By way of a throat clearing, there are a couple of things you need to know about Hergé, the nom de guerre for the artist behind the well-known Tintin comics of yore. First, Hergé’s estate has found its way onto Techdirt’s pages before and has a reputation for being wildly restrictive and litigious over any use or reference to Tintin. Alongside that, you need to know that Hergé absolutely did every last thing he could to keep women entirely out of his comic strips. His reasoning for this can be best summarized as a combination of having a too much “respect” for women to include them in his humor comic… and also that women, according to his estate, were “rarely comic elements.” Women, in other words, are bad for humor.
A French artist who imagines romantic adventures for the boy adventurer Tintin in the landscapes of Edward Hopper has been sued by the Tintin creator Hergé’s heirs, who said it was not funny to take advantage of Tintin by putting him in an erotic universe, especially as Hergé had chosen not to caricature women.
In Breton artist Xavier Marabout’s Hergé-Hopper mashups Tintin is variously painted into Hopper’s Road and Houses, scratching his head as he greets a woman in a car; looking disgruntled in a version of Hopper’s Cape Cod Evening, 1939; and kissing a girl in a car, in a spin on Hopper’s Queensborough Bridge, 1913. On his website, Marabout describes his work as “strip art”, in which he “strips distant artistic universes to merge them together” in a style where “parody [is] omnipresent”.
Moulinsart, who represent the estate of Hergé, sued Marabout for infringement.
A French court recently ruled (back to Techdirt) in favor of Marabout and parody and fair use:
On Monday, Moulinsart’s complaint was rejected by the court in Rennes. “The court recognised the parody exception and the humorous intention expressed by my client,” Marabout’s lawyer, Bertrand Ermeneux, said.
The Rennes court also said that Moulinsart had “denigrated” Marabout by contacting galleries showing his work to say that it was infringing, Huffington Post France reported, adding €10,000 (£8,500) in damages for Marabout and €20,000 in legal fees to its ruling.