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Hergé: Did he employ assistants?

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#1 · Posted: 21 Apr 2004 21:58
This was a question that I've always wanted to ask, but didn't thinking that it lacked imagination. Here goes nothing..

Did Hergé employ any assistants in his work?
I noticed in several of the books (Broken Ear, Blue Lotus, Tintin in America, Ottokar's Sceptre) that the artwork seemed more "simplistic" looking than the others. e.g. in Blue Lotus, the art suddenly changes two or three pages into the book where the pictures suddenly become less detailed and streamlined (at the staircase scene).

Anyone else think that he had apprentices throughout his profession?
#2 · Posted: 21 Apr 2004 23:44
Hergé did indeed have assistants - a studio in fact, on his later adventures.
The beginning of The Blue Lotus is from the redrawn section from 1955 (more part of Cigars of the Pharaoh I think), but Lotus was an important work, and the first to employ his new carefully researched and attentive style, so it remained the original 1930s version - thankfully!
Of course Lotus did have his first "assistant" in the shape of Chang Chon-Ren.

Hergé collaborated with the brilliant Edgar P. Jacobs, at first as his colourist (I think - sorry this is from memory, so excuse the blurred details) and later as a background artist.
Hergé always insisted on drawing the characters himself. Roger Leloup became his transport expert. Bob de Moor was his closest assistant, and when Hergé cut down his studio staff, he worked on one or two books with only Bob de Moor (was it Tibet?).

Most of his assistants had successful strips of their own in Tintin magazine - Jacobs, Leloup, Bob de Moor, Van Melkebeke (spelling??) and released albums of their own too.

I'm sure someone else could give a much better answer... I need my books to check these facts!

- Garen.
#3 · Posted: 22 Apr 2004 00:21
Piggybacking onto this discussion and taking it in a slightly different direction...

Looking at The Blue Lotus it is obvious that the first four pages were drawn at a later date to the remainder of the book as the line becomes thinner, the proportions of the characters become squatter, and the composition of the individual pictures become more simplistic. But am I right in thinking Land of Black Gold is another book with drawings coming from different eras? I know it was originally written in two bursts, with the war intervening in the middle, and that it was revised before publication in Britain, but which pages come from when?

To my eyes the pages before and including page 20 are from a later date to most of the ones after. But occasional pages after 20 seem to be late additions also: 28 and 56. Am I imagining this? It's bugged me ever since I first read the book in 1978!

Moderator Emeritus
#4 · Posted: 22 Apr 2004 01:54
Hergé collaborated with the brilliant Edgar P. Jacobs, at first as his colourist and later as a background artist.
Just to make that clear, Jacobs did the colouring and backgrounds. I believe the collaboration started with Explorers on the Moon, but it may have been before that.

Land of Black Gold was completely redrawn after the war (I think - this is from memory!). The story remained basically the same, though with some switches of nationalities and people (British Palestine replaced by Khemed, for starters).
One noticable change is Haddock's appearance: when the earlier version was written, Haddock hadn't been invented. Thus the Captain's hastily-added phone call to explain his non-appearance, and his never-to-be-told story of how he turned up in Khemed. :)
I don't remember how far the original got, but Chris or Richard can probably answer that! In fact, they could probably answer it all better...
#5 · Posted: 22 Apr 2004 02:26
This is all so perplexing. The first four books, with the exception of Cigars of the Pharaoh, are all drawn in the comic-strip style, though Cigars stands out because its so lushly drawn.
After The Broken Ear, the series converts into the trademark style with the beautifully drawn Black Island.
As Garen mentioned, he did seemed to have a crew of assistants, making it difficult to pinpoint which book(s) Hergé actually did.
I think it's quite unusual to see the artwork revert back and forth from the 1950's to the 1930's!
And then there would be the idea of re-edits/re-prints, especially during the war, to top it off.
But I didn't seem to find anything different with Land of Black Gold, in my opinion.

