reputation. 'L'Oreille Cassée' ('The Broken Ear', 1935-1937) brings Tintin to a fictional South American country to track down an ancient tribal statue. 'L'Île Noire' ('The Black Island', 1937-1938) takes place in England and Scotland, where the reporter uncovers a counterfeiters scheme. In 'Le Sceptre d'Ottokar' ('King Ottokar's Sceptre', 1938-39), he travels to the Balkanesque country Syldavia to help the king recover his royal sceptre. The story also marked the first appearance of the loud and obnoxious opera diva Bianca Castafiore. Her trademark aria is lifted from Charles Gounod's real-life opera 'Faust', namely "Ah, I laugh to see myself so beautiful in this mirror", which she sings so shrill that her voice can break glass. 

Quick et Flupke by Herge
'Quick et Flupke'. © Hergé/Moulinsart 2012.

Quick & Flupke
As the lead artist of Le Petit Vingtième, Hergé filled nearly the entire supplement. The 23 January 1930 issue marked the debut of Hergé's second most famous series, 'Quick et Flupke' (1930-1941), a gag comic with the pranks and blunders of two mischievous boys. Quick (the tall one) and Flupke (the shorter one) constantly run into trouble with meddlesome patrolman Agent 15. In spirit, the series is comparable to Rudolph Dirks' 'Der Katzenjammer Kids', but with a more distinct Belgian flavor. All episodes take place in Brussels and even the names of the protagonists are dialect variations of the names "Patrick" and "Philip". The feature is not only more homely than the globetrotting adventures of 'Tintin', it also provided Hergé far more creative freedom. Quick and Flupke can vandalize stuff, trick the strong arm of the law and destroy entire buildings. Some gags border to the surreal, with the kids dying and ending up in Heaven or Hell. Other punchlines break the fourth wall. In one gag, Flupke complains that Hergé keeps drawing him with a scarf, despite the fact that it's summer. In another he beats up his creator for letting him ski against the edge of the page's panel. Other gags are direct political satire. One particular 1934 episode featured the kids imitating Hitler and Mussolini, spoofing the dictators' first meeting in Venice that year. 'Quick et Flupke' is still a classic, reprinted to this day. It preceded several other Belgian comic series with street children battling obnoxious police officers, such as 'Filipke en de Rakkers' by Eugeen Hermans (1933), 'De Vrolijke Bengels' by Willy Vandersteen (1947-1953) and 'De Lustige Kapoentjes' (1947-1965) by Bob De Moor and later Marc Sleen.

During the 1930s 'Quick & Flupke' was popular enough to be adapted into a radio series, broadcast on Radio Catholique on late Friday afternoons. Between 1940 and 1941, episodes of 'Quick and Flupke' were reprinted in Le Soir Jeunesse, the juvenile supplement of the newspaper Le Soir. After World War II, the series made a return in Tintin magazine, where it ran from 1947 until 1953. For this occasion, many old episodes were redrawn and colorized, mostly by Hergé's assistant Bob De Moor. Since Hergé felt the series became too old-fashioned and time-consuming, he terminated it permanently in 1953. Despite requests to revive it, the two Brussels street rascals only made a brief comeback after Hergé's death, 30 years later. Bob de Moor's son, Johan De Moor and Johan's collaborator Pjotr oversaw a series of animated TV shorts (1984-1986), produced by Graphoui. This renewed interest in the comics and Johan De Moor was given exclusive permission to draw new 'Quick and Flupke' gags for comic book publications. Often based on the TV episodes, the scripts were written by Roger Ferrari. De Moor did his job so well that fans couldn't tell it wasn't Hergé's own art. 

'Quick and Flupke' have been translated in Dutch ('Kwik en Flupke', later 'Quick en Flupke'), English, German ('Stupps und Stepke'), Spanish ('Quique y Flupi', in Latin America 'Cuiqui y Flupi'), Portuguese ('Quim e Filipe'), Italian ('Quick e Flupke'), Greek ('Ο Κουκο?τσης κι ο Παπο?τσης'), Danish, Norwegian, Swedish ('Smecken & Sulan'), Finnish ('Kuikka ja Vili'), Indonesian, Korean, Chinese and Japanese. 

'Monsieur Bellum' strip (December 1939). © Hergé/Moulinsart 2012. Translation: "The D.N.B. agency announces that over the course of November 167 enemy planes have been defeated. One German device hasn't returned..." Bellum: "Brainwashers." His newspaper then reads: "Hitler has scarlet fever." 

One-shot comics
During the 1930s, Hergé also created some short-lived comics for other publications. For the Catholic magazine Mon Avenir, he drew two episodes of the gag comic 'Fred et Mile' (1931), with title characters very similar to 'Quick & Flupke', which might explain why he quickly abandoned it. However, a year later 'Fred et Mile' were revived by another artist, François Gianolla, who remodelled the series into a full-blown adventure series, that ran until the outbreak of World War II. In November 1932, Hergé introduced the gag comic 'Cet Aimable M. Mops' in the catalogue of the department store Le Bon Marché. It featured a Chaplinesque man in slapstick situations, but lasted only eight episodes. 'Dropsy' (1934) was another commercial comic strip, this time for Antoine sweet goods confectioners. It was a text comic about two children, Antoine and Antoinette, their pet dog Splash (who looks like Snowy) and parrot Dropsy. Despite the title, Dropsy the parrot is only a secondary character. The title actually refers to the company's praline brand, Dropsy. Antoine and Antoinette have adventures in a magical fantasy world full of product placement. Stylistically, 'Dropsy' is a predecessor to Hergé's later series 'Jo, Zette et Jocko' (1936-1939). For Briquettes Union, Hergé made 'Les Mésaventures de Jef Debakker' (1934), a text comic about a disgruntled baker.

Between 7 and 28 December 1939, Hergé's gag comic 'Mr. Bellum' appeared in the Brussels magazine L'Ouest. It features an egg-headed man who looks like a predecessor to Professor Calculus. At the time, Hitler already occupied Czechoslovakia, Austria and Poland and was in war with the United Kingdom. A new world war seemed inevitable and Belgium was mobilizing. L'Ouest advocated the country's neutrality. As such, 'Mr. Bellum' featured a lot of topical political satire. Several gags poke fun at the war crisis while ridiculing Hitler and Mussolini. 

Popol & Virginie
Out of all of Hergé's short-lived one-shot comics, the only one that was reprinted and colorized was 'Les Aventures de Tim, l'Écureuil au Far West' (1931). The story is notable as Hergé's only attempt at a funny animal comic. The plot revolves around a squirrel couple that moves to the Far West, where they are attacked by rabbits that look like Native Americans. 'Tim L'Ecuréil' originally appeared in a free magazine distributed by the Brussels department store L'Innovation. In 1933, it was reprinted in Pim et Pom, the children's supplement of the weekly magazine Vie Heureuse, albeit under a different title, 'Les Aventures de Tom et Millie'. A year later, it was reprinted in Le Petit Vingtième, again with a title change: 'Popol et Virginie chez les Lapinos' ('Popol out West', 1934). Historically, 'Popol' is important as the first Belgian western comic, although both Totor and Tintin had visited the Far West before. In 1948, the story was colorized, serialized in Tintin magazine and released in album format. Nevertheless, the cowboy adventure was never a big success, which Hergé blamed on the anthropomorphic animal characters. In 1953, when the artist Tibet presented his western comic 'Chick Bill' with funny animals, Hergé rejected the story and insisted using human characters instead. 

