Tintin Forums

Tintin Forums / Hergé and Studio Hergé /

The Involvement of Assistants in Hergé’s Drawing Process

Snowy
Member
#1 · Posted: 12 Oct 2005 19:07 · Edited by: Snowy
From the Did Hergé employ assistants? thread.

As I learned more about the process of making comics, I wasn’t surprised to hear that Hergé often had somebody else involved in the colouring process.

What I was (and still am!) shocked to hear is that the assistants in his studio were involved in the drawing process itself sometimes, such as I take it, drawing backgrounds and vehicles for some of the frames... am I correct?

I had always assumed Hergé drew everything!!

If this really is the case, can somebody tell me to what extent this occured? Can somebody please give me examples of frames with vehicles and or backgrounds drawn by somebody else besides Hergé in a Tintin book?
yamilah
Member
#2 · Posted: 12 Oct 2005 19:32 · Edited by: yamilah
Snowy
What I was (and still am!) shocked to hear is that the assistants in his studio were involved in the drawing process itself sometimes, such as I take it, drawing backgrounds and vehicles for some of the frames... am I correct?

B&W Tintins were drawn and written by Herge himself; he started to employ assistants for colouring and editing these old albums, then for drawing parts of the new colour albums.

As far as I can remember, an important point is that he would draw the last black ink touch, so that he only could sign the books; and by then the lettering was done by a specialist, as in the English versions.

I'll try and find the references you are asking for, but most likely some can do it better than me!
John Sewell
Member
#3 · Posted: 12 Oct 2005 23:49 · Edited by: John Sewell
Can somebody please give me examples of frames with vehicles and or backgrounds drawn by somebody else besides Herge in a Tintin book?

In Explorers On The Moon, Bob De Moor provided the space scenes, the details of the rocket interior and the lunar landscapes. I particularly like the frame of the tiny rocket approaching the vastness of the Moon, half in darkness - it's got a sort of purity to it that I find very appealing!

Though Herge was responsible for the drawing of the main characters, Michael Farr's Complete Companion singles out Flight 714 as one example of Bob De Moor contributing more than just background art - he's extremely critical of De Moor's work on the book, largely unfairly in my opinion!

Farr also implies that the 1966 redraw of The Black Island was largely the work of De Moor, in collaboration with Roger Leloup, who was responsible for updating the aircraft. This was being done at the same time as Flight 714, so maybe with two adventures on the go at the same time, Herge found that he was spreading himself a bit thinly, and had to rely on the talents of his studio members rather more than usual..?
tybaltstone
Member
#4 · Posted: 13 Oct 2005 01:24
I think if Hergé had taken on everything himself, then we would have had less Tintin stories. His studio group were all highly talented comic creators in their own right, and shared his vision (mostly). One thing was for sure, the Tintin vision was all Hergé's!

I'm a big fan of Jacobs, and like the fact that some of the Tintin adventures have his hand in them. I'd love to have seen more 'Olav' work published! A book I have by Jacques Martin shows his incredible skill with various forms of transport, though his people are a little stiff, I think.
Tintinrulz
Member
#5 · Posted: 13 Oct 2005 01:35 · Edited by: Tintinrulz
Up until I was a young teenager I had presumed Herge did all the art/writing etc himself. Then I found he had assistants for the later albums and revisions and it disappointed me somewhat. But then I came to realise all the group's efforts worked really well and that the ultimate vision and creation was still Herge's.
jock123
Moderator
#6 · Posted: 13 Oct 2005 10:40 · Edited by: jock123
I think you have to understand that Hergé could, and would, have drawn everything in the books (he did so for years), but the pressures of deadlines and the sheer grind of producing new adventures while updating and colouring the old stories for republication, meant that it was more than one single man could achieve.
Everything in the books was drawn by Hergé at one point, as he personally produced the roughs and layouts of every page. If a car was needed, he could draw a car; however, when it came to the level of precision needed to produce an exact facsimile of a specific vehicle with the rigour needed for a finished frame, he relied on his team to provide that, and moved on to the next page to write and draw that. But entirely at his direction.

Roger Leloup was responsible for much of the mechanical hardware on show - the tank/ car chase in Calculus Affair was his, as were the fighters in Red Sea Sharks; I think he may also have done the moon-tank Explorers, but I haven't a reference to hand, and that could be too early.

Edgar P. Jacobs was very much involved in the decor of scenes, and indeed did much of the work on the re-drawing of Ottakar; the murals in the jewel room are all Jacob's work, for example. Indeed, it has been said that the reason that he left the studio was because he felt that he should have been given credit with Hergé on the books that he worked on.

Jacques Martin also contributed much to the series - his own Lefranc books are easy to mistake for Hergé at first glance. However, as Tybaltstone says, he is a bit stiff on people, which makes the fact that only Hergé drew Tintin even more important to point out.
Snowy
Member
#7 · Posted: 16 Oct 2005 01:39 · Edited by: Snowy
Thanks everyone for your replies. Honestly, I am really shocked to hear these things!


In Explorers On The Moon, Bob De Moor provided the space scenes, the details of the rocket interior and the lunar landscapes

Farr also implies that the 1966 redraw of The Black Island was largely the work of De Moor, in collaboration with Roger Leloup, who was responsible for updating the aircraft

Roger Leloup was responsible for much of the mechanical hardware on show - the tank/ car chase in Calculus Affair... the fighters in Red Sea Sharks; I think he may also have done the moon-tank Explorers... Edgar P. Jacobs was very much involved in the decor of scenes, and indeed did much of the work on the re-drawing of Ottakar


For me at least, this is really big news! How many times have I heard about Herge's vision in depicting the moon's surface, years ahead of any real manned flight? And he didn't actually draw it?? How often have I thought that some of the coolest things about Tintin were the vehicles, occasionally quirky as they might be (the rocket, the moon tank the shark-sub - come on, don't tell me Herge didn't draw the shark-sub either!) but tangible nonetheless? And he didn't draw them??

