Tintin and Snowy

Tintin and Snowy


caption = Tintin and Snowy by Hergé
character_name = Tintin and Snowy
publisher = Casterman (Belgium)
debut = "Le Petit Vingtième" ("Tintin in the Land of the Soviets") (January 10, 1929)
creators = Hergé
alter_ego = Tintin et Milou (original French)
alliances =
powers = Tintin: great physical strength, endurance and problem-solving, Snowy: high intelligence for a dog and immense loyalty

Tintin and Snowy (original French language names: "Tintin et Milou"), a journalist and his canine companion, are a pair of adventurers who travel around the world in "The Adventures of Tintin", a series of comic books drawn and written by the Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi, better known as Hergé. The series is one of the most popular comic book series in Europe and the world, especially in Belgium, France, and the Netherlands.



Tintin debuted in "Le Petit Vingtième" on January 10, 1929, and his 75th birthday was widely celebrated in 2004." [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3379959.stm Euro coin honours Tintin and Snowy] " - BBC News, Thursday 8 January 2004] Tintin was largely based on an earlier character created by Herge, a chubby boy-scout named Totor. The comics starring Totor, "Les aventures de Totor, chef de patrouille des Hannetons" ("The Adventures of Totor, Leader of the Cockchafer Patrol"), appeared in the magazine "Le Boy-Scout Belge" between 1926 and 1929.

In the later comic book series, Tintin is a young reporter who is drawn to dangerous international intrigues in which his quick thinking, bravery and chronic good luck save the day. Almost every adventure features Tintin sent off to investigate an assignment, but rarely does he actually turn in a story without first getting caught up in an adventure."Tintin in the dock" - The Guardian", Manchester; Saturday 30 January 1999; page T.008] Although the strip was Belgian, Hergé was inconsistent or vague about assigning Tintin a nationality, depicting him instead as broadly European. In some of early editions of the earliest books, like "Tintin in the Congo" or "The Black Island", a Belgian identity is fairly explicit. In later adventures, as with other aspects of his character's history and family, Tintin's nationality is not directly stated, although some of the street scenes in "The Red Sea Sharks" have been identified as happening in Brussels.

Tintin's age is never accurately revealed, with the character described as an 'adolescent' in the character description within the special DVD features, and referred to as 'kid' several times within the television shows. In the cartoon series based on the books, a frame in the episode "The Secret of the Unicorn" showing Tintin's passport states his birth year as 1929 (the year of his print debut). Various newspaper articles on the series have recounted his age as being 15, "Time" refers to him as a teenager, [" [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,864438,00.html Sweetness & Blight] " - Time Magazine, Monday 24 November 1958] whilst the official site Tintin.com lists his age as somewhere between 16 and 18. The comics however treat him more as a worldly young adult, as shown by the absence of concerns like parents or school, as well as by his wide solo travels all over the globe. He's certainly old enough to enter a pub and drink a beer in "The Black Island".

Tintin's age is static, even though he's been through the Japanese invasion of China ("The Blue Lotus", 1931) and has flown in a Boeing 707 ("Flight 714", 1968).


Readers and critics have described Tintin as a well-rounded, yet open-ended character, noting that his rather neutral personality -- sometimes labeled as bland -- permits a balanced reflection of the evil, folly and foolhardiness which surrounds him. His boy-scout ideals, which represent Hergé's own, are never compromised by the character, and his status allows the reader to assume his position within the story, rather than merely following the adventures of a strong protagonist. [" [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4534602.stm Faces of the week] " - BBC News, Friday 16 December 2005] Tintin's iconic representation enhances this aspect, with Scott McCloud noting that it "allows readers to mask themselves in a character and safely enter a sensually stimulating world". [cite book | author=McCloud, Scott | title=Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art | publisher=Kitchen Sink Press | year=1993 | id=ISBN 0-87816-243-7] Tintin is remarkable in that he is apparently devoid of sexual or romantic feeling, a feature he shares to a certain degree with most of the other characters in the books.

