The programmes commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the landing on the moon prompted me to research my memory banks.
It’s different from other Tintin adventures in that it’s not about good and evil but truth and error as the nuclear physics are rather complex for what was essentially a comic.
Tintin excited our vivid schoolboy imagination with tales of piracy (The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham’s Treasure, Balkan border wars (King Ottkakar’s Sceptre, The Calculus Affair ) Buddhist mysticism (Tintin In Tibet) and Incan culture (Prisoners of the Sun).
Add to this lavish illustrations and a colourful array of characters like Captain Haddock, opera diva Bianca Castafiore “The Milanese Nightingale”, Colonle Sponz the heads of Zep, the Bordurian secret service and the irrepressible cheerful Jolyon Wagg of the Rockbottom Insurance Company.
We were all agog. We even invented our own countries like Borduria and Sylvania. So for us the men who first landed on the moon were Tintin and Captain Haddock.
At the time of the American landing, there was debate at our school on its worth.
However at this debate Peter Roth, who is now a High Court judge, argued that the poetic quality of the moon would be no longer.
Looking back he was wrong.
Lunar exploration – or any form of space exploration – does not seem to engage a younger generation and I doubt if they read Tintin as Herge’s early works led him to be branded as racist colonialist and he contiuned to write for the pro-Nazi Le Soir after Belgium was occupied by the Nazis.
Yet he was the father of the modern comic and people from Charles Moore to Hugh Grant continue to be great admirers.