Monday, January 08, 2007


The adventures of Tintin were an indelible part of my childhood (and my brothers'). Apart from having read all of them thousands of times, a common pastime (and we still do it) was for my brothers and me to quiz each other on the books. Every character, every adventure, every location had to be committed to memory and minute details were asked at random between us - at breakfast, during school or in the middle of the night. I still like to read them whenever I find them to discover something new, and even in Paris I borrowed a bunch of them from B and reading them in French is a nice way to improve my vocabulary - esp as I know the context and rough English version of every blurb.

While in Boston, the Harvard coop was one of my favourite places. The amazing collection of books and the location always made it a convenient place to spend time between various things. The kids section in the basement had all the Tintin series (and others). Not too many people ventured into the kids' section so it was always possible to find a chair. Sitting in a quiet corner, reading them was a great way to relax.

5 years ago, I was in Brussels for a couple of days and I'd read about the Belgian comics museum in a travel guide. It had a big section on Herge - he lived in Brussels - and I spent a nice afternoon going through all the panels. The exhibition (I think it's permanent) was nicely documented - different panels displaying the different characters, disguises, animals, etc - and even had some original models. It was fairly quiet and apart from a group tour of 9-10 yr old kids, I was the only one around. I enjoyed it a lot but didn't come away too overwhelmed.

The Pompidou Centre in Paris is currently hosting a huge exhibition on Herge. Tintin was wildly popular in this part of the world, since it was initially in French, and the French love their graphic novels and comic books. It's the 100th anniversary of Herge's birth, and the Pompidou centre went all out for this exhibition. It opened 2 weeks ago and I'd avoided going because of all the long queues due to the school/university holidays.

Finally got around to going on Sunday night even though it was still crowded. This was the first time I'd been to an exhibition, where after spending 2-3 hours I decided I have to go back again - not just once, at least another 2-3 times. I don't think I've ever been to an exhibition or gallery where I've spent almost an hour just going through one panel. Each time I saw people at an art gallery, I always wondered how anyone could spend so much time looking at just one painting or panel. Sunday was the first I did something like that - looking at all those original sketches, with the scribbles on the side, the final published version next to it, and a small explanation.

The nicest thing about the exhibition is how it hasn't tried to show every possible document or model affiliated to Herge. The centrepiece of the exhibition is a small enclosure, where the panels consist of the original Blue Lotus pages. The Blue Lotus is considered to be his masterpiece and that was the first time Herge broke free of his alleged colonial views and worked really hard with Chang, a sculpture student in Brussels, to depict life in China. It's given a lot of emphasis as it was the most important project and period of his life.

I don't think anybody ever needs a reason to visit a city like Paris, especially for the first time, but if you're a Tintin fan this is your excuse.


Beks said...

I'm not sure Paris appreciates being touted as a Tintin venue:D

bandafbab said...

There is more to Paris than Tintin, definitely. But for an exhibition like this I'd be tempted to go to less exciting cities.

Anonymous said...

afty, have you booked your tixs for carribean? There seemed to be absolutely no hotels available/ or any tickets for the matches.

- Nishant

bandafbab said...

Individual tickets will go on sale from Feb 1st. I'm not planning to book any tickets or hotels. Have to work out visas but am planning to take a boat to Trinidad and will be carrying my tent in case there's nothing available.

Wanna Be Dictator said...

dude, i always associate tintin with you after that night in kerala were you were so wasted and gave a huge commentary about how R.G. became herge or something. i think you even went and told my dad that...

btw, aren't you on orkut?

bandafbab said...

Not on orkut. Too old for that kind of thing. Starting a blog was hard enough.