When I returned from my foray to the Gothic Quarter, I was just in time to catch Scott heading out for a luncheon with some Spanish artists and their agent. I decided not to tag along, and I poked my head into the hotel restaurant intending only to ask directions to a monastery I’d heard about. Instead, I got swept into conversation and wound up staying for lunch.
I was sitting at one end of the long table, next to a softspoken French woman who told me apologetically that she didn’t speak English. Her husband, on the other side of her, did, and he was chatting animatedly with Tim Sale and Michael Golden, who sat across the table from us. After a while the talk turned to Hergé, the creator of the Tintin books. I spoke of my children’s great love for Tintin, and it seemed all of us at that end of the table were big fans. The French fellow, an older man, told us that one tiny panel of Tintin art had been sold recently for about a million dollars. One small panel.
“I should ‘ave been drawing Tintin,” he lamented. “I should ‘ave been drawing Tintin 35 years ago. I should ‘ave been Hergé!”
This drew a big laugh from Tim and Michael. The gentleman went on to tell us how protective the Hergé estate is of the Tintin image. “If anyone so much as draws Tintin on a bathroom wall in Belgium,” he said, “the Foundation will swoop down and sound the great alarm!”
Shortly thereafter he excused himself, and he and his wife got up to leave. I wished them farewell with a cheery parting shot: “Now don’t go drawing Tintin on any bathroom walls!”
As soon as they had left the room, I turned to Tim Sale and asked who the man was, since I had not caught his name. Tim’s eyes were dancing with amusement.
“Lissa,” he said, “that was Moebius.”
Those of you who are comic-book readers will understand why I gasped, my hands flying to my mouth. For those of you who are perhaps not so well versed in the great figures of the comics world, let me clarify by explaining that this would be the equivalent of having lunch with, oh, say, Maurice Sendak and not having a clue to whom I was speaking—and to whom I was blithely issuing warnings about drawing on bathroom walls.
I will never, ever live this one down in certain circles, believe me.