Jo, Zette et Jocko, by Hergé
Jo, Zette et Jocko - 'Le "Manitoba" ne répond plus'. ©Hergé/Moulinsart 2012.

Jo, Zette et Jocko
Between 19 January 1936 and 17 September 1939, Hergé was also present in the French Catholic magazine Coeurs Vaillants with 'Jo, Zette et Jocko' (1936-1939). The main characters are the boy Jo, his sister Zette and their pet monkey Jocko. In spirit, the series is comparable to 'Tintin'. The children have thrilling, humorous adventures in exotic locations. Jocko provides comic relief and inner monologues, comparable to Snowy. A total of five adventures were created, including two two-parters. By October 1936, 'Jo, Zette and Jocko' was serialized in Le Petit Vingtième too. After World War II, the series was redrawn, colorized and reprinted in Tintin magazine. A previously unfinished story, 'La Vallée des Cobras' ('The Valley of the Cobras'), was given a proper conclusion, when it ran in Tintin magazine between 1953 and 1954. 

'Jo, Zette et Jocko' is a family comic, because the conservative editors of Coeurs Vaillants insisted on giving the child characters a caring father and mother. This limited the creative possibilities, as the worrying parents had to be written in every plot. As a result, Hergé never enjoyed the series, especially compared with Tintin, who at least could go and do whatever he wanted. 'Jo, Zette et Jocko' has been translated in various languages, including Dutch ('Jo, Suus en Jokko'), English ('Jo, Zette and Jocko'), German ('Jo, Jette und Jocko'), Spanish ('Jo, Zette y Jocko'), Danish ('Mads', Mettes og Sjokos'), Swedish ('Johan, Lotta & Jocko'), Finnish ('Veikko, Tette ja Jykke'), Bengal and Indonesian ('Petualangan Yo, Susi dan Yokko'). 

World War II
Shortly after the Nazi invasion of Belgium on 10 May 1940, both Hergé's comic supplement Le Petit Vingtième and its parent newspaper Le Vingtième Siècle were forced to close down. Hergé was just halfway his 'Tintin' story 'Tintin au Pays de l'Or Noir' ('Tintin and The Land of Black Gold'), in which the quiffed reporter investigates a case in Palestine, where he is left half buried in the sand during a desert storm. A couple of months later, Hergé found new employment with the youth supplement of Le Soir: Le Soir-Jeunesse. As chief editor he was responsible for most of the paper's content, together with the journalist Jacques van Melkebeke and illustrator Paul Jamin. Launched on 17 November 1940, Le Soir-Jeunesse resumed both 'Tintin' and 'Quick & Flupke', but on 23 September 1941 the supplement was discontinued due to paper shortage. While 'Quick and Flupke' were cancelled, 'Tintin' continued his adventures in Le Soir itself.

The Crab with the golden claws by Herge
First meeting between Tintin and Captain Haddock in 'The Crab with the Golden Claws'. (Le Soir Jeunesse, 9 January 1941). © Hergé/Moulinsart 2012.

Captain Haddock
Despite the difficulties of the war years, some of the most beloved 'Tintin' stories were created during this period. 'Le Crabe aux Pinces d'Or' ('The Crab with the Golden Claws', 1940-1941) is a classic thriller set in North Africa, where Tintin first meets the recurring villain Allan Thompson (in reprints he was retroactively added to 'Les Cigares du Pharaon' too). That same story also marked the debut of the iconic Captain Haddock. He was first seen in print on 31 December 1940, but Tintin first meets him on 9 January 1941. The grumpy, sarcastic sailor becomes his best friend. His personality provides a sharp contrast with Tintin's incorruptible goodness. Haddock enjoys smoking pipe and boozing copious amounts of Loch Lomond whiskey. Often drunk and easily agitated, one of his trademarks are his eccentric swear words, such as his catchphrase "Tonnerre de Brest" (freely translated as "Blistering barnacles"). Rather than use real vulgar language - which wouldn't have passed the censors - Hergé looked up colorful words in the dictionary, which most people wouldn't understand anyway, such as "ectoplasma" and "bashi-bazouk". Many 'Tintin' fans have named Haddock their favorite character. As Hergé grew older, he too identified more with the short-tempered and accident-prone sea captain. 

'Tintin' in the early 1940s
The 'Tintin' story' 'L'Étoile Mystérieuse' ('The Shooting Star', 1941-1942) indirectly captured much of the war fears, through the danger of a huge meteor threatening to destroy the world. With the two-parter 'Le Secret de la Licorne' ('The Secret of the Unicorn', 1942-1943) and 'Le Trésor de Rackham le Rouge' ('Red Rackham's Treasure', 1943), Hergé dropped all political metaphors and went for more escapist adventure stories instead. The plot revolves around a mysterious miniature ship, that leads to a pirate treasure hunt, related to one of Haddock's ancestors. With the newly found fortune, Haddock buys the Moulinsart (Marlinspike) castle, that becomes the characters' new homebase. He hires a butler, Nestor, and allows both Tintin and the genius but stone deaf professor Tournesol (Professor Calculus) to live at his estate. The next storyline was also a two-parter. In 'Les 7 Boules du Crystal' ('The Seven Crystal Balls', 1943-1946) and 'Le Temple du Soleil' ('Prisoners of the Sun', 1946-1948), Tintin investigates the mysterious comas of seven archeologists who dug up a Peruvian Inca mummy and brought it to the West. Calculus, who was one of them, is abducted to Peru, with Tintin and Haddock trying to find him. 

Le Trésor de Rackham le Rouge
Typical slapstick with Dupond and Dupont, and the introduction of Professeur Tournesol in 'Red Rackham's Treasure', published in Le Soir on 4 and 5 March 1943.
©Hergé/Moulinsart 2012.

