Like countless children when I was a child, I leapt into the bizarre, perilous world of the fresh-faced reporter with the curious tuft and the little button-nose. I engrossed myself with the books, reading them repeatedly, daily, and, as a result, I am better versed in Herge than Shakespeare.
Tintin the young Belgian reporter aided in his adventures by his faithful Fox Terrier Snowy and later included the brash, cynical and petulant Captain Haddock and the highly intelligent but hearing impaired Professor Calculus and other supporting characters such as the two incompetent detectives Thomson and Thompson goes through swashbuckling adventures with elements of Fantasy, mysteries, political thrillers and science fiction. The stories within the Tintin series always feature slapstick humor, accompanied in later albums by satire, political and cultural commentary. Though Tintin’s Adventures are formulaic; presenting a mystery which is then solved logically – Hergé infused his graphic novel with his own sense of humor, and created supporting characters that, although predictable, were filled with charm that allowed the reader to engage with them. Hergé also had a great understanding of the mechanics of the comic strip, especially pacing, a skill displayed in The Castafiore Emerald, a work he meant to be packed with tension in which nothing actually happens. English-speakers have only just started to consider comics worthy of serious analysis. Francophones have been writing academic works on the Belgian godfather of the graphic novel for decades.
Hergé initially improvised his graphic novel adventures, remaining uncertain how Tintin would escape from whatever predicament appeared. Not until after the completion of Cigars of the Pharaoh was Hergé encouraged to research and plan his stories. Reverend Gosset introduced Herge to Zhang Chongren, a Chinese student, who advised him to avoid the perceptions Europeans had of China at the time. Herge and Zhang collaborated on the next serial, The Blue Lotus, which is cited by critics as Herge’s first masterpiece. Interestingly, The Blue Lotus includes a reference to the European stereotypes associated with China, in a context that causes them to appear ridiculous.
In the wider art world, both Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein have claimed Hergé as one of their most important influences. Lichtenstein made paintings based on fragments from Tintin's comics, whilst Warhol utilized the ligne Claire and even made a series of paintings with Hergé as subject. He declared: "Hergé has influenced my work in the same way as Walt Disney. For me, Hergé was more than a comic strip artist".