On June 25th, 1952 the Tintin weekly presented a cover by Bob De Moor for the article “Dans les coulisses du Tour de France” (2 pages) which itself would be illustrated by 12 more drawings by Bob De Moor.
In De Moor’s cover you see the sportsmen passing over sets (also known as Belgian blocks), passing Paris (you’d think the Eiffel Tower would be on the last strip though), small hills and villages, into the snow-covered mountain hills.
As you can see, the cover artwork bears a lot of resemblance with the cartoons which were used in the newspapers of that period, using a panoramic view. Who doesn’t remember those very energetic Tour de France drawings by Buth (Thomas Pips, …). Even Marc Sleen would touch on the subject more than once and even saw an album “Het Rondecircus” released on the Tour de France. Sleen would also follow the tour between 1947 until 1964 and see his ‘current sports affairs’ cartoons published on a daily basis.
Now back to Bob De Moor. He would also include such a cartoonist on his cover for the Tintin weekly, namely on the second strip on the left if you look well. For those old enough to have witnessed the old style cycling tours, you will recognize the publicity train of soap, (cheap & bad) sponges, chewing gum and other marketing give-away vehicles that followed a tour. Add to that the assembled press in all its forms. For those who like details, Bob De Moor signed his name in ‘wave’ format, following the line of the road going up and down.
It’s fair enough to think that De Moor also depicted a few real life people in the cover, such as the painter of the Nylon-board, the cartoonist, the journalist on the motorbike on the 3rd strip, and so on. If anyone has a clue who these people are, let us know! We also suspect that he added Fausto Coppi on the second strip as the 2nd cyclist from the right. Not entirely impossible since this later Tour winner was already quite popular.
The 12 other drawings inside this Tintin issue are not all just contextual, some also act as a cartoon. The text itself handles all the different people that intervene in the actual tour, from technical people to journalists, and also explains some of the cliché habits. For Bob De Moor ‘gefundenes fressen’ to create some funny drawings of course.
The 1952 Tour de France itself was the 39th Tour de France, taking place June 25 to July 19, 1952. It was composed of 23 stages over 4807 km, covered at an average speed of 31.739 km/h. Newly introduced were the arrivals on mountain peaks.
The race was won by… yes, the same Italian Fausto Coppi whom we suspect to be in the cover. Coppi dominated the race, winning five stages and the mountains classification, and was a member of the winning Italian team. His dominance was so large that the Tour organization had to double the prize money for second place to make the race interesting. At the end, Coppi had a margin of almost half an hour over the second-ranked cyclist, such a margin has never been achieved again ever since.