By Darius Kadivar
In most recent years one of the most original and certainly underestimated artists of the 20th century Hergé (1907-1983) ( Reversed Initials of his real name George Remi "R.G" pronounced in French ) inventor of the famed Belgium "Ligne Claire" Comic Strip style and father of its hero Tintin ( See Official Website of Tintin), was also to be inspired by the Orient, in several albums, The "Crab with the Golden Claws" , "Cigars of the Pharaoh", and especially in the "Land of the Black Gold". His adventures were to be adapted to Farsi known as "Magerahayeh Tintin" and the animation series were one of the most popular children shows of its Time. Hergé's work has often reduced by his critics as childish or too moralistic, They do have a point but it cannot explain why the Tintin Adventures have been translated into more than 40 languages, and for more than half a century it has been a international library success, especially after the Second World War. With his impeccable style and superb use of color, Hergé certainly influenced several generations worldwide and contributed in his own level to shape their visual imagination. The ever perfectionist artist, created Tintin in 1929 and produced 24 volumes in all at the time of his death ...
Many young Iranians of the Sixties or Seventies will probably recall the feature line at the begining of each album mentioning the list of countries publishing Tintin . "Iran : The Modern Printing House in Teheran" . As a child growing up in Iran I discovered Tintin in the "Cigars of the Pharaoh" , the apparent comic illustrations of the characters was supported by a strong plot and contrary to the look of the characters the settings, details and costumes which were often quite realistic. My favorite albums were the underwater and Sea adventures such as the "The Secret of the Unicorn" or "Red Rackhams Treasure". Which reminded me of the great times my brother, sister and I would spend in the home swiming pool or at the one in Shiraz' Namazi Hospital grounds, and rest on the green green Grass, with a snack composed of Water Melons and goat cheese and Fanta or Coca Cola Sodas and sometimes Abeh Ali Dougs to refresh up in the warm sun before taking an afternoon nap under the Trees. surrounding the pool.
However one album in particular was quite fascinating and that was the "King Ottokars Sceptre" about a Fantasy Kingdom which combines both Tradition and Modernity, ruled by a Benevolent King. As a Belgian Hergé was naturally attaached to the monarchy, nevertheless, the Belgian Monarchy was a fragile one due to the linguistic divisions between the "Flamans" ( closer to French ) and the "Walons" ( More Dutch). The Former King Bedouin of Belgium played a key role in uniting the people of Belgium after the Second World War when the country was divided between those in favor of the Monarchy and Republicans who had not accepted the New King's father who had accepted Collaborating with the Nazis in order to maintain the kingdom togather after Germany invaded the country.
While taking an oath on the Constitution in front of the Parliament, Bedouin was wistled at by some deputies who did not accept the New sworn King. Belgium was nevertheless to become a Cosntitutional Kingdom again and Bedouin a popular King in the years that followed. Hergé was also to become a close friendof The King Bedouin and Queen Fabiola . The King is said to have also been an avid reader as a young boy and to whome Hergé was to give a special dedicated album of the "Ottokar sceptre".
Hergé's description of human nature and its
shortcomings, have led some critics to accuse him of being intolerant, racist or
colonialist (Tintin in Congo), dictatorial minded ( Tintin and the Picaros, King
Ottokars Sceptre), and for which only Tintin comes across as the only faultless
person. Those who have read Tintin carefully will certainly see the exageration
of these allegations. However Hergé's work was certainly influenced by the His
Time, and certainly some of his prejudices do come across but never in a cruel
way, and it is no coincidence that nearly everyone and in every culture can find
anologies in his work, including even filmakers like Phillipe De Broca In
"L'Homme de Rio" aka "The
Man from Rio" with Jean Paul Belmondo or Steven Spielberg whose
Indiana Jones adventures are inspired by
those of Tintin ( Rumours claim that Spielberg a great fan of Hergé will be
adapting Tintin to the Big Screen).
Hergé "Royal" Tintin adventures takes place in the fictive "Kingdom of Syldavia" ruled by the benevolent King Muskar XII, and whose legitimacy rests upon his possession of the Royal Sceptre of his ancestor "King Ottokar IV", which the king must always hold on official occasions each year. Part of Hergé's genius' in creating his albums was that the Belgian cartoonist never traveled, or left his native country.Since its first publication in 1938, "King Ottokar's sceptre" was reedited a number of Times in color including in the 60's and 70's.
It is precisely because of combining both Tradition and Modernity, that Syldavian King Muskar XI's (actually inspired to Hergé by the traits of King Alexander 1st of Yougoslavia) "Kingdom of the Black Pelican" ressembles that of the Pahlavi King Era 's "Land of the Peacock Throne".
A court filled with intrigues and conspiracies, masterminded by Mützler (a recurrent Tintin Villian, he also appears in Explorers on the Moon ) head of the "Iron guard" ( See Immortal Guards, and Generals) , tries with the help of the Neighbouring Republic of Borduria, described as a "Stalin Like Society"(where everyone swears by the "Moustache of Kurvi Stach" A Dictator who could easily have been envied by Saddam Hussein Today) , to topple the King by stealing the "Ottokar Sceptre". Mützler's character and intentions also are quite similar to those of the suave cunning looking General Teymour Bakhtiar former head of the Savak, who wanted to topple the Shah in the 70's with the help of Neighbouring Irak, he could also pass for one of the former Shahs close friends General Fardoust who betrayed him in the last years. ( See Authors Notes )
Hergé Fanstasy Kingdom is of course described in ideal terms, we are not really introduced to the way things are governed in the country. The king appears a good person a little in the clouds at first, but once he gets to know Tintin both try to help eachother find the sceptre. The people of the Kingdom come across as a Happy in their Rural and Urbain cities.
It Should be noted that Hergé appears as himself in many albums, a little like Hitchcock, and it is the case in "King Ottokars Sceptre" in which he can be seen in crowd greeting Tintin the coronation Hall.
Interestingly Iran's capital is mentioned in Flight 714 For Sydney, where after landing in Djakarta Tintin and his friends meet "Skutz" an old Estonian pilot friend who has just flown in from Teheran ( See Pic).
About the author:
Darius Kadivar was born to an Iranian father and French mother,and lives and works currently in France as a multimedia documentalist. Interested in movies and particularily historic Epics made by Hollywood's Golden Age in the 50's and 60's. He has contributed a number of articles on movies for various on-line magazines.
... Payvand News - 5/16/03 ... --