Shapes and lines and a couple of dashes and you have a boy; a character whom I actually know very little about other than the fact that he has adventures and has a dog, and has nothing to do with that other cartoon who eats spinach.
I am the kind of ‘artist’ who can stare at a whiskey bottle and sketch it to look like said whiskey bottle fairly well. That whiskey bottle better bloody stay where it is and not move though, because if my imagination has to come into play for even a minute, it will start to resemble a Dali more than the precious liquid gold in beautiful blown glass that it is. Enough about my alcoholism, which may or may not have been promoted by my attempts at drawing in the style of tintin.
So when it comes to emulating the incredible efficiency of the lines and strokes creating Tintin’s animated fur-baby, I was screwed. If I was someone who cared about knowing the dog breeds, I could identify it’s bread from the two lines coming out of its ears that made it look so damn alert.
Given the task of drawing a picture of a beautiful Labradoodle, the kind of dog who always looks like it’s won a million dollars, or schmackos, I thought was going to be easy. No shading, no stippling or figuring out the source of light. Except that it took me 5 pages of do-overs to come up with a dog that probably resembled the kind of image they print onto those little acid tabs you see in the early 90’s movies. The ones with the raves.
I felt like I was back in highschool, proving that my drawing had backing by creating 8 thumbnail variations of my final image on 5 different pages. I erased some pages so much that I had to fire up the vacuum for fear of my dog snorting too much graphite and rubber. I have never considered for so long how two dots drawn a few millimeters closer together, or further to the top of the face, could completely change how mentally challenged this dog looked.
I sent off my best page of 5 different Tintin imposters for some feedback and that feedback was ‘it needs to be simpler’. Again I looked at that smug Labradoodle’s gorgeous fluffy face thinking this time, if you were steamrolled, what lines would the forensic team spray around your little body. Sorry to the dog owner, I didn’t really picture him dead, just flat.
Well, the whiskers were gone and the moustache became two strokes either side of the semi-circle that is its tongue. The ears became more like fat hiking socks, if that dog had given them a bit of a munching, but become bored. His eyeballs became slightly stretched dots, because this is how we represent that glimmer in a dog’s unconditionally-loving eyes. I also removed his eyebrows like a hardcore beautician from 2001.
I held up the sketch next to the photo and compared the pair. Step aside Georges Remi aka Hergé, I just Tintin-ed the crap out of this dog.
Actually, I don’t feel I can say that after doing a quick Wikipedia search. He was clearly a genius. Hergé you son of a gun, you’ve used a couple of lines and squiggles to bring to life a boy and a dog whom nearly a century later are loved by children who wouldn’t have a clue how bloody brilliant you are.
I will forever look at the simplicity of Tintin illustrations and raise a glass to those irritating arched lines he calls eyebrows. I will also accept that those lines are without a shadow of a doubt, expressing the emotion Hergé wanted them to. I hope that talented bastard drew a thousand thumbnails and also pictured his characters flattened by steamrollers.