Life as a Tintin Character
Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire nature diary, Monday, 27th August, 2007
I’M ENJOYING READING through the entire Adventures of Tintin, in a handsome new 8 volume A5 edition which Barbara spotted in the library. The smaller size makes more sense for sitting and reading but for studying how Hergé constructed his illustrations it would be good to have them at the original size. From what I remember from reading Hergé’s biography, he worked a size up from the way it appears in print.
His drawings are so clear and have a cartoon simplification about them so you’d think it would be easy to draw in the idiom but there’s more to it than you might imagine. For instance, in my drawing of myself trimming the hedge:
I haven’t drawn the figure with enough vigour and confidence for it to be convincing
The colours in the figure are too washed out, they needn’t be strident but they shouldn’t be as wishy-washy as here
The hedge doesn’t have sufficient bushiness; in my drawings I’d usually go for more detail and build up texture there but in simplified line drawing like this you have to devise a free 'organic' line to give an impression of foliage. Hergé studied Japanese prints and drawings to enable him to express natural form in the confines of a newspaper cartoon strip
I've used fibre tip pen and I'm convinced that dip pen would produce Hergé's flowing line more successfully
I'd like to try it again, it's fun trying to get the lively narrative quality of the drawings; I find the pace and humour of the stories echoes the movies of the post-war eriod.
It’s our last Bank Holiday Monday of the summer and everyone is making the most of it. While I’m out in the garden trying to enjoy the peace and quiet, down at the Bingley Arms they’re having a barbecue to the amplified sounds of the sixties while in the valley they’re droning and droning and droning on motorbikes in the quarry area of the wood.
Makes me want to leave home and find somewhere quieter but I know that if I moved to the depths of the countryside that’s where the RAF like to practice their low-level jet fighter chases, so I guess I’m better off at home with the droning motorbikes and the booming Best of the Beatles.
But it explains why I look like Captain Haddock in my drawing; the most irate of Tintin characters.
I'm continuing to give the garden a good haircut in preparation for the autumn and, having finished the hedge on two sides of the garden, I mow the small meadow area, shredding the hedge trimmings as I go. I take great care to avoid frogs, checking the first squares of grass by hand and removing three small frogs, then watching carefully as I mow along, making progress in the same direction so the frogs can hop out in the other.
We’ve noticed that we keep getting brown patches on our tomatoes and that the foliage is turning brown and shrivelling. It’s not blossom end rot which is caused by inconsistent watering; that’s blacker and always at the end of the tomato. Barbara looked this up and discovered that it’s tomato blight, a fungus that can infect the plants in warm, humid conditions.
We would probably have had more success this year growing outdoors where the plants would have been better ventilated.
So, the new generation; will they be like their parents, fighting for territory over our lawn?
Two speckled juveniles blackbirds are hopping along at either side of the lawn. Soon the one on the herb bed flies over to the other and there’s immediately a puffing up of feathers and enough aggression to persuade one of them to go back behind the invisible line that marks the boundary of the garden territories.
At breakfast-time this character, a grey squirrel, poked his head over our own territorial marker; the plank in the gap in the fence between ourselves and next door. He must have decided it was better on the other side as he lowered himself back down once he’d taken a look.