When Hergé submitted his cover illustration for The Blue Lotus in 1936, the cartoonist’s publisher said it was too expensive to reproduce in color. But the gouache and watercolor illustration, depicting a scrawny dragon leering towards Tintin and his dog Snowy cowering inside a qinghua vase, would receive belated validation when it sold at auction for $3.9 million in 2021.
Now, the image that was never the front cover for the Belgian reporter’s adventures through Japanese-occupied China is up for sale again, this time as part of an NFT collection.
It’s the first such endeavor from Tintinimaginatio, the rights holder and chief promoter of Hergé’s work, and aims to onboard fans of the most famous quiff in comics into the world of Web3. To do so, NFTs are offered along with exclusive collector items, and the company has partnered with artèQ, the blockchain investment fund that partnered with the Belvedere Museum to drop Gustav Klimt NFTs in 2022, and Crossmint, a blockchain startup that enables fiat checkout solutions, meaning Tintin devotees can pay by credit card.
A certificate of authenticity for The Blue Lotus NFT. Photo courtesy arteQ.
There are two versions of The Blue Lotus NFT. One is a limited-edition print capped at 777 copies. The other a digital print capped at 1,777 copies. The number seven nods to the subheading of Tintin’s magazine, which read: “The super journal of young people from 7 to 77.”
Both versions include a NFT certificate of ownership, a booklet created by Hergé expert Philippe Goddin that explores the fifth volume of Tintin’s adventures, and inside access to the next Tintin NFT drop. The purely digital NFT comes with a trio of digitized editions of The Blue Lotus comic and a one-time family pass to the Hergé Museum in Belgium.
“The Blue Lotus marks a very important creative step in Hergé’s work, both in terms of graphics and storytelling,” Farbod Sadeghian CEO of arteQ told Artnet News. “Regarding the treasures [connected to the NFTs], we felt it was essential to reveal the story behind this work. Hergé would be very impressed.”
The NFT project marks the latest venture aiming to expand the modern presence of Tintin, one spanning movies, video games, immersive experiences, and dedicated stores from Shanghai to London.
The market for Tintin artwork has been steadilygrowingforyears, with an original black and white drawing for the cover of Hergé’s Tintin in America fetching $2.3 million at auction earlier this year. How strong the demand is for comparable digital Tintin collectibles awaits to be seen.