Tintin is an extremely intelligent and imaginative character with good powers of deduction. He also seems to know multiple foreign languages and reads extensively on a variety of subjects. He is also skilled at driving automobiles, motorcycles, tanks, riding horses and flying planes or helicopters. Despite his generally weak appearance, Tintin is athletic and possesses great physical strength, being able to knock out enemies much larger than him in combat. He was even once victorious in a weaponless fight with a large Brown bear in "Tintin in the Land of the Soviets". Additionally, he is an excellent swimmer, has been shown to do yoga, and can survive falls that would normally cause serious injuries.

He has no family members: any mention of a mother, father or siblings is noticeably absent. Throughout the series, he only makes one mention of family, during his first encounter with Captain Haddock in "The Crab with the Golden Claws", whom he exhorts to resist alcoholism by reminding him what Haddock's mother would feel if she saw him in such a drunken state. Tintin's lack of relatives is irrelevant to his adventuring, and it is really the adopted family of friends he makes through his exploits that makes up his family unit.

Unlike others such as Haddock or Calculus, Tintin never meets friends or family whom he encountered prior to the beginning of the series. Whereas Haddock can recall a particularly fierce storm at sea, or Professor Calculus can revisit friends from university (both in the "The Seven Crystal Balls"), Tintin has no discernible past prior to "Land of the Soviets". His two companions also encounter unseen friends like Captain Chester or Hercule Tarragon — whereas Tintin only meets friends or enemies whom he met in previous adventures. (Frederic Tuten's non-canon "Tintin in the New World" reveals that Tintin was raised by his mother, who died of illness when he was a child. He never knew or met his father, whom he believes dead.)

Even the name "Tintin" remains a mystery, whether it is a first name or a surname is unknown. A possibility is that it is not actually the reporter's real name, but rather a pseudonym that the character uses to protect his identity while writing columns for his newspaper: "Le Petit Vingtième". At the time when the stories first came out, journalists' usage of pseudonyms was commonplace. The possibility that it may not be his real name is also hinted in "Cigars of the Pharaoh" when Tintin is accused of poisoning one of a notable sheik's servants. Having been captured and brought to his tent, the enraged sheik demands Tintin's name. Tintin's characteristically placid answer is: "My name? It won't mean a thing to you...but at home they call me Tintin."

A simpler theory for his name is the fact that Franco-Belgian comics at the time generally had heroes with eccentric, memorable single names that could pass off as first names or surnames. Many people tend to think of "Tintin" as a surname, but it is likely that Hergé meant to keep it a mystery. Hergé was a great admirer of Benjamin Rabier and derived the name (and hairstyle) from Rabier's "Tintin lutin" (1897).

Throughout much of the series, Tintin's attitude is characterized by inquisitive tendencies and a noble, forgiving nature. While his idealism earns him the admiration of many people he meets, it also places him in danger on occasion and serves as a foil to the more skeptical demeanor of other characters such as Captain Haddock. Tintin's political views are generally ambiguous in many of the books and specific expression of his opinions are rare. While in earlier books such as "Tintin in the Land of the Soviets" and "Tintin in the Congo" Tintin is characterized as a proud Belgian Catholic, later books avoid specific mention of his views (see Ideology of Tintin). His opinions appear to change over time, though in many situations he can be classified as a pacifist, reflected in his dislike of war. At the beginning of "Tintin and the Picaros", he is seen wearing a motorcycle helmet with a Peace symbol on it.

Towards the end of the series, Tintin's character changes to a degree. In later stories, Tintin no longer actively seeks out adventure but is rather forced into a situation by events beyond his control (such as being kidnapped or motivated to rescue a friend). This is especially evident in "Flight 714" and "Tintin and the Picaros", where Tintin's loss of enthusiasm for adventure is apparent, and his youthful idealism appears to have been replaced by a somewhat more cynical outlook. There has been much debate among readers and critics about this shift in characterization, as these final adventures have received varying and sometimes negative responses. Critics argue that these books represent either a late period of eccentricity, or puzzling disappointments, while others claim that Tintin's shift represents a more complex depiction of his character.

