Tintin and Portugal
The city of Lisbon will host a major Hergé retrospective at the Calouste-Gulbenkian Foundation in October 2021. This is an opportunity to examine the links between Hergé's characters and Lusitania.
Tintin has been speaking Portuguese since his first appearances in the children's newspaper O Papagaio (The Parrot) since...1935! Portuguese is also the first foreign language spoken by Tintin. And this publication was also "colourful", because it was in this magazine that the famous series created by Hergé was presented for the first time in colourful tones.
The most famous Portuguese in Tintin's universe is Senhor Oliveira da Figueira.
Oliveira da Figueira usually lives in Lisbon, according to the captain of the dhow that takes in Tintin during a storm in the Red Sea at the beginning of the album Cigars of the Pharaoh. His first name is a common name in Portugal and Figueira refers to a town in the centre of the country.
We quickly discover his main characteristic: he is an unusual salesman. He is able to sell the most incongruous objects while giving his "victim" the feeling of a good deal. His "Dali-style crooked" reveals the special care he takes to seduction.
Tintin will later meet him in Wadesdah, in Khemed (Land of Black Gold) and in The Red Sea Sharks where Tintin and the Captain will ask him for hospitality. Senhor Oliveira da Figueira still remains in Wadesdah.
© Hergé-Moulinsart 2021
Besides the famous Oliveira, two other Portuguese citizens appeared in the adventures of Tintin: first there was an anonymous journalist (Tintin in the Congo) and above all the eminent professor Pedro Joãs Dos Santos, a famous physicist from the University of Coimbra who took part in the scientific expedition in search of the fallen aerolite in the Arctic region (The Shooting Star). History will remember his lack of appetite when faced with a dish of sauerkraut in the middle of the sea.
Another interesting aspect related to Portugal that inspired Hergé are the ships, and particularly the vessels used by Americo Vespucci during his expeditions of Portugal in 1501 and 1502. Thus, Captain Haddock, commander of the merchant navy, becomes the heir of a descendant of an illustrious commander of a third-rate ship armed with fifty cannons, charged with policing the waters off Jamaica. Hergé's illustrations, always well documented, are magnificent with the details of the stern, its bottles and its figurehead.