Tintin is coming! Do your Hergé homework now!

The Adventures of Tintin, Steven Spielberg’s lavish motion-capture romp based on the comic books about the cowlicked kid reporter, his dog Snowy, and his drunkard sea captain pal, Captain Haddock, doesn’t open stateside until Dec. 21. But overseas, where the Tintin books have long been essential reading for kids and grownups, the film is already out – and already closing in on $200 million in box office receipts.

Spielberg, producer Peter Jackson and screenwriters Joe Cornish and Edgar Wright based their adaptation mostly on The Secret of the Unicorn, the 11th book in Tintin creator Hergé's beloved series. (Red Rackham’s Treasure and The Castafiore Emerald are two other Tintin books whose plots and personnel figure prominently in the Spielberg's pic.) Checking out a copy of any of the Tintin volumes would certainly serve as a good introduction to the characters and the concepts first introduced to the world in the pages of a Belgian newspaper in 1929.

But another great way into the world of Tintin is The Adventures of  Hergé  (Drawn & Quarterly, $19.95), a biographical comic about Georges Remi, aka Hergé, written and illustrated in the clean lines and multi-panel style of the Tintin books themselves. The work of French novelist Jose-Louis Bocquet, graphic novelist Jean-Luc Fromental and artist Stanislas Barthelemy, the book follows its protagonist from his boyhood in Brussels and his very first box of crayons, to his school years and adventures as a Boy Scout, then into the 1930s, when his strips in the children’s newspaper XXe Siecle took off, then through World War II, when some believed Hergé to be a Nazi sympathizer, and onto the professional successes and personal tumult of the post-war years. Chang Chong-Jen, the Chinese art student who became a lifelong friend and key influence of Hergé’s is here, but so, too, surprisingly, is Andy Warhol, who met up with Hergé at an art gallery appearance in 1977. Cool and concise, witty and affectionate, The Adventures of Hergé is charming stuff.