Memories: Early Science Fiction I Was Exposed To. Tintin.

Some of the first science fiction I read was actually a set of comic books: The series of “Adventures of Tintin”.

OK, some of it is just general earthly adventures of a young journalist man in different parts of the world. Hergé (real name George Remi) started creating the stories of Tintin in 1929 as a strip in the conservative Catholic newspaper Le Vingtième Siècle.

Later he had a series of albums, or graphic novels, as we now call them, beginning in black-and-white with the story “Tintin in the Land of the Soviets”. This exists, as far as I know in an album, but I have not found that one.

Some stories, like The Seven Crystal Balls/Prisoners of the Sun (1943 – 1949) have a more fantasy/mythical theme, but the solution to their last problem is quite scientific.

The Destination Moon/Explorers on the Moon (1950 – 1956) is actually science fiction, well, it was written before the space age started in October 1957, and long before the first moon landing in 1969.

Let’s face it. The stories are not complex, but fun adventures with some humour interspersed. Especially, some of the names of the characters are quite funny.

A fun little story I experienced. In 1991 a group of Hergé fans made a rather large exhibition of Hergé’s work, in the town of Welkenraedt in the Western part of Belgium, including building some models from some Tintin stories. The first one I recall very well was a model of the top of the rocket used to go to the moon, with quarters etc.

The second one was quite ingenious. You could walk in the cave in where Tintin found his friend Chang (Tintin in Tibet), but when you followed it to the end of the tunnel you were suddenly standing in the same place as Tintin in the drawings of another story, and just like Tintin in the story, I just stood there saying “The Blue Lotus!” Going there was, of course, a bit like going to a convention, meeting lots of other fans of Hergé.

One more thing: When I moved to The Netherlands to live for some years, I wanted to learn the language as fast as possible. Given that most Dutch people speak English quite well, and are proud of it, that way proved more tricky. Fortunately, I did find a Dutch colleague with one of the same interests, and we agreed that after a year we would speak Dutch only. I did. The other thing I did was finding some comic books (yes also Tintin) to read in Dutch. Yes, I will use every trick in the book, or sometimes outside the book if I want to learn a new language.

This is one of my first adventures in science fiction, I think there will be more.

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