May 25, 2009 / 8:41 PM / 10 years ago

Blistering barnacles! Museum honors Tintin creator

BRUSSELS (Reuters Life!) - Comic art fans, rejoice!

Visitors pass by original drawings of Tintin during an exhibition at the Centre Pompidou modern art museum in Paris December 19, 2006. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

A new museum dedicated to one of Belgium’s biggest export products brings the work of the cartoonist who created Tintin out of storage and puts it in a futuristic setting.

Georges Remi, better known by the pen name Herge, is first and foremost the creator of the bright-eyed Belgian cub reporter with the trademark quiff.

“But it is important to show that Herge did more than just Tintin,” Charles Dierick of the Studios Herge, which guards the rights to Herge’s work, told Reuters at an event marking the museum’s opening on Monday.

“The fact that he worked in advertising has a certain effect on the way he makes his comics. The clarity of the visual message — you learn that in advertising.”

As a young man, Herge was put in charge of the weekly youth supplement to the Belgian Catholic and anti-communist newspaper Le Vingtieme Siecle (The Twentieth Century).

Inspired by the boy-scout code of honor, he drew his first Tintin comic for the supplement.

“Graphically he (Tintin) practically doesn’t exist. All the other characters are very detailed, not Tintin’s face. You can project yourself as a reader,” Dierick says.

The museum displays first editions and original sketches from the almost featureless drawings in the original newspaper strip to the fully-formed, full-color Tintin character in later editions, created in the precise drawing style which brought Herge success.

It also houses a large collection of other, less widely read comics such as “Quick et Flupke” as well as his work in advertising.

The first stone of the new museum in the university town of Louvain-la-Neuve, some 30 km (18 miles) south of Brussels, was laid down in May 2007, 100 years after Herge was born.

It is financed by his widow Fanny, who inherited the rights to his entire work when Herge died in 1983.

The museum is an elongated prism that is slightly elevated off the ground and seems to float in the forest surrounding it. A footbridge stretches toward the museum.

“The large windows are designed to create a microcosm of the adventures of comic books and trigger visitors’ curiosity,” architect Christian de Portzamparc said.

Tintin, his dog Snowy, friends Professor Calculus, Thomson and Thompson and Captain Haddock, who was known for his colorful curses such as “Blistering barnacles!,” feature prominently in the new Herge museum. But it will not disappoint those who are curious about the man behind the Belgian hero.

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