“Billions of bilious blue blistering barnacles!”
“Ten thousand thundering typhoons!”
These common outcries are from the mouth of the fictional whisky-drinking character Captain Archibald Haddock, who is friends with the protagonist Tintin from the comic series The Adventures of Tintin. This massively popular book series (1929) turned feature length film (2012) began with a Belgian artist and writer named Georges Remi (with the pen name Hergé).
But, long before the Tintin series began, Remi’s creative vision was displayed on the sides of his schoolbooks, where he often scribbled down the lives and stories of made-up characters. Although he was not an avid reader, he loved many British and American authors such as Robert Louis Stevenson (Treasure Island) and Mark Twain (Huckleberry Fin). After finishing school, he began to work at a Belgian newspaper and managed a supplement for children called Le Petit Vingtieme (The Little Twentieth). This got him thinking about a new character that was a journalist, “with the spirit of a Boy Scout.”
A round head, two dots for eyes, button nose, blue-collared shirt, baggy brown pants, and hair that stands straight up in the front are the characteristic physical features of Tintin. On his adventures, he always has his best friend Snowy, a sheet-white dog, by his side (who many times saves Tintin from peril). His look is simple yet iconic and easily recongnizable. “Tintin is myself. He reflects the best and brightest in me; he is my successful double. I am not a hero. But like all 15-year-old boys, I dreamt of being one… and I have never stopped dreaming. Tintin has accomplished many thing on my behalf,” Remi states on the Tintin website.
Tintin in the Land of the Soviets was Tintin’s first adventure, which became an instant hit. With characters that mimicked famous people as well as family-based characters, Remi created a world full of splendor, thrill, and comedy. There are currently 24 published books that follow Tintin, Snowy, and his friends through perilous lands discovering Yeti, busting opium smugglers, narrowly escaping his head being shrunk by tribal warriors, and unraveling the mystery of stolen emeralds.
The mysteries and adventures of Tintin and all of his friends, like the comical twins Thompson & Thompson and the quizzical, absent-minded man named Professor Calculus, continue to spark the adventurous, fearless minds of youth.