Comic hero Tintin continues to appeal at 80

As the cartoon world's intrepid reporter Tintin celebrates his 80th birthday this month, fans are looking forward to the upcoming adaptation of the ever-youthful adventurer's story by Steven Spielberg.

New translations, movie plans grow fanbase: expert

As the cartoon world's intrepid reporter Tintin celebrates his 80th birthday this month, fans are looking forward to the upcoming adaptation of the ever-youthful adventurer's story by Steven Spielberg.

"I think it's terribly promising," British author and Tintin expert Michael Farr said of Spielberg and Peter Jackson's planned trilogy about the comic strip hero.

Farr was speaking during an interview with CBC cultural affairs show Q on Monday.

Spielberg, among Tintin's celebrity fans (along with Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein), has been working with Jackson on a trilogy that will use motion-capture technology by the latter's New Zealand-based firm WETA Digital.

"Spielberg is a very serious enthusiast of Tintin — he knows him well and loves him — and so is Jackson. I think Tintin is going to be taken very seriously and respected by these two great filmmakers."

Farr, who knew Tintin creator Hergé and wrote a biography of the cartoonist, also pointed out that just three months before his death in 1983, the artist had praised Spielberg.

"He had said to a friend that if there's one person who can bring Tintin successfully to the screen, it is this young American director. He was referring to Steven Spielberg, whose early films — in particular this one called Duel — he was particularly keen on," Farr said.

"If Hergé himself endorsed Spielberg, what more do we want?"

Fans still discovering Tintin today

Tintin's appeal hasn't flagged over the past 25 years, despite the lack of new stories after Hergé's death (the cartoonist, whose real name was Georges Remi, had forbidden the creation of any new stories featuring his protagonist after his passing).

"[Interest] has increased because he's been discovered in all these new countries. It's been translated into new languages," Farr said, adding that Tintin has a universal appeal, regardless of a reader's culture or background.

"He has this wonderful anonymity … the marvellous thing is that every reader can, to a certain extent, identify with Tintin, the hero."

While some of the stories feature stereotypical and negative portrayals, including the controversial Congo book, Farr believes they are all still valuable, historical, educational stories to introduce to new, younger readers — provided in the context that they reflect certain outdated beliefs from a past era.

"You can learn as much as you can take in," he said.

"You learn about these countries, whether it's in South America, Africa or the Soviet Union, India or Tibet…. You learn about the country, about current affairs and the news of the time, which has become history."