One man and his dog

The war over Tintin

He seems so chipper, Tintin. Indefatigably curious, his nose alive at the mere sniff of a story, he remains upbeat in the most treacherous of scrapes. Compared to his friends, the crotchety Captain Haddock and the hapless twins Thompson and Thomson, Tintin glides through life, loyal Snowy at his side.

But Tintin is not merely a bequiffed Belgian reporter with questionable taste in three-quarter-length trousers, he is also a brand. And a brand fiercely guarded by one Nick Rodwell, a British lawyer and the husband of Fanny Remi, the widow of Tintin's creator, Hergé. Rodwell has been busy of late, suing a Tintin enthusiast, Bob Garcia, for writing a series of pamphlets on his cartoon hero.

Garcia, a detective novelist and jazz musician, says the pamphlets - on such subjects as similarities between Tintin and Sherlock Holmes - made him no money. They were done for love. But no matter: he has received a court order to pay £35,000 or face losing his house and belongings.

Rodwell is famous for doggedly protecting Brand Tintin. Some argue it's due to the impending Spielberg film; spin-offs will earn a fortune for Rodwell's firm, Moulinsart. Garcia has called for a boycott of the film, though he is keen to point out that he has "nothing against Mr Spielberg" - the anger that has led to his Facebook-based campaign is directed elsewhere entirely.

Sophie Elmhirst is features editor of the New Statesman

This article first appeared in the 30 November 2009 issue of the New Statesman, Left Hanging