Tintin - make that Dingding - always a China fave

Updated: 2011-08-28 08:00

By Renee Haines (China Daily)

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Tintin - make that Dingding - always a China fave

The interior of the Lotus Blue bar in Beijing celebrates Tintin. Renee Haines / for China Daily

China has a special place in the hearts of Tintin fans. It's the only country to be featured twice in The Adventures of Tintin series of comic books that have entertained readers around the world for 82 years.

Expect more people to read about Tintin and China with the expected December release of the long-awaited, big-budget Tintin movie from veteran US blockbuster movie director Steven Spielberg (Jaws, Jurassic Park, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Schindler's List, War of the Worlds). The movie is being co-produced by Spielberg and another blockbuster movie director, New Zealand's Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings fame.

Tintin is a comic book character created in Belgium in 1929. Tintin is a boy reporter who travels the world with his little dog Snowy in search of stories and adventure. He often runs into bad guys, as well as comical characters. He even travels to the moon and then to Mars in separate editions.

China is featured twice, in The Blue Lotus (set in Shanghai) and Tintin in Tibet.

Tintin has a special place in the hearts of many Chinese fans, too. Except in China, he is now known as Dingding, thanks to new translations by the China Children Publishing House in 2010. Snowy the dog became Baixue in the new books.

In Beijing, you also can find heaps of vintage Chinese-language editions of Tintin comics at Panjiayuan Antique Market. Hutong shops near Nanluogu Xiang sell vintage Tintin toys.

The Beijing restaurant and club called Lotus Blue based its name on the The Blue Lotus comic book (Lotus Blue is the French title. Inside walls at the lakeside bar at Houhai are decorated with oversize copies of Tintin comic book covers. There's even a pricey Blue Lotus drink for 60 yuan).

Tintin's creator Herge (real name: Georges Remi) modeled a character in The Blue Lotus on a real Chinese artist he met at an art school in Brussels. The cartoon character Chang Chong-chen, who helps Tintin battle foreign opium smugglers and Japanese invaders in Shanghai in the comic published in 1936, is based on the late Chinese artist Zhang Chong-jen. In the later published Tintin in Tibet, Tintin rescues Chang, whose plane has crashed in Tibet. In real life, Herge and Zhang became lifelong friends.

Tintin fans - who call themselves tintinologists, tintinophiles and even tintinites - have made Tintin collectibles an international business. You can find Tintin collectibles on eBay in the United States and on Taobao in China. There's the official website at and a website for hardcore fans called Here in China, you can buy Tintin toys directly from Shenzhen Shehot Animation Design Co Ltd.

Now that a big budget movie is in the making, expect to see more things Tintin in stores around the world.

Spielberg has held the rights to make the Tintin movie for 20 years. The many Chinese fans of the movie Avatar (the biggest grossing film ever in China) will be delighted to know that Spielberg finally decided to go ahead with the project after seeing the success of the 3-D stop-motion animation effects in Avatar.

He made those comments at Comic-Con, the international convention in San Diego, California, that began many years ago as just a comic book show. It has since become a platform for showing previews of upcoming Hollywood movies based on comic books.

Producers of the recent Spiderman and Ironman movie franchises got their first nods of approval from Comic-Con attendees, who have a reputation for being especially critical about favorite comics made into movies.

So this year, Spielberg made his first appearance at Comic-Con in July to test the waters with a movie trailer for The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, which lists a Dec 23 release date. Also in attendance was Jackson, who will produce this movie and direct the next Tintin movie. Spielberg will change places with him and produce the next Tintin movie. Both received standing ovations, which many film critics and fan magazines this month cited as a positive sign that the upcoming Tintin movie will be a hit.

Early editions of the poster already are selling fast in the US and Europe, as are T-shirts featuring a likeness of that poster.

So what is it about a comic book created eight decades ago that has fans around the world demanding reprints and regularly published special editions for all these decades? More than 350 million of the 62-page, full-color comic books have been sold in more than 80 languages.

In addition to the two Tintin comic books about China, there are titles such as Tintin in America, Tintin and the Picaros, Cigars of the Pharaohs and Destination Moon.

Maybe it's the spirit of adventure so many of us have as children and don't want to lose when we grow up. Some details now seem outdated (The Tintin in America book features cowboys and Indians), but the sense of mystery and adventure holds up and so does most of the humor.

In this global economy, where complex political disputes and the complicated language of financial crises often monopolize the news, isn't it fun to know that what so many people in so many countries still have in common is a children's comic book.

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China Daily


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