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Tintin: The Complete Companionby Michael Farr
Synopses & Reviews
Tintin, the most recognizable figure in all fiction, has been a publishing phenomenon since he first appeared in 1929. For half a century Tintin books have sold four million copies annually in more than fifty languages, and every year new fans succumb to his appeal, which is just as strong for adults as for children.
This book explains the books' sources in real life. Hergé, Tintin's creator, drew on the news stories of his day. The fascist plots of the thirties, and later Stalinist machinations too, were transformed and inimitably satirized in the tension between Syldavia and Borduria. The race to the moon, fascination with the Abominable Snowman, the revolutionary Tupamaros in South America, plus much more, caught his imagination as well. Hergé was also preoccupied with accuracy. Equipment from aircraft to guns, street scenes, interiors, clothes, flora, and fauna were all drawn from his enormous archive of press cuttings, postcards, catalogs, and ephemera, and updated for new editions. People were updated likewise: Rudolf Valentino, for example, who has a walk-on part in Cigars of the Pharaoh, later becomes Kirk Douglas.
Tintin himself was based on Hergé's younger brother, who (together with Erich von Stroheim) was the model as well for the dastardly Colonel Sponsz. Bianca Castafiore was derived from his Aunt Ninie — with a touch of Maria Callas — and Thomson and Thompson from his father and uncle, twins who really did wear matching bowler hats. Auguste Piccard is recognizably Professor Calculus and, though Captain Haddock has no traceable source, there was coincidentally an Admiral Haddock who might have captained the Unicorn.
Tintin: The Complete Companion is full of fascinating information and intriguing connections, is comprehensive and unrivalled, and beautifully designed in color throughout. For devotees of Tintin and the Tintinesque it is indispensable.
"Author Michel Farr has sifted through illustrator Hergé's vast archive to trace the sources of the work: the news stories and political preoccupations of the day which had Tintin battling Bolsheviks and joining the race to the moon. It is fascinating to see how postcards and pictures torn from magazines were translated by Hergé into his stories. It belongs in the collection of every Tintinologist." Sunday Times (South Africa)
"Farr's book on Tintin is a rich chronicle of Hergé's life and the development of Tintin. The author delves into Hergé's way of thinking and traces the enormous popularity of the blonde hero, whose adventures have sold more than 4-million copies a year and have been translated into more than 50 languages worldwide. Besides the high quality drawings and compelling narrative, the true success of Tintin books is that the stories are based firmly on fact....The Complete Companion is fascinating reading for fans of Tintin, and even for those who aren't, the book gives an in-depth insight into a phenomenon that has been part of millions of children's lives, and amused their parents too." Lisa MacLeod, Business Day
This illustrated tribute to the famous Belgian strip and its creator shows side by side the drawings and references Herge used to establish credible backgrounds and realistic details. Explorations of the strip's themes and recurring characters, and the controversies that fueled Herge's art and life, are included. Full-color illustrations.
About the Author
Like Tintin, Michael Farr was for years a reporter, in his case for Reuters and then for the Daily Telegraph. He covered many of the same countries, or at least their real-life counterparts. He came to know Hergé himself, and for this book was given access to his immense archive. Now the leading British expert on all aspects of Tintin, he is the author of Tintin: Sixty Years of Adventure, and the translator of Hergé and Tintin, Reporters and Tintin and the World of Hergé. His books on other subjects include Vanishing Borders (which was shortlisted for the Thomas Cook Award) and Berlin! Berlin!
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