Not too long ago a friend wondered if Johnny Graphic was inspired, in any way, by the great Belgian cartoon hero Tintin. After all, she said, Tintin was a teenaged newspaper journalist who flew all over the world having adventures with his trusty sidekicks (most especially Snowy the Dog and Captain Haddock). I agreed that these were points in common, but that Tintin hadn’t even occurred to me when I started writing about my twelve-and-a-half-year-old news photog hero. Of course, I’d love it if kids got to know Johnny a fraction as well as they know the famous Tintin. (Strange fact: Tintin is hugely popular around the world, even 82 years after his creation in 1930. But not so much in the U.S. I’m not sure if Steven Spielberg’s Tintin movie last year made much impact in America.)
No, I didn’t have any thought of Tintin when I was creating Johnny. I was vaguely aware of the young Belgian newsman with the blond cowlick, but had never read any of his adventures. Johnny Graphic is purely my invention; inspired modern fantasy writers like J.K. Rowling + the great 1920s newspaper comedy The Front Page + 1930s pulp adventure stories such as Doc Savage.
But I have started reading Tintin books and am enjoying them lots. The stories are great fun and the cartoon work of Herge is exquisite. If you’ve never read them–whether you’re a kid or an adult–you should.