All Hergé Did was Steal
Yesterday in Rotterdam, the first meeting of the Hergé Society was held to honour the late Belgian artist, Hergé, creator of the immortal comics hero, Tintin. One of the topics discussed was the album Tintin in Tibet.
Hans Matla, a comics seller from The Hague commented:
I think Tintin in Tibet is the best work of Hergé. The album is wonderfully spartan: all superfluity is gone and the ballast thrown overboard. Gradually throughout the story Hergé took more and more away, and the pictures just got whiter. White, the colour of snow, is as pure as glass. The humour in the story is subtle, but never flat. Tintin in Tibet is perfect, smooth as an egg.
Martin Lodewijk, the Rotterdam based writer and illustrator of the comic Agent 327 and Storm, was less complimentary about Hergé's work:
What Hergé did, was steal. He copied pictures again and again. The Castafiore Emerald is Hergé's most autobiographic Tintin album. The magpie in the story is Hergé himself! Everything which glitters, he pick-pecks!
The membership of the Society consists of men who are fanatical about Tintin comics. When asked if the name Hergé Society was chosen to set the group apart from other Tintin fan clubs, and whether the group hold pompous discussions on issues related to Tintin and his creator was to show the world that Tintin is no children's game, it is for serious people.
"Not necessarily," said Matla, "Tintin is loved by people between 8 and 80 years. Every 10 seconds, somewhere in the world a Tintin album is sold, and Tintin books have even been translated into Chinese and Tibetan. This indicates the wide appeal it has. For people of all cultures and all ages, Tintin is a recognisable icon. I began reading Tintin when I was 6 years old, and yesterday, I re-read TinTin in Tibet and The Blue Lotus. I really enjoy reading the books again."
In response to the unflattering comments made by Martin Lodewijk, Matla said, "Look, Martin Lodewijk, sees it through the eyes of a cartoon maker. I don't make any cartoons, I'm a real lover, without a ruler I don't get any strait lines on a piece of paper. Thank Goodness! That's why I'm looking quite unprejudiced at this subject!"
As a fan of Hergé, sometimes you must accept things the way they are. So now and then, Hergé's war past is debated, because of his suspected pro-NAZI sympathies.
A few months back the album TinTin chez Jules Verne showed up. In this, Michel Deligne and Jean Paul Tomasi proved that Tintin, Haddock, Thompson and Thomson and Bianca Castafiore had been all created by Jules Verne instead of Hergé.
"They are all exaggerations," said Luc Meuws from Voorburg, joint founder of the Society. "The newspaper, for which Hergé was working, fell into the hands of the NAZIs, but he just carried on working. He offered people some entertainment in difficult times. Now he is blamed for it heavily. And the fact that Jules Verne was his inspirational source, everybody takes his inspiration from somewhere, why shouldn't Hergéé?"
Source: Extracted from an article of the Dutch newspaper De Haagse Courant of 26 April 1999.
Original Dutch text © 1999 De Haagse Courant and Peter Breedveld. English translation © Rob Winkels.