At least tell me that had he wanted Herge could have drawn all of these things himself and that rather than doing a job he couldn't, his assistants were more like apprentices who drew as he wished, or even as he directed them to!

Tintinologists, I'm sorry, but this is difficult to swallow. And it's not just that I don't like the news particularly, but that it really is hard to believe, for two reasons:


For a start, Herge's work comes across as being so complete and stylistically uniform; I can't imagine different people passing around a picture and adding parts in turn. Sorry if I'm spinning what you said way out of proportion, but that's what it sounds like.
OK, in the instance of somebody else drawing a background, how could Herge have even begun to ink out the characters if he didn't have the vision of the whole scene in his mind? If he did have the vision of the whole scene in his mind, I still think that drawing the characters alone would have been quite difficult, especially considering all the various camera angles that were adopted later on in the series.

And that ties in with my second point. Throughout the series, there is a clear development in the skill of art employed that I had always attributed this to one artist. If the backgrounds improved, but the characters stayed the same for example, then I might more easily believe that other people were involved. But the progression just seems so smooth that it's difficult to believe that everyone on the team is improving together, at apparently the same rate!
theone
Member
#8 · Posted: 16 Oct 2005 02:23
But the progression just seems so smooth that it's difficult to believe that everyone on the team is improving together, at apparently the same rate!

I think it's more that his assistants simply tried to emulate the drawing style the rest of the current work was in, rather than everyone improving alongside each other.
tybaltstone
Member
#9 · Posted: 16 Oct 2005 12:09 · Edited by: tybaltstone
Snowy - you need to go and read a good book on Hergé, like Harry Thompson's, Benoit's or Farr's and you'll see that the assistant's Hergé employed were merely very talented 'art robots' to do their boss's bidding. I'm not saying they didn't have artistic input (an ongoing debate as to how much), as of course they did - to whatever degree, but they only did what the boss told them to.

Just because Hergé didn't actually draw the moon scenery it doesn't mean it was made up by someone else and then along came Hergé to stick the people on whatever background he had been supplied with. Hergé wrote the stories, roughing them out in many different stages, doing the research - have no doubt the books are the product of one mind - Hergé's (yes, he discussed stories, but he wrote them in the end). You can see in Hergé's pencilled pages he roughed out vehicles and angles and scenery, then the experts came in and got them 'technically correct'.

Could Hergé have drawn vehicles as well as Leloup or Martin? Maybe, but possibly not. As time went on he became more demanding of himself and his stories and he wanted them to be the best they could, so he used the best people for the job at hand. But Tintin and Haddock - characters - could only be drawn by Hergé, otherwise they were not quite the true Tintin and Haddock. I think in Flight 714, when some of the characters were possibly not drawn by Hergé, you can tell.

Hergé was not a god, not all the drawing is great - but you do have to examine it closely and critically if you want to see that. I think it should be recognised that Tintin, for a period, became the work of an exciting studio, a gathering of some excellent comic strip artists, who - each in their own right - have made a success of themselves. Yet they all willingly became subservient to Hergé's masterful vision.

The best Tintin's (for me) are the work of the studio, though perhaps they can be a little cold sometimes. The early books have character, the studio books have quality. His more personal stories like Tibet had much less collaboration, and that shows through too.

I'm waffling!
Snowy
Member
#10 · Posted: 16 Oct 2005 19:17 · Edited by: Snowy
Snowy - you need to go and read a good book on Herge

What, you mean actually do a little bit of background reading before I go off on one and try to debate something? Unheard of! : )

No, I suppose you're right, I should go to some books for more detailed info about the production process. Thanks for everyone's answers though.

Anyway, the news has sunk in a bit more now and I have become perhaps more able to accept it.


One thing was for sure, the Tintin vision was all Herge's!

all the group's efforts worked really well and that the ultimate vision and creation was still Herge's

his assistants simply tried to emulate the drawing style the rest of the current work was in

Yes, that must be true and is reassuring.

I am reminded of Miyazaki Hayao. It's a different medium of art but it's a fitting comparison for me because I admire him very much and find his particular vision quite unique, as Herge's was. Despite the scores of people who work on one of his movies, I never felt that the vision belonged to or could have come from anyone other than him.

Plus, besides sketching and planning, Miyazaki is said to check every frame made, ensuring he has the final word on the film, much as I expect Herge must have had in his books. Miyazaki has also proved his ability in drawing countless times including the production of the comic tome Nausicaa; so his own ability, like Herge's is unquestionable.

I guess it's also possible to aliken the use of CGI in some of Miyazaki's later movies to Herge getting other people to draw technical things he perhaps couldn't have done so well. These elements fit, and still conform to each artist's vision.

the assistant's Herge employed were merely very talented 'art robots' to do their boss's bidding

Hahaha! That is how I will view them.

- Big sigh -

With this thinking, I don't mind the fact other people were involved. It was just so polar to my original thinking that I found the change difficult to accept. It was obviously for the best though. And I can see what you're saying Tybaltstone, we would probably have not had as many stories had Herge taken on everything himself.

Please be sure to familiarize yourself with the Forum Posting Guidelines.

Disclaimer: Tintinologist.org assumes no responsibility for any content you post to the forums/web site. Staff reserve the right to remove any submitted content which they deem in breach of Tintinologist.org's Terms of Use. If you spot anything on Tintinologist.org that you think is inappropriate, please alert the moderation team. Sometimes things slip through, but we will always act swiftly to remove unauthorised material.

Reply



  Forgot your password?
Please sign in to post. New here? Sign up!