Hergé: The father of Tintin | Sunday Observer

Hergé: The father of Tintin

7 February, 2021

A Belgian reporter travelling the world with his beloved fox terrier dog Snowy, based on the writer’s own brother Paul and also his previous character ’Totor’. This reporter would get entangled in many mysterious cases and solve them with help of his friends such as Professor Calculus, Captain Haddock and the unforgettable silly police detective duo Thomson and Thompson. It’s hard to not be mesmerised by this wonderful c cartoon that was taken up by most youth during the 20th century. The reporter is none other than the beloved Tintin of Hergé.

The way how Hergé himself got the inspiration is quite sudden. ,

He, himself said “The idea for the character of Tintin and the sort of adventures that would befall him came to me, I believe, in five minutes, the moment I first made a sketch of the figure of this hero……” It is simply amazing how this cartoonist took the idea of Tintin, the way he came to think of the cartoon in simply just five or so minutes, he says that it wasn’t even a haunting of his youth, which most cartoon writers experience to draw and create about. This cartoon strip took him far enough in order to make it one of Europe’s bestselling cartoon’s in the 20th Century.


Georges Prosper Remi or rather mostly known as Hergé, his pen name under which works are mostly credited, was born on May 22, 1907 at Etterbeek, Brussels in Belgium to a lower middle class family. Alexis Remi, his French father was a confectionary worker whereas his mother Elisabeth DuFour was a housewife. Hergé was the couple’s first child to be followed by Paul Remi five years later. When asked about his childhood, the response is so shocking for the listener as he considers it to be ordinary but also gray. He also said that its much of a ‘lacklustre’ one. Like most of the families in Belgium his also belonged to the Roman Catholic Church. His liking towards art came along with the interest in the cinema works of Charlie Chaplin, Harry Langdon and Buster Keaton. Even though he wasn’t a good reader, he preferred much adventure plus plot twists, therefore, favouring books such as Treasure Island, Huckleberry Finn, Robinson Crusoe and the Pickwick Papers.

As a cartoonist drawing was of course his hobby, at the edge of his notebooks would be different sketches of soldiers, and daily life. When he turned 12, Georges joined a Boy scout Brigade from which he gained much experience along with suitable material for his books in later life. Due to his curiosity, he was appointed the troop leader with the name ‘Curious Fox’. Through this he developed an immerse love for nature. His first published work was for the Saint-Boniface Scouts newsletter with encouragement from his Scout Master. With this first step Remi began his career, published more works and drawings for the newsletter of the Scouts Federation The Belgian Boy Scout.

In this time space he experimented using various pen names for his works, ultimately coming to Hergé, the reversed pronunciation for his initials, (R.G.). Reportedly, the first publication from this name was in December 1924.

Comic strip

He also started exhibiting a comic strip for the same newsletter named Les Aventures de Totor or The Adventures of Totor. This was his primary comic strip to be published. The comic depicts a Scout Patrol Leader, taking various risks to lead his team. Normally, information was conveyed with statements below the picture.disregarding this tradition Hergé tried it with a new twist using speech bubbles. Soon after, his comic was also adapted to another newspaper Le Blé qui lève (The Wheat That Grows) As he was new to the craft, he sought certain guidance. Therefore, he got the assistance of the senior Pierre Ickx. He enrolled himself in École Saint-Luc art school but he was a person used to fun and as he found the teaching boring Georges quit after a day.

A photographer, reporter and cartoonist

He joined the military service in August 1926 and was deployed with the first Infantry Regiment, but this too bored him. All he found himself doing was drawing sketches of Totor. At the end of his military career he got a job by impressing editor Abbé Norbert Wallez of Le Vingtième Siècle. Prosper was given the job of a photographer reporter and cartoonist for the paper. By this time Hergé found Abbé to be a father figure for him, growing close to him he did many illustrations. Remi was chosen by Wallez to illustrate The Extraordinary Adventure of Flup, Nénesse, Poussette and Cochonnet yet he had a job as a cartoonist, it seemed that Prosper wasn’t satisfied with these, the comic writer wished to publish something simultaneously written and drawn by him.


