The Adventures of Tintin

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The Adventures of Tintin (originally Les Aventures de Tintin), drawn and written by the Belgian writer-artist Georges Remi a.k.a. Hergé, is one of the most popular 20th century European comics. Over 200 million books have been produced to date, with translations into over 50 languages.

The hero of the series is a young reporter and traveller named Tintin, aided by his faithful dog Snowy (Milou in the original French-language version), Captain Haddock and a variety of colourful supporting characters.

The comic book series has long been admired for its clean but expressive drawings (executed in Hergé's signature ligne claire style), engaging plots, and the painstaking research of the later stories.

The series straddles a variety of genres: swashbuckling adventures with elements of fantasy, mysteries, political thrillers, and science fiction. All the titles in the Tintin series include plenty of slapstick humour, offset in later albums by dashes of sophisticated satire and political/cultural commentary.


Tintin and Snowy (Tintin et Milou)


The character of Tintin was created on January 10, 1929, and his 75th birthday was widely celebrated in 2004. Tintin was largely based on Hergé's earlier character Totor, a boy-scout with a striking resemblance to Tintin. The comics starring Totor, Les aventures de Totor, chef de patrouille des Hannetons, appeared in the magazine Le Boy-Scout Belge between 1926 and 1929. In the later comic book series, Tintin is a young Belgian reporter (as well as an accomplished fighter and pilot) who becomes involved in dangerous cases in which he takes heroic action to save the day. Interestingly, although almost every adventure features Tintin hard at work at his investigative reporting, rarely does he actually turn in a story. He is a young man of more or less neutral attitudes and is less colourful than the supporting cast around him. Tintin's character changes in the last albums, starting with The Castafiore Emerald. Tintin no longer actively seeks out adventure but rather gets taken along with what happens around him: this is especially evident in Flight 714 and Picaros. Some fans consider this final complete album a betrayal of the Tintin image.

Captain Archibald Haddock (Capitaine Archibald Haddock)

Captain Haddock (Capitaine Haddock)

Captain Haddock is Tintin's best friend. He is a seafaring captain who was introduced in The Crab with the Golden Claws, originally as a weak and alcoholic character, but in later albums he became a more respectable and genuinely heroic character. The Captain's coarse humanity and sarcasm acts as a counterpoint to Tintin's often implausible heroism; he is always quick with a dry comment whenever the boy reporter gets too idealistic.

Haddock uses all sorts of words as insults and curses to express his feelings, such as "blistering barnacles", "thundering typhoons", "bashi-bazouk," "kleptomaniac," "anacoluthon," and "pockmark", but no words that are actually considered swear words (see list of exclamations used by Captain Haddock). Haddock is a hard drinker, especially of whisky of the Loch Lomond brand, and his bouts of drunkenness are often used for comic effect.

Haddock's surname was derived from a conversation that Hergé had with his wife, in which she mentioned that the haddock was a 'sad English fish'. Hergé chose this name accordingly. Haddock remained without a first name until the last completed story, Tintin and the Picaros (1976), when the name Archibald was suggested. Physically, he is probably based on Bob de Moor, a long-time collaborator of Hergé's. At the conclusion of Rackham's Treasure, Haddock purchases his ancestral seat, the castle Marlinspike (Moulinsart), where he, Tintin and Calculus live.

Also, in the French adaptation of Leiji Matsumoto's anime Captain Harlock, the main character (Harlock) and the anime's title was renamed Albator due to the resemblance between Captain Haddock's and Captain Harlock's names.

Professor Cuthbert Calculus (Professeur Tryphon Tournesol)

NOTE: A literal translation of his French name would be Tryphonius Sunflower.

Professor Calculus (Professeur Tournesol)

Professor Cuthbert Calculus is a distracted, hard-of-hearing professor, who invented many objects used in the series, such as a one-person shark-shaped submarine, the Moon rocket and an ultrasound weapon. Calculus seeks to benefit mankind by inventions such as a pill that cures alcoholism by making alcohol taste horrible to the patient. These inventions are usually disliked by Haddock, although Calculus usually interprets this the other way round: his deafness often prevents him from hearing Haddock's real opinion. But if he ever hears the Captain (or anyone else) call him a "goat," he flies into a rage: "Goat, am I?"

