Captain Haddock, Tintin’s loyal companion, turns 80
Brussels, Jan 9 (efe-epa).- The grumpy Captain Haddock, that drunken sailor wearing a blue sweater with a big heart and known for his eccentric repetitive phrases in Hergé’s cartoons, is celebrating 80 years since he met Tintin, the intrepid journalist with whom he became an inseparable travel companion since January 1941.
“He needed a drunken ship captain. I made many sketches to try to find this character and I always started off by making him look drunk, like someone who really drank a lot,” said the Belgian author Georges Remi (1907-1983), universally known as Hergé, about his character in 1964.
Very fond of drinking, of aristocratic origin and calling the castle of Moulinsart home, the bearded sailor Archibal Haddock made his debut in a comic strip by Tintin when the strip was published in black and white in the Belgian newspaper “Le Soir”, at the time controlled by the Nazi propaganda machine.
On January 2, 1941, in the middle of the Second World War, the first drawing of the captain appeared; on January 9, the sailor joined Tintin in a cartoon for the first time and on May 29, Hergé gave him a name: Haddock.
These were fragments of what in 1941 would become the pages of an album entitled “The Crab with the Golden Claws”, reissued in color in 1944, in which Haddock is a hopeless alcoholic who, over the years and thanks to Tintin’s influence, eases his drinking.
“He indulges in a glass of whisky or two, even three, but he does not fall into the excesses of the past”, Hergé said of a character inspired in part by his friend the cartoonist Edgar P. Jacobs, author of Blake and Mortimer, and who vaguely remembers the writer and navigator Ernest Hemingway.
“In the beginning, he’s not pleasant at all. He is a drunkard, a slave to his vice: a real disaster,” Hergé admitted about a kind of patrician of the European high bourgeoisie of the nineteenth century with the forms of a sixteenth-century pirate.
Before Haddock, Snowy the white dog accompanied Tintin, the reporter in the beige raincoat from the first vignettes, which was published in 1929 in a supplement to the extinct daily “Le Vingtième Siècle” and brought together in 1930 in the album “The Adventures of Tintin in the Land of the Soviets”.
Although he was not the first or particularly likeable, or perhaps because of that, Haddock is the perfect foil to the protagonist and the most human and endearing character in the series.