This is when the idea of Tintin popped into his head, a hero-like reporter travelling overseas and solving cases troubling people around the world. ‘Tintin’ was a nickname widely used in France for names like Martin. Hergé next created a friend, choosing the man’s best friend to portray a relationship of friendliness, named ‘Milou’ (‘Snowy’ in English) after his girlfriend Marie-Louise Van Cutsem who he was fond of calling ‘Milou’. It was a combination fit in Heaven. Tintin was given Hergé’s brother’s Paul Remi’s appearance, round face and quiff hair along with the personality of his character Totor. At first he wanted Tintin to go to America, but later changed it with the adaptation of Wallez’s idea of sending him to the Soviet Union, as an anti-socialist propagandist for children. The output of Tintin in the land of Soviets first came in the paper Le Petit Vingtième/ The Little Twentieth on January 10, 1929 and ran until May 8, 1930. This introduction of Tintin grew to spread far and wide , so that Wallez produced a book form of the comic to be sold. Due to its amazing popularity Remi was granted two assistants, Eugène Van Nyverseel and Paul ‘Jam”Jamin.

Under the direction of Wallez, the second serialisation of Tintin began in June with Tintin in the Congo. Although this was a good comic it was regarded as racism because of the explicit portrayl of Congolese as childish. As the third edition Hergé published Tintin in America. At this time a woman, ‘Graceful but Famous’ entered Hergé’s life. Following this meeting she namely, Germaine Kieckens became his first wife. But they were not happy in their marriage.

Tintin’s friends

However, even with this turmoil the writer still continued his work diligently, many critics believe that this may have been the reason for Tintin to not have any romance involved in the book. Remi was bold enough to send the boy reporter to countries around the world namely, Egypt, India, Tibet, China and the United Kingdom. Through these he was able to introduce recurring characters’ such as Thomson and Thompson-known as Dupont et Dupond in Hergé’s original, with their silly mentality they are the comic relief for reader. Probably alike they are twins with a difference in their mustaches.. Sometimes, this may have been an idea to mock the Nation’s Police Service as believed by most critics. They were first depicted in Tintin and Cigars of the Pharaoh. Next, he introduced the opera singer Bianca Catsofire, her servant Irma and pianist Igor Wagner. They were initially introduced in Tintin and King Ottokar’s Sceptre. She’s the only most prominent female character throughout the story, although Captain Haddock seems to be terrified of her. Her character is absent-minded, talkative, proud and strong willed. Her character is based on Hergé’s aunt’ Ninie’ and Maria Callas, both of whom are opera singers. –Oth,er recurring characters include Nestor the Butler, Chang-Chong-Chen, Rastapopoulos, Jolyon Wagg, General Alcazar, Mohammed Ben Kalish Ezab plus his son Abdullah, Dr. Müller, Oliveira da Figueria, Cutts the Butcher and Allan.

Prosper’s imagination was so strong, it resulted in Tintin travelling to several fictional countries such as the Latin American Republic of San Theodoros, the East European Kingdom of Syldavia, the fascist state of Borduria, whose leader Müsstler, was ironically a mix of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. The remarkable character of Captain Haddock was quickly produced as Tintin’s best friend, even though he was a weak and alcoholic character. Introduced through Tintin and the Crab with the Golden Claws. Captain Haddock is famously known for his curse phrases when in a rage “……billions of bilious blue blistering barnacles……” or “……ten thousand thundering typhoons……” which indeed sends the reader into humorous paroxysms.Among the notable characters is the legendary Professor Calculus. Portrayed for the first time in Tintin and Red Rackham’s Treasures, he is a half deaf physicist. Based partially on the Swiss physicist Auguste Piccard, his character never misses the comical element. Originally, he was addressed as ‘Professor Tryphon Tournesol’ with his last name ‘Tournesol, ’meaning ‘sunflower’ in French.

World War 11

As Hergé continued his work smoothly and on track, a rock fell to the track making his path blurry. It was in 1933 that Wallez was removed from the post of the editor of the newspaper due to scandal eventually leading Hergé to be despondent. Due to the attachment, he had with Wallez, Remi decided to resign in March 1934 but didn’t do so due to the increment in his salary and his workload being reduced.

With the breakout of World War II, many of invasions followed. Soon enough, Hitler’s Nazi Germany invaded Belgium, making Hergé flee to France and then return back to his captured motherland. Due to political reasons the Germans suspended Le Vingtième Siècle making Hergé jobless. Nevertheless, he still was able to get a job as an illustrator in Belgium’s leading newspaper Le Soir/ The Evening.

