Thomson & Thompson, the world’s clumsiest policemen, make their first appearance in Cigars of the Pharaoh. Apart from Tintin and Snowy, they are the longest-running characters in the series, appearing in 20 of the 24 Tintin books.
Despite the fact that they spend most of their time failing to solve crimes, dressing up in hopeless disguises and falling flat on their faces, Thomson and Thompson always end up on Tintin’s side, even if they do have to arrest him first!
Hergé’s father, Alexis Remi, had a twin brother named Léon. The brothers sometimes dressed in similar hats and suits when they went out together with walking sticks in hand. They even liked to repeat the French equivalent of Thomson & Thompson’s catchphrase: “To be precise!” It seems that the men’s antics made an impression on the young Georges Remi.
The dim-witted detectives bring the slapstick comedy of Charlie Chaplin — whose films Hergé knew well — to the world of Tintin. As the reporter’s adventures continue, Thomson & Thompson’s whining and petty arguing bring to mind another pair of bowler-hatted buffoons: Laurel and Hardy!
Fun Facts about Thomson & Thompson
- When they first appeared, Thomson & Thompson did not have proper names. They were referred to by their code names: X33 and X33a.
- Just like Thomson & Thompson, French and Belgian police in the early twentieth century did in fact wear black civilian suits — which were so recognizable, they were considered uniforms.
- The Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte painted bowler-hatted men bearing a striking resemblance to Thomson & Thompson in some of his most famous paintings.