Nov 8, 2011

[Comics] A Tribute to Hergé and The Adventures of Tintin

by ¡¡¡!!! via Flickr

A few weeks ago, my partner helped me find a hardcover copy of Tintin in the Congo, one of the rarer Tintin books out there that I had only read about on the web. It cost me quite a pretty penny, I have to admit, but given the intrinsic value of the book, I was more than happy to punish my credit card a bit more that day.

After more than 20 years, my Tintin collection is finally complete. As a Tintin fan most of my life, this is an major moment in my personal history, one that ought to be celebrated in some way. And that's sort of the thinking behind this blog post - just a little tribute to celebrate the brilliance that is Tintin and my love for the franchise.

And with a new animated movie set to come out at the end of this year, it's definitely a great time to be a Tintin fan. So right before the rush and when a whole new generation learns about the brilliance of this character and his amazing adventures, I thought to best to write this post.

by Andy Field (Hubmedia) via Flickr

My very first Tintin book was Destination Moon. It was my 8th birthday and a classmate of mine had presented the comic as a gift. At the time I had no idea what it was and had never heard about the series before so I just smiled and thanked him for the gift. But when I finally sat down to read the comic, I was totally blown away. The antics of Tintin, Captain Haddock and of course Professor Calculus had me quite literally laughing on the floor as I went through the book.

There was no going back after that.

It's hard to explain exactly why I liked the books so much. Maybe it's because the stories are all so compelling and in some ways rather adult for a kid to read. In truth, it just meant that the books had more value as I grew up since I began to understand more of the context around the stories and the historical events they sometimes interacted with.

Or maybe it's because of the sense of adventure that was so brilliantly captured in still images. It's no small feat to convey the kind of action and suspense in a number of panels like Hergé did and to keep things entertaining. The stories are almost timeless in nature and I can't imagine people not finding something to appreciate in a Tintin story. After all, in essence they are all mysteries and there's always a part of us that likes to wrap our heads around that sort of a tale.

Adventures of Tintin
by Rich_Lem via Flickr.

Over the next few years, I steadily grew my collection of Tintin books during the various book runs I'd make with my mom. I carefully kept track of each book I had previously acquired and made sure to continue to search for my missing titles every time we visited a book store. I managed to nearly complete it by the time I was in high school, but by then the number of Tintin books available in local stores was sadly limited and thus filling up the gaps was difficult.

One thing led to another and I ended up leaving my limited Tintin collection at home when I moved out. Later on I found out that termites had attacked our old bookshelf at home and many of my Tintin books were damaged beyond readability. It was heartbreaking to hear, but I finally decided to bring the surivors home with me. And as I cleaned them up as best as I could, I decided it was about time to finally complete the collection.

It felt almost like a Tintin adventure of my own. It was more than just combing through bookshelves in different stores in the hopes of finding one of the missing books amidst the children's books. Each new book would trigger a memory of reading the comics for the first time - of past summers and late nights as I'd eagerly turn each page and wonder what would happen next. From the comfort of my bedroom, Tintin helped me travel to far-flung exotic locations, fictional kingdoms and even to the moon itself. And that is part of the wonder of these books - how Hergé would craft a compelling story that would feel real enough to the reader to help us imagine being there with him as he dodged bullets, survived high speed chases and defeated nefarious plots by evil villains.

by indigo - via Flickr.

Whether or not the coming movie is a hit with the rest of the world despite mixed reviews by the preview audiences in Europe, it probably won't matter. The movie is bound to spark renewed interest in the franchise and that'll mean seeing more Tintin books on store shelves and perhaps even an influx of Tintin-related merchandise in department stores. While the childhood fan in me feels a tad selfish about this sort of thing and worries that new fans will come to only appreciate the movie instead of the original comic books, that's just me being silly. In truth, this is a great opportunity for the kids of today to appreciate such a timeless collection of stories centered around one intrepid little reporter and his faithful dog.

by Nose in a book via Flickr.
And for all these, we must show thanks to Georges Rémi -  better known to the world at large as Hergé - for having created this amazing comic strip back in 1929. I doubt even he could have predicted how popular his character would be, especially given the collections have already been translated into over 80 languages with more than 350 million copies of the books sold worldwide.

The Tintin books will always remain near and dear to me no matter what happens from this point on. Tintin remains an integral part of my childhood - a character that encouraged me to understand my world more and to do my best to be smarter than others. And Hergé inspired me to be more creative and to take the courage to pick up the pen and try to write fantastic adventure stories of my own in turn.

I look forward to the millions of potential new Tintin fans out there who are about to discover why these books are loved by so many. And at the same time I'll continue to smile and share a knowing grin with fellow fans who are bound to remember their own childhood once the new movies hit local theaters. And lastly, I sincerely thank my partner, Tobie, for putting so much effort into helping me track down the missing books. Without him, I would never have completed my collection of all 24 main books and the bonus of the comic book adaptation of the animated movie, Tintin and the Lake of Sharks.

And if you still haven't even read a single Tintin book at this point, I strongly suggest that you do. It'll change your life.

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