Thundering typhoons, its his birthday.
One of the most famous and popular humans of all time.
A young man of mysterious age who works as a journalist and has a talking dog.
Georges Prosper Remi’s immortal creation has by now given pleasure to millions of people for around a hundred years. The series has been translated in more than 70 languages and has sold more than 200 million copies.
It was 10 January 1929 when Tintin first appeared in Le Petit Vingtième – a youth supplement of the Le Vingtième Siècle newspaper.
So that makes him 87 years young now.
The stories were so successful that Belgium’s leading newspaper soon picked it up.
Tintin arrived in England in 1951 and the partnership with Metheun started.
The popularity skyrocketed and spread throughout the English speaking world.
Not only were the stories fresh and creative, but the adventures struck a chord in the hearts of adventure loving people everywhere.
After the first couple of stories – Tintin in Congo, Tintin in the Soviet – the illustrations became polished and top notch.
The adventures took Tintin – and by proxy us the readers – around the world and beyond. It was through Tintin that we first went to Shanghai and Chicago, London and Tibet, Syldavia and Borduria (the Balkans for all practical purposes), the Arab world, Egypt, The Red Sea and Peru, some weird version of India and even the Moon!!
It was through Tintin that we met Incas and Llamas and American Indians and Japanese and camels and sharks and gorillas and yeti!
But the main reason for the stories’ popularity were the side characters. Well, side only on a technicality.
The twin detectives Thomson and Thompson appeared quite early and remained a staple.
The Crab with the Golden Claws saw the arrival of perhaps the most popular character of the mall – Captain Archibald Haddock.
Nestor first appeared in The Secret of the Unicorn.
Professor Cuthbert Calculus appeared in Red Rackham’s Treasure.
General Alcazar, Jolyon Wagg, Chang, Bianca Castafiore, Rastapopoulos, Alan, Dr. Muller, Abdullah, The Emir etc all played their part in making the series spectacularly funny and memorable.
But personally speaking, its Snowy and Captain Haddock who take the scotch.
Snowy made me fall in love with doggies. I spent days – during my wee days of course – expecting the doggies to talk back. It was only when I became old that I managed to learn their language and started actually having conversations and dialogues with them.
Snowy remains – just like Montmorency, Gaspode, Snoopy, Scooby Doo and Dogmatix – one of the top dogs of human literary history.
And then there is the Captain.
A potty mouth with a heart of gold!
Originally created as a comic drunk coward, he soon fleshed out and became a wonderful character in his own right. He became everybody’s favorite through his warmth, kindness, generosity, loyalty and of course through his insults.
And btw, if you say that you did not want to try Loch Lomond as a kid, you are lying.
Happy Birthday Mr. Tintin.
May you live another thousand years.