Tintin (French pronunciation: [tɛ̃tɛ̃]) is a fictional character in The Adventures of Tintin, the comics series by Belgian cartoonist Hergé. Tintin is theeponymous protagonist of the series; a reporter and adventurer who travels around the world with his dog Snowy. The character was created in 1929 and introduced in Le Petit Vingtième, a weekly youth supplement to the Belgian newspaper Le Vingtième Siècle. He appears as a young man, around 14 to 19 years old with a round face and quiff hairstyle. Tintin has a sharp intellect, can defend himself, and is honest, decent, compassionate, and kind. Through his investigative reporting, quick-thinking, and all-around good nature, Tintin is always able to solve the mystery and complete the adventure.
Unlike more colourful characters that he encounters, Tintin's personality is neutral, which allows the reader to not merely follow the adventures but assume Tintin's position within the story. Combined with Hergé's signatureligne claire ("clear line") style, this helps the reader "safely enter a sensually stimulating world."
Tintin's creator died in 1983, yet his creation remains a popular literary figure, even featured in a 2011 Hollywood movie. Tintin has been criticised for his more controversial depictions of race and other factors, been honoured by others for his "tremendous spirit", and has prompted a few to devote their careers to his study. General Charles de Gaulle "considered Tintin his only international rival."
Hergé biographer Pierre Assouline noted that "Tintin had a prehistory", being influenced by a variety of sources that Hergé had encountered throughout his life. Hergé noted that during his early schooling in the midst of World War I, when German armies occupied Belgium, he had drawn pictures in the margins of his school workbooks of an unnamed young man battling les Boches (a slang term for the Germans). He later commented that these drawings depicted a brave and adventurous character using his intelligence and ingenuity against opponents, but none of these early drawings survive.
Hergé was also influenced by the physical appearance and mannerisms of his younger brother Paul, who had a round face and a quiff hairstyle. In search of adventure, Paul later joined the army, receiving jeers from fellow officers when the source of Hergé's visual inspiration became obvious. Hergé later stated that in his youth, "I watched him a lot; he entertained me and fascinated me... It makes sense that Tintin took on his character, gestures, poses. He had a way of moving and a physical presence that must have inspired me without my knowing it. His gestures stayed in my mind. I copied them clumsily, without meaning to or even knowing I was doing it; it was he whom I was drawing. This is especially striking in the first drawings of Tintin in the Land of the Soviets."
In 1898, Benjamin Rabier and Fred Isly published an illustrated story titled Tintin-Lutin ("Tintin the Goblin"), in which they featured a small goblin boy named Tintin, who had a rounded face and quiff. Hergé claimed that Rabier's manner of drawing animals had influenced him, although swore that he was unaware of the existence of Tintin-Lutin until one of his readers informed him of the similarity in 1970. Hergé would also have been aware of the activities of a number of popular journalists who were well known in Belgium, most notably Joseph Kessel and Albert Londres, who may have been an influence on the development of Tintin. Another potential influence was Palle Huld, a 15-year-old Danish Boy Scout travelling the world.
A few years after Hergé discovered the joys of Scouting,[a] he became the unofficial artist for his Scout troop and drew aBoy Scout character for the national magazine Le Boy Scout Belge. This young man, whom he named Totor, travelled the globe and righted wrongs, all without ruffling his Scout honour. As was the format for European comics at the time, the early drawings of Totor merely illustrated the story; the text that appeared below the drawings is what propelled the action. Totor had been very much in Hergé's mind; its new comics character would be, Hergé himself later said, "the little brother of Totor ... keeping the spirit of a Boy Scout." Assouline would describe Totor as "a sort of trial run" for Tintin,while Harry Thompson noted that that in several years he would "metamorphose" into Tintin.
Hergé had seen the new style of American comics [b] and was ready to try it. Tintin's new comic would be a strip cartoon with dialogue in speech bubbles [c] and drawings that carried the story. Young reporter Tintin would have the investigative acumen of Londres, the travelling abilities of Huld, and the high moral standing of Totor; the Boy Scout traveling reporter that Hergé would have liked to be.