Next month sees the coming of the Tintin Car Rally to the streets of Brussels but there is plenty to see anytime of year that will fascinate fans of this inquisitive boy who travelled the world with his faithful companion Snowy.
The Adventures of Tintin series was created in 1929 by a Belgian artist, Georges Remi, better known as Hergé. The bright and ever curious Tintin was a journalist-come-detective who was always on the look out for villains and hidden treasures. Hergé’s stories were inspired by real-life events and Tintin’s curiosity took him around the world and beyond. He explored everywhere from Peru to the Arctic Circle and even to outer space – as countries raced to put the first man on the moon, Tintin gets there first, over 15 years before Neil Armstrong took his historic first steps! And of course, as in any of Tintin’s adventures, in Destination Moon and its sequel, Explorers on the Moon, villains and traitors run a mock in outer space just as they did on earth.
As well as real life events inspiring the stories and their settings, Hergé’s characters were often based on real people, such as Bianca Castafiore, who was based on the opera singer Maria Callas or Thomson & Thompson, who were inspired by his father and his father’s twin brother.
Around the world Tintin captured the imagination of the young and the not so young, alike and continue to do so today. The Tintin books have been translated into over 100 languages. In German he is called Tim, in Turkish he is called Tenten and in Latin he is known as Titinus.
I can remember as a young girl becoming enthralled with Tintin’s adventures (sadly, not through the pages of a comic or a book but on the television). And many years later I was pleasantly surprised to stumble across this image of Tintin painted on the side of a truck in Mindelo on the Cape Verdean island of Saõ Vicente. He certainly gets around!
Tintin in Brussels
Although Tintin’s curiosity lead him around the globe, a number of his adventures took place, or at least started in, Hergé’s home town of Brussels. Any Tintin fan visiting the city should have a look at VisitBrussels website which shows a number of examples of how Hergé’s home town crept into his stories. There are also photographs (and the locations) of the numerous exhibitions and works of art dedicated to Tintin that can be found in the city today. These include the Stockel Fresco, where some 140 Hergé characters are depicted on two walls at the terminus of metro line 1. The fresco was designed by the author himself shortly before his death.
The Hergé Museum
This wonderful museum, dedicated to the works of Hergé, is in the centre of Louvain-la-Neuve, about 30km southeast of Brussels. More information can be found on their website MuseéHergé.
“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 things on my behalf.” Hergé
Tintin Car Rally, Brussells, 8th Septmeber 2013
This year, in collaboration with Moulinsart, a rally involving around forty cars and motorcycles that have appeared in the Tintin comics and books, will leave from Place des Palais at 10am and journey around various mythical comic strip places around the city and then on to the Hergé Museum. On their return to Place des Palais, around 3pm, the most authentic of the cars will be officially named “The Tintin magazine car”. The cars will remain on show for the rest of the day.