Tintin, the subject of 200 million comics sold, was likely based on a real 15-year-old …


In the overcrowded world of fictional characters, there are few faces as adorable as Tintin’s. Unlike Batman, Superman, or Wonder Woman, Tintin, the young investigative reporter, is not a household name in America, but he is definitely one of the most beloved figures in Europe.

With no specific magic powers, he is the antithesis of a superhero, but that didn’t prevent him from being widely admired by both children and adults. Charles de Gaulle once declared that Tintin is his only international rival, saying that “nobody notices, because of my height. We are both little fellows who won’t be got at by big fellows.”

Tintin and his fox terrier, Snowy, appeared for the first time on January 10, 1929, in the children’s supplement of the Belgian newspaper Le Vingtième Siecle. What started as the subject of a supplement went on to become a symbol of the 20th century, appearing in an inde­pen­dent comic book, on television, and even on the big screen in Steven Spiel­berg’s animated movie The Adven­tures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn.

Tintin is one of the most beloved figures in the comic book world.Author: Joi/Flickr-CC By 2.0

Georges Prosper Remi, known by the pen name Hergé, is the man behind the creation of Tintin. With almost no formal training, Hergé began drawing the legendary comic-book character in 1929, but little did he know that by doing so he would give birth to an entire European comics publishing industry.

Tintin and his fox terrier Snowy appeared for the first time in 1929. Author: karrikas/Flickr CC By 2.0

Since 1929, Tintin comics have sold more than 200 million copies, and over the years, this beloved character served as an inspiration for many people and influenced the ways comic book readers perceive the world around them. But what actually inspired Hergé to create the iconic character?

Debate still exists on what exactly inspired Hergé to come up with the snub-nosed teenage reporter, but most people agree that it was a real life person known by the name Palle Huld. It is one of the most original of origin stories in the comic book world.

Less than a year before Tintin made his first appearance, in the children’s supplement of  Le Vingtième Siecle, a 15-year-old Danish Boy Scout named Palle Huld won a competition organized by a Danish newspaper to mark the centennial of Jules Verne.


Palle Huld, during his trip around the world in 1928, almost certainly influenced Hergé to create Tintin.

The winner of the competition would re-enact Phileas Fogg’s voyage from Verne’s famous novel Around the World in Eighty Days. Strangely enough, only teenage boys were allowed to take part in the competition, and the 15-year-old was the perfect match. There was another twist: The winner had to complete the journey within 46 days, without any company and without using planes.

Hundreds of Danish teenagers applied to participate in the competition, and Palle was lucky enough to be chosen. He started his journey on March 1, 1928, from Copenhagen and traveled by rail and steamship through England, Scotland, Canada, Japan, the Soviet Union, Poland, and Germany.

His journey made the headlines at the time and when he arrived in Denmark, he was already a celebrity. Over 20,000 admirers greeted their hero when he came back home.

The next thing he did was write a book about his journey, which was quite popular among his admirers, and published in several languages. That book also came into the hands of a Belgian cartoonist known by the name of Hergé and that same year, when Huld’s book was published, Tintin made his debut.

Huld himself suggested on several occasions that he was the inspiration for Tintin. However, others believe that the inspiration behind the character was actually the French travel photojournalist Robert Sexe, whose journeys were exactly in the same order as Tintin’s first three books.

With no specific superpowers, Tintin is the antithesis of a superhero. Author: Hicham Souilmi CC By 2.0

Nonetheless, true Tintin fans couldn’t care less. For them it is all about the character, a hero they all know and love, representing something that others don’t have: uncompromising vigilance and the need to succeed no matter what the cost.

Tintin proves that a hero doesn’t need to be big or strong, he or she just needs to be tenacious and stubborn enough to do what needs to be done.

By Goran Blazeski


Jean Tinguely’s weird looking “Heureka“ was created as an allegory to the consumer and industrial society

Hon-en-Katedrall (sometimes spelled “Hon-en-Katedral”) was an art installation, created by the Swiss painter and sculptor Jean Tinguely, that was shown at Moderna Museet in Stockholm in 1966. Born in Fribourg, Tinguely grew up in Basel but moved to France in 1952 with his first wife, Swiss artist Eva Aeppli, to pursue a career in art. He belonged to the Parisian avant-garde movement in the mid-twentieth century and was one of the artists who signed the New Realist’s manifesto (Nouveau réalisme) in 1960.

