The wonderful adventures of a wonderful reporter
On 10 January 1929, the most famous reporter in the world appeared somewhere in Brussels.
The young Tintin is an outstanding hero who at birth was already a talented reporter. Accompanied by his faithful dog Milou, they began their first adventure in the Petit Vingtième.
Surrounded by their companions, they would travel the world and experience hundreds upon hundreds of adventures that would be translated into over 80 languages and soaked up by 230 million captivated readers.
With his adventures taking place in the 4 corners of the world, Tintin would be a wonderful introduction to geography. Well before the advent of television and screens, millions of readers would follow the tireless Brussels reporter across the landscapes of the entire world.
Charles de Gaulle said of Tintin that he was his "only international rival ", he who denounced the soviet system, fought the American Mafia, supported the oppressed in South America and Asia and even went to the moon fifteen years before the Americans!
His faithful adventure companion(s)
Did you think Thompson and Thompson were twins? Wrong again!
These champion blunderers and experts in confusions and misunderstandings of all kinds are neither twins nor brothers and are distinguishable by the shape of their moustaches. These two policemen with their legendary verbal acrobatics are an inverted version of Hergé's father and uncle, real twins both of them with an identical, proud moustache, who never go out without their bowler hats.
Captain Haddock joins Tintin in "The crab with the golden pincers" and they would become inseparable.
With his outdated aristocratic first name (Archibald), and his surname evoking fried fish he is kind-hearted and bad-tempered in equal measure.
His fits of rage are just as legendary as his curses and his sinful penchant for whisky. However, beneath his blue ultramarine turtleneck beats a loving heart, but it would be a long time before the divine Castafiore would slip the ring onto his finger.
Professor Calculus is a visionary scientist. He designs the atomic rocket that would take Tintin to the Moon in 1954, while Armstrong would not set foot on it until 1969!
With the incongruous original French first name Tryphon (taken from a carpenter friend of Hergé's) and inseparable from his pendulum, he is the poetic portrait of the famous Swiss scholar Auguste Piccard, holder of a chair at Brussels Free University.
His absent-mindedness is only equalled by his deafness. He joins his paper comrades in the "Red Rackham's Treasure" adventures.
Beneath the exterior of this genius inventor beats a heart that pines for the wealthy Castafiore. A horticulture enthusiast, he creates the most brilliant white rose for her: the well named "Bianca".
Bianca Castafiore is the spiritual child of the sublime Maria Callas and of Hergé's aunt who gave the Remi family very rough performances of the great operatic arias. Our heroine shares the famous singer's passion for jewellery; both proudly wearing them and singing about them with her highly personal renditions of the legendary "Air des Bijoux".
Brussels forever... Or nearly
Between two globe-trotting adventures, Tintin comes back to his beloved Brussels and sets his suitcases down at 26 Rue du Labrador. An (almost) imaginary address.... George Remi's grandmother lived at 26 Rue Terre Neuve and 26 Rue du Labrador is where the Hergé Museum dropped anchor at Louvain-la-Neuve.
After our hero's return from the "Land of Black Gold", Marlinspike hall, in the original French Château de Moulinsart, Sart-Moulin is a hamlet near Braine l’Alleud, became his home port and that of his fellow adventurers.
The most curious among you can visit the bedroom of our famous reporter, go into professor Calculus' secret laboratory or the Marlinspike cellar.....by visiting the Château de Cheverny! This famous Loire château, which served as a model for Hergé, houses the permanent "Secrets de Moulinsart" exhibition, which has already attracted a million visitors.
Hergé's death in 1983 would lead to an inconsolable Tintin putting away his suitcase for good.
He would then go past Brussels and drop anchor at the Hergé Museum in Louvain-la-Neuve. This "museum-cum-ocean-liner" the Hergé Foundation has conceived and erected in a green oasis is home to our little globe-trotter's well-deserved retirement.
Herge & Brussels for life
It all started one day in 1907 in Brussels. Little Georges Remi, born on 22 May, grew up and studied there, and this is where he created his first comic strip. Hergé was born.
Brussels is his life, his day-to-day experience and his source of inspiration. The atmosphere of Brussels permeates the cafés, alleys, theatres, museums and imagined landscapes. From the flee market in the Place du Jeu de Balle, of the Secret of the Unicorn, to the Palais Royal of King Ottokar's Sceptre; Brussels' watermark is everywhere.
With the little reporter's international success, Hergé would always stick certain over-explicit markers here and there but he would always remain faithful to his beloved Brussels. He subtly introduced Brussels places onto the maps of the world travelled by Tintin and gives his characters flavoursome names from Brussels folklore such as sheik Bab El Ehr (chatterbox); baron Almaszout (everything with fuel) or the shady oil magnate R.W. Chicklet (Belgian brand of chewing-gum).
Do you want more?
Well, set off on the full comic book itinerary, eyes wide open, as it takes you across the length and breadth of Brussels in the company of all your comic book heroes immortalised in giant form on over 60 walls spread all over the city.
("Brussels, capital of the comic mini-map" also available in tourist information centres)
And as for die-hards.... they are spoilt for choice:
Or discover the origins and the little secrets of making comic strips at the CBBD, Brussels' comic strip museum. Nestled in a splendid Art Nouveau building in the heart of Brussels, you will stroll through an incredible collection of exceptional original comic strips and temporary exhibitions by the best artists of the 9th art.
Looking for a souvenir? Don't forget to make the detour to the Tintin shop (rue de la Colline 13, 1000 Bruxelles)