Magazine article The Spectator

Why Does Tintin Never Have Sex?

Magazine article The Spectator

Why Does Tintin Never Have Sex?

Article excerpt

THE ADVENTURES OF HERGE by Michael Farr John Murray, £20, pp. 125, ISBN 9780719567995 £16 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655

I had two great childhood heroes: Marc Bolan and Tintin. Marc provided me with wit just as Tintin provided me with wisdom. From an early age I realised that fame doesn't have to ruin you. Look at Tintin. I determined to use him as my role model.

Tintin was for people who found Asterix too intellectual. But there were a lot of us.

To date, The Adventures of Tintin have sold over 200 million copies in some 70 languages. Michael Farr in The Adventures of Hergé tries to explain why.

It is the most marvellous portrait. People fascinate me if their qualities are opposed by a wholly contradictory set of qualities. For example, we learn that Hergé never travelled. So while Tintin raced from Russia to the Congo, to the Americas North and South, Egypt, Arabia, India, China, Tibet and Indonesia, quite apart from western and central Europe, to the top of mountains and to the bottom of the seas -- oh, and to the moon -- Hergé stayed at home. I have to say this made me love him immediately. My preferred form of travel is to lie on a divan and have the scenery carried past me.

But it gets better. We learn that he didn't particularly like children. He never bred.

Like most decent people he knew the secret of dealing successfully with a child is not to be its parent. Or maybe it was because of his condition? When you first see him you assume he is queer. Homosexuality, after all, is God's way of ensuring that the truly gifted aren't burdened with children. But then you realise it is because of his condition. He didn't need brats. Artists are easy to get on with -- if you're fond of children.

Farr explains how Hergé's two principal characters, Tintin and Captain Haddock, reflected both sides of his personality. If Tintin reflected all the solid values Hergé espoused, then Haddock represented Hergé's other, more expansive side -- his humanity and a natural propensity to be a bon viveur. There is a clash in him between manners and debauchery, resolution and dissolution, protocol and alcohol.

Hergé suffered from depression. He had a lifelong fear of madness. …

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