Tintin has been used in an arty mashup and the heirs of his creator are not happy.
An artist from France has reimagined Tintin in romantic adventures within the art of Edward Hopper but the heirs of Hergé have said the images are not funny and they take advantage of the innocent character.
The Breton artist, Xavier Marabout, merged Hergé’s Tintin and Hopper’s landscapes to make the young man included in Hopper’s Road and Houses, looking confused as he greets a woman in a car, and kissing a girl in a car, in a spin on Hopper’s Queensborough Bridge.
On his website, Marabout describes his work as “strip art” in which he “strips distant artistic universes to merge them together” in a style where “parody [is] omnipresent”.
But the Hergé heirs, the Moulinsart company, believes Marabout is using the images of Tintin without consent.
In a report by Ouest-France, a lawyer for Moulinsart said: “Taking advantage of the reputation of a character to immerse him in an erotic universe has nothing to do with humour.”
“[Hergé] explained his choice not to involve women in his work, because he found that they are rarely comic elements”.
In Benoît Peeters’ biography Hergé, Son of Tintin, he was quoted as saying: “I love women too much to make caricatures out of them! And besides, pretty or not, women are rarely comic elements … Is it that the maternal side of women doesn’t lend itself to laughter? It is indeed strange to realise that women are absent from many comic-strip stories. Or if they are there, they are rarely funny.”
Marabout’s lawyer responded that the paintings were parody and cited a “conflict between copyright and freedom of expression and creation”, asking: ‘Does an artist have the right to wonder about Tintin’s sex life?”
The Rennes court will rule in May.
According to the Guardian newspaper, Marabout explained that “there is no cultural transmission without reappropriation”.
“This is exactly what that I do in my work as an artist,” he continued. “I revisit my own culture by merging, or mashing up, different cultural worlds, and giving them meaning. Because some universes speak to each other in secret.”
“In my Hergé Hopper series, I imagined a romantic life for Tintin in the intimate and voyeuristic universe of the American painter. Because frankly, the universe of Hergé is terribly virile and women are completely absent,” Marabout said. “Who can imagine a world without women? So my paintings where Tintin is staged with pin-ups are funny, but behind that I wanted to show that the two universes were perfect to meet. The mystery of Hopper paintings responding to the Tintin mystery.”
“I defend my right to parody which is part of freedom of expression. It is a fundamental law in our democracy. I hope that justice will prove me right, but I am still worried, because we are going through a difficult period where freedoms are declining every day.”