It was created in 1964 and shown at Moderna Museet in Stockholm in 1966. Source
It was created in 1964 and shown at Moderna Museet in Stockholm in 1966. Source
Tinguely's Heureka in Zürich-Seefeld (Zürichhorn). Source
Tinguely’s Heureka in Zürich-Seefeld (Zürichhorn). Source
Detail. Source
Detail. Source

Tinguely was famous for his sculptural machines or purposeless kinetic artworks, known officially as meta-mechanics in the Dada tradition, which challenged the norms of bourgeoisie high society. The title, “Heureka,” is Ancient Greek for “I’ve got it!” but this is meant to be ironic. His art satirized the mindless overproduction of material goods in advanced industrial society. The kinetic sculpture represents a machine which has no purpose; The machine churns and churns in aimless absurdity.

Part of the movement’s ideology was Tinguely was inspired by Dadaism. Source
Part of the movement’s ideology was Tinguely was inspired by Dadaism. Source
The sculpture stands as an allegory of consumerism in advanced industrial societies. Source
The sculpture stands as an allegory of consumerism in advanced industrial societies. Source
Detail. Source
Detail. Source

Another sculpture, a self-destroying sculpture titled “Homage to New York,” made in 1960, only partially self-destructed at the Museum of Modern Art, New York City. His later work, “Study for an End of the World No. 2” (1962), detonated successfully in front of an audience gathered in the desert outside Las Vegas.

Made from everyday objects like scrap metal and junk. Source
Made from everyday objects like scrap metal and junk. Source
Detail. Source
Detail. Source
Comprised of various tubes, wheels, iron bars, metal pipes, and electric motors assembled together. Source
Comprised of various tubes, iron wheels, iron bars, metal pipes, and electric motors assembled together. Source

Heureka was commissioned as an exhibit at the Swiss State Exhibtion in Lausanne in 1964; later bought by an industrialist and donated to the city of Zurich. The sculpture is made from everyday objects like tubes, wheels, forks and other metal details assembled together to create an intricate machine when turned on — or rather, the illusion of one. At 5:00 pm every afternoon his machine comes alive and bursts into useless energy.


The Louisiana Purchase: Napoleon, eager for money to wage war on Britain, sold the land to U.S.–and a British bank financed the sale

Some 214 years ago, the young United States made a business deal with France that helped the country double its size virtually overnight and without a single drop of blood. Using diplomatic skills, the U.S. managed to obtain an enormous piece of land known as the Louisiana Territory from Napoleon, who was in great need of money for an imminent war.

This territory, which stretches from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains, became part of the 15 states that form today’s United States. For this development, the country has to thank the quick thinking of President Jefferson and the immediate actions of Robert Livingston, the United States ambassador to France at the time, as well as minister James Monroe, who was appointed by Jefferson to help Livingston in this matter.

The territory of Louisiana was initially discovered by the Spanish Empire and these colonizers claimed the area that would later become Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Then the French came, explored it, and started to bring settlers. The territory was ceded back to Spain in 1762. At the turn of the 19th century, Louisiana was to change ownership again.

1804 map of “Louisiana,” edged on the west by the Rocky Mountains

At the beginning of the 1800s, Louisiana had around 60,000 colonists, some of whom were Creoles of French descent who lived a peaceful life that was in some ways aristocratic. Their eastern neighbors were different. The proud citizens of the United States, around 300,000 of them, were eager to explore, trade, and produce. These people who lived on the eastern shore of the Mississippi River depended on the export of goods that went through the port town of New Orleans.

Flag raising in the Place d’Armes of New Orleans, marking the transfer of sovereignty over French Louisiana to the United States, December 20, 1803, as depicted by Thure de Thulstrup

They produced and exported goods such as tobacco, flour, whiskey, cheese, and butter. This important port town belonged to the Spanish Empire, and they had a trade deal with the United States government that allowed American ships to enter the port and take goods. Then came a development that was a huge blow to the fresh and frail economy of the United States.

Transfer of Louisiana by Ford P. Kaiser for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (1904)

Thomas Jefferson received some alarming information with the help of British spies. Napoleon, the war-hungry leader of Revolutionary France with ideas of expansion, managed to obtain the territory of Louisiana and with it, New Orleans, through a secret deal with the Spanish.

