The first cover of the Tintin Adventure comic is up for sale
Publisher Louis Casterman of Le Petit Vingtieme declared that four-color printing would be too expensive and convinced the artist to change the cover slightly. Readers of the Blue Lotus comic have seen the new version. And Ergé presented the original drawing to Kasterman’s son, seven-year-old Jean-Paul, who hid the gift and forgot about it for many years. Until recently, only a few knew about the existence of the original.
And now the drawing is up for sale by the auction house Artcurial. It is assumed that the price of the lot will be a record 3 million euros. The current record also belongs to Tintin. In 2014, Hergé’s 1937 sketches of his adventures were sold for 2.65 million euros. And before that, the first place in the world of graphic novels in terms of value was occupied by the cover of the comic book “Tintin in America”, in 2012 they paid 1.3 million euros for it.
The picture put up for sale today shows the main character hiding inside large porcelain vase of the Ming dynasty. Behind his back peeps out the constant companion of the young reporter – a dog named Snowball. They look with dismay at what never made it onto the cover (the intrigue is revealed inside the comic). Nearby, a tapestry depicts a ferocious dragon surrounded by waves of gold. In addition, a mysterious Chinese inscription and a Chinese lamp can be seen in the drawing.
The final cover, with which the comic is published so far, is very different. The anxiety on Tintin’s face was replaced by surprise, some colors changed, the mysterious inscription disappeared. By the way, the meaning of those three hieroglyphs has not yet been clarified. Ergé clearly copied them from somewhere when he studied Chinese writing. However, the artist did not succeed in calligraphy, and today even experts are wondering what he had in mind.
Comics about the adventures of Tintin, created by Hergé, were published from 1930 to 1976 (another album, begun by the artist, was released after his death). They have mixed different genres, there are elements of an adventure novel, detective story, satire, science fiction and others. “Blue Lotus” was the fifth in the series. Initially, the artist wanted to call it “The Adventures of Tintin in the Far East”, but the inscription was too long.
Incidentally, in this comic, the protagonist is accompanied by a young Chinese man named Chang, whom Tintin rescued from the river. This is a tribute to Ergé’s friend, a Chinese student Chang Chongren, whom he met when he was studying in Brussels. He donated several books on Chinese culture and art to the artist, which helped Herge, who was self-taught, to enrich his work. Since then, Tintin’s face has become more expressive.
According to comics expert at auction house Artcurial Eric Leroy, the original cover of “Blue Lotus” is worthy to adorn any collection, and can even be hung on the wall of the Forbidden City in Beijing.