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FAQ - Who Created Tintin? Herge - The Middle Period

Nov 5, 2007
Herge reached a watershed in his work around his 30th birthday and the release of Tintin and the Blue Lotus. The Blue Lotus was released in 1936 and was the fifth Tintin adventure. The end of the fourth album Cigar of the Pharaoh had led to a mention that Tintin would be off to China in his next adventure.

A University of Leuven professor one father Gosset got in touch with Herge and asked for the illustrator to be perceptive about how he approached China in his next album. Gosset was the chaplain of the university's Chinese students and introduced Herge to a young Chinese sculptor called Chang Chon-jen who resided at the Brussels Academie des Beaux-Arts.

Herge and Chang instantly made a connection. Chang introduced Herge to Chinese history, culture and techniques of Chinese art that left a lasting impression on Herge. In the Blue Lotus Herge endeavored to become more correct in detailing the places that Tintin visited. The bond formed between these two artists is now cemented in history as Herge called one of his characters "Chang Chong-Chen" in the young sculptor's honor. Chang Chong-Chen is a young Chinese boy who befriends Tintin, with the character discarding some of the more outrageous fabrications about Chinese culture.

The bond formed with Chang resulted in Herge heightened comprehension of the problem with colonialism and particularly Japan's horrific assaults into China. A theme of anti-imperialism can clearly be read in the Blue Lotus which was contrary to common western beliefs that were compassionate to Japan and its colonial enterprise. Herge took a lot of flack for the views from Japanese dignitaries in Belgium but history has shown that the Blue Lotus was vindicated.

In a sad tale after finishing his studies Chang went back to China and the two friends lost contact after the Japanese invasion and subsequent civil war at it was forty years before they met again.

Herge was going to see a modification in Tintin's style again. This was through necessity rather than choice. In September 1st 1939 the Nazi's invaded Poland and Herge as a reserve lieutenant had to stop his work on the Tintin adventure The Land of Black Gold. Belgium soon fell under German occupation along with most of Western Europe.

Le Petit Vingtieme was closed down and Herge found himself writing for Le Soir the mouthpiece of the Nazi occupational forces. Herge began to write The Crab with the Golden Claw which was to be the first of six albums written during the war.

Herge was unable t finish The Land of Black Gold due to its anti-fascist undertones. The war was to continue in earnest and led to Herge changing his style. A paper shortage led to him having to publish Tintin daily in a three or four frame strip, rather than the two full pages every week as when he had worked for Le Petit Vingtieme. The meant Herge had to create drama at the end of each strip rather than the end of each page. Herge by necessity introduced more frequent quips and a more rapid hustle of action.

Herge had been quite political at times in his earlier albums but now under Nazi occupation this was no longer possible. The Tintin adventures turned to escapism with escapades to meteorites (The Shooting Star), a treasure hunt ((The Secret of the Unicorn) and a expedition to unravel an ancient Inca curse in (The seven Crystal Balls and Prisoner of the Sun).

Herge now placed more emphasize on characters and plots and led to some of Tintin's greatest characters being introduced to the globe. Captain Haddock and Cuthbert Calculus make their debuts during this era. This change of style was noticed by readers and these yarns have proved the most popular over the years.

In 1943 Herge met Edgar Jacobs an American comic artist who he hired to help revise early Tintin albums. Jacobs was instrumental in redrawing many of the outfits and settings to make the albums for accurate and appropriate. Jacob's was also to help on Tintin and the Seven Crystal Balls. By the end of the war Tintin had gone about a change of style and was more fashionable then ever and was on its way to be adopted by the French population.

The increasing demands the Tintin magazine placed on Herge led to him having a breakdown in 1949 while he was working to complete Land of Black Gold. He then went on to suffer another breakdown in 1950 working on Destination Moon. It was at this point Herge Studios were set up in April 6th 1960. This was another turning point in the Tintin world.
About the Author
Herge is going to be very popular search topic as the Tintin movie draws near. Holly Franklin has been a big Tintin fan for a number of years. She is very much looking forward to the new Tintin movie trilogy due for release in 2009.
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