Accusations of Nazi collaboration
On 3 September 1944, Brussels was liberated from Nazi occupation. Once again, Hergé lost his publication outlet, since Le Soir was forced to drop all activities. The entire editorial board, including Hergé, were arrested for collaboration with the national-socialist oppressor. Freed after only one night in jail, Hergé was lucky that he was merely seen as a naïve and innocent provider of children's comics. Although he wasn't convicted, many considered him morally wrong for his wartime associations. It didn't help that Hergé had worked for Le Petit Vingtième and Le Soir, two papers that had printed pro-Nazi and Fascist propaganda. Le Soir was even fully under Nazi control; the wartime period is often referred to as "Le Soir Volé" ("The Stolen Soir"). Even in Dutch translation, 'Tintin' was serialized in the Nazi-controlled paper Het Laatste Nieuws. Many of Hergé's colleagues had sympathized or collaborated directly with the Nazis. One of them, the editor Léon Degrelle, had become the founder of the Belgian Nazi party REX. Back in 1931, Hergé had illustrated Degrelle's book 'Histoire de la Guerre Scolaire' (1931), a subjective look at the history of the so-called "School Wars" between the Catholic and secular education system in Belgium. However, their friendship soured in 1932, when Degrelle used Hergé's artwork for a propaganda poster, without the artist's permission. The cartoonist took the case to court and won. Hergé also illustrated Robert de Vroylande's book 'Fables' (1941), a children's book containing a racist story about stingy Jews. In Hergé's defense: he originally left these characters from the cover, but De Vroylande insisted to keep them in. The Tintin story 'The Shooting Star' (1940) was also contested, because the main villain, Bohlwinkel, looks like a stereotypical Jewish-American. One particular scene - that appeared only in Le Soir and never in book form - poked fun at two rabbis gloating over the possible end of the world, because they won't have to pay off their debts. All these aspects damaged Hergé's reputation. In 1944, the Belgian resistance movement distributed a small booklet titled 'Galerie des Traîtres' ('Gallery of the Traitors'), listing all people involved with Le Soir Volé. Hergé was mentioned too and even ridiculed with the parody comic 'Tintin au Pays des Nazis' ('Tintin in the Land of the Nazis'), drawn by an anonymous artist. 

Even today, Hergé's war past is a source for debate. But despite his dubious assocations, the cartoonist never joined REX and actively refused to let his characters be used for political propaganda. In the 1930s, he undeniably poked fun at Hitler and Mussolini in his gag strips 'Quick & Flupke' and 'Mr. Bellum'. The invading Bordurian army in 'King Ottokar's Sceptre' is clearly modelled after the Nazis, down to their uniforms and a character named general Müsstler. Several Tintin stories favor multiculturalism, with 'The Blue Lotus' (1936) debunking stereotypes about the Chinese, 'Cokes en Stock' ('The Red Sea Sharks', 1956-1958) criticizing modern slavery of black Africans and 'Les Bijoux de Bianca Castafiore' ('The Castafiore Emerald', 1961-6192) attacking prejudices about Roma people. And even though 'The Blue Lotus' has an anti-Japanese tone, a more sympathetic Japanese man plays an important role in the plot of 'The Crab with the Golden Claws'. It should also be mentioned that in the 1950s, a U.S. publisher forced Hergé to turn certain black secondary characters in 'Tintin in America' and 'The Crab with the Golden Claws' into white people. 

Hergé covers for Tintin magazines from 26 September 1946 and 19 March 1947. ©Hergé/Moulinsart 2012.

Tintin magazine
Accused of Nazi collaboration, Hergé was blacklisted from publication in the Belgian press. He therefore spent most of the period 1944-1946 coordinating the restyling of older 'Tintin' stories for book publications. Together with his assistants, he redrew and colorized certain stories, and also changed some scenes. In 1945, Hergé applied for a job with the popular Belgian comic magazine Spirou, but publisher Charles Dupuis refused him because of his war past. If Hergé had been hired by Spirou, it would have turned Belgian comic history into a different direction. Because instead, he established his own comic magazine, that soon became Spirou's main market rival. In 1946, Hergé was approached by the Brussels publisher Raymond Leblanc to launch a comic magazine built around Tintin. Because Leblanc was a decorated wartime resistance hero, he could easily give Hergé his certificate of good citizenship back. Based on the Rue du Lombard, Raymond Leblanc called his publishing company Lombard, from where he distributed both the magazine and book collections of the most popular series. Only Hergé's albums remained under contract with Casterman, the publishing company that released book collections with Tintin's adventures since 1934. And so, on 26 September 1946, the first issue of 'Tintin' magazine hit the bookstands, with the first episode of the new 'Tintin' story, 'Le Temple du Soleil' ('Prisoners of the Sun') inside. Lombard simultaneously launched a French- and Dutch-language edition, the latter called Kuifje. From 28 October 1948 on, a slightly different version of Tintin magazine was published in France by Dargaud. Other foreign editions followed, among others in Canada and Italy. Various foreign magazines reprinted comics from Tintin magazine in their own pages. 

Contrary to Le Petit Vingtième, Tintin magazine offered room for dozens of other artists. In the first issue alone, his assistants and pupils Edgar Pierre Jacobs ('Blake et Mortimer'), Paul Cuvelier ('Corentin') and Jacques Laudy ('Hassan et Kaddour') were given the chance to launch their own comic series. In the following decades, Tintin and its rival Spirou became the leading Belgian comic magazines. They set new standards for European comics and launched many classic Franco-Belgian series. Nevertheless, they were vastly different in many ways. Spirou was known for humorous comics, drawn in a loose, cartoony style. As a counterweight, Tintin featured mostly serious, realistically drawn series, echoing Hergé's trademark "Clear Line" style, impeccable artwork and detailed research. Since Tintin operated from Brussels, its house style was named the "School of Brussels", while Spirou's homebase was Marcinelle, making its authors part of the "School of Marcinelle". 

From 1946 until 1965, Hergé served as art director and creative advisor, holding tight control over Tintin magazine's content. During this period, he and his assistants designed original artwork for covers, columns and official merchandising. Since 'Tintin' was now a global success, Hergé now ran both his comics and his magazine as a business, carefully guarding his high quality reputation. He not only demanded new artists to follow his artistic standards, but also let his personal taste intervene too much. Hergé, for instance, strongly disliked the inclusion of cartoony comics in his magazine, some of which turned out very popular in the end. On top of that, the new workload slowed down his own production. After 1958, his involvement with the magazine gradually diminished. Nervous breakdowns and marital problems led to long interruptions, leaving the magazine without new material by its founder for months. Over the years, Hergé's dogmatic mingling and unreliable availability had led to more and more conflicts with publisher Leblanc and Tintin's editors-in-chief, successively André Fernez (1947-1959) and Marcel Dehaye (1959-1965). By 1965, Leblanc forced Hergé to retire from Tintin's editorial board, offering the new editor-in-chief Michel Greg full creative freedom.

Studio Herge in 1956
Studio Hergé around 1958. From left to right: Bob de Moor, Jo-El Azara, Jacques Martin, Michel Demarets (sitting), Baudouin van den Branden de Reeth, Josette Baujot, Hergé, France Ferrari, Fanny Vlamynck and Alexis Remi (Hergé's father).

Studio Hergé
As early as the 1930s, Hergé's workload increased to such a degree that other artists were brought in to supply Le Petit Vingtième with additional comics and illustration work. Jean Vermeire (Jiv), Eugène van Nijverseel (Evany) and Paul Jamin (Jam) were Hergé's first co-workers. During World War II, when his comic ran in Le Soir Jeunesse and Le Soir, Hergé was aided by his colleague Jacques van Melkebeke for new plots for the 'Tintin' stories. Van Melkebeke was also the scriptwriter of two theatrical plays based on 'Tintin', and the first editor-in-chief of Tintin magazine. By December 1946, he already had to step down, because of his Nazi collaboration past. Between 1944 and 1947, graphic assistance came from Edgar Pierre Jacobs, with whom Hergé reworked and colorized older Tintin stories for book publications. Jacobs also participated in the plots of 'The Seven Crystal Bolls' and 'Prisoners of the Sun', but since his contributions remained uncredited, he eventually ended the collaboration.