Calculus' deafness is a frequent source of humour, as he repeats back what he thinks he has heard, usually in the most unlikely words possible: "attachez votre ceinture" (fasten your belt) is repeated as "une tache de peinture?" (a paint stain). He does not admit to being near-deaf and insists on having poor hearing in only one ear. Notably in the "Moon" books, Calculus has a hearing aid inserted, and for the duration of the album has near-perfect hearing: this made him a more serious character (that is, as long as the word "goat" is not uttered in his presence). However, in later adventures Calculus once again lost his hearing aid, and went back to his old deaf self. Calculus is a fervent believer in dowsing, and carries a pendulum for that purpose. It is possible that this trait, along with Calculus' deafness were based on French physicist Yves Rocard. He is a former practitioner of the French martial art savate.

Calculus first appeared in Red Rackham's Treasure, and was the end result of Hergé's long quest to find the archetypal mad scientist or absent-minded professor: for instance, Dr. Sarcophagus in Cigars of the Pharaoh, and Prof. Alembick in King Ottokar's Sceptre.

The Calculus character was most likely inspired by Swiss scientist Auguste Piccard. In The Castafiore Emerald, Bianca Castafiore mistakes Calculus for Piccard in claiming that Calculus is "famous for his balloon ascensions".

Snowy (Milou)

Snowy (Milou)

Snowy, an exceptionally white 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 (including "Tintin in the Land of the Soviets"), 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 despite this. Snowy often adds to the story in many interesting ways. For instance, he is the only character in Flight 714 to remember that he was abducted by aliens.

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

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

Thomson and Thompson (Dupont et Dupond)

Thomson and Thompson (Dupont et Dupond)

Thomson and Thompson are two clumsy detectives who, although unrelated, look like twins with the only discernible difference being the shape of their moustaches. They provide much of the comic relief throughout the series, as they are afflicted with spoonerism. They are thoroughly incompetent, and always bent on arresting the wrong character, but in spite of this they somehow get entrusted with delicate missions, such as ensuring security for the Syldavian space project.

The detective with the flared mustache is Thomson (without a "P"), who often describes himself as "Thomson, without a "P", as in Venezuela!". The detective with the flat mustache has described himself as "Thompson with a "P", as in..." and then used words such as Philadelphia, psychology and so on.

The detectives usually wear bowler hats and carry walking sticks, except when abroad: during those missions they insist on wearing the "costume" of the country they are visiting so as to blend into the local population, but in general only manage to find some ridiculous folkloric attire that actually makes them stand apart. Thomson and Thompson were originally only side characters, but later became more important. In the redrawings of the earlier albums, especially The Black Island, the detectives gained their now traditional mannerisms.

The detectives were based on Hergé's father and brother, both of whom wore matching bowlers.

Translators of the series have tried to find names that are similar or identical in pronunciation for this pair. Dupond and Dupont thus become Thomson and Thompson in English, Schultze and Schulze in German, Jansen and Janssen in Dutch, Hernández and Fernández in Spanish and 杜本 and 杜朋 (Dùběn, Dùpéng) in Chinese, Johnson and Ronson in Bengali and Skapti and Skafti in Icelandic. Other versions may keep the original names or slightly alter, them, for instance Dupont and Duvont in Japanese (デュポン and デュボン).

On a side note, the characters were the inspiration to the name of the British 1980s pop band, the Thompson Twins.

Minor characters

Main article: Minor characters in Tintin

Fictional countries

Hergé devised several fictional countries later in the series. Syldavia in particular is described in considerable detail (history, customs, language etc.).

