Tintin and Snowy Go to the Museum: Pompidou Center Pays Homage to Hergé

The adventures of Tintin and Snowy turned comic books into an art form. Now their creator Hergé is being honored by a mega-exhibition in Paris. On show are drawings, illustrations and recordings -- and documents of political controversies.

Comic fans across the globe have grown up with the intrepid adventures of Tintin and his furry friend Snowy. They know by heart Captain Haddock's drunken rants ("Billions of billious barbecued blue blistering barnacles!") and antiquated curses ("Anthropithecus!", "Cyclotron!"). The tales, which also feature the absent-minded Professor Calculus and the bumbling Thompson twins, have been a favorite with readers for over 70 years.

Hergé, the Belgian creator of Tintin, paved the way for comic books -- not only as an art form, but also as a political forum. Earlier this year the Dalai Lama honored the artist with the Light of Truth award for "Tintin in Tibet." The exiled spiritual leader of Tibet said Hergé had managed to bring the problems of his country to a new public.

Now the Pompidou Center in Paris is putting on a comprehensive exhibition to mark the 100th anniversary of the artist's birth. More than 300 original drawings are on show. At its core are 124 works from "The Blue Lotus" album of 1934, in which the adventurous reporter and his four-legged friend fight an opium-smuggling ring in China.

On the outside wall of the Pompidou a massive placard hangs of the famous red and white chequered rocket from the "Destination Moon" series. The exhibition includes artists notes, recordings and self-portraits and it also deals with the accusations that the comics contained clichéd and anti-Semitic representations. The catalog includes a letter Hergé wrote in reply to a reader, who had criticized him for portraying Tintin's adversary in 1942's "The Shooting Star" as a Jewish banker.

Hergé, who described his drawing style as "clear line," has been a role model for comic illustrators throughout the world. He was born as George Remi on May 22, 1907 in the town of Etterbeek, now part of Brussels. For a pseudonym, he chose his initials backwards and spoken in French: "RG."

There are a number of other centenary exhibitions planned for the coming year under the slogan "Hergé 007." Canada already has its own homage to the Belgian artist and Brussels is putting on a "Hergé and Art" show in March, and is sending its "Tintin and Cars" exhibition to Barcelona in May. Even the Maritime Museum in Stockholm is honoring the artist -- with an exhibition entitled "Tintin, Haddock and the Ships."

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