By 1950, Hergé basically had to rebuild his entourage from scratch. This time he founded a professional studio, known as Studio Hergé. His crew continued redrawing, restyling, shortening, altering and colorizing earlier comics for reprints and book releases. They also assisted Hergé with his new 'Tintin' stories, magazine illustrations and associated merchandising. In 1954, Tintin's publisher Raymond Leblanc established Lombard's own audiovisual department Belvision, under supervision of Karel van Milleghem and animation director Ray Goossens. Some Studio Hergé employees were directly involved as animators or designers on the film projects. A demanding taskmaster, Hergé let his team gather loads of documentation and sketch out everything multiple times before the perfect pose, background and panel layout was found. Some pages were already fully pencilled when Hergé suddenly changed his mind about the plot or lay-out. He then started over again, sometimes right from the very first page. The studio head organized excursions, so Hergé and his artists could make atmospheric drawings on location. Bob de Moor was, for instance, sent to Switzerland and Scotland to make sketches for respectively 'The Calculus Affair' and the redrawn version of 'The Black Island'. 

Studio Hergé had a loyal group of contributors. Artists like Bob de MoorGuy Dessicy and Franz Jagueneau were his first assistants, while Monique Laurent, Josette Baujot, France Ferrari and Fanny Vlamynck (who became Hergé's second wife) served as colorists. Dessicy left in 1953 to head Lombard's in-house advertising agency Publiart. In 1954, Jo-El Azara and Jacques Martin joined the team as artists. Martin brought along his own assistants Roger Leloup and Michel Demarets. Azara left in 1961 and Leloup in 1969 to focus on their own comic series. By 1972, Jacques Martin called it quits to set up his own studio to launch new series in addition to his earlier successes 'Alix' and 'Lefranc'. The final newcomers were Bob de Moor's son, Johan De Moor in 1982, and Pierre Gay in 1984. In 1986 the studio ceased all production. Remaining to the end were Bob and Johan De Moor, Michel Demarets, Pierre Gay and colorist Nicole Thenen. Although his employees provided most of the artwork and occasionally suggested ideas and gags, Hergé never credited them. In an interview, he compared himself to Walt Disney, "of whom the general public also knows that he had a large studio behind him." 

Mannen op de maan by Herge
The world's second most famous moon landing. 'On A Marché Sur La Lune'. (1953).© Hergé/Moulinsart 2012

'Tintin' stories for Tintin magazine
After the conclusion of 'Prisoners of the Sun' (1946-1948) - the first 'Tintin' story in his own magazine - Hergé decided to rework and complete his abruptly ended 1939-1940 story 'Tintin au Pays Noir' ('Land of Black Gold'). Interestingly enough, it's the only album in the franchise that was drastically rewritten and redrawn twice. After an initial update with a proper ending for the 1948-1950 magazine serialization, 'Land of Black Gold' went through another makeover in 1971-1972. This time under pressure of British publishers, who asked for the removal of all references to their former colony Palestine. Therefore the setting was moved to a fictional Arabic country, Khemed, while the storylines were edited. In the final version, Tintin unravels tampering of oil supplies and saves emir Ben Kalish Ezab's bratty son Abdallah from abduction.

The next two-parter, 'Objectif Lune' ('Destination Moon', 1950-1952) and 'On A Marché Sur La Lune' ('Explorers on the Moon', 1952-1953), brought Tintin & Co to their most epic adventure, travelling to the moon and back. The lunar saga is notable for its scientifically accurate depiction of space travel, a mere five years before Russia launched the first Sputnik satellite, and a decade and a half before Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. Hergé followed up his science fiction saga with a more down to Earth Cold War thriller, 'L'Affaire Tournesol' ('The Calculus Affair', 1954-1956). In this story, Bordurian spies kidnap professor Calculus because he invented a secret weapon. It marked the debut of the final major cast member, Séraphin Lampion (Jolyon Wagg), and obnoxiously jolly neighbor who often invites himself over to Haddock's castle. The door-to-door salesman always tries to sell the captain useless junk, while making bad jokes and failing to take anything seriously. An equal nuisance is Boucherie Sanzot (Cutts the Butcher), a butcher shop with almost the same telephone number as Castle Moulinsart, causing many misdialed calls. With 'Coke en Stock' ('The Red Sea Sharks', 1956-1958), Hergé delved into the theme of modern slave trade.

Tintin au Tibet, by Hergé
'Tintin au Tibet' (1959, sequence unpublished in the book collection). © Hergé/Moulinsart 2012.

Final stories and break in style
Despite his fame and wealth, Hergé's post-war private life was less idyllic. On top of the workload in his studio, he went through a marital crisis. In 1956, Hergé began an affair with one of his colorists, Fanny Vlamynck, and lived separately from his wife Germaine from then on. Still, Hergé felt incredibly guilty and conflicted about giving up his marriage. It took until 1977 before he finalized his divorce and married Fanny. The stress gave him recurring nightmares, that often ended in white voids. Amidst all the anxiety, Hergé desperately wanted to get in touch with his old friend Zhang again, whom he hadn't seen or spoken since the early 1930s, when they collaborated on 'The Blue Lotus'. As a form of therapy, Hergé created the story 'Tintin au Tibet' ('Tintin in Tibet', 1958-1959), in which his hero travels to the Himalaya to search for his friend Tchang, who presumably died in an airplane crash. Tintin, Haddock and Snowy travel through desolated snow landscapes, that mirrored the whiteness Hergé saw in his nightmares. The comic book was a masterpiece in minimalism and a serious break in style. The narrative focuses primarily on just Tintin, Haddock, Snowy and their guide. With no villains and only a few action-packed scenes, heart-felt emotions are the prime focus of the story. 'Tintin in Tibet' helped Hergé overcome his recurring nightmares and is widely regarded as his magnum opus. In a case of art imitates life, Hergé eventually managed to track down Zhang. In 1981, they met again in Brussels in a widely mediatized reunion. 

While 'Tintin in Tibet' relieved him from his mental issues, it also caused writer's block. Hergé felt he had reached his artistic peak and wanted to retire. More time went into redrawing and updating older albums. New 'Tintin' stories came out with increasingly larger intervals, but continued on the experimental path paved by 'Tintin in Tibet'. In 'Les Bijoux de la Castafiore' ('The Castafiore Emerald', 1963), Tintin doesn't leave home. All action is set in Moulinsart and revolves around the supposed theft of Castafiore's jewels. Hergé tested how long readers could be kept at the edge of their seat with seemingly banal events. The story is therefore a polarizing entry in the series, though at the same time admired for its audacity. As Hergé grew in his storytelling, characters became less easier to define as "good" or "bad", such as the guilt-ridden Frank Wolff ('Explorers on the Moon', 1953-1954) or the vain Lazlo Carreidas ('Flight 714 to Sydney', 1966-1967). In the latter story, Rastapopoulos and Allan Thompson are ridiculed to the extent that the reader pities them. The main cast underwent changes too. In 'Tintin et les Picaros' ('Tintin and the Picaros', 1975-1976), Tintin suddenly wears jeans instead of his trademark tan pants, practices yoga and is suddenly less keen on travelling. Haddock gets a distaste for alcohol, butler Nestor is caught listening at the door and the ending is remarkably cynical. Readers didn't always appreciate these experiments. At times it felt as if Hergé was trolling his readers, almost to the point of self parody. Rumors that his assistant Bob De Moor did most of the drawing in this final period were difficult to suppress. 