Race and colonialism

The earliest stories in The Adventures of Tintin have been criticised for racist and colonialist leanings, including caricatured portrayals of non-Europeans. However, Hergé changed his views sometime between these early works and The Blue Lotus, published in 1936. This story, set in China during the then-current Sino-Japanese War, was the first for which he did extensive background research. It criticised Japanese and Western colonial meddling in China and helped to dispel popular myths about the Chinese people (though it does contain flagrant stereotyping of Japanese people). From then on, meticulous research would be one of Hergé's trademarks.

Some of the early albums were altered by Hergé in subsequent editions, usually at the demand of publishers. For example, at the instigation of his American publishers, many of the black characters in Tintin in America were re-coloured to make their race white or ambiguous. The Shooting Star originally had an American villain with a Jewish name, who was changed to an American with a less ethnically specific name in later editions, and subsequently to a South American of a fictional country.

List of books, films, and media


The books can either be listed in the order in which the stories first appeared in newspapers or magazines (the "production order"), or in the order they were first published in album form ("publication order"). As many early stories were altered in the redrawings, and therefore chronologically fit in more with the later albums, both orders can be considered valid. Sometimes the redrawings introduced problems with the chronological order, one example is when Sheik Patrash Pasha presents a copy of Destination Moon in Cigars of the Pharaoh — Tintin had not experienced the adventure yet!

Books classification

These fall in to three rough groups (rough outline only):

  1. Tintin as a young Belgian reporter and world-traveller exploring real countries (SovietsCrab);
  2. Fantasy adventures: treasure hunts (Unicorn), ghost stories (Crystal Balls). These were mainly written during the build-up to World War II and the occupation, when Hergé had to steer clear of anything that could be construed as political. Science Fiction (Moon and Flight 714) in Moon, Tintin lands on the moon, and in 714 he flies away in a UFO only to be dumped on a raft. Tintin is here joined by a crew of secondary characters: Haddock and Calculus.
  3. Coming of age: Hergé returns to the political intrigue seen in Ottokar, the odysseys seen in Ear, but with a much broader stroke. Most are set in, or involve, fictional countries. Characters from old adventures make reappearances, e.g. Dawson from Lotus. This group is sometimes also referred to as the 'Cinematic' group or period, as Hergé's mature style lends itself to comparison with that medium.

Production order

  1. Tintin in the Land of the Soviets - (Tintin au pays des Soviets) (19291930)
  2. Tintin in the Congo - (Tintin au Congo) (19301931)
  3. Tintin in America - (Tintin en Amérique) (19311932)
  4. Cigars of the Pharaoh - (Les Cigares du Pharaon) (19321934)
  5. The Blue Lotus - (Le Lotus bleu) (19341935)
  6. The Broken Ear - (L'Oreille cassée) (19351937)
  7. The Black Island - (L'Ile noire) (19371938)
  8. King Ottokar's Sceptre - (Le Sceptre d'Ottokar) (19381939)
  9. The Crab with the Golden Claws - (Le Crabe aux pinces d'or) (19401941)
  10. The Shooting Star - (L'Etoile mystérieuse) (19411942)
  11. The Secret of the Unicorn - (Le Secret de la Licorne) (19421943)
  12. Red Rackham's Treasure - (Le Trésor de Rackam le Rouge) (19431944)
  13. The Seven Crystal Balls - (Les Sept boules de cristal) (19431948)
  14. Prisoners of the Sun - (Le Temple du soleil) (19461949)
  15. Land of Black Gold - (Tintin au pays de l'or noir) (19481950 1)
  16. Destination Moon - (Objectif Lune) (19501953)
  17. Explorers on the Moon - (On a marché sur la Lune) (19501954)
  18. The Calculus Affair - (L'Affaire Tournesol) (19541956)
  19. The Red Sea Sharks - (Coke en stock) (1958)
  20. Tintin in Tibet - (Tintin au Tibet) (1960)
  21. The Castafiore Emerald - (Les Bijoux de la Castafiore) (1963)
  22. Flight 714 - (Vol 714 pour Sydney) (1968)
  23. Tintin and the Picaros - (Tintin et les Picaros) (1976)
  24. Tintin and Alph-Art - (Tintin et l'Alph-Art): Unfinished work, published posthumously in 1986, and republished with more material in 2004.