Whew! This is one topic that could use some extra feedback.
Trivia Challenge Score Keeper
#6 · Posted: 22 Apr 2004 09:40
You're right, this is a confusing topic!
The earliest original artwork you'll see in a modern Tintin book (Soviets excepted!) is in The Blue Lotus, page 5 onwards. This dates directly from 1933.
Cigars wasn't put into colour until 1955, when it was completely redrawn.
The Black Island was coloured using the original artwork in 1943, but Hergé completely redrew it for the modern edition in 1965.
You'll notice a similar change in style in King Ottokar's Sceptre too - before the tourist brochure on Syldavia, Tintin appears in his earlier style. Afterwards, in the second half, he is in his more modern incarnation.
This is due to Edgar Pierre Jacobs, who helped Hergé to colour and redraw the books during the war, and he substantially Balkanised the Syldavian setting.
I believe the first story they worked together on was The Seven Crystal Balls, and though after a few years they never really worked together in the same capacity, they did occasionally collaborate.
Probably Hergé's closest assistant was Bob de Moor, who started out on Destination Moon and continued working for Hergé until his death in 1983.
Fanny Remi originally considered de Moor as an artist to finish Tintin and Alph-Art, but she later rejected the idea of creating new Tintin albums after her husband's death.
#7 · Posted: 12 Oct 2005 19:07
As I learned more about the process of making comics, I wasn't surprised to hear that Hergé often had somebody else involved in the colouring process.

What I was (and still am!) shocked to hear is that the assistants in his studio were involved in the drawing process itself sometimes, such as I take it, drawing backgrounds and vehicles for some of the frames... am I correct?

I had always assumed Hergé drew everything!!

If this really is the case, can somebody tell me to what extent this occured?

Can somebody please give me examples of frames with vehicles and or backgrounds drawn by somebody else besides Hergé in a Tintin book?
#8 · Posted: 12 Oct 2005 19:32
What I was (and still am!) shocked to hear is that the assistants in his studio were involved in the drawing process itself sometimes, such as I take it, drawing backgrounds and vehicles for some of the frames... am I correct?

B&W Tintins were drawn and written by Hergé himself; he started to employ assistants for colouring and editing these old albums, then for drawing parts of the new colour albums.

As far as I can remember, an important point is that he would draw the last black ink touch, so that he only could sign the books; and by then the lettering was done by a specialist, as in the English versions.

I'll try and find the references you are asking for, but most likely some can do it better than me!
John Sewell
#9 · Posted: 12 Oct 2005 23:49
Can somebody please give me examples of frames with vehicles and or backgrounds drawn by somebody else besides Herge in a Tintin book?

In Explorers On The Moon, Bob De Moor assisted on space scenes, the details of the rocket interior and the lunar landscapes. I particularly like the frame of the tiny rocket approaching the vastness of the Moon, half in darkness - it's got a sort of purity to it that I find very appealing!

Though Hergé was responsible for the drawing of the main characters, Michael Farr's Complete Companion singles out Flight 714 as one example of Bob De Moor contributing more than just background art - he's extremely critical of De Moor's work on the book, largely unfairly in my opinion!

Farr also implies that the 1966 redraw of The Black Island was largely the work of De Moor, in collaboration with Roger Leloup, who was responsible for updating the aircraft.
This was being done at the same time as Flight 714, so maybe with two adventures on the go at the same time, Hergé found that he was spreading himself a bit thinly, and had to rely on the talents of his studio members rather more than usual..?
#10 · Posted: 13 Oct 2005 01:24
I think if Hergé had taken on everything himself, then we would have had fewer Tintin stories.

His studio group were all highly talented comic creators in their own right, and shared his vision (mostly). One thing was for sure, the Tintin vision was all Hergé's!

I'm a big fan of Jacobs, and like the fact that some of the Tintin adventures have his hand in them.
I'd love to have seen more 'Olav' work published!
A book I have by Jacques Martin shows his incredible skill with various forms of transport, though his people are a little stiff, I think.

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