Jefferson, for the sake of his country, couldn’t allow New Orleans to be retaken by a foreign power. Soon, he authorized Robert Livingston, the U.S. ambassador to France, to begin negotiating a lease to the port of New Orleans. Napoleon and his foreign affairs minister, Talleyrand, then revealed the deal they had kept secret. Soon Napoleon announced his plan to make France a colonial power once again. Livingston was afraid of this. He sent a letter to Jefferson, explaining the situation and advising him to prepare the country for war. The angry American settlers, who were unable to send their goods for trade, were on edge, ready to fight, but Jefferson had a different idea, one in which his country would triumph.

The original treaty of the Louisiana Purchase

Although the President was aware that Napoleon’s deal with Spain strictly prohibited him from giving any parts of Louisiana to the U.S., he decided to try and buy New Orleans and the so-called “Floridas” in any way that he could. For this mission, he appointed minister James Monroe, who was immediately sent to Paris to help Livingston. At the same time, Napoleon had a plan of his own. He planned to sell Louisiana behind Spain’s back, without even informing his foreign affairs minister about the deal, or as he himself put it, “to commit Louisianicide.” The reason was his lack of money for his upcoming war with England. To make his decision even easier, he found out that the British had a huge fleet of ships waiting in the Gulf of Mexico to conquer Louisiana as soon as the war started. For Napoleon, Louisiana was a lost cause.

Issue of 1953, commemorating the 150th Anniversary of signing

Monroe arrived in France, and by that time both sides were aware of their plans. One night, Barbe-Marbois, the minister of the treasury of Revolutionary France, came to Livingston’s house to a dinner party. The same night, at midnight, Livingston went to Barbe-Marbois’ office, where he received the offer for the Territory of Louisiana. Livingston immediately sent a letter to the president. Without even asking, the U.S. received an offer, and not only for New Orleans and the Floridas but the whole of Louisiana!

Plan of Fort Madison, built in 1808 to establish U.S. control over the northern part of the Louisiana Purchase; drawn in 1810

The initial price was very high, a sum that the still weak United States couldn’t obtain. Time was ticking by. Also, Livingston and Monroe were aware that it would take around 45 days for the letter to reach the president. They needed to make a decision on their own and make it quickly. After a few meetings, they managed to lower the price down to a somewhat acceptable $15 million. Realizing that this was the best offer, Monroe and Livingston decided not to wait anymore and accept the deal, without the permission of Jefferson, believing that he and the people of the United States would agree with them. On May 2, 1803, they shook hands with Barbe-Marbois, and the deal was made. It became official on May 22, four days after the war between France and England started.

The Purchase was one of several territorial additions to the U.S.

When news about the bargain reached the United States, people were generally happy, but the biggest issue (even for Jefferson) was that the whole thing seemed unconstitutional. Nevertheless, the Senate agreed to endorse the purchase, and matters were set in motion. Because the country didn’t have the sufficient funds to buy this land alone, they needed to issue bonds and hope that somebody would accept them. The bonds were taken by a British investor, the banking house of Baring, and this here is where the irony comes in; the British financed Napoleon for the war against them.

This is how the United States doubled its size in a rare historical opportunity. On December 20, 1803, during a formal ceremony, the French flag in New Orleans was taken down, and in its place, the United States flag rose. Napoleon sold this rich, vast land for gunpowder and a pointless war.

 Boban Docevski


Аircraft inventor Santos-Dumont believed air travel would bring world peace so he offered his designs free of charge


“Oh, yes. Then men would be truly free. From the air, there are no boundaries. There could be no more war because the sky is endless. How happy we would be, if we could but fly.” -Terry Pratchett, Men at Arms

On October 19, 1901, Alberto Santos-Dumont, the 28-year-old heir to a wealthy family of coffee producers in Brazil and a recent graduate of aeronautical studies in Paris, made the first successful flight from Parc St. Cloud to the Eiffel Tower in his “Santos-Dumont No.6” dirigible balloon to win the Deutsch de la Meurthe prize. The prize consisted of 100,000 French francs, which he used for further research and development in the field of aviation and aircraft construction. He was absolutely sure that air travel would bring long-lasting peace to the world.

Everything he ever did, all his invention and designs, were patent free and freely published for everyone to examine and use to contribute to a greater humanity.

Smithsonian Annual Report – The Air Ship “Santos-Dumont 5” circling the Eiffel Tower. It’s the predecessor to the airship that won the prize later that year.

In 1932, after having witnessed some of his designs used in warfare during São Paulo’s Constitutionalist Revolution, he hanged himself.

