The Tintin Festival 2009

09 June 2009

Tintin Festival 2009 Namur - Bronze plaque
Tintin Festival, Namur.
Photograph: © Brian Ventham. Used by permission.

The Brussels Grand Place (Thursday 07th May 2009)

The largest comic strip in the world could only find one setting: the Brussels Grand Place. A monumental strip of more than 30 metres long by nearly 23 metres wide was on show to admire, for many reasons: not only because of its dimensions, but also its contents. It was the first time that a strip, taken from a Tintin album, was reproduced on this scale (quoted from the Brussels tourist information leaflet). The exact Hergé excerpt was kept a secret as part of the BD Comics Strip celebrations (the 2009, year of the comic strip in Brussels). Other major exhibitions, workshops and events (of Belgium comic strip interests) accompany this yearlong showcase celebration ( ).

As you will see from the photograph, this was a frame from Destination Moon.

Tintin Festival 2009, Brussels Grand Place
Photograph: © Brian Ventham. Used by permission.

A purpose-built viewing platform enabled visitors to catch the complete perspective.

Snowy was there
Spot Snowy!
Photograph: © Brian Ventham. Used by permission.

Fanny, Nick and Mark Rodwell (and other Moulinsart persons, including Snowy) were there for the unveiling and opening dedication (in French) and spent sometime admiring the handiwork. An aerial camera (eventually, after untangling the wires) took pictures from a balloon - so that even better perspectives could be relayed to avid photographers and keen admirers. This all took place around 6pm - the Grand Place was a perfect setting on a wonderful sunny evening. And all this the day before the Festival Tintin began. What a great start! ( ).

Snowy lookalike
Snowy lookalike was there!
Photograph: © Brian Ventham. Used by permission.

Actually, it was only by chance (a few days previously) that I found out about this part of the celebration - Jane in the Tintin Shop (Covent Garden) happened to mention that this was taking place on the Thursday. Fortunately, I had booked to be in Brussels just a few hours before the unveiling. How often does that coincidence happen! Phew!

The Tintin Festival in Namur (Friday 08th - Sunday 10th May 2009)

The city of Namur in Flanders invited us/everyone ( ) to the 3rd Tintin Festival in the Walloon Capital. An English edition of their tourist brochure states that Namur has not often been favoured by comic strip writers - although it is known that as a scout Hergé visited Namur and had many holiday adventures here. This Festival was an opportunity to discover Namur from a different angle and to launch ‘The Castafiore Jewels’ in Namurois Walloon, and a reading-show of the work.

The unveiling of a bronze plaque of Tintin, Snowy and Captain Haddock on the wall of the Palais de Congres (renamed temporarily the Palais des Tintinophiles) announced the start of the celebratory activities. Les Echasseurs (dressed in costume) on stilts, and the Fanfare of Moulinsart band escorted the welcome group to the Place d’Armes for the unveiling; and then on to the Espace Beffroi for the Exposition of the Construction of the Hergé Museum.

Tintin Festival, Namur. Bronze plaque detail.
Bronze plaque (detail)
Photograph: © Brian Ventham. Used by permission.

A large exhibition of Tintin related automobiles (veteran cars and motorcycles) were on display. All were beautifully restored and well displayed with larger pictures of relevant story frames and historical connections. Another exhibition included the restoration of the original artworks, including rare plates of Tintin in the Land of the Soviets.

The Moulinsart shop was busy throughout the period (with a free festival tee shirt with every 50 Euro spent) - and book signing by our own favourite Michael Farr, Jean-Pierre Talbot (who acted the part of Tintin in two films), Philippe Goddin (Chronologie d’une oeuvre), and the translator of the new Walloonian edition (Charles Massaux).

The Tintin Trail around the city

A rally of dedicated cars drawn by Hergé took place around the city and various events were taking place in different venues.

The lectures were in French on subjects relating to volume 6 of the Chronologie (Philippe Goddin), the Geopolotique of Tintin (Michael Farr) and Internet piracy. The Tintin marathon of films, documentaries and cartoons were also entirely in French.

On the Saturday evening there was a fancy dress ball at the Château.

Throughout Sunday at the citadel there was a Canicross - organised by Jean-Pierre Talbot (who also ran the refreshments) and the Milou d’Or for the cleverest dog and the one most resembling Snowy. What a delight to speak to Tintin in person!

The children’s parties included a Tintin trail/Jeu de piste (on Saturday) through all the places hosting the Festival, with a questionnaire and prizes.

The Tintin Flea market did not take place, but there was an opportunity to view an enormous auction of fantastic Hergé material. The actual auction took place at the end of the Festival. And all this of course with the opening of the Hergé Museum in Louvain-la-Neuve in two weeks ...

Personal reflection

There will be parts of the Festival that I missed; probably because the activities were in French only. For myself, I need to see English translations to be fully engaged. I had difficulty even with the children’s questionnaire (with a dictionary). However, this did not detract from the fun spirit of the Festival. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, and organisers were very helpful to visitors. The waiters at the ‘gastronomique trip around the world’ were patient and kind, thoughtful and helpful (even if they didn’t have room for Michael Farr). One of the Namur Council directors (of tourism) directed the operations with professionalism, and kindness.

Above all I found Nick and Mark Rodwell, friendly and pleasant. They were busy with lots of organisational things, and took the time to welcome and encourage as many as possible. I was impressed, and enjoyed speaking to them. I understand there is no divorce between publishers and distributors. The Museum sounds incredibly worth visiting - I only wish I had an invitation to the opening. Fanny Rodwell looked beautiful.

Michael Farr was of course good to be with - informative and enthusiastic as ever for all things Tintin; putting everything into context. A pleasure to be with, and I am looking forward to his next best seller (in September).

It was good to see Namur and learn about its important part in history of Europe. I will need to go back again, as I didn’t have time to see all its treasures. It was good after the Festival to spend a few days in Bruges with its English connections. The Charles the Bold exhibition at Bruges, and the opportunity to visit the tombs of Margaret of York and Mary of Burgundy were fascinating. I am reminded that there is something about Belgium that Hergé captures, that I really like, and it was there at the Festival, a sense of fun and enjoyment in life, come what may!