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Tintin fonts - copyright query

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#1 · Posted: 3 Jan 2009 16:05 · Edited by: tregenza
I was browsing for info on the fonts used in the English Tintin books and came across https://www.tintinologist.org/forums/index.php?action=vthread&forum=8&t opic=150 about the Tintin lettering (Hyslop) and any font derived from it.

My understanding is that under UK law, typographical arrangements the duration is 25 years after first publications (see http://www.opsi.gov.uk/Acts/acts1988/ukpga_19880048_en_2).

Can anyone inform me of:

a) When the Hyslop style lettering was first published?

b) What is the font used on UK edition titles and when this was first used?

c) Any relevant discussion on this topic on Tintinoligist I may of missed i my search.

Many thanks.
Harrock n roll
#2 · Posted: 5 Jan 2009 13:33 · Edited by: Harrock n roll
Hi tregenza.
To answer some of your questions: Neil Hyslop's lettering first appeared in The Crab With The Golden Claws which was first published in 1958. He continued to letter the books right up until one of the last books to be published in English, The Blue Lotus, in 1983. The last colour book to be published was Tintin In The Congo in 2005, but this contained a font which Moulinsart use in quite a lot of their recent books (I don't know actual the name of it). Most, if not all, of the books have been republished replacing the Hyslop lettering with this new font.

Let's also make a distinction here; Neil Hyslop's lettering is NOT a font. It's hand lettering and not a type face. People often think that it's a font because it's so neat and precise. Also, his lettering wasn't just limited to the text in the balloons. It also included any other writing that had to be translated, such as the "Booms", "Cracks", and other sound effects. All of these were meticulously copied and anglicised in Hergé's style.

In the link you gave to previous mention of the Tintin font take note of admin's post which links to Moulinsart's charter**, particularly where it says "Copyright protects not only the comic albums and the drawings (...) but also the settings, the characters and their particularities, the names, titles and imaginary places, onomatopoeia, fonts..."

** = English-language version charter no longer exists; the French version can be found at http://www.tintin.com/home/legal/droits.html
(05 Jan 2015)
#3 · Posted: 5 Jan 2009 18:12
Thanks for the response and the information.

Whilst there is no denying Moulinsart had copyright on the styling of their lettering, what I'm really asking is whether they still do.

If we consider the style of lettering to be a typographic feature, then they are now out of copyright due to the 25 year stipulation.

However as they are hand lettered, they could (and presumably do) claim they are part of the image and not a typographical feature. This would mean they would have copyright on them for 50 years after Herge's death.

Of course considering it part of the image means they can claim copyright on what their actual images are. A new piece of artwork, lettered in a similar but different style of writing would not be covered (assuming that the new work did not copy Tintin or any of the characters, verbatim text or anything else that Moulinsart clearly have copyright on).

In a similar vein, did the Hyslop also do the lettering of the main title on the cover?
Harrock n roll
#4 · Posted: 5 Jan 2009 20:44
Moulinsart do not own copyright to the English text. That copyright is owned by Egmont (after they acquired it from Methuen some time ago). So, it might be possible that Egmont own the copyright to the Hyslop lettering, although they no longer use it in the books. Then again, you may be right in that the hand lettering is considered artwork and therefore owned by Moulinsart. I don't know, but this seems the more likely.

As for the cover lettering, it was designed by Hergé, so would be owned by Moulinsart. I doubt that Hyslop had anything to do with the covers. Most probably they were assembled by the publishers, either Methuen or Casterman.
#5 · Posted: 6 Jan 2009 09:59
Thanks for the help and information.
#6 · Posted: 11 Apr 2009 10:27
I bought Land of Black Gold today (new Egmont edition) and was more than a little disappointed to find that Hyslop's lettering (which is almost as much a part of the comics the drawings and story themselves) had been replaced with something else. Does this have anything to do with copyright laws? It's all a bit ridiculous if you ask me. It's not that the replacement font is bad, it's quite decent - but it's not Hyslop.
#7 · Posted: 11 Apr 2009 10:51 · Edited by: Moderator
Tintinrulz - I suspect so.

I can't see why they would go through the expense of redoing the dialog without some financial motivation. The fact that the typographic elements were out of copyright (or at least are a gray area) would be sufficient.

Alternatively. They might of remastered / digitized the artwork requiring the text to be re-done for the UK editions. It would be cheaper to use a standard font rather than trying to recreate Hyslop's lettering.

Moderator Note: There is already a thread dealing with the re-lettering; it might be useful to continue discussion of that there, and keep this thread for the copyright issues (the replacement of the font wasn't to do with copyright).
#8 · Posted: 8 Jul 2009 14:03
Hello! I've found these discussions really interesting. My father is Neil Hyslop, and the other night he spent a while reading through these threads with great interest! I think he was very surprised to see that there's so much discussion relating to what he did.

We are all very saddened that his lettering has disappeared now, as it seems hard to understand why it was really necessary to replace it all - I do agree that it was very much an important contributor to the appeal of the original books. I can remember as a child watching him with fascination actually doing the lettering for the Tintin books, so it's certainly sad for me for sure!

We would be keen to know who does own the rights to the lettering, whether it be Egmont or whoever.

cigars of the beeper
#9 · Posted: 9 Jul 2009 15:40
Wow, that's interesting. By the way, did they get someone different to do the lettering in the American editions? The Lettering in Congo looks completely different.
The Cormac
#10 · Posted: 18 Jan 2010 03:15

I am an American. A few years ago I gave my beloved old Tintin's, one-by-one, to my dear nephew leaving me with only the odd duplicate my brothers and I happened to acquire along the way. In the last couple of years I have wanted to read some of the old adventures again. When I went to buy new copies (Little Brown editions here in the states) I found that they had been stripped of your father's lettering. I was not only disappointed, but alarmed and incensed. For this old fan the lettering was as integral a part of the adventures as the drawings of Herge and his assistants. I personally view it as a kind of vandalization.

Please pass on to your father how much his happiness work brought to my childhood and how much I appreciate it. I feel certain that millions of others have been similarly affected.

My thanks to your father and to you for speaking up so I had a place to express this.

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