Hergé commented upon this change, noting that in the late phases of his career, "Tintin has lost control, he is not on top of events anymore, he is subjected to them."cite journal | last =Sadoul | first =Numa | authorlink =Numa Sadoul | coauthors =translated by Michel Didier | year =2003 | month =February | title =The Hergé Interview | journal =The Comics Journal | volume =1 | issue =250 | pages =180–205 | id = | url = | format = | accessdate = ] However, in the unfinished album "Tintin and Alph-Art", Tintin regained much of his old adventurous personality, actively investigating suspicious events and murder threats.


Shortly before his death, former Belgian Nazi collaborator Léon Degrelle created controversy by stating that the Tintin character was originally based on himself. Degrelle had indeed known Hergé during his early career as a journalist, but this allegation is generally considered a fabrication of the notorious self-booster Degrelle.

The earlier version of Tintin was apparently inspired, at least in part, by Hergé's younger brother, Paul Remi, a career soldier. Tired of being referred to as "Major Tintin" by his colleagues, Paul later shaved his hair and adopted a more Erich von Stroheim look. Hergé subsequently used Paul's appearance as a model for the villainous Colonel Sponsz in "The Calculus Affair". Tintin and Sponsz, although physically very different, have actually quite similar hair spikes. [ [http://www.tintinologist.org/articles/conference2004.html The World of Tintin Conference 2004] - Doyle, Simon, Saturday 15 May 2004]

However, the inspiration for the clothing Hergé dressed Tintin in lay elsewhere. A fellow student of Hergé's from St Boniface, named Charles, had adopted a similar style of plus fours and argyle socks, which caused him to be the subject of no little ridicule. Harry Thompson notes the inspiration may be tinged slightly, suggesting that if "Hergé had been one of the laughers, an element of guilt was involved."cite book | last=Thompson | first=Harry | authorlink=Harry Thompson | year=1991 | title=Tintin: Hergé and his creation | edition=First | publisher=Hodder & Stoughton | id=ISBN 0-340-52393-X ]

The first 3 adventures of Tintin visit places visited by photographer-reporter Robert Sexé, recorded in the Belgian press from the mid to late 1920s. Sexé was born in 1890 in La Roche-sur-Yon in Vendée in Western France. Janpol Schulz wrote a biography of Robert Sexé titled "Sexé au pays des Soviets" (Sexé in the Land of the Soviets) to mimic the name of the first Tintin Adventure. This was published in 1996. [ [http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=fr&u=http://www.vendee.fr/vendee/actualites/default.asp%3Fart%3D1649&sa=X&oi=translate&resnum=4&ct=result&prev=/search%3Fq%3D%2522Sex%25C3%25A9%2Bau%2Bpays%2Bdes%2Bsoviets%2522%2BJanpol%2BSchulz%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DG/ The Vendéen Tintin] , automated translation from Le journal de la Vendée, 16 April 2007]

Robert Sexé has been noted to have a similar appearance to Tintin, and the Hergé Foundation in Belgium has admitted that it is not too hard to imagine how Hergé could have been influenced by the exploits of Sexé. ["Writer tracks down Tintin's real life inspiration" "The Guardian" (Manchester); May 17, 1999; Paul Webster; p. 15] At that time Sexé had been round the world on a motorcycle made by Gillet of Herstal. René Milhoux was a Grand-Prix champion and motorcycle record holder of the era, and in 1928, while Sexé was in Herstal speaking with Léon Gillet about his future projects, Mr. Gillet put him in contact with his new champion, Milhoux, who had just left Ready motorcycles for Gillet of Herstal. The two men quickly struck up a friendship, and spent hours talking about motorcycles and voyages, Sexé explaining his needs and Milhoux giving his knowledge on mechanics and motorbikes pushed beyond their limits.

