13 August 2007

Tintin and his creator

Tintin's creator-“Hergé - the pen name of Georges Rémi from Brussels. His enigmatic alias, pronounced in French as "air-zhay", was in a way his first great fictional character. He began using it in 1924 to sign his artwork, but he had been called this long before, since his first day in school, because it was popular in Belgian schoolyards at the time to give each other nicknames by reversing your initials. His later choice of it as a nom de plume may well have been a nod to the great Russian-born designer of the period, Erté or Romain de Tirtoff (1892-1990) and a stab at suggesting he had some artistic link to his style.” Before Tintin-there was no such comic-book loved so much by the millions of children world over. In Tintin they find their hero-a reporter by profession. Tintin is an enviable role model to any young child-but perhaps not to the real life reporters as Tintin’s activities include taking sides, toppling governments and many other extraordinary ventures that seem to suit a James Bond. But Hergé was basically fond of adventures which abhor violence as these are not characteristic of comic book fiction. The early Tintin adventures appeared in Le petit which were a two- page fascicules. Inside the coloured covers the pages were in black and white. So the drawings required too much shading. After the World war ll colour began to be used and the adventure stories began appearing in a weekly magazine-Tintin. Hergé by this time was more efficiently positioned as a draughtsman and found a collaborator in an artist-Edgar P. Jacobs (Of Blake and Mortimer). But after a time when the parternership broke off Hergé felt for an organization which could work as a back-up team. So he set up a studio in 1950 where an extensive research team worked on the details and the background. By the mid-Fifties Hergé reached his peak and Tintin turned to be the most knows and adored hero in the world of comic book readers. Hergé followed the ligne claire doctrine to make his drawings while telling his stories. The reader finds no complexity in the stories and no psychological analysis. The stories run fast closely chained. The sequences are fast and symmetrical to one another-almost in geometrical clarity. The central character of his story –Tintin represents his style and composition “drawn with a taut minimalism-circle for the face, two dots for eyes, laterally inverted ‘c’ for the nose-or what Scott McCloud calls the ionic style in Understanding Comics. But “Ligne claire fell out of fashion in the Sixties as the comic book received new life in the hands of Will Eisner — widely acknowledged as the father of the graphic novel — and Robert Crumb, whose anarchic and irreverent style mocked and undermined the restrictions imposed by the Comics Code Authority. Much avant-garde work began to come out from small and underground presses on both sides of the Atlantic, which dealt with issues of sexuality and gender and dismantled the protocols of the genre. For those familiar with the changes, Tintin was already an anachronism and Hergé an assembly-line producer of juvenile adventures” Now hopefully the Hollywood is coming to resurge Tintin. Stephen Spielberg and Peter Jackson(of Lord of the Rings) ‘teaming up to make a series of films on Tintin. One suspects that all the resources of CGI technology will be unleashed to make the film resemble the comic book as closely as possible, and the full resources of Hollywood employed to turn a European icon into an American’. TINTIN ADVENTURE STORIES AND HERGÉ’S PERSONAL LIFE We find that Chang is a good friend of Tintin. So when Tintin came to know that Chang’s plane underwent an accident and there was no information of Chang’s survival. It was most probably that Chang was lost under the snows of the Himalayas in Tibet. But Tintin refused to accept this cruel fate of his friend. So in spite of Captain Haddock’s opposition Tintin took his plan-which was dangerous-to save seek and save Chang. Chang is a reflection of a personal incident of Hergé’s life. ‘Chang, modelled on Hergé’s friend, Zhang Chongren, with whom he had lost touch during the Fifties. The book was thus a personal tribute to a ‘lost’ friend, who became a street-sweeper during the Cultural Revolution, and met Hergé several years after the book was first published in 1960’. And also ‘his marriage with his first wife, Germaine, was breaking up. He dreamt he was surrounded by a white, featureless world, friendless and alone. These haunting visions made their way into Tintin in Tibet, into the stark, snow-bound landscape along the ardous journey that Tintin undertakes to rescue his friend, and in the desolate time that Chang spends in the cave, kept alive by the yeti’s hospitality. There is even an allusion to Germain in the furtive reference to the Nightingale of Milan, Bianca Castafiore. Captain Haddock’s outburst, on hearing the porters play Castafiore’s coloratura on their radio, captures Hergé’s increasing disaffection with his wife’. The most interesting matter about Tintin and the TINTIN IN TIBET is that for ‘ the autobiographical aspect of the book, it was also recognized and appreciated as a major introductory volume on Tibet, in the way it remained attentive towards that country’s culture, life and traditions. Not only was it voted as the greatest French-language graphic novel, Tintin also became the first ever fictional character on whom the Dalai Lama bestowed the Truth of Light award in 2006’ As per Chris Ware “Tintin was fundamentally too sexless to really catch on in America. There are hardly any girls in Hergé's stories, and there's also a peculiar sense of responsibility and respect in Tintin that is antithetical to the American character, or at least that of the budding individualist nine-year-old boy who just wants to set things on fire and has been weaned on much more outrageous stories. I'm not even sure if it's fair to say that there is an analog in American culture to Tintin, actually. I read a few serialised episodes in a magazine my mom subscribed to for me when I was a kid and it made me feel really, really weird; I didn't like it at all. I could tell that it was "approved" and "safe" and it immediately bored me, because it didn't seem to have anything to do with what I thought of as the "real" adult world, which was for me at that time superpowers and crimefighting. (I like Tintin now, of course.) Incidentally I stole the idea of using very carefully composed naturalistic colour under a platonic black line more or less directly from Hergé, as there's a certain lushness and jewel-like quality to his pages that also hints at the way we gift-wrap our experiences as memories”

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