Next in October 1940, he was promoted to the post of editor for the children’s supplement Le Soir Jeunesse in which he carried on our hero’s story but in a different manner. Because of the German reign in Belgium, Georges was unable to add the political views he had added to Tintin Comics. This is the era that Tintin took a turn from reporter to explorer.

Four years later with the retreat of German armies, Le Soir was shut down and the Adventures of Tintin was put on hold. In 1946, Raymond Leblanc invited Remi to his brand new Publishing Company Le Lombard to continue The Adventures of Tintin as Le journal de Tintin (Tintin Magazine). At this point the writer agreed that he has lost his long occupied freedom and independence, in producing a huge demand. During this time period Hergé was almost under threat of prosecution, his fellow mates from Le Soir were charged and given death and lengthy prison sentences. Even though he was not currently working under them he proceeded to support these people.

Tintin magazine

In 1950, he started making new connections with some staff members who worked at the Tintin Magazine, leading them to form a group, later to be Known as Studios Hergé. This wonderful team comprised Bob De Moor (imitator of Hergé’s drawing style and did almost half of the work), Guy Dessicy (colourist), Marcel DeHaye (secretary), Jacques Martin (imitator), Roger Leloup (realistic and detailed drawings),. Eugene Evany (later chief of the Studios), Baudouin Van Den Branden (secretary), as well as Michel Demaret (letterer). Finally, a dream’s beginning On April 6 the same year, ‘Studios Hergé’ was established as a public company. The studio accomplished to exhibits, eight Tintin Albums with two other coloured and reformed old Tintin Albums.

Due to complications, his relationship with Germaine ended. Although he started to live away the divorce wasn’t filed because of the restriction in Belgian law.

Despite this trauma, Hergé continued his work peacefully but with not much interest. By this time, the Tintin Magazine had gained 600,000 sales a week. The 1960’s saw the rise of comics Asterix and Remi faced competition caused by the rising popularity of it and at the end he felt rather annoyed at its success. This Comic Book series was able to create a number of animated films, suddenly changing Hergé’s idea to creations too. Therefore, two television Films based on the Adventures of Tintin was produced. The first, was Tintin and the Temple of the sun in 1969 and the second Tintin and the lake of Sharks in 1972. ‘

Fifteen years later. Hergé’s divorce with Germaine was finalised, with Germaine taking it badly. Soon after this, Hergé married Fanny Vlamynck, a colourist who worked for him.


Unfortunately, they couldn’t live happily for too long. In 1979, he was diagnosed with Osteomyelofibrosis, a disease needing recurring blood transfusions. As the disease was complex he needed blood transfusion every two weeks. This became a barrier for his comic work.

On February 25 , 1983 He suffered a severe heart attack causing him to be admitted to the Intensive Care Unit of the Clinique’s Universitaires Saint-Luc. He died on March and this also caused the death of the future expectations forTintin. His death received numerous front page coverages in newspapers. In his will all that his was was was left for Fanny to look after and use.

It was hard to continue the Studios without its rightful owner, so in 1986 Fanny closed it down with the release of 24tunfinished Album and the assets were transferred to the “Hergé Foundation”.

Tintin fans were much distressed, they had never expected this to happen to the comic. Many believed that the comic died too soon. Raising hope and bringing expectations back, in 2011 another animated movie was produced by Steven Spielberg. Although the writer was dead and the comic disbanded, the world showed no response at all. They were still widely popular even after. In 2006. The Dalai Lama bestowed the’ International Campaign for Tibet’s Light of Truth Award’ upon the character. Tintin. In the following year Hergé was selected as the face value of €20 to mark his 100th birthday. Hergé often appeared as a cameo in the cartoon series of Tintin. TheBelgium Government decided that Tintin was a true symbol of the country. Remi is still the ninth-most-often-translated Belgian author and also the second-most-often-translated French author. His legacy was also marked with the naming of a comet 1652 Hergé in 1953.

Remarkable cartoonist

Georges Prosper Remi or Hergé is a remarkable, cartoonist in the 20th Century as well as in the 21st Century. His just scribbled character personality Tintin is a memory for everyone who lived in those days. It’s simply a hard to forget memory. In fact, it was also a kind of a dream for the writer itself, he himself has not even set foot in places the reporter had travelled in his books. It’s simply amazing. There’s a saying that “Actions speak louder than words”, Hergé’s style along with the charisma of the character has proven this sentence. No more to say but still will continue, Hergé was far from success he was deliberately Perfect with the Adventures of Tintin.