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Barrackpore illustrator puts Professor Shonku in Tintin’s spotlight

Graphic designer Indranil Banerjee’s pastiche pays tribute to the genius of Satyajit Ray and Herge

Hritam Mukherjee | Published 16.12.21, 04:25 PM
Indranil Banerjee and his covers

Indranil Banerjee and his covers

If you ask any Bengali teen about their favourite fictional characters while growing up, it is highly likely their lists will have two names in common — the eccentric Bengali scientist, Professor Shonku and the energetic Belgian reporter, Tintin. The wonders of Shonku’s science fiction and the rich visual narration of Tintin’s sleuthing leave everlasting impressions on anyone who reads the stories. 

If ever as a lover of adventure literature, you had imagined Shonku and his escapades unfolding in front of you in a style similar to Tintin’s, then you are in luck! A fan-made crossover between the two literary legacies may be your next big fancy!

Professor Shonku and his pet cat Newtown is cast in the iconic Tintin-Snowy image

Professor Shonku and his pet cat Newtown is cast in the iconic Tintin-Snowy image

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Bengali illustrator Indranil Banerjee, in one of his latest undertakings, has designed four posters for four different Professor Shonku stories, modelling each in the remarkable visual style of Tintin comic covers. Barring some minor changes, Banerjee’s adaptations, which show Professor Shonku and his companions inhabiting a Tintin-esque world, bear unmistakable familiarity to the original ones in terms of composition, colour, analogy and even the font styles.

According to the artist, there were obvious similarities in both the characters and the stories of the two franchises. For his creations, Banerjee chose four prominent Professor Shonku stories and styled their covers keeping in mind parallels from the Tintin universe.

Poster of 'Byomjatrir Diary' (The Spaceman's Diary) modeled after 'Explorers on the Moon'

Poster of 'Byomjatrir Diary' (The Spaceman's Diary) modeled after 'Explorers on the Moon'

From Shonku’s collection, he selected Byomjatrir Diary (The Spaceman’s Diary), Raktamatsya Rahasya (The Mystery of the Red Fishes), Maru Rahasya (The Mystery in the Desert) and Swapnadweep (Island of Dreams) and matched them with covers made for the Tintin stories Explorers on the Moon, Red Rackham’s Treasure, The Crab with the Golden Claws and The Shooting Star, respectively. 

Scene swapping

To make it contextually appropriate, Banerjee made significant modifications to his posters. For instance, the red mushroom from The Shooting Star was changed and a giant exotic flower took its place in Swapnadweep. Similarly, the lunar landscape and the space rocket from Explorers on the Moon was transformed into orange plains and a red river to denote the Martian atmosphere in Byomjatrir Diary.

Poster of 'Moru Rahasya' (The Mystery in the Desert) modeled after 'The Crab with the Golden Claws'

Poster of 'Moru Rahasya' (The Mystery in the Desert) modeled after 'The Crab with the Golden Claws'

These illustrations, which Banerjee later uploaded on his personal Facebook profile, immediately resonated with his audience and went viral. Catching the attention of netizens, Banerjee’s post was shared almost 1,800 times on the platform, inviting reactions from over 1,300 users. While most viewers who commented on the post marvelled at the extraordinary similarity between the stories, a few even suggested new pairs for artistic consideration. 

‘A bit of work, but fun’

Banerjee, who had used Adobe Photoshop to make the posters, said that fusing the likenesses of the two franchises to bring out a synthesis was an interesting process for him. He also said that combining the creative geniuses of Satyajit Ray, the creator of Shonku, and Herge, the mastermind behind Tintin, was, “a bit of work, but fun”. The end result, as one of the users commented, was “a delightful pastiche”. 

Apart from the individual stories, the artist has also tried his hands at the iconic chiaroscuro image of Tintin and his pet dog Snowy running in the dark as a yellow spotlight falls on them. Putting a unique spin on the original, Banerjee has refashioned it to include Shonku and his pet cat Newton in the same pose — both ready to take over the antics of the former duo. 

Poster of 'Raktamatsya Rahasya' (The Mystery of the Red Fishes) modeled after 'Red Rackham's Treasure'

Poster of 'Raktamatsya Rahasya' (The Mystery of the Red Fishes) modeled after 'Red Rackham's Treasure'

Speaking to My Kolkata about the posters, which he collectively named, “The Adventures of Professor Shonku,” Banerjee said, “Satyajit Ray himself was an admirer of Tintin stories. It was my introduction to comics and Shonku was my introduction to Satyajit Ray. So, it is like a tribute to my biggest inspirations — Ray and Herge.”

Upon asking what propelled him to execute this crossover, Banerjee recounted his own boyhood with nostalgia. He said, “Back in my childhood days, when I was reading Tintin and Shonku simultaneously, I often imagined Shonku’s stories with Tintin’s visuals. Now as a graphic designer, it was about time I made my imagination come true.” 

Poster of 'Swapnadweep' (Island of Dreams) modeled after 'The Shooting Star'

Poster of 'Swapnadweep' (Island of Dreams) modeled after 'The Shooting Star'

When asked if he had plans to make a complete Tintin-style comics out of a Shonku story, the resident of Shyamnagar, a small town near Barrackpore, said, “I haven’t thought of that yet, but you never know, maybe in the future.”

Last updated on 16.12.21, 04:27 PM
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