Brussels: A tearful, beloved cartoon adventurer, Tintin, quickly emerged as a symbol of solidarity in the chaotic aftermath of the Brussels bombings as social media users worldwide took to Facebook and other Web streams for check ins by loved ones potentially in harm’s way
On Twitter, on Instagram and elsewhere around the internet, the red-haired reporter in his signature trench coat with his white dog Snowy — the creations of Belgian cartoonist Herge — were shared as shocked and saddened versions of their usually indomitable and irrepressible selves.
Some cartoonists drew “too soon” criticism for depicting the stars of the comic series “The Adventures of Tintin” — made into a movie in 2011 by Steven Spielberg — as bloodied and battered.
Others on social media borrowed from the January 2015 Charlie Hebdo tragedy, using the hashtag “JeSuisBruxelles,” or “I am Brussels,” just as those after the Paris attacks did when spreading the sentiment “JeSuisCharlie.”
Facebook, meanwhile, activated its “safety check” system yet again to help Tuesday within hours of the three deadly explosions at the Brussels airport and a metro station.
The Tintin cartoon books have been translated into 70-plus languages, from Chinese to Armenian, English to Spanish, just as social media users are lending their languages and voices of outrage, fear, defiance and concern to the cacophony following the blasts in Brussels.
The books have sold in the tens of millions of copies, but only in Belgium has the fearless reporter and his dog been ingrained in the DNA of most youngsters since the 1950s. Herge died in 1983 and is considered a national treasure in his native Belgium.
A more popular version of the Tintin meme in response to the explosions has him shedding a single tear as he hovers over a newspaper with a headline about the explosions, pal Snowy shaking nearby. Tintin utters “Mon Dieu,” or “My God.”