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Sunday, 10 January, 1999, 03:30 GMT
Tintin's 70 years of adventure
He may well look like a young boy, but the intrepid cartoon reporter Tintin is 70 on Sunday.

He and his dog Snowy made their first appearance on 10 January 1929 in the Belgian newspaper Le Petit Vingtieme in the first episode of a comic strip "Tintin in the Land of the Soviets".

The character's creator was Georges Remi, better known as Herge, and he launched Tintin into scores of adventures over the next 20 years.

More than 3m books of Tintin's escapades are sold each year, in 58 languages. There have also been films, TV series, videos and toys.

These adventures have seen the boy with the tuft of blond hair confront mad scientists, spies and villains of all kinds across the globe and even on the moon.

Political controversy

His anniversary is being marked by the republication of the original book, which caused controversy when it first came out because of its anti-communist message.

"Tintin in the Land of the Soviets" saw Tintin's newspaper send him to the Soviet Union, where he discovered fake factories producing nothing behind the facade.

He went on to protect farmers from soldiers who come to steal their wheat, making sure they will not starve. Later, he finds wheat is used for export with the proceeds used for Soviet propaganda.

Not surprisingly, the Left condemned the story and Herge later disavowed it, describing it as politically sectarian.

International appeal

Although Belgian, Tintin seems to have been adopted by France, where is is hugely popular.

The late French President Charles De Gaulle once grumbled that "deep down, my only international rival is Tintin".

So seriously is Tintin taken in France, in fact, that the National Assembly is preparing a debate next month entitled "Tintin: Is he from the Left or from the Right?"

More than 15 minutes of fame

Tintin's influence has not been only political.

The beauty of the drawings is also a major reason for Tintin's timeless appeal.

The rounded, clear lines have inspired artists like Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, who once said: "Herge has influenced my work in the same way as Walt Disney. For me, Herge was more than a comic strip artist."

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Alva McNicol assesses Tintin's timeless appeal
See also:

29 Nov 98 | Europe
Crazy for Tintin
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