Retro Rockets on the Moon: Printable Clipart & Crochet Patterns Inspired by The Adventures of TinTin
Updated: Dec 14, 2022
Welcome to #gardenpunk.life! I appreciate your visit, and I hope you enjoy all the retro, whimsical, and future-themed lifestyle content I’ll be bringing to the site.
Today’s projects are inspired by the recently revealed first deep space images from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. Launched on December 25, 2021 after decades of development, Webb is now the world’s largest and most powerful space-based telescope in operation. With its four onboard instruments, scientists will be able to study the very early days of our universe, the ways stars, planets, and galaxies form and evolve, and obtain spectroscopic data on the atmosphere compositions of exoplanets.
Webb’s first full-color scientific images and findings released on July 12, 2022 mark the official start of its formal science work. If you enjoyed the amazing images and space facts made possible by the Hubble Space Telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope is probably going to blow your mind. Personally, I can’t wait to see the exoplanet data that comes out. I love dreaming up life and landscapes on other planets, so there will be plenty of projects and printables on #gardenpunk.life inspired by past findings in that arena plus the exciting possibilities yet to come. Keep an eye out!
[Photo Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI. Original images with descriptions here.]
A quick review of history seems to show that space has always inspired humanity, thus the golden era of our rocket age is unsurprisingly ripe with all sorts of retro visions of what our future might look like. Perhaps one of the most recognizable images of a “vintage” or “retrofuture” rocket, in my opinion, is the one designed by Belgian artist Georges Remi for his famous cartoon adventurer named TinTin. Its missile shape combined with a red and white checkered coloring seems to be a classic reference point in popular culture whenever rocket history is being discussed.
A Brief History of TinTin
Remi, better known under his pen name of Hergé (a play on his initials “G.R.” said backwards with a French pronunciation of “R.G.”), completed twenty-four stories involving TinTin the reporter which comprised many historical events in its plots during its run from 1929 to 1986. However, the pictured space technology contained in his two moon adventures are likely some of the most recognizable images from the series and evoke a nostalgia for the era they represent even from those not familiar with the series more specifically. In other words, many people recognize the TinTin rocket without knowing anything else about it. It has become that iconic.
Personally, recognizing the rocket motivated me to see the modern TinTin movie release in 2011. Even then, though, I still didn’t know the full plot of the moon adventure itself and only recently watched it to prepare for this particular set of projects. I’d also already designed a crocheted apron based on the rocket and hooked a cosplay TinTin sweater without knowing anything else about the cartoon journalist! (My observations here about nostalgia may be pure projection, I admit.)
According to biographical accounts of his life, Hergé did an incredible amount of research and had many discussions with involved scientists to make sure the rocket trips in the Destination Moon (1950, 1953) and Explorers on the Moon (1954) stories were as accurate as possible to what was being designed for future space travel in the day. That said, reading and watching in modern times, where real trips to the Moon are decades old and astronauts regularly ferry to orbit for long stays on the International Space Station, TinTin’s adventure almost seems commonplace with all we take for granted now. It further reminds me of how far humanity has progressed in the “final frontier” considering Hergé’s stories came out nearly two decades before Neil Armstrong first set foot on the Moon in 1969 and several years before the first satellite (Sputnik I) made it to space in 1957. While there are definitely details in TinTin’s adventure that turned out to be incorrect as far as space travel goes, I will say it’s quite a relief that astronauts don’t actually black out during launch and landing like the Destination Moon crew did.
C2C Crochet Vintage Rocket Pattern (plus bonus grids)
What would a C2C or tapestry crochet tribute to the retro rocket age be without a nod to the classic rocket from the TinTin moon stories? I took to my pixel software and put something together that would capture its overall vibe in blanket format, but I ran into a hiccup: I didn’t have the right colors in my yarn stash! Since I’d been on a neutrals kick for my house decorations, my options were limited to shades of tan, grey, and a bit of black, so that’s what my finished project looked like. My husband claimed it for his chair in our room – a success overall in my book.
For the pattern, though, I did do my best to color match with the books as the images were available online. I’ve also included a couple of bonus grids in case a whole blanket set is in mind based on the retro rocket age. It’s definitely on my gift list this holiday season for any rocket lovers in the family and friends circle!