Planes of the 135th Aero Squadron line up on Aug. 7, 1918, for the first mission flown over the Front by U.S. built DH-4s. U.S. Air Force public photo

Born on July 20, 1873, in the village of Cabangu in Palmira, Brazil, Alberto Santos-Dumont was raised in a wealthy environment by a highly inventive father. Due to his labor-saving inventions, his father, Henrique Dumont, earned a lot of money for the family and with time came to be known as the”Coffee King of Brazil.”

Being raised by such a dedicated and successful engineer was clearly advantageous for Alberto, for he needed only a couple of years to get from his first flight balloon to the first flight in his very own fixed-wing airplane.

French postal card showing Santos-Dumont flying the “No. 14 bis” in 1905.,

In his early career, he designed, developed, and flew hot-air balloons and early versions of lighter-than-air dirigible aircraft, or what we now refer to as Zeppelins. Inspired by his first successful balloon flights, Dumont believed he could do more and designed a steerable balloon, what later became identified as a non-rigid airship, which would allow people to fly through the air rather than just float along the wind.

The Air Ship “Santos-Dumont No.6” taking off in Paris, France in 1901 so it can make the prize-winning circle around the Eiffel Tower

On August 8, 1901, he made his first attempt to take the trip from the Aéro-Club de France at Parc Saint Cloud to the Eiffel Tower, though it was unsuccessful. The trip, taken in one of his first sound airships, Santos-Dumont No.5, ended when it failed to fly over the roof of the Trocadero Hotel and crashed, leaving him stuck in the basket hanging from the side of the hotel.

Santos-Dumont pictured inside the basket used in No. 1, 2 and 3.

After making some changes to his design, he managed to complete the round trip just 10 weeks later on October 19. He decided to donate the 100,000 francs in prize money to the poor people of France, and used a further 125,000 francs, awarded to him along with a gold medal from the government of his native Brazil, to develop his research.


Alberto Santos-Dumont testing his model No.14  in the field of Bagatelle (Paris, France) in July 1906

And so he did, for only four years later in 1905 he finished his first fixed-wing aircraft design, as well as a model of a helicopter. A year later, on October 23, 1906, Dumont piloted his newest “baby,” the 14-bis, over a large crowd of witnesses at the fields of Paris’ Château de Bagatelle in the Bois de Boulogne. He flew 60 meters, averaging about five meters of altitude. Only a month after that, he managed to travel 220 meters in 21.5 seconds, setting the first world record acknowledged by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale.

He resumed investing his time in research and development of heavier-than-air aircraft, although he never ceased to work on non-rigid airships as well. His last design is known to be the Demoiselle monoplane. Used at first by Santos-Dumont for personal transport, it started to be massively produced by the Clement-Bayard company after he started working with Adolphe Clément in 1908 and came to be the world’s first recorded series production aircraft.

The Demoiselle could achieve a speed of 120 km/h and could be built in only 15 days and still give a good performance. Author Tekniska museet – CC BY 2.0

It was in this plane Dumont made his final flight on January 4, 1910. He was forced to crash-land when a bracing wire snapped, then in March 1910 he announced his retirement from aviation. He secluded himself in his house, leading many to speculate he had suffered a nervous breakdown from overwork. Later it was confirmed he was suffering from multiple sclerosis, which drove him towards a serious long-lasting depression.

Close up view of Alberto Santos-Dumont seated at the controls of his Santos-Dumont No. 20 Demoiselle. Author Public.Resource.Org – CC-BY 2.0

After WW I started in 1914, his German-made telescope and his unusual accent prompted serious accusations, including that he was a German spy tracking French naval activity. Upset by the allegation and feeling betrayed by the state he had invested so much in, Santos-Dumont burned all his papers and design plans. He spent much of his subsequent years in Swiss and French sanatoriums and health institutions, feeling beaten down both by his illness and the betrayal.

In 1931, Santos-Dumont’s nephew traveled to Switzerland and brought him back to Brazil. Seriously ill and not able to cope with the fact that what he had envisioned and designed was used in the bombing of São Paulo during the Constitutionalist Revolution of 1932 in his home country, he hanged himself on July 23, 1932 in the city of Guarujá.s

Today he is a national hero in Brazil, where he is recognized as one who preceded the Wright brothers in envisioning a practical airplane. In fact, the United States at one time recognized Dumont as the father of aviation. After his death, his heart was placed in a golden globe and now lies preserved at Brazil’s National Air and Space Museum.

By Martin Chalakoski