Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Definitive Differences Between Tintin and Rin Tin Tin

Cross-posted on and commissioned by


With The Adventures of Tintin opening this week, I keep encountering lots of folks asking questions like, “What is it about? A dog? So what?! Who cares?!” “Yes, there’s a dog in it, but — stop — you’re thinking of Rin Tin Tin, aren’t you?” And I realized that way too many people actually don’t know the difference between Tintin and Rin Tin Tin. When I got to thinking about it, I didn’t really know the difference when the Tintin movie was first announced either. To add to the propensity for mixing the two up, a few months ago Susan Orlean’s Rin Tin Tin biography was released to stellar reviews and jumped to the top of the best-seller charts. So we figured it was time to break it down so no one will ever make this mistake again.

-Tintin is a fictional boy who owns a fictional dog.
-Rin Tin Tin is a real life German Shepherd dog who played fictional dogs, and was succeeded by Rin Tin Tin Jr., Rin Tin Tin III, Rin Tin Tin IV … you get the idea.
-There is a lot of debate over where the name Tintin came from. It was a popular name at the time, and there are quite a few theories as to why the boy scout meets detective meets reporter ended up with the name he did. Some say it is an homage to Benjamin Rabier’sTintin lutin, others think it’s simply short for Martin or Augustine, and some believe the name signifies “nothing,” referencing Tintin’s purposeful blank slate and cryptic nature. A popular theory is that the name is not even the character’s real name, but a pseudonym used to protect his identity. But, fun fact: Snowy the dog was supposedly named after one of Herge’s ex-girlfriends.
-Rin Tin Tin was named after Rintintin and Nénette, the woolen dolls that French children gave to soldiers in the war as good luck charms.
-Tintin is from Brussels, Belgium, and was created in 1929.
-Rin Tin Tin is from Lorraine, France, 193 miles away, born in 1918.
-Corrected: From the comments section, Tintin was a comic, then 2 plays, then a stop-motion film, then an animated TV show, then another animated TV show, then 2 live-action films, then 3 animated films, then 3 more plays, then a video game, then a third animated TV show, then 4 more video games, then a sixth play, then two musicals, and then a mo-cap movie and accompanying video game. Also 2 short films and 3 magazines.
-Rin Tin Tin appeared in a series of movies and was the subject of three radio series. After his death, other dogs took over and one of these starred in a ’50s TV series entitled The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin. Rin Tin Tin and his ancestry also had many the endorsement deal.

-Tintin was its most popular in the ’50s.
-Rin Tin Tin reached true popularity in the silent movie era of the ’20s — other German shepherds would later take his name and continue the tradition, but the true one, from a litter of shell-shocked pups found in WWI, only lived from 1918 to 1932.
-Tintin was translated into 80 languages and has sold over 350 million books.
-Rin Tin Tin was a huge star of silent film (and four color features!) and is credited with saving Warner Brothers from bankruptcy.
-Tintin solved the Secret of the Unicorn, found Red Rackham’s Treasure, and went to the moon. In Herge’s comics.
-Rin Tin Tin has a star on the walk of fame, a key to the city of New York, and was supposedly the true winner of the first Oscar for Best Actor by write-in vote. In real life.
-Tintin’s sidekicks were a terrier named Snowy and a drunken captain named Haddock.
-Rin Tin Tin had a variety of sidekicks in his films, but in life was loyal to one Lee Duncan. On television, Rin Tin Tin IV’s human companion was named Rusty.
-When Tintin creator Herge died in 1983 at age 75, he made it clear that the comic would not go on without him, but gave Spielberg his blessing to make a movie long before then.
-Rin Tin Tin allegedly died in Jean Harlow’s arms at age 13.
-Tintin can now be found on the big screen in The Adventures of Tintin, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, and Daniel Craig.
-Rin Tin Tin was buried in the famous pet cemetery in Asnières-sur-Seine, Cimetière des Chiens, and the current Rin Tin Tin is 12th in the line, the great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson of the original. He still makes personal appearances.
It should also be noted that when pronounced with a proper French accent, Tintin *sounds* a lot more like any number of other words, but especially Tauntaun, a white furred biped native to the fictional planet Hoth, most famous for providing Luke Skywalker with a warm bed for the night after being attacked by a Wampa. While mixing up Tintin with Rin Tin Tin has become an acceptable reality, confusing Tintin with a Tauntaun is just plain silly, if not more aurally accurate. To diffuse further confusion, Tintin should also not to be confused with Tun Tun, who is known as the first woman of Hindi comedy; Tenten, a popular supporting character from the manga series Naruto; Tonton, a muppet in the Jordanian version of Sesame Street; or, your number one stop for indoor tanning lotion, dark tanning lotion, sunless lotion, and self-tanner!


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