Tag Archives: Tintin

Where is Tintin?

Where is Tintin? Where is that brave boy reporter from Belgium who uncovers international conspiracies and corrupt corporations? Tintin was a model reporter who  thoroughly and boldly investigated his story. He is there on the spot investigating through coups, international crime and scientific expeditions.

Brussels wall 3 Tintin

Now the world needs Tintin more than ever. Now, when daily newspapers in major cities are closing down, or in Melbourne’s case now only in a tabloid format. Now, when sports, business and entertainment reporting is being automated. Now, we need the voice of the young boy reporter.

Who didn’t dream of being Tintin and what are you doing about it now? Now, anyone can be a reporter and there are a million stories in your city waiting for you to write them. You might not be able to bring down dictatorial regimes like Tintin – but the opportunity is there.

Even if you are not bringing down governments there are the usual journalistic thrills of finding a story, of being the first to report on a story, of finding that your story’s Google ranking is just below the Wikipedia entry on the topic.

The need for real reporters, or citizen journalists, is greater than ever. The world needs more people to act like Tintin and examine the actions of the state and corporations. To report first hand rather than to rely on media releases and media managed events. We need a greater diversity of voices and we need to cover a greater diversity of subjects.

Bloggers are accused of doing thing that the media does it just as often: lack of fact checking, lack of copyediting, copy and paste… It is said that we live in a copy and paste culture, where content is endless compiled from media releases. These accusations and common faults are evidence of the desperation of reporters/bloggers in these times.

And where is Tintin? Well, what do you think happened after he didn’t get paid for all those stories? On the expedition in The Shooting Star, Tintin is described as “the young reporter who will represent the press” (p.14) but we never see him writing a story, even in the final radio news report there is nothing about his story on the Sãn Rico financier that attempted to sabotage the expedition. It is never clear if he a freelance writer or is he on the staff of a newspaper or magazine. You never see Tintin sending invoices or going to editorial meetings. You never see the sponsorship that Tintin needs to pay for his expeditions.

Neither bloggers nor the mainstream media have developed a functional business model for their online versions and most print newspapers have rapidly diminishing revenue streams. When I get together with other bloggers the discussion always turns to how to monetise our blog: donation buttons, sponsorship, advertising…

The actual cartoon Tintin is a different matter, it is still very profitable and in 2015 there was a court case over image rights.

Urban Murals & Brussels

Often public murals can look naff, too politically correct or otherwise too preaching they look like a school guidance councillor has designed them. Part of the grand socialist tradition of public murals promoted by the Mexican mural painters. Or simply decorative. But the comic book murals in Brussels escape these hazards because they are not propaganda for products nor ideas; they are just having fun with established comic book images. So the impact of these comic book murals is different from other public murals; there is no didactic function to them, they are simply fun.

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Belgium invented the comic book, along with French fries, shopping malls, art nouveau and a lot of other things that have made the modern world. Belgians are particularly proud of their comic books as demonstrated by the city’s many comic book shops, it’s statues of comic book characters and public murals of enlarge comic book panels around Brussels inner city.

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The justification for these murals on the basis of Belgium nationalism is thin; the population and visitors to Brussels enjoy the comic books. The Brussels Comic Strip Route was created by the comic strip museum by Michel Van Roye, Brussels Councillor for Urban Development and the Environment, in 1991.  It is an on going project and new murals are being added, form posts on a “comic strip route” around Brussels.

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The murals are encountered as surprising, engaging and entertaining aspects of Brussels. One reason for the success of the murals is that the murals are not placed on urban eye-soars in an attempt to ameliorate their ugliness; rather they are placed on suitable walls around the city where they compliment the urban scene. Comic book images frequently depict the urban environment and comic book design works with the architecture of the city. Frequently the murals employ tromp l’oeil elements integrates the image with the building.

Brussels wall 3 Tintin

Public art tributes to Belgium comic books do not stop at these murals; there is a comic book museum, the Belgium Comic Strip Centre, in a fantastic art nouveau building designed by grand master of Art Nouveau, Victor Horta in 1906. There is also a very large sculpture of a duo of comic book characters making a colourful and light-hearted splash in the business district of Brussels.

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My Fringe Festival 2011

“I Heart Tintin” is part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival’s small visual arts section. I’ve enjoyed Tintin since I was a small child and “I Heart Tintin” at the Window at the Edinburgh Castle Hotel, is a great little exhibition. Created by Bernard Caleo and Jo Waite (I must note, for full disclosure, that Bernard Caleo is an old friend of mine). Cutouts of waves and giant mushrooms visually unite the little exhibition of cartoon panels, drawings and paintings. But there is nothing two dimensional about the art in the exhibition amongst the many takes on Tintin, the racism and anti-Semitism in Tintin are exposed.


I don’t want to make a big deal of the Fringe Festival as most the visual arts exhibitions would have happened whether the Fringe Festival was happening or not. I did not specifically set out to see all the shows in the Festival’s small visual arts section and these reviews arise from what is convenient for me rather than following a plan to review the Fringe. For more reviews of the Fringe Festival visual arts see my previous post: MoreArts & ArtLand.

Also part of the Fringe Festival was “Your Imminent Arrival” by Kirstan McIvers at Platform under Flinders Street. Kirstan McIvers is represented by James Makin Gallery; James Makin Gallery, a commercial gallery in the centre of Collingwood’s gallery district is so fringe. McIvers has filled the vitrines with a minimal amount of text. The text based art reminds me of art from the 1980s with its prosaic true statements like: going places”, “city loop” “this way up” and ‘close the gap”. This has to be one of the most boring exhibitions that Platform has had this year.

Aside from the visual arts part of the Fringe I asked my wife if she wanted to see anything in the Festival program. She leafed through the 80 something page program, checked the online program and in the end decided to see a play: “Closed” by The Ministry of Drama. It was a terrible play – I reminded myself to avoid collaborative theatre as actors seldom make good playwrights.

That was the random quality that I experienced from the Melbourne Fringe Festival 2011. What did you think of it all?

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