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Cameos: Jacques Van Melkebeke - "The Man in Glasses"

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cigars of the beeper
#1 · Posted: 11 Jan 2008 23:06
On Page 1, panel 1 of the color Tintin in the Congo, one of the reporters seeing Tintin off is a rather shaggy haired man with glasses, a black bow-tie and a brown suit.

The same man appears again on page 2, panel 14 of The Secret of the Unicorn. The resemblance is quite striking.

Is this man one of Hergé's acquaintances, or is it just a subtle thing that Hergé did to see if anyone would notice?
#2 · Posted: 12 Jan 2008 10:03
It is Jacques Van Melkebeke, a friend of Hergé, who helped him developing story lines for Tintin. Unfortunately, his relationship with Hergé didn't end well.

You can also find Van Melkebeke on page 59, panel 6 of King Ottokar's Sceptre. In the same panel, Edgar P. Jacobs, Hergé himself and Germaine (his first wife) can be found too.
cigars of the beeper
#3 · Posted: 12 Jan 2008 14:39

Thanks for your help. What happened to Hergé's and Melkebeke's friendship?
#4 · Posted: 12 Jan 2008 16:40
According to Benoît Peeters' biography of Hergé, a clairvoyant named Bertje Jagueneau was the origin of a quarrel between the two men.

She told Hergé that Van Melkebeke had some kind of bad influence or bad luck to him. And Hergé believed her. There's also the belief that Jagueneau said that about a painting of Hergé, made by Van Melkebeke and given to his friend. They never saw each other again after 1952.

Here's a quote from Van Melkebeke, twenty years later : " Yes, superstition is anchored in the heart of men ! [...] I for my part knew a supposed clever man who did not hesitate to finish a relationship with an old friend on advice of a clairvoyant who had discerned a baleful aura to him."
cigars of the beeper
#5 · Posted: 12 Jan 2008 18:59

I didn't know that Hergé was superstitious. Is the Hergé biography available in English?
#6 · Posted: 12 Jan 2008 19:20
I don't think so. Maybe it'll be translated soon, if the movies are successful enough.

It's called Hergé, fils de Tintin (Hergé, son of Tintin), and was published in October 2002.

I learned a lot of things about Hergé from this book.
#7 · Posted: 1 Nov 2011 18:25
I don't think so. Maybe it'll be translated soon, if the movies are successful enough.

A pretty accurate prediction as it turns out.


(A thread devoted to the book and the original notification of an English version. Or is that a different book?)
#8 · Posted: 2 Nov 2011 02:42
Van Melkebeke also appears in Crystal Balls towards the end of the adventure when Tintin is speaking to Alcazar. It's a small detail in the background..
#9 · Posted: 2 Nov 2011 09:29
I wonder if there was a bit more to it than the clairvoyant story…?

Hergé, as we know, found it difficult to work after the war because of his having worked for the newspaper Le Soir while it was under the control of the Nazis; he was only able to work again when Raymond Leblanc, a former Resistance leader spoke up for him.

As I understand it, Van Melkebeke was not so fortunate: he was convicted of crimes of racial hatred and incivism, that is, being unpatriotic and against the state, which seemingly prevented him getting the editorship of Le Journal Tintin, and indeed ended his career in journalism.

It might be slightly cynical to say, but perhaps Leblanc saw Hergé as a more valuable prize, and that to that end he was prepared to let Van Melkebeke carry the can, and didn’t stick up for him?
Hergé might then have been advised that he might be better off dropping his old friend to protect his newly rehabilitated reputation.

It might also have been a part of why the post-war Belgian press, especially the “freed” Le Soir, were so against Hergé, that for decades his name wasn’t even mentioned in the papers according to Pierre Assouline. If he was thought to have dropped a fellow journalist who was involved in more or less the same activities as he had been, that might have not gone down well.

Or perhaps they just didn’t really get on…
#10 · Posted: 2 Nov 2011 15:58
According to Benoît Peeters' biography of Herge, a clairvoyant named Bertje Jagueneau was the origin of a quarell between the two men

I find this rather odd myself. Mind you, some sources, including Michael Farr, suggest that Hergé took this sort of thing quite seriously: he believed in dowsing (Calculus and his pendulum) and he and his second wife were also interested in telepathy (Tintin's dream of Chang in "Tibet").

I'm wondering if he seriously believed in the possibility of aliens - aliens who did not want to be seen. That would explain why he stuck to the rather ludicrous outcome of "Flight 714".

One should also consider the fact that even many highly-educated people like politicians are rumoured to consult astrologers and such like; Cherie Blair, a top barrister and wife to the Prime Minister, for example. The Nazis are said to have done it as well. Granted, they were mad, but all the same...

seemingly prevented him getting the editorship of Le Journal Tintin

Actually many sources indicate that he was the editor at some stage, at the very least during the early years of the magazine. Farr mentions him as such on page 138 of "Tintin: The Complete Companion".

There is a French biography of him called "A l'Ombre de la Ligne Claire - Jacques Van Melkebeke, le clandestin de la BD" ("In the Shadow of Ligne Claire - Jacques Van Melkebeke, Comics Underground").

A review of this book claims that he actually did edit "Tintin magazine" anonymously, contributed as a script writer under various pseudonyms and was very much involved in the post-war developments of "Tintin" and "Blake and Mortimer" - though a reader's review notes how his daughter won't talk about this aspect of her father's work.

It's available on Amazon.co.uk for French readers.

Mind you, most of the sources seem to focus on the immediate post-war period. I can't seem to find anything about his work during the late 1950s, 60s etc.

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