· Posted: 9 Oct 2004 17:49
Tintin is stuck. That's why he was always 'Tintin' and not Mr 'insert last name here'.
I think that's his full name. It's easy to think that way, if you go straight to his origins. I mean, the guy was a character for a kiddie insert on a newspaper.
So he had a kiddie name. No kid is ever called by his last name or full name (except by their teachers, but that's because they already think you're a 'fine young man' --you're not. You're a 5 year old)
It's needed so that kids who read the paper could identify with the character, and not feel 'left out' by a grown-up world.
It also makes them feel more important 'wow, a kid just like me is having incredible adventures!' To them, he's not an adult, he's not what they could become, he's what they wanna become right there and then.
This theory of origins can be applied to the question 'OK, so how old is he, really?' as well.
It's obvious he, too, is a kid. No older than 16, in any case.
...Only he's a reporter, so he couldn't be so young, could he?
Again, going back to the very first issues, it's not so impossible.
In order to sell something, the target audience must sense a connection between them and the character.
Being a reporter at that age would be a 'dream job', and that's what it is. Doesn't exist, but it was appealing to the audience, because more than one would've liked to live those adventures at their current age, and not when older.
What troubles us, what's hard to cope with, is that the stories began to get more serious, as the plots thickenned and so did the character, so to us, adults mostly, it's impossible to picture a character living such adventures, with nothing but a first name (and a not very serious one) and a skinny-little body.
I still think he's a kid, it's just that as time went by, there was no other choice but to keep him that way cos it had already started like that, and one must remain true to your readers.
If Hergé had thought of adding a last name to Tintin as he grew more popular, it would've killed the magic, and the bond between him and children.
He's a kid, but he's really no age.
(I say 16 as a sort of inner-joke I've with my sister, when we noticed a pannel in Black Island, in which Tintin falls from a wall, and the artist took the trouble of drawing '16 candles' around his head; my sister and I thought that was hilarious...)