Jolyon Wagg

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Jolyon Wagg
Jolyon Wagg (Séraphin Lampion), by Hergé
Publication information
Publisher Casterman (Belgium)
First appearance The Calculus Affair (1956)
The Adventures of Tintin
Created by Hergé
In-story information
Full name Jolyon Wagg
Team affiliations List of main characters
Supporting character of Tintin

Jolyon Wagg (French: Séraphin Lampion) is a fictional character in The Adventures of Tintin, the comics series by Belgian cartoonist Hergé. He is a gregarious, simple, and overbearing man who enters the story by barging in uninvited.

Character history[edit]

Jolyon Wagg is disliked by Captain Haddock, who finds him frustrating, although Wagg remains cheerfully oblivious and believes himself a great friend of the Captain. Wagg is portrayed as a clueless tourist in the exotic places where Tintin and the Captain have their adventures. He is an insurance salesman by trade, and he often tries to sell other characters insurance. Wagg often quotes his Uncle Anatole, who was a barber.[1][2]

Jolyon Wagg is based on a salesman who came to Hergé's door and invited himself in, but also on a stereotype of what Hergé called a belgicain, a petty-minded Belgian lacking self-awareness.[3] Wagg appears late in the series, starting with The Calculus Affair, where his self-importance and insensitivity enrage Captain Haddock. Wagg also appears in The Red Sea Sharks, The Castafiore Emerald, Flight 714 and Tintin and the Picaros.

Wagg appears four times in The Calculus Affair: inviting himself inside Marlinspike Hall, interfering with a critical radio transmission (Haddock was attempting to call the police while pursuing Calculus's captors but Wagg assumed that he was joking), repeatedly interrupting Haddock's phone call to Nestor, and moving into the Marlinspike Hall with his family for a holiday while Tintin, Haddock and Calculus are away. Tintin, who rarely shows anger, is unaffected. However the Captain is goaded into memorable rants, for example:

Wagg cannot take a hint. He sees himself as Haddock's friend and does not appear to realise that the Captain's outbursts demonstrate genuine dislike for him. When Bianca Castafiore insured her jewels for a large sum of money, Wagg criticised the Captain, saying that as a common "friend" of his and Bianca's, Haddock should have ensured that Wagg got the deal. In fact, Haddock sees both of them as nuisances rather than friends.

In the final Tintin album, Tintin and the Picaros, the tables are turned when Tintin and the Captain steal the costumes from the group with which Wagg is traveling.

Wagg has an unusual role in Tintin albums in that, unlike most recurring characters with a role in the plot, he is a relatively average human being (not being criminal, eccentric, dictatorial, or famous). He facilitated Hergé's bringing in a more realistic, domestic mood into some stories. Perhaps reflecting Hergé’s dislike of mediocrity, Wagg never accomplishes much, except to get in the way.

Naming[edit]

Names in Tintin are not always literally translated but rather turned into a different joke. What Hergé intended in French is not possible to translate directly, however he "wanted something 'puffed up', a tone which expressed at the same time fleshy and weak."[5] Wagg’s original French name, Séraphin Lampion, is a contrast between the first name meaning seraphim, and the last name meaning a "chintzy little lamp of the sort Wagg would use to decorate his home",[6] or perhaps alternately "a show off". A range of meanings may have been implied. For example, Jolyon Wagg is named "Serafim Svensson" in the Swedish translation of the Tintin Albums. Although the name does not in fact mean anything specific in Swedish, it suits Hergé's 'puffed up' intention.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Characters by Name: A". Hergé/Moulinsart S.A. Retrieved 1 February 2008. 
  2. ^ "Characters by Name: W". Hergé/Moulinsart S.A. Retrieved 1 February 2008. 
  3. ^ Sadoul, Numa: Tintin et Moi: entretiens avec Hergé, p. 109, Casterman, 1975
  4. ^ Hergé: L’Affaire Tournesol, p. 6, Casterman, 1956
  5. ^ Sadoul, Numa: Tintin et Moi: entretiens avec Hergé, p. 109, Casterman, 1975
  6. ^ Thompson, Harry: Tintin: Hergé and his Creation, p. 158, Hodder & Stoughton, 1991

Bibliography[edit]