The True Boy Scout and Global Citizen: 'The Adventures of Tintin: Series One'

The 'Curious Fox' as the Boy Reporter represents a cartoonist's sense of adventure -- both enticing and inspirational.

Hergé's The Adventures of Tintin

Production Companies: Ellipse (France), Nelvana (Canada)
Cast: Colin O'Meara, David Fox, Wayne Robson, Susan Roman (English language version)
Distributor: Shout! Factory
Network: USA - HBO, UK - Channel 4, Canada - Family
Director: Stephan Bernasconi
Release date: 2011-11-22

The ‘Curious Fox’, Georges Remi, was born in 1907 in Brussels. His career as a writer and cartoonist covered the most turbulent and violent years of the 20th century. He maintained an outlook towards his work that was always thorough and well-researched. He survived accusations of Nazi collaboration after the Second World War to achieve international renown through his creations: Tintin, Snowy, Captain Haddock, Professor Calculus and Thompson & Thomson.

Remi gave himself the pen-name Hergé, based on the reversal of his initials ‘R.G.’ This title and his nickname of the ‘Curious Fox’ when he was a boy scout help us to relate the origins of his hero, Tintin the Boy Reporter, to his own life. He was proud of the resourcefulness developed when a scout, and admired the research skills and mobility of the investigative journalist. From this he created a body of work that has an attraction like no other. His use of ligne clair: a precise and fluid style of draughtsmanship, marks out the Adventures of Tintin as an interesting combination of the most pure and simple of cartoon worlds but with the most meticulous accuracy.

This animated series mimics with perfect precision the style of the books. Like the books, it's also fast-paced and tightly plotted. A French/Canadian production it closely replicates, in this Season One release, Tintin’s adventures from The Crab with the Golden Claws through The Calculus Affair. With this structured, chronological approach The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham’s Treasure are dramatised; these are the adventures in which Tintin first encounters Captain Haddock and the Professor.

The characters inhabit a hybrid world of down-to-earth and slapstick humour, delicate realisation of detailed scenes, and a sense of place and time in history and politics that would seem to be wholly out of place in a cartoon series. Yet, somehow it all works. Hergé’s obsession with detail and research provides a ready-made guide for the animators to reproduce the action, albeit in a sometimes stilted fashion. We have become so accustomed to the smoothness of computer-generated cartoons that tradition cel animation seems clumsy at times.

However, Hergé’s style is not compromised. It is apposite to mention now that there are unhappy rumblings from critics about the style that Spielberg has adopted in his new film version of Tintin’s adventures (for example Nicholas Lezard in the Guardian newspaper). Spielberg seems to have departed from the origins somewhat – even rewriting and writing out some of the key roles. Not to mention the loss of the ligne clair. This remains intact here and the characterisations are satisfying and authentic. Colin O’Meara’s voicing of Tintin in the English language version demonstrates all the youthful earnest that one has come to expect from the character.

There have been some attempts to tone down the depiction of Captain Haddock and his drinking bouts, a key feature of the books and the driving force in some of the plots. Similarly, some of Hergé’s stereotyping of nationality and race has been made less prominent. We often want our artists to be heroes as well, and his vision in some cases is undoubtedly out-of-date. But this cartoon series has a freshness and impact that maintains the elegance of the books and shows off a real intelligence.

That is the feeling that remains – they are so damned clever! Each element of the story carries Tintin seamlessly into a new episode of the adventures. He travels from continent to continent using all possible modes of transport – ever resourceful and inventive. He is the true Boy Scout and global citizen.

Tintin has inspired many over the years, and his world is enduring and enticing. It has cropped up in Spielberg’s films: the Indiana Jones series replicates some of the scenes from the books very closely. This led Hergé to endorse the director as the best person for the realisation of his work on screen before he died in 1983. Whatever the outcome and popularity of the new film, this animated version retains the appeal and stays true, from the gorgeous blue of the beautifully simple packaging and the episode trails, to the Tintin aesthetic.

There are no extras with this DVD. Read about the Musee Hergé in Brussels, here.


In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.