Tintin drawings sell for record €1.55m at Paris auction

An original drawing from Tintin's "Explorers on the Moon" sold for a record €1.55m at a Paris auction on Saturday, auction house Artcurial has announced.

Tintin drawings sell for record €1.55m at Paris auction
The strip shows Tintin's dog snowy in his won space costume. Photo: Artcurial
The 50 cm X 35 cm drawing in Chinese ink by the Belgian cartoonist known as Herge shows the boy reporter, his dog Snowy and crusty sailor Captain Haddock wearing spacesuits and walking on the moon while looking at Earth.
It had been expected to sell for between €700,000 and €900,000 ($741,00 and $952,000).
Artcurial's comics expert Eric Leroy described the “Explorers on the Moon” as “a key moment in the history of comic book art… it has become mythic for many lovers and collectors of comic strips.
“It is one of the most important from Herge's postwar period, on the same level as 'Tintin in Tibet' and 'The Castafiore Emerald',” he added.    
The 1954 book is viewed as one of Herge's masterpieces. 
Saturday's sale was a record for a single cartoon drawing. Herge already holds the world record for the sale of a comic strip.
A double-page ink drawing that served as the inside cover for all the Tintin adventures published between 1937 and 1958, sold for $3.7 million to an American fan two years ago.
Rival auction house Christie's is putting drawings from another rare Herge strip up for sale later in the day in Paris.
It said the page from the unfinished story “Tintin and the Thermozero” — estimated at 250,000 euros — was the first ever to come to market.
Why the artist never finished the tale of espionage and a terrifying secret weapon set against the backdrop of the Cold War, is one of the great mysteries for Tintin-ologists.
The 1954 “Explorers on the Moon” completes the lunar adventure started in “Destination Moon” (1953) and features several hilarious episodes including Haddock getting drunk on whisky and floating off into space to briefly become a satellite of the asteroid Adonis.
It turns on Tintin foiling a plot by a mysterious foreign power to hijack the rocket by the evil stowaway spy Colonel Jorgen.
The moon drawings are being sold alongside 20 ink sketches Herge created for a series of New Year's greeting cards known as his “snow cards”.   
Prices for cartoon art have multiplied tenfold in the last decade, according to gallery owner Daniel Maghen, who also works with comic art.
The sales comes as Tintinmania again grips the French capital, with Herge currently the subject of a huge retrospective exhibition at the Grand Palais.

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Move over Mickey: Donald Duck is king in Germany

Mickey Mouse may be Disney's top star in most parts of the world, but in Germany Donald Duck reigns. More than 50 years after the cartoon featuring the hot-tempered duck arrived in the land of Goethe, it remains one of the bestselling comic titles at the newsstands.

Move over Mickey: Donald Duck is king in Germany
File photo: DPA.

Generations of children grew up with the so-called Lustiges Taschenbuch (which translates as Funny Paperback) featuring the cantankerous Donald and family – including his rich but miserly uncle, Scrooge McDuck, who swims in gold coins, and his three mischievous nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie.

Many adults are still hooked, and are known as Donaldists. These hardcore fans gather regularly to pore over and dissect the latest comic together, noting inconsistencies in the colourful drawings between editions or to ask probing questions about the solar system in Donald's world.

File photo: DPA.

“We Donaldists assume that Duckburg really exists, and we ask ourselves questions on all kinds of details from the adventures of the Duck family, which for us are not made-up stories but factual reports,” said Alexander Poth, 46.

“All discrepancies in these reports are examined scientifically by our members, and the results are published in our trade magazine, 'The Donaldist', and presented and discussed at our annual congress,” added Poth, who encountered his first Lustiges Taschenbuch (LTB) at age two.

Poth is a member of the group D.O.N.A.L.D (the German Organisation of non-commercial members of Donaldism), which organizes the annual conference.

Not bad for a duck from across the pond, which landed in Germany at a time when the country viewed American comic imports suspiciously as potential corrupters of youth.

Teaching Donald to quack 

Even Erika Fuchs, the woman credited with popularizing Donald in Germany, was horrified when first tasked by her editor with translating the cartoon.

But she took on the job, and changed Carl Barks's fictional city of Duckburg forever.

Rather than a straight translation of the cartoons, Fuchs set them in the southern German region of Upper Franconia, complete with typical Bavarian farmhouses and bakeries.

She gave the ducks German names and Germanic manners of speaking – the elderly Scrooge (known as Dagobert in German) is the pedantic duck who knows every single German verb conjugation, while Donald swings between angry tirades and the poetic verses of Schiller and Goethe.

Fuchs “taught Donald to quack” – in German at least, said the Museum for Comic and Speech Art, also known as Erika Fuchs House, in Bavaria.

At a time when magazine sales are floundering, newstands still devote several shelves to the comic, including the latest copies, special editions and older editions.

Christian Behr, sales director at publisher Egmont Ehapa, said five million copies of LTBs are sold annually, or an average of around 420,000 a month. The 500th edition was published this week.

And around half of the readers are over 16.

“Those in the age group of over 25 make up our core readership. This group also includes our faithful collectors,” said Behr.

So engrained is Donald's world in the German psyche that “Duckburg stays stable” (Entenhausen bleibt Stabil) counts among punk band Die Toten Hosen's numbers.

Bernd Dolle-Weinkauff, an expert on graphic novels at the Goethe University in Frankfurt, noted that the handy paperback format of the comic, plus the wide range of Disney cartoons proved a lasting winning formula.

But the Germans' obsession with the duck cannot be explained away by marketing, he said.

“It's not a question of marketing but perhaps a question of a particular kind of mentality in Germany. That should be investigated,” he said.

German mentality?

“In contrast to Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck is the forever unlucky ducky. He's a loser, but also someone who never gives up,” said Dolle-Weinkauff.

“People are keen to see how he always manages to solve his problems, and what crazy ideas he comes up with.”

In fact, Donald is “exactly the opposite” of the “foreign conceptions of the German mentality – of these Prussian officials, soldiers, disciplined people who are always orderly,” noted the professor.

“So this stereotype of Germany stands corrected here. I think that needs to be acknowledged. Because he (Donald) won't be so well-liked. In any case, Germans view themselves differently,” he said

Poth, who has a collection of more than 700 LTBs, agreed that Donald's often ruffled feathers draw readers.

“He's not perfect and that's what makes him so likeable for us, and we often laugh about ourselves when we laugh about Donald Duck,” he said.

“Mickey often comes across as the know-it-all. And that's just not popular in life as it makes people envious,” Poth added.

“We feel better next to Donald, because we simply come out better than when we're put next to Mickey.”