Tintin was an idol for male ginger adolescents everywhere, setting aside his teenage angst to travel the world, investigating newspaper assignments whilst accidentally solving international intrigues in the process.
His chubby cheeks, spiked hair and resemblance to a boy scout were deceptive: this hero could speak multiple languages, beat up a brown bear whilst unarmed, and fly a plane.
Tintin was the creation of the Belgian cartoonist Georges Rémi, better known as Hergé, who published the first Tintin book in 1929 and continued to publish Tintin stories up until his death in 1983.
In 1929, Tintin was in Soviet Russia, escaping persecution by Bolsheviks; in the 1950s, he landed on the Moon; and in the 1970s he battled a corrupt military dictatorship in South America.
Hergé did at times get himself into hot water, with the obvious example being the second title of the series, Tintin in the Congo, which was published in 1930. It aimed to teach Belgians about the values of colonialism; but its racist and stereotyped depiction of the Congolese unsurprisingly provoked controversy.
Hergé subsequently reworked the first few books; and introduced more characters like Captain Haddock into the cast whilst making the stories more apolitical.
Despite the dated nature of his adventures, Tintin has remained a phenomenally popular character, translated into more than 80 languages, with a 3-D film directed by Steven Spielberg scheduled for release in 2011.
Perhaps his popularity lies in the fact that Tintin is the ultimate “Gap Yah” role model: after all, the stories basically boil down to a boy, his dog, his boozy best mate, and a couple of weird tag-a-longs, having adventures in a variety of cool locations around the world.