Global bestseller
Besides their newspaper and magazine serializations, 'Tintin' comics proved equally popular in book collections. As early as 1930, Le Vingtième Siècle released the first Hergé comics in book format. In 1934, the Tournay-based publisher Louis Casterman gained the publishing rights for the book releases and still owns them to this day. International magazines also picked up serialization of Hergé's comics. By the end of the 1930s, 'Tintin' could be read in France (in Coeurs Vaillants magazine), Switzerland (L'Écho Illustré),  Portugal (in O Papagaio) and Flanders (Het Laatste Nieuws). After World War II, Tintin magazine and various media adaptations helped 'Tintin' spread to the rest of the globe, finding millions of fans in unexpected places, such as Latin America, Congo, Turkey, Iran, India, China and Australia. 'Tintin' still ranks as one of the bestselling comic series in the world. In most languages the series' name is unaltered, except for some countries where a similar-sounding name is used, like 'Tintim' (Portuguese), 'Tantan' (Persian, Russian), 'Tenten' (Greek, Turkish) and 'Tim' (German). Only in Dutch ('Kuifje') and Afrikaans ('Kuifie'), Hergé's reporter is named after his little quiff. 

'Red Rackham's Treasure'. © Hergé/Moulinsart 2012.

Style and adult appeal
Hergé's fanbase was not limited to children; adults too enjoyed his stories. A large part of the series' appeal can be attributed to the ambiguity of the title character. Tintin seems to be a teenager, but can easily be in his early twenties too. Not hindered by parents, bosses or a partner, the quiffed hero can effortlessly go on adventures across the globe. Any reader can easily project himself into his persona and dream along of being free to go anywhere. Yet the 'Tintin' universe is not completely safe or consequence-free either. All the action is rooted in everyday reality, with no physically impossible scenes. Accidents can be played for laughs, but instead of having only cartoony bumps and bruises, Hergé's characters can have actual injuries. Some even die - either by accident, murder or suicide - regardless if they are villains or not. This makes the stories more exciting and unpredictable than most child-oriented comics of the time. Even when Hergés incorporates fantasy elements, like the Yeti in 'Tintin in Tibet' (1960) or extra-terrestrial intelligence in 'Flight 714' (1968), he does this in a plausible and believable way. Hergé was also a master in depicting nightmare sequences, with the same intensity and surrealism as actual dreams.

Never talking down to his audience, Hergé's managed to craft complicated plots while still keeping them entertaining, with a fine balance between humor, tragedy and suspense. During serialization, each episode ends with a suspenseful cliffhanger. Many (European) comic artists have taken inspiration from his approach to captivate their audience. The adventures of 'Tintin' are epic in their scope and evolved with the times. Sometimes, Hergé introduced phenomena in 'Tintin' that still had to make their mark in the real world. In 'The Black Island' (1936), for instance, he already showed a television, which didn't become a mass medium until two decades later. The diptych 'Destination Moon/Explorers on the Moon' (1950-1953) shows a scientifically plausible space mission a mere four years before the Russians launched their first satellites and rockets. In 'The Castafiore Emerald' (1963) color television is demonstrated, long before this became common. To give the fictional science more believability, the book collections of 'Destination Moon' and 'Flight 714 to Sydney' contain spreads with technical maps of respectively a moon rocket and a hi-tech aeroplane. 

Besides 20th-century technological developments, 'Tintin' also mirrors most of the major historical events. Although still stereotypical, 'Tintin in the Land of the Soviets' (1929) satirized the Soviet Union, while Chicago gangsters are prominent in 'Tintin in America' (1931-1932). The Chinese-Japanese War (1932-1945) forms the background of 'The Blue Lotus' (1934-1935), while the Gran Chaco War (1932-1935) is part of the narrative of 'The Broken Ear' (1935-1937). The early stages of World War II are referenced in 'King Ottokar's Sceptre' (1938-1939), while 'The Calculus Affair' (1954-1956) tackles the Cold War, both in the guise of the dictatorial state Borduria, a mix between Nazism and Stalinism. Hergé's satirical commentary is often biting. In 'The Broken Ear', for instance, an arms dealer sells weapons to both sides of an upcoming war. In 'Tintin and the Picaros' (1975-1976), South American dictators are portrayed as being merely the same ludicrous tyrants under a different name. 

Prisoners of the Sun by Hergé
Cover drawing for Tintin issue #3, 1947 © Hergé/Moulinsart 2012.

Media adaptations of 'Tintin'
During World War II, 'Tintin' was adapted into two theatrical plays, directed by Paul Riga: 'Tintin Aux Indes. Le Mystère du Diamant Bleu' ('Tintin in India. The Mystery of the Blue Diamond', 1941) and 'Monsieur Boullock à Disparu' ('Mr. Boullock Has Disappeared', 1941), based on original scripts by Hergé and Jacques van Melkebeke. Shortly after the war, Claude Misonne and João B. Michiels directed a stop-motion puppet adaptation of the 'Tintin' story 'The Crab With The Golden Claws' (1947). Although technically the first animated picture in Belgian film history, it only screened once before being seized by the police because of the producer's debts. Between 1957 and 1962, the Lombard animation division Belvision developed an animated TV series based on 'Tintin':  'Les Aventures de Tintin, d'après Hergé'. Directed by Ray Goossens, it often took great creative liberties with the source material. Belvision also produced two animated feature films. 'Le Temple du Soleil' ('Tintin and the Temple of the Sun', 1969) was based on the 'Tintin' episode of the same name and directed by Willy Lateste. Part of the soundtrack was written by the famous Belgian singer Jacques Brel. 'Tintin au Laq du Requins' ('Tintin and the Lake of Sharks', 1972), directed by Raymond Leblanc, was based on an original script by Greg, at the time editor-in-chief of Tintin magazine. 

