7 Curious facts about Tintin

The soprano Bianca Castafiore is one of the few female characters that appear in 'The Adventures of Tintin'. (©Hergé-Moulinsart)

The universe created by Hergé contains many secrets about the author’s life and his influences

Belgian illustrator Georges Remi, better known as Hergé, became famous all over the world with The Adventures of Tintin, a comic series about the adventures of the young journalist Tintin.

Friends and acquaintances of the author served as inspiration to create the characters in the collection. Similarly, many of the places and landscapes that appear in the vignettes of his comics are inspired by real places in Brussels that Hergé knew and often visited.

We share with you seven curiosities about the universe of Tintin to get to know the author and his background better.


Hergé’s Tintin was not the first

There are many theories regarding the origin of the protagonist’s name. Actually, the nickname “Tin-Tin” is very common in French for names like Martin or Agustin.

So, at the end of the 19th century, the cartoonist Benjamin Rabier had already created a child character called Tintin-Lutin that would inspire Hergé decades later.

In 1926, three years before Tintin’s first appearance, Hergé had created another series titled The Adventures of Totor. 


Hergé’s first girlfriend

 Tintin is always accompanied by Snowy, a dog of the Fox Terrier breed that saves the young journalist on several occasions.

In the original version of the comic (written in French), Tintin’s dog is named Milou (Snowy in English) as a tribute to Hergé’s first girlfriend, Marie-Louise Van Cutsem, whom he fondly called Milou.


The adventurous spirit of Palle Huld 

For the centenary of the birth of Jules Verne, in 1928 the Danish newspaper Politiken organised a contest for young adventurers. That’s how Palle Huld, a 16-year-old Danish youth, won a trip around the world.

The story of Palle Huld became famous and the young man appeared in all European newspapers. It is said that Hergé found inspiration in him to create Tintin.


A man’s world

In the Tintin universe, the protagonist and all his friends are men: there is no female main character, except for the opera singer Bianca Castafiore (who does not play a leading role in the story). 


Journalist vocation

Being a correspondent journalist allows Tintin to travel to different countries and gives the stories very diverse landscapes.

But besides that, Tintin fulfils the most important function of journalism: denouncing injustices in order to change the world. This is what he does when fighting gangsters in Tintin in America, when confronting drug traffickers in Cigars of the Pharaoh, and when denouncing the slave trade in The Red Sea Sharks. 


Where does Tintin live? 

In the comic, Tintin lives in an apartment on Labrador Street No. 26, in Brussels. This address doesn’t exist, but it is inspired by Terre-Neuve Street of the Belgian capital, very close to the antique market of Jeu de Balle where the story of The Secret of the Unicorn begins.

In Louvain-la-Neuve, the Hergé Museum is found at Labrador Street No. 26 of the municipality.



The origin of Tintin … in Tarragona? 

In the display cases of Tarragona’s National Archaeology Museum, there is a small figure from Roman times whose silhouette resembles Tintin.

It is tintinnabulum, a figure catalogued in the museum inventory with the number 542. Interestingly, this figure appears in the vignettes of different volumes of The Adventures of Tintin … was Hergé really inspired by this Roman amulet?

Image taken in the studio of Laura and Rita Gual, which shows evidence of a possible evolution of the character creation based on the piece in the Tarragona museum. (Kesse Magazine No. 45)

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