Tintin and the Blue Epilogue: an imaginary coda
Author's note: This essay was inspired by my last trip to Europe in 1993 when I found myself with some time to kill in Belgium, the home of Tintin. Strolling the rainy streets and prowling in the shops, I noticed that all of the Tintin paraphernalia for sale looked somehow out of sync next to more modern collectables such as posters for Reservoir Dogs and pop band postcards. As a fictional character, Tintin can never really "die", but what would happen if he aged? I decided to start a new, "real world" timeline starting in 1976, when the last complete Tintin adventure, Tintin and the Picaros, was published. I took some artistic licence and created ages for all of the characters (Tintin was 19), and had them age from that point on. And, of course, I took licence in juxtaposing the fictitional world of Tintin into the real world, and had fun imagining how fact and fiction might combine.
Tintin is now 39 and lives in the Belgian city of Namur with his wife of eight years, Germaine. After years of constant adventure, Tintin was reluctant to marry at first, but Germaine eventually convinced him that he had spent too much time narrowly avoiding death and had seen most of the world while being shot at, buried alive, trapped in blizzards, or on the run from vicious thugs. He and Germaine spent a relaxed year travelling the world before deciding that it might be fun helping other people see it as well. They opened a successful travel agency, Voyages Vingtieme Siecle, in 1990 and used to specialize in trips to Syldavia until the war with Borduria broke out in 1992.* Tintin’s faithful companion Snowy died three years ago of old age, sadly, but not before giving birth to a litter of six puppies, one of which is always at Tintin’s side and is also named Snowy.
Strangely enough, unlike Tintin, Captain Haddock grew bored with his sedate life at Marlinspike Hall in 1986 and decided to sell the stately mansion, if only to avoid constant invasions of his privacy by Jolyon Wagg and having to deal with phone calls for Cutts the butcher. After donating the relics of the Unicorn to the Belgian Maritime Society in Oostende, he sold Marlinspike to the eccentric Lazlo Carreidas, who quickly installed hidden cameras in every room and continues to win at battleships from his wheelchair. With the money from the Marlinspike sale, Captain Haddock bought himself a 70 foot sailboat which he called the Sir Francis and began sailing around the world "one last time before I kick the bucket, by thunder" in 1987. Tintin and Snowy accompanied him as far as east Africa before Germaine lured him back to Belgium and into a happy marriage a year later. Haddock is currently in New Zealand with his old friend Captain Chester making repairs to the Sir Francis after it was damaged in an ocean battle between the Captain and an Indonesian coast guard cruiser which was attempting to arrest the refugees Haddock was rescuing.
Professor Calculus was awarded the Nobel Prize for physics in 1983 and died of a heart attack in 1985 while working on a new communication satellite for NASA. Two years earlier, he and Professor Paul Cantonneau discovered a comet while doing research for their new invention, a satellite-based telescope called the Calcuscope, which was eventually re-named the Hubble telescope. The satellite was eventually launched by the Space Shuttle in 1987 and named "Calculus One". It now helps to provide internet links for much of North and South America.
Shortly after their close call with death by firing squad in San Theorodos, Thomson and Thompson retired from police work in 1977. The two of them began a private detective agency with only moderate success: most of their cases involve missing pets or stolen bicycles. Their moustaches are showing some grey and they tend to lean on their canes now rather than using them to hook criminals, but they continue to show amazing resilience as they are tossed out of bars and television stations.
After Captain Haddock sold Marlinspike, the ever-sedate Nestor reluctantly took a job as Bianca Castafiore's chauffeur. He now suffers her alternating affection and condemnation, happy with the large salary she provides. He secretly plays the horses with Mr. Wagner, and keeps quiet about his love for Irma the maid. Signora Castafiore announced a maudlin retirement from the world of opera after breaking her hip on a broken marble step during an ill-fated visit to Marlinspike. She now makes more money than ever before lending her name to a variety of fragrances and cosmetics as well as doing TV commercials for hair care and feminine protection products.
General Alcazar remains firmly in power in San Theorodos, despite Ronald Reagan’s CIA attempts to undermine his regime. In 1982, a scandal involving the mysterious death of his nasty wife Peggy resulted in a temporary loss of popularity. Although no decisive investigation was ever made, it seems unlikely that Senora Alcazar could have accidently been at the same time and place as an anarchist’s car bomb in Los Dopicos... After unsuccessfully courting Brazilian actress Sonia Braga, he married a Venezuelan beauty queen in 1983.
Tintin’s lifetime friend Chang studied art in Hong Kong and became a teacher and social activist in China, where he lived until 1989. After Tianamen Square, he found conditions in China too unbearable, and eventually left the country, moving his wife and two daughters to Vancouver. He and Tintin have a reunion once every two years, having fun choosing a different country every time.
Tintin has also begun a second career as a successful author, writing under the pseudoynm of Georges Meri. Three of his novels—partially based on his adventures—have become European best sellers. One of them, Seven Blue Sharks, is currently being made into a film starring Gerard Depardieu and Michael Caine.
*The normally peaceful country of Syldavia was never the same after a violent coup d’etat in 1968. As Tintin was in Sondenesia tangling with Rastapopulos, he was unable to prevent a second attempt at a right–wing seizure of power. The peaceful parliamentary democracy was shattered, forcing the elderly King Muskar XII and his family into Swiss exile. Already shaky relations with Borduria did not improve as the two nations engaged in constant sabre rattling and bitter territorial disputes throughout the next two decades. On New Year’s Day 1992, a small Bordurian airliner strayed over the Sprodj Atomic Research Centre and was shot down by Syldavian Air Force fighters, claiming that it was a spy plane. The incident was followed by numerous car bombings in Klow; the Syldavian ZEPO claimed that it was the work of Bordurian terrorists seeking reprisal for the loss of the airliner, although there is now little doubt that it was the work of the Syldavians themselves who needed "unwarrated provocation" to justify their bombing of Szhôd on the first of April. The brutal attack led to full scale war two days later, and despite efforts by the UN, it has continued unabated since then.
Text © Mick Sleeper. Used by permission.