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Tintin and Mickey Mouse: Like two peas in a pod?

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#1 · Posted: 26 Mar 2012 10:45
O-key! This is my first posting here. Feelin' a bit nervous. Anyway, here it goes.

I've been reading Fantagraphic Book's excellent Mickey Mouse Volumes by Floyd Gottfredson. However, many of the gags and panels felt really familiar... but how could that be. I had not read these stories before.

And I discovered that I've seen them before in the Tintin albums! There are so many similarities, it's almost unbelievable. Tintin has often been called Belgium's own Mickey Mouse. Indeed so.

The aerial acrobatics example is from The Black Island (first version published in 1937) and matching Mickey Mouse strip published in 22 May 1933. Uncanny!

There are more to follow!

Moderator's Note: Very sorry, but we can't allow links to sites/blogs that contain copyrighted images. However, your comparative study is certainly fascinating and very worthy of discussion! Please, if you can, give descriptions of the similarities you have found. You could even include page numbers and other details, if you wish, so that people who have the books can refer to them. It will still be interesting.
Many thanks!
The Happy Tintinologist Team
#2 · Posted: 27 Mar 2012 12:22
I understand your policy very well.

Okey, I give some descriptions below. (I'm a Finn, so the English is a second, eh, actually third language to me, after Swedish, so sorry for the awkwardness of my writing).

1. There is a very similar Immelmann turn in both the Mickey Mouse strip that was published in 22 May 1933 (The Mail Pilot), Mickey catching the falling pilot, and in The Black Island when Thompson is catching Thomson in the aeroplane. This one was easy to spot, because the scene is so memorable in Tintin!

2. In 'Mickey Mouse sails for a Treasure Island Mickey gets into exactly same situation with the gorilla ín the boat than Tintin with Haddock in 'The Crab with the Golden Claws'. Panels are so similar that you can sequence them with each other. This one Hergé got most certainly from Gottfredson. The Crab with the Golden Claws was first published in serial comic strip form in 1941. Mickey Mouse strip was published in 25 July 1932. Also the drawing style in between these famous comics artists are so alike in this particular scene, the shape of the waves, ink line, facial expressions, rhythm of the narrative.

3. Mickey's 'Lost on a Desert Island' (From January to March in 1930) adventure is full of fast gags and confontrations with the wild animals and natives, just like Tintin in Congo. Gottfredson's daily strips were published in the beginning of 1930, Tintin au Congo was serialised in Le Petit Vingtième from 5 May 1930 through to 11 June 1931. So the chronological connection is very close. In those early years Tintin was black and white magazine strip just like Mickey Mouse, so the similarities could have been even more obvious! There are two almost identical panels where both Tintin and Mickey are jumping on the hippopotamus. Check that one out!

If you want to discover these similarities you should have Fantagraphic Book's just published Mickey Mouse Volumes by Floyd Gottfredson. I'm sure all you tintinlogists out there can spot more of these resemblances.

I am most certainly not accusing Hergé plagiarism here! Mickey Mouse has been more like a source of inspiration for him.
#3 · Posted: 27 Mar 2012 12:48
Hello my fellow countryman.

I follow you. And what about Dupond & Dupont vs. Hardy & Laurel? Eh?
#4 · Posted: 27 Mar 2012 12:57
Thanks for understanding the problem with linking to the images, Lurker, and for taking the trouble to follow up withthese detailed descriptions of the scenes instead. (And welcome to the forums!)

It's an interesting comparison. Tintin and Mickey were both created at the same time, of course, and in some ways their character development follows similar paths - both starting off as tough little guys, quite prone to fighting and physical comedy, before becoming rather more responsible and respectable once their sailor buddies (Haddock and Donald) took on the role of the accident-prone bad-tempered comedy interest!

I wonder if Hergé read these Mickey Mouse strips and was influenced directly - which is certainly quite possible given that Mickey Mouse was very popular even outside America from pretty early on - or if both Hergé and Gottfredson were simultaneously influenced by shared influences such as the Mickey Mouse animated films, stunts and gags in silent film comedies, etc.
#5 · Posted: 27 Mar 2012 13:26 · Edited by: Lurker
Early Mickey Mouse was published in Le Petit Parisien. Hergé was very familiar with this magazine.

In France Gottfredson's Mickey was also published as "little big books", without the balloons (text under the panels).

Some of the panels in Tintin are so identical with Mickey Mouse, the resemblance is so detailed that it just can't happen by accident.

Still, I can see the influence of Chaplin and especially Buster Keaton in both Mickey and Tintin!
Harrock n roll
#6 · Posted: 27 Mar 2012 14:01
That's interesting stuff Lurker, I think you might be on to something there. There was a BBC documentary recently - Tintin's Adventure with Frank Gardner - in which Michael Farr stated that Disney and (I think) Mickey Mouse was one of Hergé's main early influences. I wasn't so sure of this myself, I felt there was more influence from the American Comics of the era, like Katzenjammer Kids, Mutt and Jeff, Bringing Up Father, etc. as well as from movie stars like Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd, or animations like Felix The Cat.

