You may well be familiar with Tintin, the world-famous fictional cartoon character created by Belgian cartoonist Hergé (also known as Georges Prosper Remi) and loved by both young and old. He has no superpowers, but the ever curious young investigative reporter and adventurer, along with his fox terrier Snowy, continues to captivate the hearts of many up to this day.
Tintin first appeared on January 10, 1929, in the Le Petit Vingtième, the youth supplement of the Belgian newspaper Le Vingtième Siecle. What started as a supplement grew into an international phenomenon. A comic book, television series, and several animated and feature films were made over the years.
Tintin, with his sharp wit, kindness, and thirst for adventure, became an inspirational character to many.
But what, or who, inspired Hergé to create Tintin? There are still debates about the matter, but one theory seems to stand out among big fans. According to this theory, a real-life lad named Palle Huld was the inspiration behind the good-natured character.
Before Tintin made his first appearance, 15-year-old Danish Boy Scout Palle Huld won a contest by a Danish newspaper to mark the centennial of Jules Verne.
Only teenage boys were allowed to join the contest. And as the winner, Huld had to re-enact Phileas Fogg’s adventures from Verne’s novel Around the World in Eighty Days. He had to complete the journey within 46 days without anyone to accompany him and without using any aircraft.
Huld started his adventure on March 1, 1928. From Copenhagen, he traveled by rail and steamship through England, Scotland, Canada, Japan, the Soviet Union, Poland, and Germany.
Huld’s feat made him famous, and when he arrived in Denmark, he was considered a celebrity and a hero.
He was reportedly greeted by over 20,000 admirers and well-wishers. He then accomplished another feat by writing a book about his journey. It was published in several languages. The same year Huld’s book was published, Tintin made his first appearance.
Huld himself remarked on several occasions that he was indeed the inspiration behind Tintin, but there’s another candidate according to some fans.
Some say French travel photojournalist Robert Sexe could be the real inspiration behind Tintin because his journeys perfectly match the adventures in Tintin’s first three books.
While the real inspiration behind the world-famous character remains unconfirmed, true fans know it is what the character represents that matters more – a vigorous spirit and the will to succeed amidst obstacles.
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