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The real life Tintins

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#1 · Posted: 22 Aug 2009 13:12
Listening to Radio 4 BBC today Saturday 22nd August 2009 - the last item came as a surprise. A bit of history about Henri Dendonker, a Boy Scout, who played Tintin for Hergé in 1931, at the homecoming event for Tintin in the Congo in Brussels.

It appears that in May 1940 after the invasion of Belgium, he fled to England and became a British spy (Special Operations). He was captured and imprisoned by the Germans, but after the war settled in Coulsdon, Surrey. He was honoured by the Queen.

This is a fascinating story and ended with an appeal for any information. Well worth listening to.

Interesting too, that the other Tintin stand-in (Lucien Pepperman) served the Nazis in the Walloonian division.
#2 · Posted: 22 Aug 2009 13:28
I have a newspaper article on Pepperman which goes at great length about the events surrounding him playing Tintin at the conclusion of "Land of the Soviets". Does not mention him being a collaborator though. Can you give any details about that? Thanks.

Another real-life Tintin worth mentioning is Herge's own brother Paul Remi who, by all accounts, was a distinguished career army officer. He was the original model for Tintin but later got tired of being addressed as "Major Tintin" and took on a new appearance - which was to serve as the model for "Colonel Sponsz" of "Calculus Affair" and "Picaros".

Moderator Note: Good point about Paul Remi, mct16, and an area which has been discussed before; as this new thread is in response to this fascinating new angle from the BBC programme, let’s keep this thread for the call for info about these scouts, and we can talk about Paul in his own thread.
But as said, a good example of another “live” Tintin!

The Happy Tintinologist Team
#3 · Posted: 22 Aug 2009 13:52
I can only tell you about what I heard on the programme - about an hour ago. If you have access to the web you can listen to this on BBC Radio 4 (playback) or the ipod version. It is the last item. I have looked through Michael Farr's book Tintin and Co (page 24) and there is a picture of the 1930 triumphal return - presumably this is Lucien Pepperman. I hope Michael Farr may have a better answer to your question - I will ask him next time I see him.
Colin Walker
#4 · Posted: 23 Aug 2009 11:47
I also heard the appeal for information re Henri Dedonker and Pepperman who 'played' Tintin at the Gare De Nord Brussels in 'publicity stunts'. Both Boy Scouts- the broadcast article contrasted their wartime experiences. I have tried to follow up this by contacting the programme but the BBC programme website does not contain any links for contacting the correspondant Dominic Hughes or any mention of his appeal for information.

I would be pleased to learn more, and particularly of Herge's own links with Scouting

Colin Walker www.scouting.milestones.btinternet.co.uk
scouting.milestones [at] btinternet.com
#5 · Posted: 23 Aug 2009 18:28
Hergé joined the scouts when he was 12 years old and continued camping well into adulthood.

In 1926, when he was 19, he drew the adventures of Totor for the magazine "Le Boy-Scout Belge" ("The Belgian Boy Scout"). Totor is the leader of the Hannetons Troop ("hannetons" is French for cockchafer, a type of beetle, but also the French for scatterbrain!). Totor goes through many extraordinary adventures and was the forerunner for Tintin.

Although never mentioned in the comics, it is the assumption of many that Tintin was a scout in his childhood given his love for adventure and keen sense of right and wrong.

You can see an example of a Totor adventure at
Hergé at lambiek.net and another at sceneario.com.

Hope this helps.
#6 · Posted: 23 Aug 2009 19:03
I've just been listening to the podcast of the program which can be obtained at the BBC Radio 4 website.

There is some strange inconsistency here. The BBC claims that Lucien Pepperman (who stood in for Tintin in his return from the "Land of the Soviets") served the Nazis in the Walloonian division - against the Soviets - and died on the Eastern Front. Yet I have an article by the French Figaro paper, dated 2 May 2000, which has Pepperman being interviewed in an old folks home in Brussels about the experience of being Tintin.

The Figaro were led to him by Stéphane Steeman, a great admirer and supporter of Herge. Clarification anyone?
Colin Walker
#7 · Posted: 23 Aug 2009 21:01
Dear All,

Thanks for the above info. I have long felt that Herge deserved a place on the 'Scouting Personalities' pages on my 'Scouting Milestones' Scout History website- and I have now been prompted by the BBC broadcast to do something about it.

will find the pages - if you then click on H for Herge in the alphabetical list you will find all the personalities beginning with H and need to scroll down just a couple to find Herge. I appreciate that there is still much to do- and there may be some controversy about some I things I claim, but it is a start- I was motivated by the BBC prog to make an appeal in Scouting circles for further info. which I will share with this forum should any be forthcoming.

Many thanks for your help - your comments would be much appreciated. The attention of my readership will be drawn to the pages in the next week or so by the medium of my 'blog'.

In Scouting

Colin Walker
#8 · Posted: 24 Aug 2009 12:17
I have found the 2000 interview with Pepperman on the web with a photograph of him.

The article is in French Unfortunately the site is very large, too large for the translating service and my schoolboy French is not up to it. I would be very grateful should anybody have the time to do a transcription, the article itself is not very long.

Colin Walker
UK Correspondent
#9 · Posted: 24 Aug 2009 13:02
On Tintin.com there's a recent feature under the journal section entitled "Tintin-le-héros" chronicling Dendoncker's story. It's by-and-large the same material as discussed on From Our Own Correspondent, except there's three photos of Dendoncker in Tintin guise that may be of interest.
#10 · Posted: 24 Aug 2009 13:47
Searching for images of Peppermans led me to an account of a gathering of the Amis de Hergé ("Friends of Herge") held on the 25 March 2000 in Brussels at the Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée ("Belgian Comics Centre"). Jean-Pierre Talbot, who played the part of Tintin in two live-action films in the 1960s, introduced Peppermans as the guest of honour.

Peppermans, then 85, was still good-humoured and clear-headed, but dismissed the suggestion that playing the part of Tintin was the most major event in his life. In fact, he claims that he did not even know who Tintin was until his Scout leader chose him for the part. He was thus not offended when, a year later, he was replaced by Dedonker on the grounds that Peppermans had grown too big for the part.

It would appear that someone somewhere has got their facts twisted. We now have two sources which claim that Peppermans was still alive and well in 2000 at least. It would be interesting to know where the BBC got the info about him being killed during the war while a collaborator.

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