1: Actually begun in 1939 but left uncompleted in 1940, redrawn starting 1948.

Publication order

  1. Tintin in the Congo (1931, black & white)
  2. Tintin in America (1932, black & white)
  3. Cigars of the Pharaoh (1934, black & white)
  4. The Blue Lotus (1936, black & white)
  5. The Broken Ear (1937, black & white)
  6. The Black Island (1938, black & white)
  7. King Ottokar's Sceptre (1939, black & white)
  8. The Crab with the Golden Claws (1941, black & white)
  9. The Shooting Star (1942)
  10. The Secret of the Unicorn (1943)
  11. The Broken Ear (1943, redrawn in colour)
  12. The Black Island (1943, colourized)
  13. The Crab with the Golden Claws (1943, redrawn in colour)
  14. Red Rackham's Treasure (1944)
  15. Tintin in America (1945, redrawn in colour)
  16. Tintin in the Congo (1946, redrawn in colour)
  17. The Blue Lotus (1946, redrawn in colour)
  18. King Ottokar's Sceptre (1947, redrawn in colour)
  19. The Seven Crystal Balls (1948, slight changes from initial run)
  20. Prisoners of the Sun (1949, slight changes from initial run)
  21. Land of Black Gold (1950)
  22. Destination Moon (1953)
  23. Explorers on the Moon (1954)
  24. Cigars of the Pharaoh (1955, redrawn in color)
  25. The Calculus Affair (1956, slight changes from initial run)
  26. The Red Sea Sharks (1958)
  27. Tintin in Tibet (1960)
  28. The Castafiore Emerald (1963)
  29. The Black Island (1965, redrawn)
  30. The Red Sea Sharks (1967, edits in dialogue)
  31. Flight 714 (1968)
  32. Land of Black Gold (1971, redrawn version)
  33. Tintin in the Land of the Soviets (1973, black & white)
  34. Tintin in the Congo (1975, further redrawn version)
  35. Tintin and the Picaros (1976)
  36. Tintin and Alph-Art (1986, incomplete sketches)
  37. Tintin and Alph-Art (2004, more complete version)

U.K. publication order

  1. King Ottokar's Sceptre (1958)
  2. The Crab with the Golden Claws (1958)
  3. The Secret of the Unicorn (1959)
  4. Red Rackham's Treasure (1959)
  5. Destination Moon (1959)
  6. Explorers on the Moon (1959)
  7. The Calculus Affair (1960)
  8. The Red Sea Sharks (1960)
  9. The Shooting Star (1961)
  10. The Seven Crystal Balls (1962)
  11. Prisoners of the Sun (1962)
  12. Tintin in Tibet (1962)
  13. The Castafiore Emerald (1963)
  14. The Black Island (1966)
  15. Flight 714 (1968)
  16. Cigars of the Pharaoh (1971)
  17. Land of Black Gold (1972)
  18. The Broken Ear (1975)
  19. Tintin and the Picaros (1976)
  20. Tintin in America (1978)
  21. The Blue Lotus (1983)
  22. Tintin in the Land of the Soviets (1989)
  23. Tintin and Alph-Art (1990)
  24. Tintin in the Congo (1991)


Steven Spielberg has owned the rights to produce a trilogy of feature-length live-action Tintin films for many years. The project has been dormant since the 1980s, but Spielberg has confirmed in recent years that the project is indeed moving forward. A first script draft has been approved by Hergé's estate. He will produce it as a joint venture between DreamWorks and Universal Studios. Portions of a previous script Spielberg commissioned and rejected for his Tintin project were incorporated into the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. In early 2005, Spielberg revealed in an interview that he had talked to Peter Jackson about his company Weta doing the visual effects for the film.