But having seen the comparisons you've made it does seem fairly convincing that Hergé 'borrowed' the odd skit. Perhaps Michael Farr had seen these strips, or come across some other references, and that is what he'd meant?
#7 · Posted: 27 Mar 2012 14:20
Very interesting subject you've brought up here.

As a matter of fact, there is a Mickey Mouse-Tintin connection that has bugged me for decades! Many years ago, I read a comic which included highlights of Mickey's early adventures. One of these had Mickey and Goofy driving a jeep through the desert at night. Goofy drives the jeep straight into a palm tree and they are forced to continue on foot. What's more, it is the only palm tree in the area!

Sounds familiar? because it's the same thing that happens to the Thompsons when they drive into what they think is a mirage palm tree in "Black Gold".

This was supposed to be from the Gottfredson era but although I've read plenty of his stories I cannot find any that include this scene. Do you know of it? Thanks
#8 · Posted: 27 Mar 2012 15:14 · Edited by: jock123
Goofy drives the jeep straight into a palm tree and they are forced to continue on foot. What's more, it is the only palm tree in the area!

This has actually happened in real life - the poor Lonely Tree of Ténéré being an example; I read a similar story, about a different incident, in a book at primary school, prior to the Lonely Tree accident (which I seem to remember that John Craven’s Newsround covered at the time), and I think that that reasoned it as follows.

Drivers in deserts have few markers by which to guage distance, so a tree makes a promising “target”.
However, it still isn’t great, because there is no context to judge the size of the distant tree.
Driving across a desert is monotonous, and it’s easy for a driver to lose attention/ fall asleep.
So a sleepy driver heads towards a tree, not realizing that it’s perhaps stunted, and thus is a small tree closer to than they think, combining to result in dozy driver runs vehicle into a lone tree.

I’m sure if it’s happened once, it’s happened before, and it’s the sort of story which papers and word of mouth would carry, so it’s entirely possible that many people, Hergé and Gottfredson have heard such tales.

If you take into account that such stories work best when stripped of too much detail (it’s funnier if you just say “in the middle of the desert”, than “by a road in the middle of the desert”, and you don’t mention that it was once one of several tress, all of which were also destroyed by people), it’s easy to see that similar events just become stories of people driving across vast open spaces and suddenly hitting a tree, which then get transferred to strip cartoons.
#9 · Posted: 28 Mar 2012 06:49 · Edited by: Lurker
And like in every episode of the Twilight Zone, now comes the twist ending!

The Secret of the Unicorn (Le Secret de la Licorne) was serialised from 11 June 1942 through to 14 January 1943 in the Belgian newspaper Le Soir. Mickey Mouse and the Sunken Treasure was published from May to June in 1946 (Inducks).

(EDIT: And of course Tintin's skirmish with the shark was in The Red Rackham's Treasure; serialised 1943 in the Belgian newspaper Le Soir.)

In these adventures a lone shark attacks both Mickey and Tintin, our heroes found the treasure chest but the shark takes the chest into its mouth and swims away.

Gottfredson's panels are almost exactly the same as with Hergé, but they are flipped horizontally!

Hergé proposed to collaborate with Walt Disney on an animated Tintin series and sent some albums to Walt. However, that didn't happen until 1948!

Could it be, that both Hergé and Gottfredson have seen Cecil B. DeMille's Reap the Wild Wind -movie in which John Wayne was diving for a treasure and fighting with the octopus.

But really... that one panel, in which the shark takes treasure into its mouth... Can it be just a coincidence? I doubt it.

Everything goes topsy turvy. Earlier I have demonstrated how Gottfredson influenced Hergé. This time we also have almost identical panels, but... it's Mickey Mouse that's copying Tintin!
Harrock n roll
#10 · Posted: 28 Mar 2012 11:03 · Edited by: Harrock n roll
Could it be, that both Hergé and Gottfredson have seen Cecil B. DeMille's Reap the Wild Wind -movie in which John Wayne was diving for a treasure and fighting with the octopus.

Have you seen the 1924 Buster Keaton film The Navigator? There are many similarities between the film and the diving sequence in Red Rackham's Treasure. Hergé was a big fan of Buster Keaton and saw many of his films. He may have logged some of the scenes in his memory for later use.

In the film Keaton puts on a deep sea diving suit and submerges. The heroine of the story is pumping air with a manual pump (like the one in the book) but gets kidnapped, leaving Keaton without oxygen for a time. He also has a fight with a couple of swordfish and an octopus (no shark in this, but the scene is similar).

One other similarity; when they get back to the ship Keaton's suit fills with water and he turns upside down so that all the water pours out!

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