The Adventures of Tintin was a post-war weekly Belgian/French comic, subtitled (luvvit) ‘The Journal for Youth from 7 to 77’, it was originally published by Le Lombard in 1946 and ceased publication in 1993…
I was researching an article on Alberto Ascari’s Lancia D50 Monte Carlo ‘harbour swim’ in ‘55 and tripped over the Tintin cover below featuring that amazing event and more recently the Nuvolari Alfa Romeo P3 cover above. Unfortunately I don’t speak French and therefore understand the articles the covers relate to, a shame as the artwork itself is so arresting. Maybe one of you Tintin fans can tell me what the articles were about!?
As usual, not knowing much about the publication, my enquiring mind got the better of me, this precis of Tintin is the result.
As a kid I sorta missed the ‘comic phase’ altogether. I dunno why, the only time I looked at cartoon mags was in Steve The Barbers Fine Emporium of Short Back n’ Sides waiting chair and even then only when their were no ‘nudie-rudie’ publications in the rack. ‘Truth’ (‘Lies’ would have been more apt) was a naughty paper in Oz then and much in demand by barber customers for its page 3 ‘editorial direction’. The back pages were also pretty good if I recall.
The first magazines of any sort I bought were about racing cars; dragsters for 6 months before circuit racing made more sense, ‘round and round’ rather than ‘a standing quarter’ looked to be the go from my 12 year old perspective.
I think I ‘found cars’ via the cheap annuals mum and dad gave as Xmas stocking fillers. No Autocourse or Automobile Year ever found their way into those sacks sadly! My diet of young kids books was all Pommie stuff by Enid Blyton. ‘Noddy’, very politically incorrect these days segued into her ‘Secret Seven’ and ‘Famous Five’ series. Next came Capt WE Johns ‘Biggles’ (dads books) and then the more demanding and interesting stuff mandated once I ascended to Secondary School. Quite wot happened to the ‘Batman’, ‘Mad’ etc phase I dunno, a lost opportunity I suspect. The compensation being I am NOT collecting those comics now being afflicted by that obsession enough already! There is only so much space to keep all this shite.
Tintin’s primary content focused on a new page or so from several coming but unpublished comic albums. There were always several ongoing stories at any given time, all of which provided wide exposure to lesser-known artists.The content included ‘filler material’; alternate versions of pages of Tintin stories, interviews with authors and artist etc.
Raymond Leblanc and his partners started a small publishing house after World War II, the concept an illustrated youth magazine. Tintin was perfect, as the intrepid reporter hero was already well known, having been created by Belgian artist Georges Remi aka ‘Hergé’ in 1929 for Le Petit Vingtieme. A deal was done, Tintin and Le Lombard publishing group was away.
The first issue was published in September 1946, a Dutch edition, titled Kuifje, was published simultaneously, 40000/20000 Belgian/Dutch copies were published. In 1948 it grew from 12 to 20 pages and a French edition was created. Hergé had artistic control over the magazine for decades.
In the 1950s new artists and series commenced, the magazine became more international and successful: at one time there were French, Swiss, Canadian, Belgian and Dutch versions with 600,000 copies a week published.
Jean Graton joined Tintin in 1957 and soon created the very popular character, F1 driver ‘Michel Vaillant’, that series was about his racing exploits and those of the family race team. It was so successful that it was published in album format by Lombard until 1976, the character still going strong today.
In the 1960s the magazine kept attracting new artists, its editorial direction biased in favour of humor. In the 1970s the comics scene evolved to reflect the changing times, its characters given psychological dimensions, ‘real women characters appeared’ and sex. New foreign artists series were added, moralising articles and long biographies disappeared. These changes were successful, Tintin won the prestigious ‘Yellow Kid Prize’ at the Lucca Comics Festival in 1972.
In the 1980s demand steadily declined despite attempts to attract new audiences. At the end of 1980 the Belgian edition was cancelled. The French edition remained, by 1988 its circulation dropped to 100,000. The name was changed to Tintin Reporter, but attempts to revive the magazine ceased after six months of significant losses. The Dutch version ended in 1992 and the French title renamed ‘Hello BD’ disappeared in 1993.
Time and time again we see that everything has a ‘shelf life’!?
In our own specialist world the efforts of MotorSport are a good example of a great publication which has ‘picked the windshifts’ proactively or reactively enough to survive and thrive since 1923, long may it and others of its ilk continue!
Tailpiece: Ascari being rescued from the Monte Harbour deep…