In the early 1960s, two live-action films were made, both starring sports instructor Jean-Pierre Talbot in the role of Tintin. The first picture, 'Tintin et le Mystère de la Toison d'Or' ('Tintin and the Golden Fleece', 1961), was directed by Jacques Vierne, the second, 'Tintin et Les Oranges Bleues' ('Tintin and the Blue Oranges', 1964), by Philippe Condroyer. Half a century later, Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson directed the 3D-animated Hollywood movie 'The Adventures of Tintin: the Secret of the Unicorn' (2011). Combining parts of 'The Secret of the Unicorn' and 'The Crab with The Golden Claws', the film's narrative initially remained close to the atmosphere of the original stories, but near the end took many creative liberties to appeal to U.S. audiences unfamiliar with the franchise. The film was nevertheless a global box office success, except in the USA. By far the most faithful audiovisual adaptation of 'Tintin' is the 1991-1992 animated TV series produced by Ellipseanime/Nelvana. Staying close to Hergé's style in terms of plot and graphic look, it is also fondly remembered for its epic soundtrack by composers Ray Parker, Jim Morgan and Tom Szcesniak. One of the animators who worked on it was Gilles Cazaux

The Belgitude of Hergé
Tintin's global success is remarkable for a comic strip from such a tiny country. Yet Hergé removed all regional aspects and had the quiffed reporter travel to all corners of the Earth instead. All of the depicted countries were treated with the greatest attention to geographic authenticity, possibly explaining Tintin's international appeal. And still there is a very distinctive Belgian - or better said Brussels - atmosphere in Hergé's comics. Many backgrounds are recognizable as either streets in the Belgian capital or the Antwerp harbor. Three artificial languages in 'Tintin' - Syldavian, Bordurian and Arumbayan - are bastardizations of a local Flemish dialect spoken in the Brussels neighborhood De Marollen. Because his mother and grandmother were Flemish, he remembered many local phrases, that he used in the dialogues. Other traces of this dialect can be found in names of locations (Khemed, Wadesdah) and characters (Bab El Ehr, Ezdanitoff, Krollspell). The royal palace in 'King Ottokar's Sceptre' is modelled after the Belgian one, while certain museum objects in 'The Broken Ear' can also be found in the Brussels Ethnographic museum. Last but not least, when one translates the Chinese handwriting on the envelope Tintin receives in 'Tintin in Tibet,' it reads 'Brussels' as his home address. Tintin is arguably the most recognizable Belgian in the world, even though he is just as fictional as that other universal Belgian celebrity, Hercule Poirot. Unsurprisingly, Hergé was the highest ranking comic artist in "The Greatest Belgian" (2005) election and the only one to make the list of 100 nominees on both language borders. In the Flemish version, he came in at the 24th place, in the Walloon version at number 8. 

Cover illustration for 'Il était une fois... Les Belges'/'Er waren eens... Belgen' (1980).

Graphic contributions
Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Hergé made many advertising illustrations for companies such as the L'Innovation department store, D.R.U., Victoria biscuits and the publishing house Casterman, all with a strong sense for composition and typography. In the early 1930s, Hergé also contributed to Madame, the women's supplement of Le Vingtième Siècle, making Art Deco-style cover illustrations. From the 1940s on, most of his commercial assignments focused on Tintin-related merchandise. Hergé also did book illustrations, sometimes only the cover design, for instance for 'Imageries Bruxelloises' (1943), a book by his friend Jacques van Melkebeke. In other publications, Hergé livened up more pages, among them Maurice Schmitz' 'Mile' (1928), Raymond De Becker's 'Le Christ, Roi des Affaires' (1929), Léon Degrelle's 'Histoire de la Guerre Scolaire' (1931), Paul Werrie's 'La Légende d'Albert Ier, Roi des Belges' (1935), R.A. Hédoin's 'L'Oiseau de France' series (1934-1938), Jeanne Cappe's 'Astrid, La Reine au Sourire' (1935) and Robert de Vroylande's 'Fables' (1941). Hergé provided the foreword to Pierre Pelot's 'Dylan Stark 13: Le Tombeau de Satan' (1969) and a 1973 Belgian reprint of H.G. Wells' 'War of the Worlds', illustrated by his colleague Edgar P. Jacobs. He also penned the foreword to a 1982 reprint of 'Fables de la Fontaine' by one of his main influences, Benjamin Rabier. Hergé was one of several Belgian comic artists drawing a contribution to the book 'Il Était Une Fois... Les Belges'/'Er Waren Eens... Belgen' (Lombard, 1980), a collection of columns and comic pages made at the occasion of Belgium's 150th anniversary. While most of his colleagues made comic book pages for the book's interior, Hergé made the cover drawing.

Hergé received various international honors and awards, such as the Swedish Adamson Award (1971), the Italian Yellow Kid Award (1972), the French Grand Prix Saint Michel (1973) and a special Mickey Mouse statue donated on 17 January 1979 by the Walt Disney Company to celebrate Tintin's 50th birthday. In 1978, Hergé was knighted as an Officer in the Order of Leopold II. Posthumously, he was inducted in the Harvey Award (1999) and Eisner Award (2003) Halls of Fame and bestowed with the International Campaign for Tibet's Light and Truth Award (2006) by the Dalai Lama. In 1953, Hergé had an asteroid named after him, an honor two of his characters received as well, namely Bianca Castafiore (1950) and professor Calculus (2004). In 1982, there was also a dwarf planet named after the artist.

Death and posthumous events
When Hergé passed away from leukemia in 1983, his death made headlines all over the world. Numerous cartoonists and magazines paid tribute to the comics grandmaster and his work. Already during his lifetime, Hergé had made clear that his series would die with him. Since there was still an unfinished 'Tintin' story in sketch form, 'Tintin et L'Alph-Art' ('Tintin and the Alpha Art'), fans speculated whether Bob de Moor would be allowed to at least complete it. While De Moor was eager to do so, Hergé's widow, Fanny Rémi, vetoed against the idea. In 1986, 'Tintin et L'Alph-Art' received a book release, but then as a collection of the sketches and script pages Hergé left behind. A description of the images and dialogue was added, so readers could follow Hergé's line of thought. Naturally, this couldn't prevent some crafty comic artists, like Ramó Nash, Yves Rodier and Régric, to make illegal bootleg versions of the story, in which they completed the artwork and plot in Hergé's style. In 2004, more pages of Hergé's work-in-progress were discovered, leading to an official updated re-release of 'Tintin et l'Alph-Art'. The only series with official new content after its creator's death was 'Quick et Flupke', of which Johan de Moor made two new albums.

Script page from 'Tintin et L'Alph-Art'.© Hergé/Moulinsart 2012.

Moulinsart S.A.
In 1986, Studio Hergé was disbanded by lack of future projects. A year later, Hergé's widow, Fanny Rémi, established the Hergé Foundation - renamed in 1996 to Moulinsart, S.A. - to safeguard her late husband's legacy. In 1993 she remarried a British lawyer, Nick Rodwell (°1952), who joined the Moulinsart board. Over the years, the couple made frequent headlines by suing everybody who uses Hergé or Tintin's name or image without their permission. Apart from bootleggers, plagiarists and copyright infringers, they more controversially also sued parodists, fan clubs, comic stores and people auctioning original artwork. In 2009, when the Hergé Museum opened its doors in Louvain-La-Neuve, journalists were initially not allowed to make photographs inside, "so unauthorized photographs wouldn't surface on the Internet". When in 2015, Moulinsart sued the Dutch Hergé Society for illegally reproducing vignettes of 'Tintin' covers, the court ruled against their claim. The defendants succesfully presented a 1942 contract signed by Hergé, proving the publishing house Casterman actually owned the publishing rights to Hergé's books. Nevertheless, this hasn't stopped the amount of widely publicized court cases. The sometimes ruthless and controversial actions of Fanny and Nick Rodwell were portrayed in the 1999 book 'Tintin et les Héritiers' ("Tintin and the Heirs") by the journalist Hugues Dayez. In January 2021, Nick Rodwell announced he was writing a book called 'Trust but Verify', in which he explains his actions with regards to Hergé's legacy.

