Toast Tributes! I have decided that my latest Facebook post would make for a good start for a blog. So here we go! Lately, I have been revisiting some of my early cartooning influences and getting inspired by re-reading my old copies of Tintin albums, created by the great Hergé. I thought it would be fun to have a go at drawing Tintin and his friends as a little tribute to the Tintin comics and their influence on me and my art. I have spent a lot of time and effort developing a lot of complex lighting and shading techniques for digital painting recently, so it was a real blast to produce my own Tintin cartoon in in Hergé's famous ligne claire ("clear line") style.
Here is my Tintin cartoon, depicting the six most famous characters from the Tintin
comic books - Tintin himself, the daring reporter and hero; the loyal and brave Captain Haddock; the genius but hard-of-hearing Professor Calculus; the bumbling detective duo, Thomson and Thompson; and of course the bravest, funniest and greatest fourth-wall breaking dog in literature, Snowy (Milou) the wire-hair fox terrier!
Tintin is, of course, is one of the most famous 20th Century European comic book characters, created by Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi under his pen name Hergé. The adventures spanned 24 books over nearly 50 years, from 1929 to 1976. The cultural impact and influence of Hergé's creation is enormous, cementing Hergé's repuation as one of the leading cartoonists of the 20th Century, pioneering the use of the ligne claire style and and influencing many other artists including Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.
The breadth and scope of the Tintin books is epic, and Hergé has been lauded as "creating in art a powerful graphic record of the 20th century's tortured history" through his work on Tintin. The first Tintin book I ever read was an early adventure called "The Blue Lotus", set in 1930s China. This adventure introduced me to aspects of Chinese and Japanese pre-war history, such as the Boxer Rebellion, the Manchurian Incident and the Japanese departure from the League of Nations in 1933 - real events from 20th Century history not typically covered in a UK school history curriculum!
My favourite Tintin book is probably one of the later books, "The Castafiore Emerald". This is a spectacular comedy/mystery in which, unusually for a series famed for globe-trotting tales of adventure and danger, the protagonists never leave Marlinspike Hall and very little actually happens. It also features my favourite line from Snowy, after the singer Bianca Castafiore gives the reluctant Captain Haddock a pet parrot to keep him company. Snowy memorably says "I can't stand animals who talk!"
Did you know that the detectives Thomson and Thompson are erroneously called the Thompson Twins, because although they look nearly identical, they have different surnames so cannot be related. However, Snowy still refers to them as "twins" in "Destination Moon" when they inexplicably arrive in the narrative in full Greek national dress. It is possible to tell them apart - Thompson has the straight moustache and Thomson has the moustache that curls at the corners.
I think it is also worth noting the brilliant cover design of the Tintin albums, something which really struck me now I am doing my own work on picture book illustration and cover art.
Each one is a little masterclass in cover design, seeming to be an enlarged panel from the story, with events occurring that defy explanation and urge you to grab the book and read to find out what is going on! Rather than using some sort of a montage image as you would expect from a movie poster, for example, look at the cover of "The Calculus Affair", "The Crab with the Golden Claws", "The Seven Crystal Balls", "The Red Sea Sharks", and you see an intriguing picture, a snapshot from the action, with characters reacting to event unknown to the intrigued potential reader.... and this mystery makes you want to find out more. My artistic tribute to Tintin is based on the cover of "Flight 714 to Sydney" and I hope that it captures the same level of intrigue and excitement! What have our heroes seen? What will happen next? What has Calculus theorised with his pendulum?
Thank you Hergé for your creation, your influence and your legacy! Toast Cartoons salutes you! Blistering Barnacles!
(And please, Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg - can you hurry up and make the sequel to "The Secret of the Unicorn"? It has been 10 years since that fantastic movie and I want more!)
©Martin Peers and Toast Cartoons 2021
Tintin and associated characters are ©Moulinsart SA