Georges Remi (1907-1983), better known as Hergé, was the creator of Tin Tin (Kuifje) and many other world-famous cartoon characters. He was born in Etterbeek, Belgium. His creation Tin Tin is thought to be based on his brother who was five years younger than him.
As a young boy, the only thing that would keep Hergé quiet was a piece of paper and a pencil. In school he was a very able student and always top of the class, except when it came to drawing. He was only interested in one thing, cartoons.
Most of the inspiration of his early cartoons came from the time he spent travelling round Europe with the Belgian boy-scouts. During these travels he also became fascinated with America and the Indians. His first cartoon character is believed to have been a young boy who stood up against the German occupation (1914-1918). These were drawings in his school books which, unfortunately, have been lost.
His first published series came with “The Adventures of Totor” (1926-1930) in the monthly publication Le Boy-Scout Belge. After finishing school in 1925, Hergé works as a clerk at the daily newspaper Le Vingtième Siècle. One year later he has to leave to serve his country and joins the army for 12 months. He then returns to Le Vingtième Siècle as photographer and special illustrator. During this time, Hergé is heavily influenced by Norbert Wallez, the editor of the paper, who takes a special interest in the young artist and encourages him to expand his knowledge. Hergé even gets engaged to Wallez’s secretary, Germaine Kieckens, whom he marries in 1932.
When Wallez decides to expand his newspaper and include a section for children “Le Petit Vingtième”, Hergé provides “Les Aventures de Flup, Nénesse, Poussette et Cochonnet”, followed by more “Totor” illustrations and finally, on 10 January 1929, “The Adventures of Tin Tin”. In the first story, Tin Tin travels to the Sovjet Union.
One year later, Hergé creates “Kwik en Flupke”, the story of two boys from Brussels. Tin Tin is off to the Kongo next, followed by America. Hergé is now becoming very popular and in 1932 he signs a contract with Casterman, a large publisher. From then on, Tin Tin becomes famous all round the world.
In 1936, Hergé creates “The Adventures of Jo, Suus en Jokko” and is kept very busy leading up to World War II, providing illustrations for advertisements and producing a Tin Tin adventure about every 15 months. Hergé recruits the help of two assistants, Alice Devos and Edgar Pierre Jacobs (better known for his later creations of “Blake en Mortimer”).
For various reasons, publication is then interrupted and Tin Tin does not appear again until 26 September 1946 when the weekly publication “Kuifje” is born. This is followed by a French edition in 1948 which further widens the worldwide popularity of Tin Tin.
In 1960, Hergé divorces his first wife (in 1977 he gets married for the second time to Fanny Vlaminck). Hergé continues to travel all over Europe and visits America for the first time in 1971. He later travels to China and Taiwan in 1973.
In recent years, there has been a Tin Tin revival and specialist shops selling Tin Tin books, T-shirts, mugs, pyjama’s, socks, jumpers, clocks, etc. have sprung up all over the world. In total, more than 80 million Tin Tin books have been sold.
Here are all the Tin Tin titles (in Flemish) :
Kuifje in de Sovjetunie (1929)
Kuifje in Afrika (1930)
Kuifje in Amerika (1931)
De sigaren van de Farao (1932)
De Blauwe Lotus (1934)
Het Gebroken Oor (1935)
De Zwarte Rotsen (1937)
De Scepter van Ottokar (1938)
Kuifje en het Zwarte Goud (1939)
De Krab met de Gulden Scharen (1940)
De Geheimzinnige Ster (1941)
Het Geheim van de Eenhoorn / De Schat van Scharlaken Rackham (1942)
De Zeven Kristallen Bollen / De Zonnetempel (1943)