Long before Tintin appeared in 1929, Georges Remi’s active imagination was conjuring up stories of international intrigue.
During the years of the First World War (1914–18), Georges used the margins of his schoolbooks to scribble stories about a little character who played dirty tricks on German soldiers. As a teenager, he joined the Boy Scouts and began drawing a comic strip featuring Totor, an adventurous Boy Scout who would become the basis for Tintin.
After leaving school and beginning work at the Belgian newspaper Le Vingtième Siècle, Hergé oversaw a weekly supplement for children entitled Le Petit Vingtième.
This got him thinking about a new character: “The little brother of Totor, a Totor-turned-journalist, yet with the spirit of a Boy Scout.” Hergé’s job provided him access to all the latest news, including the real-life exploits of French reporter and investigator Albert Londres. Londres’s career, as well as stories from Belgian and foreign papers, became fodder for Tintin’s adventures. Tintin himself was modeled after Totor, with a round head, a button for a nose and two dots for eyes — but with the iconic quiff that makes him instantly recognizable.
The first Tintin adventure, Tintin in the Land of the Soviets, was an instant hit with children and adults alike. As the adventures progressed, Hergé added all kinds of characters — some of whom he based on famous people (such as Bianca Castafiore, whose character was inspired by the opera singer Maria Callas). He also based some characters on friends and family (such as Thomson & Thompson, who were inspired by his father and his father’s twin brother).Back to Top
For any child growing up amid the political and cultural changes of the twentieth century, Tintin was a role model who both inspired and delighted. Hergé drew upon the political events of the time and dedicated his life to creating adventures that transported readers to places around the world — from Japanese-occupied China in The Blue Lotus to the Arctic Ocean in The Shooting Star. Throughout his career, Hergé strove to bring as much of the real world as he could into the world of Tintin.