Thanks to this union of knowledge and experience, Robert Sexé would head off on numerous trips throughout the world, writing countless press accounts. The General Secretary of the Hergé Foundation in Belgium has admitted that it is not too hard to imagine how a young George Rémi, better known as Hergé, could have been inspired by the well-publicized exploits of these two friends, Sexé with his trips and documentaries and Milhoux with his triumphs and records, to create the characters of Tintin the famous traveling reporter, and his faithful companion Milou (Snowy).

Hergé himself has noted that Tintin existed as his personal expression, and although he recorded in 1947 that he knew "Tintin is no longer me, that, if he is to go on living, it will be by a sort of artificial respiration that I will have to practice constantly and which exhausts me, and will exhaust me more and more", [" [http://www.paulgravett.com/articles/018_tintin_2/018_tintin_2.htm Hergé & Tintin: Discover a world of Tintinology] " - Gravett, Paul, originally from "The Comics Journal", 2003] he was also fond of stating "Tintin, c'est moi!" ("Tintin, that's me!").cite journal | last =Farr | first =Michael | authorlink =Michael Farr | coauthors = | year =2004 | month =March | title =Thundering Typhoons | journal =History Today | volume =54 | issue =3 | pages =62 | id = | url = | format = | accessdate = ]

Snowy ("Milou")

Snowy, a white Wire Fox Terrier, is Tintin's four-legged companion who travels everywhere with him. The bond between the dog and Tintin is deeper than life, and they have saved each other from perilous situations many times.

With a few exceptions, Snowy never speaks (although he is regularly seen thinking in human words), since he is "only a dog". However, he always manages to communicate well with Tintin, particularly in the early stories. Snowy often adds to the story in many interesting ways. For instance, Snowy is the only character in "Flight 714" to remember that he was abducted by aliens. Snowy has rescued Tintin (often by gnawing through restraints or seeking help), or gotten him out of a tight spot by biting or distracting a villain, many times throughout the series.

Like Captain Haddock, Snowy is fond of "Loch Lomond" brand scotch whisky, and his occasional bouts of drinking tend to get him into trouble, as does his acute arachnophobia.

The character of Snowy evolved through the course of the Tintin series, and was most dramatically affected by the introduction of Captain Haddock in "The Crab with the Golden Claws". Before Haddock's appearance, Snowy was the source of dry and cynical side-commentary, which balanced out Tintin's constantly positive, optimistic perspective. When Haddock entered the series, the Captain took over the role of the cynic, and Snowy gradually shifted into a more light-hearted role, serving to create comic relief by chasing the Marlinspike cat (they become friends in the end of "The Calculus Affair"), drinking the Captain's whisky, etc.

"Milou" was named after Hergé's first girlfriend, a contraction of the name "Marie-Louise" ("Malou"), although the character is referred to as male throughout the books.

The 1939 Portuguese edition of "Tintin in the Congo", renamed as "Tintin em Angola", was locally colorized and had a yellow Snowy.

Tintin 75 years Anniversary Silver Coin

Tintin and his dog Snowy were the topic of a silver collectors coin: the 10 euro 75 years of Tintin Anniversary commemorative coin. A portrait of Tintin and Snowy can be seen in the obverse side of the coin.


Further reading

* Lane, Anthony. "A Boy's World: the Tintin Century". "The New Yorker", 28 May 2007, pp. 46-53.

External links

* [http://www.tintin.com/ The official Tintin site]
* [http://www.tintinologist.org/ The Cult of Tintin at Tintinologist.org - The Tintin fan's resource]
* [http://www.theunknowntintin.tk/ The unknown Tintin]
* [http://www.tintinonline.tk/ Tintin Online]
* [http://www.comics2film.com/ProjectFrame.php?f_id=304 Spielberg's Tintin - Comics2Film]
* [http://lakrabo.tripod.com/ Tintin in different languages]
* [http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/fic_tint.html Fictional flags in the Tintin stories]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/4284356.stm BBC news story about translation of Tintin into Hindi]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4534602.stm BBC news story about the history of Tintin]

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