New Tintin rights challenge running in French courts

Peppone Pop Art inspired by Tintin

Is Hergé the only creator of Tintin? Because back in 1897, the French illustrator Benjamin Rabier created a character with a very similar look, and BD-BOX reports that this fact is being used in response to legal action against sculptor Peppone initiated by Tintin rights holder Moulinsart, with a decision on 17th June (note, report is in French).

Peppone has created resin busts of the comic hero, which Moulinsart argue infringe their rights, but the sculptor’s lawyers have countered accusations of counterfeiting by claiming that Hergé himself was inspired by another artist who he greatly admired, Benjamin Rabier, to create his hero.

In 1897, working with Fred Isly, Rabier gave the nickname Tintin to one of his characters, drawing him as young blond boy, wearing golf pants and sometimes seen accompanied by a dog. The story, Tintin – Lutin, is available from Belgian publisher, La Vache qui médite.

Tintin Elf by Benjamin Rabier, a predecessor of Hergé's Tintin?
Tintin Elf by Benjamin Rabier, a predecessor of Hergé’s Tintin?

However, BD-BOX also notes that Rabier, best known for his anthropomorphic animal strips, created another character, Onesime, who bears even more of a resemblance to Tintin as Hergé drew him in his first adventure, Land of the Soviets. Head over to Gallica, and you’ll find examples in ligne-claire style.

It will be interesting to see how this case turns out, especially following the recent defeat for Moulinsart after a French court just ruled in favour of the painter Xavier Marabout, granting him the right to parody Tintin.

If Peppone wins, however, the attention the case receives might mean he’ll still have to battle Marvel, the estate of Charles Schultz and other rights holders, over other sculptures he has created, of course…

The Bibliothèque nationale de France is currently offering a virtual exhibition on Benjamin Rabier, who was also the creator of of the design for The Laughing Cow brand

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