Project 2: Retro Rocket Clipart [printable]
My toddler son has been obsessed with rockets pretty much since his first birthday wherein he could pick items up and make them “launch.” Cuppies? Check. Toothbrushes? Annoyingly so. Crayons? Yes, unless being used as an astronaut snack. Legos? Of course. What else are they good for aside from pure foot pain traps in the middle of the night? Thus, I decided to try and direct his playtime with a little printable play set inspired by the TinTin series.
Most pieces in this printable PDF are for space adventures, including a full page of different colored and sized retro rockets with a few others thrown in that could be useful perhaps for an exoplanet mission. While the set I printed out was simply laminated, cut, and handed over to be played with as-is, the pieces can also be used to make magnets or stickers, too. You’d only need to either add magnet tape after lamination or print the pages out on full-sheet label paper.
Final report on this project from the toddler monster: The printed rockets and accessories were acceptable for his space missions except for the black and white colored one which was apparently “dirty.” I still don’t understand why that one is so different, but he makes quite a fuss about it and the spectacle makes me feel slightly ashamed for some absurd reason. You’ve been warned should the recipient of your set have this same…affliction?
I hope you enjoyed this little tribute and backgrounder on The Adventures of TinTin and its contribution to the retro rocket age. These projects were fun for me to make and were a hit with my kids overall. Let me know in the comments if you had the same or a similar success using them for any of your own projects!
As always, thanks for reading!
Book Review: The Real Hergé (The Inspiration Behind TinTin) by Sian Lye
If you want to have a much more in-depth overview of TinTin’s creator and all the events and inspirations behind the stories, I recommend this book. I purchased my copy using an Audible credit and thought both the writing and narration were well done. When I began my research on this topic, I first visited the official TinTin website which had a lot of biographical information on Hergé and behind-the-scenes breakdowns of what went into his cartoons. But it was a bit overwhelming to a newcomer with how comprehensive it is. Taking on Lye’s biography first really helped me appreciate the finer details offered online, and I really enjoyed seeing photographs presented to give me faces to all the names in the book.
Unfortunately, a small side effect of knowing more about Hergé was the clash his personal values seemed to have with mine. I know that seems silly to say since I’ve never met this man who passed before I was born. Yet from the way he was described by the author, he reminded me very much of people I’ve known in my life with whom I had difficulty finding common ground.
For instance, I struggled to wrap my head around Hergé’s multiple love affairs while married which he insisted his wife accept and even support to an extent. He eventually divorced and married the woman he had his longest affair with after a seventeen-year estrangement from his first wife, and the second wife still owns the copyrights to the TinTin works. To be clear, it’s not that affairs surprise me (especially amongst the rich and famous), but rather the long-term humiliation and narcissism that went into Hergé’s actions in a time where divorce wasn’t a feasible option for women and could ruin their chance of any livelihood afterwards that darkened my impression of the artist.
In another instance, Hergé had many long leaves of absence throughout his career wherein everyone in his studio back home was left on the hook to meet his contractual obligations to publishers and the like. The way the book described these periods of time gave me the impression that Hergé was just bored and didn’t like being responsible for his actions or their consequences on others that relied on him. Even after very stern feedback from his partners and demands that he quit behaving like a perpetual child with such stunts, he still never changed course until he decided he wanted something else and the work that had churned on while he was away was waiting to enable the new idea.
I guess Hergé’s approach to running his studio just stands in stark contrast to what I’ve learned is required for success. Modern times see quite the opposite from the creatives and founders to the extent that they’re painted as villains in the press (see: Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, etc.). I’ve worked for enough personality types to have an overall preference in my employer, and no one will be perfect as we’re all human, naturally. However, knowing Hergé was one of the more frustrating types dings my enjoyment of his creations just a bit. It makes me question how much work he put in personally to his legacy vs. how much water was carried for him by people that really needed to stay employed during the economic uncertainty of their days in his studio.
In summary, Sian Lye’s book was done well and balanced the many complexities of Hergé’s life and work in a fair and balanced way as far as I could tell. It addressed some of the Nazi-era controversies the cartoons stirred up, but it took a rational approach to both their foundations and how they were handled. As another plus, aside from Hergé’s biography specifically, I also thought the historical insight into what living in a post-WWII Europe was like also very worth the reading.