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The Name “Tintin”: His real name or a nickname?

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Pelaphus
Member
#11 · Posted: 9 Oct 2004 04:27
Tell you what I think the truth is. I think Tintin as a name is essentially -- in the sense of concept, rather than ego -- an author's conceit; Herge wants it embematic and a little ambiguous at the same time. And heaven knows there's a long literary and media tradition of same. Offhand I can think of the detectives, Columbo and Spenser; the science fiction fighter pilot Starbuck; the master assassin Chiun; Picard's oddly friendly adversary, Q; 87th Precinct nemesis The Deaf Man; and oh, say, what about that Time Lord, the Doctor?

I think any attempt to literalize the iconography takes away a little of the romance and mystery that is an essential part of such characters, because as much as they variously may or may not represent real people, they also represent essences, a kind of immutable spirit that defies being anchored, and in fact actively resists it. Gosh, I don't ever want to meet Tintin's parents, or know about them, or get too wrapped up with what he really does for a living (or finding out the identity of the sugar mama who pays his bills). I just want him to be like Peter Pan, there when you need him, doing the thing he does, because he was only ever Tintin and never needed to be more.
Tintinrulz
Member
#12 · Posted: 9 Oct 2004 07:03
Interesting post, but could you please not write it in a techno-babble style, plain English is good. Thanks.
Martine
Member
#13 · 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...)
Pelaphus
Member
#14 · Posted: 10 Oct 2004 00:41
... Iconoclast ... carpet-seller ...
theone
Member
#15 · Posted: 10 Oct 2004 02:21
Hi, I agree with Pelaphus' point in that the name Tintin is left to be ambigous. I also agree that knowing too much about him would ruin the mystery, the setting and the feel of the entire stories.

However, I do think that Tintin is probably just a shorter or more casual way of saying a longer name, in my opinion.
OJG
Member
#16 · Posted: 10 Oct 2004 15:22
Tintin's name is Tintin. It is only a comic book after all; a certain sense of reality (in having a real name) can be suspended here.
Martine
Member
#17 · Posted: 10 Oct 2004 16:25
Of course! That's all I'm saying. Maybe if the character hadn't been created for kid readers, he might as well have had a last name...and a proper first name.
theone
Member
#18 · Posted: 10 Oct 2004 20:46
"Of course! That's all I'm saying. Maybe if the character hadn't been created for kid readers, he might as well have had a last name...and a proper first name."

True, but as I read more and more of the books, I begin to wonder - was Tintin actually made for kids?
Martine
Member
#19 · Posted: 10 Oct 2004 22:46 · Edited by: Martine
At first it was. And that set the character for all the rest of the series, regardless of the maturing up of it. Like I said, adding a last name to him as the series moved on to more mature audiences, would've ruined it.
Plus, the adventures were published mostly in kid magazines before book format, so yeah.
rastapopoulos
Member
#20 · Posted: 11 Oct 2004 10:51
Remember we only find out Haddocks first name in 'Picaros'. I doubt we will ever know if Tintin has other names ..and do we care???

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