Tintin magazine, post-Hergé
When Hergé's involvement in Tintin magazine diminished during the 1960s, it initially didn't have much effect on the magazine's sales. The magazine for "the youth between 7 and 77 years old", as the slogan read, remained a market leader for decades. But since very little new 'Tintin' stories came out, it was effectively a publication with a retired mascot. Attempts by publishers like Dargaud, Edi-Monde and Ifford to make completely independent French editions - first with Tintin L'Hebdoptimiste (4 January 1973 until 1 July 1975) and then with Nouveau Tintin (16 September 1975 until 30 May 1978) - failed, making the France-only version return to being a slightly ammended version of the Belgian original, published by Lombard France. After Hergé's death, it became clear that no new 'Tintin' stories would be created. On 29 November 1988, both the Walloon and French edition of Tintin were stabbed in the back by the Hergé Foundation (nowadays Moulinsart S.A.), that took a copyright claim on the name Tintin. This meant the end of the French edition and a temporary halt to Lombard's Walloon version. Meanwhile the Dutch-language version, Kuifje, was able to continue without any interference. Under its imprint Yeti Presse, the Hergé Foundation launched a French-language magazine of their own, Tintin Reporter. It lasted eight months, appearing from 9 December 1988 until 28 July 1989. On 26 September 1989, Lombard returned on the French-language market with Hello Bédé, effectively the successor of the Walloon Tintin, but to no avail. New ways of entertainment had caused the gradual decline in sales of comic magazines. On 29 June 1993, the final issues of both Kuifje and Hello Bédé rolled from the presses. 

A huge part of the Belgian tourist industry still uses Tintin in its merchandise. On 1 October 1979, a statue designed by Nat Neujean of Tintin and Snowy was erected in Uccle. In 2011, it moved 5 kilometres north to the Brussels district Sablon. In 1985, Tom Frantzen's made the statue 'De Vaartkapoen', depicting Agent 15 from the 'Quick & Flupke' series, being tripped over by a sneaky boy in a manhole. It is located near the Place Sainctelette/Saincteletteplein in the Brussels district St. Jans-Molenbeek/ Molenbeek-Saint-Jean. As part of the Brussels Comic Book Route, Quick and Flupke received their own comic book mural on 17 August 1995 in the Rue Haute/ Hoogstraat 191. Since 20 July 2005, a Tintin mural can be seen in the Brussels Rue l'Eteuve/ Stoofstraat, not far from the famous Manneken Pis statue. In 1988, a huge 'Tintin' fresco was revealed in the Brussels metro station and since January 2007, an enlarged panel from 'Tintin in America' can be seen in the hall of the Brussels South Station. The Belgian Comic Strip Center in Brussels uses Tintin's quiff in a speech balloon as its official logo. Hergé is one of the select few Belgian comic pioneers in the museum's permanent exhibition. On 25 May 2009, the Hergé Museum opened its doors in Louvain-la-Neuve. A decade later, on 22 May 2019, a bronze statue of Hergé by Tom Frantzen was erected nearby the museum. A couple of days later, on 29 May 2019, a Hergé bust by Nat Neujean was revealed at the Place Theux in Hergé's birth place Etterbeek. Apart from the many monuments in the Brussels area, there are streets named after Tintin and Snowy in the Dutch city Almere, as part of the local "Comic Heroes" district. Streets and lanes named after Hergé can be found in Belgium in Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve, Zinnik and Elsene, and in France in Angoulême and Villeneuve-d'Ascq.

As an universal icon of European comics, Hergé's work has regularly been honored with homages. Among the most notable official tribute books are 'Spécial Hergé: Vive Tintin!' (April 1983), released as a supplement by (À Suivre), with homages by all the magazine's cartoonists. In 1984, a special exhibition was held in Barcelona in honor of Hergé's work. The catalogue 'Tintin in Barcelona' featured graphic tributes made by painters as well as cartoonists. Two other books, 'Nous, Tintin' (Éditions du Lion, 1987) and 'Fétiches (Variations - Groupe Graphique, 1991), also featured homages by international artists. 

Like any popular franchise 'Tintin' hasn't been immune for parodies, pastiches or downright plagiarism. Disney comics aside, it may very well be the most spoofed comic series of all time. Alain-Jacques Tornare managed to fill an entire book about the phenomenon: 'Tint'interdit - Pastiches et Parodies' (Éditions de Penthes, 2014). In 1962, the French cartoonist Wolinski created the subversive spoof 'Tintin Pour Les Dames' in Hara-Kiri magazine. Roger Brunel made the sex parody 'Tientien en Bordélie' in his book 'Pastiches' (1981), followed one year later by Jan Bucquoy's 'La Vie Sexuelle de Tintin' (1982). Apart from the unavoidable porn parodies, Tintin is also a popular subject for political satire. Hergé's reporter is featured in various 1960s strips in the satirical comic magazine Le Canard Enchaîné by J. Lap, Grum and André Escaro. The Communist cartoonist  Jo Dustin used 'Tintin' for a 1980 comic strip published in '150 B', a book about Belgium's 150th anniversary. Equally provocative were Jan Bucquoy and D'Arcosta's 'Kuifje in Holland' (1983), as well the political parody 'Kuifje in El Salvador' (1984), by the Amsterdam squatter's movement. Other parodies are Fred Graver's National Lampoon parody 'Tintin in Lebanon' (1984) and J. Daniels' 'Breaking Free' (1988). Clever stylistic satires are Exem's 'Le Jumeau Maléfique' (1984) and 'Zinzin Maître du Monde' (1985). Since there are only 23 official 'Tintin' titles available many cartoonists have created "new" comic books, that carefully mimick Hergé's style. Some merely make album covers, others draw entire stories to go with them. In the Internet era, the cover illustrations for 'Tintin' adventures "that could have been" by the Canadian Harry Edwood became fan favorites. In the Netherlands, Joost Veerkamp designed many spoof 'Tintin' covers. Jean-François Bournazel made the odd crossover 'Tintin contre Batman' (1995). And then there are the numerous anonymous illegal Turkish, Laotian, Vietnamese, Malaysian and Chinese comics that depict the quiffed reporter in utterly bizarre and uncharacteristic adventures.

Most of these parodies would probably have remained obscure curiosities if it weren't for Moulinsart's active attempts to hunt the makers down, giving them more publicity. The Hergé estate managed to fine and ban spoof albums like Filip Denis' 'Tintin en Suisse' (1976), Jan Bucquoy's 'La Vie Sexuelle de Tintin' (1982), Baudouin de Duve's 'Tintin in Thailand' (1999) and Pascal Somon's unofficial 'Tintin' homages (2019), though the prohibition was sometimes limited to just Belgium and France. On 8 March 2021, Moulinsart also sued Xavier Marabout, an artist making parody paintings that mix famous comic characters like Tintin with iconic works of fine art. Even the novels 'Saint-Tin et son ami Lou' (2008-2016) by Gordon Zola, Bob Garcia and Pauline Bonnefoi weren't safe, because the characters and covers imitate classic Tintin stories. So far, Didier Savard's 'Objectif Monde' (1999) has been the only 'Tintin' parody comic released with official permission of Moulinsart S.A. 