The BBC produced two series of Tintin radio dramatisations. They were broadcast on BBC Radio 4. The cast featured Leo McKern as Captain Haddock, Andrew Sachs as Snowy, Stephen Moore as Professor Calculus, Charles Kay as the Thompson twins, and Richard Pearce as Tintin. Both series were released on BBC Audio Cassette (ISBN 0-8072-8103-4)

Series one

  1. The Black Island
  2. The Secret of the Unicorn
  3. Red Rackham's Treasure
  4. Destination Moon
  5. Explorers on the Moon
  6. Tintin in Tibet

Series two

  1. The Seven Crystal Balls
  2. Prisoners of the Sun
  3. The Calculus Affair (in two parts)
  4. The Red Sea Sharks (in two parts)


  1. The Castafiore Emerald (double-length Christmas special). It guest-starred Miriam Margolyes as Bianca Castafiore. It has not yet received a commercial release nor a repeat broadcast.


There have been two television series, based on The Adventures of Tintin series of classic comic books drawn and written by Hergé (1907 – 1983).

Stage shows

The books The Seven Crystal Balls and Prisoners of the Sun were adapted as a Dutch musical stage show in 2001 by Dirk Brossé and Seth Gaaikema. The show was adapted a year later by Didier van Cauwelaert as a French production.

Reprints and republications

In the 1960s and 1970s, various Tintin comics were reprinted in the American children's magazine Children's Digest, providing a generation of young Americans with their first exposure to the characters.

Other books

In 1993, after the death of Hergé, his friend Frederic Tuten published Tintin in the New World: A Romance (ISBN 0-7493-9610-5). More a thought experiment than a new adventure, Tintin here grows up: he is seduced and falls in love, has a dream about the death of Snowy and caring for an invalid Haddock, and critically examines his life and experiences.

In 1980, a pirate comic/parody, Breaking Free, was released. The story dealt with the social problems of the time, featuring Tintin as an unemployed youngster living with his uncle-by-marriage Haddock, who gets involved with the socialist/anarchists. The book was briefly notorious for the uproar it caused because of its graphic depiction of social unrest.

In December 1999, a pirate comic book Tintin in Thailand came into circulation. Written and drawn by Thai fans, the book presented Tintin, Haddock and Calculus on a sex holiday to Bangkok, with numerous allusions to the characters being unhappy with their treatment by the Hergé Foundation. In 2001, Belgian police made several arrests regarding the book in the Belgian town of Tournai.

In the November 2004 issue of Mad magazine, an installment of the magazine's semi-regular "Graphic Novel Reviews" had a one-page excerpt of Tintin in Fallujah, allegedly the first new Tintin book in almost 30 years. Snowy receives massive injuries from a car bomb, Captain Haddock has his hands chopped off for drinking in violation of Muslim law, and the Thompson Twins are shown naked atop a human pyramid of prisoners in Abu Ghraib, spouting typical dialogue: "Tintin! What a pleasure to see you! We're stuck in this sweating mound of naked man-flesh!" "To be precise: man-flesh gives us pleasure!"


Dutch Tintin and Snowy (Kuifje en Bobbie) stamp from 1999.

Belgium minted a limited edition (50,000) silver 10-euro commemorative coin to celebrate the 75th birthday of Tintin in January 2004. The Royal Dutch Post released a set of Tintin stamps on October 8, 1999 which sold out within hours of release.


Universal Studios has licensed the rights to Adventures of Tintin merchandise in North America.

In the future

In popular culture

A Britsh 1980's "technopop" band named "The Thompson Twins" was founded by Tom Bailey and Jon Leeway. They made some hit records in the 1980's, notably "Hold Me Now".

Additionaly, a former member of Duran Duran Stephen Duffy performed a minor hit single "Kiss Me" under the name "Tintin" at the same time, but had to drop the name under pressure of a copyright infringement suit.

See also

External links


  • Anders Høgsbro Østergaard, Tintin and I (2003)
  • Peeters, Benoît (1983) Le Monde d’Hergé, Casterman.
  • Peeters, Benoît (1984) Les Bijoux ravis, une lecture moderne de Tintin. Magic-Strip.

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