China, Egypt, Tibet, Peru and the moon – these are but a few of Tintin’s most
memorable destinations as he has traveled the world, facing danger and intrigue
with his trusty white terrier, Snowy. Today, the eternally fresh-faced Belgian
journalist can add one more stop to his never-ending explorations:
The Cartoon and Comic Museum in Holon, in conjunction with the
Belgian Embassy, is holding a tribute to Tintin, “From Herge to Spielberg.”
Michel Kichka, an illustrator and cartoonist who made aliya from Belgium in
1974, will moderate the day-long event. Kichka, also a lecturer in visual arts
at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, hopes that the ceremony, like the
movie released by Spielberg in 2011, will bring Tintin back into the
consciousness of today’s youth.
The main focus of the various sessions
will be on Georges Remi, Tintin’s creator. Remi, a comics artist and
illustrator commonly known by his pen name, Herge, introduced the character of
Tintin, a teenaged Belgian journalist with a penchant for adventure, in 1929.
Herge, who had from a young age taken to comics and illustration, brought
readers of all ages to every corner of the world.
Over the years,
admirers have met Tintin in many forms. First, in Herge’s serial comic strip in
Belgium’s Le Petit Vingtième, which were soon after published as adventure
books. The publication was shut down following the Nazi occupation of Belgium,
incidentally interrupting what was Tintin’s adventure into then British Mandate
Palestine, in The Land of Black Gold.
The story, which featured Tintin’s
run-in with members of the Irgun after docking in Haifa, was eventually changed
once the State of Israel was declared, and has since taken place in the
fictional Arab country of Khemed.
It was during the Nazi Occupation that
Herge began drawing his famous character for Le Soir, Belgium’s most popular
French-language daily newspaper, which after the occupation was known to be
closely associated with the Nazi regime. Though Tintin’s adventures took
a turn away from current events, the comic was not without
Published in 1941, The Shooting Star featured Tintin in a
race against American explorers to find a meteorite that has fallen to earth. At
one point, the comic focuses on two men dressed in distinctly Jewish garb,
discussing the end of the world. One of the men, who are both drawn with
something of an evil appearance, states that at least when the world ends, he
will no longer owe money to his creditors. Subsequent publications of The
Shooting Star have been altered to omit these two characters, but their
existence has led critics to accuse Herge of anti-Semitism.
be most familiar with Tintin’s television persona in The Adventures of Tin Tin,
which enjoyed immense popularity as it ran in syndication in the early
1990s. Now, fans have the chance to become reacquainted with Tin Tin and
his creator thanks to one of their own – Kichka.
KICHKA SEES the
discussion of Herge’s work as a forum on the state of the world at large,
particularly through the lens of political correctness. A syndicate editorial
cartoonist for publications such as France’s Le Monde, Kichka’s illustrations do
not shy away from hot button issues, such as the Arab Spring and European
politics. He is also a member of Cartooning for Peace, which Kichka says are for
cartoonists from all over the world.
“The idea is to respect other
religions, but not to be politically correct, not to just be provocative,” he
Kichka, the son of Holocaust survivors, recently published an
autobiographical graphic novel, based on not only his story he says, but the
story of his entire generation – children who grew up with their parents’
silence about the Holocaust. The novel has been well-received in France, Belgium
“There is humor,” Kichka notes. “It’s very different,
very emotional. I thought about it a long time, what to say and how to say
it.” He hopes that it will be published this year in Hebrew.
ceremony will feature two Belgian experts on Herge, a panel of wellknown Israeli
comic artists, including Kichka himself, and a screening of S p i e l b e r g ’
s recent film, The Adventures of Tintin. One of the invited speakers, Daniel
Covrer, an expert on Herge and an arts reporter for Le Soir, will speak about
one the most controversial episodes in Tintin’s history – Tintin in the
In the Congo, Tintin faces wild animals, the local African
population, and diamond smugglers after being sent on assignment to report on
the political situation. The comic was well-received when published in 1931, but
eventually faced criticism for its depiction of animal cruelty and big game
hunting, and most recently, for its depiction of the local Congolese
Since 2007, numerous public complaints have been leveled against
the comic for its portrayal of African characters as patronizing and racist. As
a result, many book stores chose to move that particular comic out of the
children’s section and into the adult graphic novel section, with a warning
about its contents.
These moves have drawn mixed reactions, including
“You can’t come 80 years after the comic was written and
complain about what was then,” Kichka says. “You have to know how to read a
book. You are not born a tolerant person, you need to receive an education in
Kichka, who organized a more formal celebration of the 100th
anniversary of Herge’s birth in 2007, hopes that today’s events, which are free,
will draw artists, students, and anyone who might be interested in the story
behind the fictional young Belgian reporter whose travels around the world
introduced readers to new places and cultures.
In addition to the two
Belgian speakers, five Israeli artists will also speak. Chanan Kaminski will
address Tintin in film, Jacques Fima will speak about his episode in Palestine
and Uri Fink will discuss his work translating the comics into Hebrew. Shay
Charka’s talk will be on Herge’s legacy, and Kichka will discuss the “Hijacking
of Herge.” There will also be a screening of a documentary on Tintin, and
finally, the screening of his newest movie.
‘From Herge to Spielberg’
runs today at the Holon Mediatechque from 1- 8 p.m. The event is open to the
public. Admission is free. Visit www.cartoon.org.il to reserve a ticket
for the film screening, and to get more details on the conference.