Thursday, December 24, 2009

Book Review : Herge: The Man Who Created Tintin

Herge: The Man Who Created Tintin by Pierre Assouline (Author), Charles Ruas (Translator)

Interesting Insight into Herge's Life

For anyone who is a fan of Herge's works, be it the evergreen reporter Tintin and his adventures, or his funny Quick and Flupke, or the more familial Jo, Zette and Jocko , there is no such thing as enough when it comes to any literature related to the artist or his art.

Last few years has seen a surge in books on Herge and Tintin, Michale Farr's works in particular, and the newly translated Art of Herge series have given new insights into the working of Herge. How he went about creating the stories, what he used for his ever so detailed art work as reference, etc.

This book by Pierre Assouline is a refreshingly new look at the life and times of Herge. The focus is now on the happenings in the background as Herge went about spinning tale after tale of adventure and fun. It gives a very balanced and unbiased view on Herge, his political social situation, his views and attitudes, and how the political situation in Europe during the early twentieth century was shaping the creativity of Herge and others like him.

It talks about interesting things that artists, readers and anyone interested in Tintin, French/Belgian, European art/journalism in that part of history, will find very informative. This also gives a good coverage on some controversial aspects such as racial stereotyping and such. And how Herge was simply being himself, in tune with the times, plain and straight and not worrying about "political correctness" or being a hero. Those were indeed strange times, to learn that Herge was imprisoned for alleged 'collaboration' with the German occupation and some even thought he should be hanged!!

The book is full of little stories that give answers to so many questions that we might have, artistically and otherwise, for instance, here is a story about how Herge hired a very talented Jacob who influenced Herge in bringing in meticulous details to the mechanical drawings of cars and airplanes. Numerous such stories fill the book. How people, events and situations influenced the artist in his creation are a very interesting read.

The book takes the reader through the life of Herge during his creative professional years, evolution of the stories, evolution of the formats, how it all started as political journalism, as newspaper strip with the journalist investigating communist Russia, colonial Africa etc., and how the Tintin series itself matures and became more sophisticated as time progressed, with adventurous stories such as the Red Rackham's treasure and the The Destination Moon sequels. We also learn about how the series was revised, reformatted, colored and transformed into a uniform series, and how much of time and labour went into it.

The book is very well paced, like that of an exciting novel, that you want to finish it all in one go. but being a great fan of Herge and his works, one wants to sip it in ever so slowly, enjoying every bit of it as we enjoy Herge's works.

This is an extract from my review at, You can find more of my reviews here.

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