Cars in Tintin.

“Herge’s Adventures of Tintin!” began the famous cartoon. Herge, whose real name was George Remi, certainly loved to draw cars and made sure they were full of intricate detail. It would take an age to show all the cars that featured in his books. Here is just a selection.

When drawing a car your mind goes into what makes a car a car. It’s the radiator, the color of the hub, the shape of the doors, the shape of the headlights (many are more than just round, they might have some decoration at the top) and so on. Some cars like a Peugeot 202 and a Land Rover which feature in the comics have a visible spare wheel at the back. It gives much more of a background style to the piece.

It’s not about drawing stationary cars, you need to look at movement. This is not about showing smoke coming out of an engine, a Lancia for example is shown which all wheels off the ground as if it going over bumpy terrain. A quick way of doing it was a squiggle shown next to car as if the car isn’t going to be at that point for very long.

The Model T Ford from Tintin in the Congo shows its distinctive canopy, side plates and visible axels.

Many cars seem to date from the 1930s, maybe this is where Tintin is meant to be set. Even comics which seem to be set in the 1960s, such as Destination Moon, include both a blue Dodge and blue Ford both manufactured in 1949.

Sadly not all the cars can be linked to real cars. There are number of cars in Tintin in America which are long enough to be Chevrolets, but not quite the pattern, the coloring is all wrong for instance. The cars driven in the part set in Chicago seem to have noticeable fenders, but there’s not that much which distinguishes them from other cars.

With a book like The Black Island you can see a noticeable love of British cars. Those who have watched the UK series Morse cannot help but recognize the hood of the Jaguar, in this case a Mark X.

Because the type of car dates a comic, when filming a book, many vehicles were replaced by other ones. Thomson and Thompson were shown driving a Peugot 201 in Black Gold, but that was changed to a Jeep.

The Calculus Affair is the comic book which features the most cars, including French cars such as 2CV (which is still recognisable as such despite being in a crashed state) and the Citroen 15 which has a noticeable sheen to the black paint.

With 205 vehicles to choose from, this is a gigantic subject and there is much more to say on the matter, including the advert that Herges made about Citroen cars. In the meantime check out François de Dardel’s website for a number of images from the comic books for a complete picture on the subject.

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