1979 letter by Hergé to Lambiek's Kees Kousemaker, with Studios Hergé letterhead and signature.

Legacy and influence
Hergé is still widely regarded as the most influential Belgian and European comic artist in the world. His name has become an eponym, "Hergéan", while the terms "Clear Line" and "Tintin trousers" (another name for knickerbockers) entered our everyday language. Several 'Tintin' album covers and sequences are among the most frequently referenced icons of comic culture. Prime examples are Haddock's pirate story ('Secret of the Unicorn'), Tintin jumping out of a disconnected train wagon ('Prisoners of the Sun') and the red checkered moon rocket ('Destination Moon', 'Explorers On The Moon'). Hergé's comics remain global bestsellers, while original art pieces or first print 'Tintin' comics break record sales at auctions. Countless books, articles, essays and documentaries have been devoted to Hergé's work. Much has been written about the art, narratives, language (most notably Haddock's swear words), characters, geographic locations, cars, ships, politics, satire and dream sequences. On 3 February 1999, Dominique Bussereau organized a debate in the Assemblée Nationale in Paris to determine whether 'Tintin' was right- or left-wing in nature, but the participants couldn't come to a determined conclusion. 

'Tintin' acquired notable celebrity fans from all corners of the Earth and from various occupations. Among them actors (Raima Sen), novelists (Vikram Seth, Philip Pullman), race car drivers (Jackie Stewart) and vulcanologists (Haroun Tazieff). World renowned painters and sculptors like Balthus, Alberto Giacometti, Keith Haring, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein cited Hergé as a graphic influence. An image of Tintin reading a newspaper from 'The Broken Ear' inspired Lichtenstein's painting 'Tintin Reading' (1993). Warhol met Hergé in 1972 and honored him five years later with a silkscreen painting of Hergé's face. In 1987, the painter Keith Haring illustrated the cover of the homage book 'Nous, Tintin' (Éditions du Lion, 1987), which had a foreword by film director Wim Wenders. Other cinematic directors with a passion for Tintin are Alain Resnais, Satyajit Ray, Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson. Spielberg discovered Hergé's comic when a French film review compared 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' (1981) to the atmosphere of 'Tintin'. Spielberg liked the series so much that the of his later 'Indiana Jones' movies echoed 'Tintin' even more. In 2011, Spielberg and Peter Jackson even made an animated film adaptation of 'Tintin'. The French president Charles De Gaulle once claimed that Tintin was his "only international rival". British Prime Minister Boris Johnson read 'Tintin' both in French and English: in 2020, when recovering from a corona infection, he was photographed with French copies of 'The Blue Lotus' in his car. Pop bands from Australia (Tin Tin), the UK (Tintin, the Thompson Twins) and the Netherlands (Slagerij van Kampen - the Dutch name of Butcher Cutts) were named after characters from the series. The Dutch pop group Het Goede Doel frequently namedropped Hergé's Tintin and Snowy - as well as Morris' Lucky Luke and Rantanplan - in their 1989 song 'Bobby'.  Another Dutch band, The Amazing Stroopwafels, paid homage to Tintin altogether in their song 'Kuifje' (1990). Tintin and Haddock are additionally mentioned in the novelty hit 'Potverdekke (It's Great To Be A Belgian)' (1998) by Mr. John, as "the only Belgians that he knows", alongside Hercule Poirot. 

Tintin's design, from his face to his quiff, inspired several other European comic book heroes, for instance Willy Vandersteen's Suske, Morris' Lucky Luke, Pom's Piet Pienter, Frank Margerin's Manu, Olivier Schwartz' Inspecteur Bayard, Herr Seele's Cowboy Henk and Zep's Titeuf.  In Belgium alone Hergé influenced François GianollaEdgar P. Jacobs, Jijé, Bob De Moor, Johan De Moor, André Franquin, Victor Hubinon, Paul Cuvelier, François Craenhals, Roger Leloup, Maurice Tillieux, Tibet, Pom, Willy Vandersteen, Jef Nys, Marc Sleen, François Schuiten, Hermann, Ever Meulen, Didier ComèsErwin DrèzeConz, Katrien Van Schuylenbergh and Merho. In France, he inspired Jacques Martin, Albert Uderzo, Claire Brétecher, Stanislas, Dupuy & Berberian, Yves Chaland, François Bel, Kent Hutchinson, Ted Benoit, Moebius and Jacques Tardi. Dutch followers are J.H. Koeleman, Joost Swarte, Joost VeerkampTheo Van Den Boogaard, Mark Smeets, Henk Kuijpers, Martin Lodewijk, Dick Briel, Eric Heuvel, Gerrit de JagerRobert van der Kroft and Peter Van Dongen. In Germany we find Nora Krug, while Swiss fans are Cosey and Daniel Ceppi. Spanish followers are Josep Maria MadorellDavid Sanchez and Jorge Arnanz, and in Italy Hugo Pratt was a major Hergé fan. Among the British fans are Stewart Kenneth Moore and in the USA, Hergé can count Gary Panter, Josh Neufeld, Rodolfo Damaggio, Robert Storr, Rick Tulka, Terry GilliamCharles Burns, Richard SalaPeter Blegvad, Alison Bechdel, Phoebe Glockner, Daniel Clowes, Jason Lewes and Chris Ware among his followers. Canadian Hergé fans are Robert JulienSeth and Bernie Mireault, while Hergé also has followers in Chile (Themo Lobos), Argentina (Guillermo Mordillo), Sweden (Ola Skögang), Congo (Mongo Sisé), Australia (Gary Chaloner) and New Zealand (Clayton Noone). 

Books about Hergé
Philippe Goddin counts as the leading expert on Hergé's oeuvre, and served as general secretary of the Fondation Hergé from 1989 to 1999. Among the many books he wrote about the artist and his creations are 'Hergé and Tintin, Reporters' (1987), the biography 'Hergé: Lignes de Vie' (2007) and most notably the seven-volume retrospective 'Hergé - Chronologie d'une Oeuvre' ('Hergé - Chronology of his work', 2000-2011). The Frenchman Benoît Peeters has also written several interesting books about the artist. His biography 'Hergé, Fils de Tintin' was published in 2002, and his book 'Le Monde d'Hergé' (2004) is an excellent effort to put Hergé and his work in context. Also recommended is Pierre Assouline's biography 'Hergé' (1996). In perhaps the most fitting tribute, Stanislas, Fromental and Bocquet adapted Hergé's life into a comic book: 'Les Aventures de Hergé' (1991). Monte Beauchamp included Hergé in his book 'Masterful Marks: Cartoonists Who Changed The World' (Simon & Schuster, 2014), where the cartoonist's life story was adapted in comic strip form by Nora Krug

Hergé, by Andy Warhol
'Hergé', by Andy Warhol.

The Official Tintin website (English, French, Japanese)
Kuifje in Lambiek's Stripgeschiedenis (in Dutch)

Series and books by Hergé you can order today:


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