Saturday, August 2, 2014

Cats and Dogs in (optimistic) Herge's Life

The name of Herge's famous Siamese cat was "Kang-Hi", which during the last year of his life unexpectedly went missing. The loss was deeply felt by Herge and Fanny (his wife), because Kang-Hi did occupy a privileged position among the four household cats. As the days, weeks and months passed with no sign of the regal feline, Fanny came to accept the loss. But Herge never gave up hope for the cat he considered 'as beautiful as a Chinese vase'.

So the man who with Snowy had created the most famous and popular dog of the strip cartoon, for the first time in his life acquired a dog - a whippet called "Leila" - to make up for the loss of his preferred Siamese. It was a hard gap to fill and the dog would look imploringly at her master, seeking but not really gaining the unqualified affection and approval she craved. The fact that despite Snowy, Herge was not, according to Fanny, so keen on dogs.

Nearly nine months later the telephone rang: Kang-Hi's collar and tag been found in a garden many miles away from home, and there were reports of a Siamese cat scavenging among the dustbins behind a laundry. Fanny asked the caller to telephone at the next sighting, regardless of the hour. In due course the call came and Fanny and Herge immediately set out by car, reached the destination and mounted watch from a garage near the dustbins. It was rather like a portside vigil by Tintin and Snowy, waiting and watching for the gangsters in one of the adventures.

There was some movement by the bins. Fanny called out and the cat came; it was a very frightened and bedraggled "Kang-Hi" !!!! In the back of the car on the journey home, the cat did not know which was more important - to guzzle the food on offer or, in cat fashion, to recount its adventures.
Snowy too had on occasions been lost and, cold and hungry, had trekked great distances before being reunited with his master. Everybody was very happy - and Herge especially, because yet again his optimism has proved justified and been rewarded. Once home, Kang-Hi immediately returned to the vacated position of authority, while the whippet had to accept its lot. 

Such were the differences and altercations between snowy and the resident Siamese cat at Marlinspike.

--- (from Michael Farr's Book)

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