Boy reporter still a global hero

As cartoon boy reporter Tintin turns 75, BBC News Online looks at the enduring appeal of the comic book correspondent.

In the days before John Simpson and Rageh Omar, Tintin was the quintessential foreign correspondent, boldly going wherever his paper deemed to send him, accompanied always by his faithful terrier Snowy but very rarely by a typewriter or a notebook.

But Tintin more often than not became part of the story rather than simply reporting it. During his many adventures he foiled international drug rings, stopped a fascist plot, and even journeyed to the moon.

In the 75 years since Herge's creation first graced the pages of Brussels' Le XXme Siecle newspaper on 10 January 1929, Tintin has become a global success. More than 200 million books have been sold, translated into more than 50 languages.

Complex stories

His anniversary is being marked by events such as a forthcoming exhibition at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, looking at the reporter's adventures at sea. It runs from 31 March to 5 September.

But why has a cub reporter from the days of the Great Depression and steam trains endured?

Author and journalist Michael Farr, who wrote the reference book Tintin: The Complete Companion, believes the answer lies in the complexity of the stories.

Tintin (© HergĂ©/MI-2003-4)
Not just a hack - he could pilot experimental submarines too

"That's why he has got to the ripe old age of 75," he told BBC News Online.

"He bridges all ages because he appeals to all ages. If you are a child you are attracted to all the action and adventure. If you're an adult, there are all the issues that crop up, such as drug trafficking, which often features," he says.

"He is known all over world. He is read by Japanese children and Indian children, quite apart from all the European countries where he started out."

Mr Farr also said that despite his Belgian roots, there was nothing to mark Tintin as Belgian - he roamed the world as a kind of international citizen, often in the company of the cantankerous seafarer Captain Haddock and the detectives Thomson and Thompson. source

Boy Reporter

At the San Francisco conference, a special columnist for the sedate Christian Science Monitor was rapidly winning readers and influencing teen-age kids. Nice old ladies were writing him fan mail. Ecstatic schoolgirls wanted his autograph.

The journalistic meteor was Kenneth Langley, 16, an auburn-haired, apple-cheeked high-school student. He sold Erwin Canham, the Monitor's shrewd and scholarly editor on a kid's eye report on UN CIO. His column has appeared in the Monitor under such headings as: "Boy Reporter Offers Proof China Will Be Strong Nation." Kenneth got off to a slow start. Racing back & forth between his classes and the Opera House a block away, he filed 500 words of stiff schoolboy prose to Boston every night. Soon Editor Canham offered a suggestion: let the grown-up reporters cover the news ; you tell us what you think of it. Kenneth thereupon got into the groove. One of his stories began: "This story starts one winter night in 1942 in a He waggled a solemn finger at his contemporaries : "I think it's pretty important to know just why this conference is being held. And if you don't know the purpose of it, don't feel bad, because a lot of adults don't either." His eye sharpened: "I saw an interesting and pretty hat walk into the dress circle today — it turned out to be Hedda Hopper under it." He pontificated : "On the whole, I'd say the conference has done remarkably well." In Boston, Editor Canham, well pleased with his new columnist, suggested that Kenneth could stand a few spelling lessons but might one day become a topnotch newspaperman. Kenneth was pleased too.

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