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Fanny Rodwell: Interview in "Le Soir", 1997

Harrock n roll
#1 · Posted: 5 Apr 2004 06:45
Here's an interview with Fanny Rodwell from back in '97, in which she discusse the legacy of Hergé, the motivations behindthe actions of the Fondation, and plans for the Hergé Museum.

"Fanny Rodwell: Independent, like Tintin!"

Several major decisions depend upon Fanny Rodwell today. She discusses them with us.

Will there be new adventures of Tintin, due to others, as for Blake and Mortimer?

That wouldn't even occur to me.
While he expressed himself clearly on this subject in his interviews with Numa Sadoul, Hergé never said anything explicit to me on this subject, but, to me, extending a work - I don't mean to upset anyone by saying this - it's like creating a forgery in writing.
Authorship isn't only the inspiration, it is also the "vibe", which passes through everything he does.
We don't "make" a work, that seems obvious to me.

The Hergé Museum, on the other hand, seems to be close to your heart.

Yes, it is something I have had in mind for a long time. It's an idea that must mature, obviously.
But the search for land has been underway for quite some time. It's not easy, because finding a large piece of land in Brussels is no small feat.
You should know that it will be a private museum, in which we will invest a lot, but we have always thought that it would be desirable for the public authorities, at whatever level, to provide us with the land.
My dream being to build something, not to fit out an old building, because I'd like to be able to design the container that will house the collections.
And an opportunity has presented itself...

Where did that come from?

The city of Brussels is in the process of finalizing the acquisition of land near Place Agneessens. It is in the center of Brussels, ten minutes walk from the Grand-Place, near a metro station, not far from the Gare du Midi. There is a project to develop a small public garden nearby. All this can only contribute to the improvement of the general environment.

So you'd totally exclude a merger with the Belgian Comic Strip Center?

I'd rather build something specific. It's down to my character, which is quite independent. Hergé was also very independent - and Tintin too, of course!

What type of museum do you want to do?

Starting with a projection of what we intend to put there, it's intended that it should usefully encompass 3,500 square meters, which implies that more than fifteen people be employed there.
It will require that the design of the exhibition areas, and the route of the visitor, be done in harmony with the architect, and that there is an audio-visual space, a kind of small "Calculus School", which will be a place of introduction to the sciences for children; it's something that Hergé would have liked a lot.

Personalities - I dream of Hubert Reeves [Canadian astrophysicist, and science advocate], for example - would come to give lectures there, on the wonders and mysteries of the universe.
Because you must stay in the spirit of the work, in what it has that is human, humanist, and ecological too. And do justice to all its dimensions: the beauty of the drawing, the content of the scenarios, the humor.
It is also for these reasons that we are so purists, especially my husband, for the quality of the reproductions. Maybe we are too demanding, too on the alert?

How do you react to the press conference where it was declared that you were abusing your rights by prohibiting certain uses of the work?

I felt it was like firing a bazooka at a fly!
The unfair and infamous things that were said were disproportionate to the decisions that the Hergé Foundation felt it had to make.
When uses do not strike me as ethically or aesthetically worthy of Tintin, I am taken aback.
For example, the projected book on the influence exercised by Jules Verne on Hergé, we didn't grant authorization to reproduce 80 images because we didn't find it justified to suggest Hergé had plagiarized, copied, Jules Verne. It isn't up to us, the Foundation, to endorse it.
But it's still very hard to say no to people, and even harder to hear yourself say no.
The fact remains that Hergé is not in the public domain, even if he is part of the national - or even international - heritage.

All the conflict arises from the extraordinary popularity of Tintin, and, therefore, that everyone covets it, and wants to appropriate it.
As soon as we exercise our rights, which is an honour, but also a responsibility, we immediately appear to be the baddie, the dirty rat.

We believe that everything contributes to the life of the work, from the most original interpretations offered by pundits, to the most diverse forms of merchandising, but on condition that we don't do just anything.

It was with this in mind that we also wanted to recover the derivative rights, and bring everything together in one place.
In the past, I'd let them slip away recklessly, and recovering them cost us a lot of worry and a lot of money, several lawsuits, of which we won all bar one, and always on the basis of ethical and æsthetic arguments.
Let nobody come and say we're only interested in the money, and that we don't care about the work!
That said, we've been attacked, molested, so often, that we may become a little paranoid...
But it's also no reason to let ourselves be squatted, and told we should simply close our mouths and open our wallets.

Sounds like this attack has boosted your fighting spirit?

It may be that after such a thing you feel stronger, because you go through all the stages: indignation, discouragement, anger. The advantage is that it led us to clarify our position, to better define it publicly. But the slap was nevertheless huge! Maybe we needed such a jolt to move?!

Interview by Jacques De Decker, 09/05/97, © Rossel & Co SA - Le Soir, Brussels

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