‘Like Spielberg, Hergé uses every trick to pull the reader’s heartstrings’

With the big budget, all CGI and optional 3-D cinema interpretation of Tintin out in cinemas right now this is perhaps an opportune moment to find out more about the famous character created and illustrated by Hergé.

Almost a decade after its initial publication the Pocket Essential book about Tintin receives a re-release – ideal timing for those new to the franchise, or those already familiar with Tintin, to explore the tales of the spunky journalist, his plucky dog and his memorable chums who have enthralled readers for decades.

The Pocket Essential Tintin gives us a history of our hero, a biography of his creator Hergé, as well as a chapter tracing the origins of the character. It then goes on to examine all the books in the series, including details about their publication history, and also media productions related to the series. Bang up to date, it mentions the latest media incarnation, providing interesting information about the long gestation of the project. The whole is a fascinating tale because the stories are also placed within the context of understanding comic-books as an art form and the whole is set against the backdrop of the turmoil of twentieth century history. As the authors declare, ‘Tintin [is] the perfect symbol of the twentieth century, a true witness to our era.’

Of particular interest is the fascinating biography of the artist Hergé, which details his work as an illustrator on small publications, leading to the creation of Tintin, and then the growth of the character’s popularity. It also discusses the dark years during World War II, when Belgium was invaded by Nazi Germany, before charting the success of the character post-war. The books were very much of their time and the generational and racial aspects are mentioned within the text with commentary on alterations to the books that addressed some of these issues. The familiar anglicised names are used throughout but we are informed of the characters’ original names (Snowy, for example, was originally called Milou).

Thoroughly researched, The Pocket Essential Tintin is an essential reference guide and also an engaging read for fans or newcomers.