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Herge Creator of Tintin The Final Years


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The Hergé's Studio’s was set up in April 1950 in order to lighten Hergé's workload after his second breakdown. He employed assistants such as the artist Bob de Moor to help produce The Adventures of Tintin. This was to be the case for the rest of the Tintin albums where assistants would fill in the details and backgrounds such as the lunar landscapes in Explorers on the Moon.

Many believe the new set up allowed Hergé to craft some of his finest creations with The Calculus Affair produced in 1954 considered by many Hergé’s most refined work. The drama in Hergé life was to continue however with his 25 year marriage to Germaine at breaking point after Hergé had fallen for a young artist who had recently joined his studio Fanny Vlaminck. Hergé was suffering strong recurring nightmares. He was advised by a psychoanalyst to give up working on Tintin. Hergé decided to the opposite and launched himself into Tintin in Tibet. This album was later to be described by Hergé as his favorite and can be interpreted as a voyage of self discovery not only for Tintin but Hergé too. Tintin in Tibet is certainly a powerful album in its creation.

Tintin in Tibet was published in the Tintin magazine from September 1958 to November 1959. The quest was a personnel voyage for Tintin that reflected the very same journey that Hergé himself was experiencing. Tintin is in search of Chang Chong-Chen, the Chinese boy he befriended in the Blue Lotus. The adventure allowed Hergé to confront his nightmares by filling the book with severe alpine scenery, giving the adventure a commanding open setting. The are only three main characters in the book which was a marked difference to previous albums with Tintin, Captain Haddock and the Sherpa Tharkey involved in the search for Chang. The completion of the story was also a time when Hergé emotional demons ceased and the nightmares left him.

Hergé was to write three more Tintin albums The Castafiore Emerald in 1961, Flight 714 in 1966 and Tintin and the Picaros in 1975. In this period as technology developed Hergé allowed experimentation into other media for his beloved Walloon reporter. Tintin was to be used in advertising and merchandise. There was a stop motion animation film made that was not a success but the film Tintin and the Golden Fleece Fleece starring Jean-Pierre Talbot as Tintin did better. The biggest successes were the animated films beginning in 1961 with The Calculus Case. Hergé was to divorce Germaine in 1975 and finally marry Fanny Vlamnick in 1977.

Hergé in later years was to finally be able to visit some of the places that had inspired his Tintin adventures. The Financial success of the albums had allowed him to travel to America where he visited Native Indians whose culture had long held a fascination for him. . He also found time to visit Taiwan where he was held in high esteem after The Blue Lotus and whose Kuomintang government welcomed with open arms.

A happy tale towards the end of Hergé life was that he was able to again meet Chang Chong-jen the man who had taught him about Chinese art and inspired Hergé to change his style. Chang had been reduced to a sweeper during the Chinese Revolution but was re-instated as head of the Fine Art Academy in Shanghai in the 1970’s. Chang returned to a reunion with Hergé in Europe in 1981 where Chang would settle in Paris until his death in 1988.

Hergé too was to die on March 3rd 1983 when he finally succumbed to complications arising from anemia caused by bone cancer that he had suffered for several years. Hergé was in the process of producing Tintin and the Alpha-Art. This adventure was never to be finished due to express wishes by Herge that no Tintin album be published by any other artist. Tintin and the Alpha-Art was published as a series of sketches and notes in 1986. Fanny closed Hergé Studios in 1987 and The Hergé Foundation was set set up in 1988 with the Tintin magazine discontinued.

Herge is going to be very popular search topic as the movie draws near. John Helios has been a big Tintin fan for a number of years. He is very much looking forward to the new Tintin movie trilogy due for release in 2009.

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