The annual Angoulême International Festival of Comics is a venerable and influential meeting for all those interested in the "9th Art", and Saturday saw a land-mark session on the future of Tintin, with some remarkable discussions, which many might have thought unimaginable.
One of the founding fathers of Tintinology, Benoît Peeters (author of the essential Le Monde d'Hergé
and Hergé, Son of Tintin
) chaired the panel, which included Nick Rodwell of Moulinsart and the Studios Hergé, and Benedict Mouchart representing Casterman, the publisher of Hergé's books and now a major partner/ sponsor of the Hergé Museum.
Reports appear to indicate that the session was a success, and maintained a positive attitude to the topic which was to look at what might be done with the character in a world which now has new hands steering the courses of such long-standing respected characters as Lefranc
and Blake and Mortimer
Mr. Rodwell suggested that there could be a colour version of Tintin in the Land of the Soviets
in the future, even hinting that tests might already have been prepared. He said that Casterman would certainly appreciate the possibility. [See also: "Land of the Soviets: Will a colour edition be released?"
He compared the situation with Hergé's characters to be similar to that of the Disney organization in the wake of Walt's death: how do you proceed with the work of a creator so heavily identified with his art? Can you just decide to do your own thing? He mentioned that Disney took about ten years to decide to go their own way, and suggested that after thirty years perhaps the same could happen for Tintin.
Benoît Peeters proposed completing the Tintin version of Le ThermoZéro, the Cold War era story scripted by Greg
for which Hergé drew eight pages before setting it aside; he liked the script, but felt it was too close to The Calculus Affair
in theme, and (perhaps more importantly) found it impossible to adapt his working practice of constantly reworking ideas as he wrote and drew to one which required him to stick closely to someone else's scenario.
M. Mouchart suggested that André Juillard and Ted Benoit, who have worked on the Blake and Mortimer
revival would be suitable candidates to adopt the mantle of Hergé and take Tintin forward.
By the end of the Festival a rumour was circulating that a new book could appear as soon as 2017, which many seem to have welcomed.
However, all the above took place firmly in the "virtual" world; in spite of the flights of specualtive fancy, nothing was said definitively about a new book, re-worked old books, or a further life for Tintin. Mr. Rodwell reiterated the status quo: that everything absolutely depended on the wishes of his wife, Mrs. Fanny Rodwell, who as the beneficiary of Hergé's estate has the ultimate say in how the characters are used. Without her approval, things will remain as they are for the foreseeable future.
In spite of that lightly mood-dampening note, these are very positive times in which to be a Tintin fan: this debate followed the recent announcement of a thaw in the relations between Moulinsart and Casterman, which had been going through a rough patch. In addition to becoming a major sponsor of the Hergé Museum, Casterman announced that they are developing archival projects with Moulinsart, starting with a book covering the creation of The Cigars of the Pharaoh
This brought a further development in the form of a tacit agreement by Moulinsart that new Tintin albums from Casterman might be a means by which the copyright in the character could be protected and extended to safe-guard Hergé's legacy, albeit in 2052
- the first indication that circumstances might dictate a change in the absolute embargo on new Tintin albums which has prevailed since Hergé's death.
Now we have at least "talks about talks", suggesting that there may be further even more exciting developments over the next few years; we will just have to wait and see!You can read a report on the Le Soir website (in French).Update:
Watch the entire debate (in French) on the official Angoulême YouTube feed.Another update:
In spite of the confidence with which I said it, I obviously crossed a wire somewhere in translating what I read (or perhaps I just read correctly something which was wrong?), but the video makes it quite apparent that Benoît Peeters didn't chair the debate, he participated in it...