Browsing around the NYPL image library site I came across a Japanese comic book from 1923 called The Adventures of Shôchan. It's not translated, but every page is scanned, and it's gorgeous in a very Herge style. And it predates Tintin. Tintin first appeared in 1929.
Here's Shôchan and his sidekick squirrel named Risu. Who, I'm sorry, is way cooler than Snowy. Apparently Shôchan is a youth journalist like Tintin, only he travels to way better places. Like, say, heaven.
Most of the pages are scanned at this size, and unfortunately there's no zooming in. You can see tantalizing bits of the action in the small panels.
And when I say action, I mean action.
It's not all tumbling over waterfalls, though: check this page out- it's an encounter with death.
There's a whole thing with some mice, a black cat and what I really hope is the squirrel in a white suit.
There are six volumes online. It looks like each volume has two large illustrations. Here Shôchan meets the vulture.
I could look at this image all day.
And here he beats down some red flying heads. WHY can't I read Japanese?
You can look at the whole set of Adventures online here , and there is plenty more to see. There are centaurs, crazy Norse looking horsemen and a whole lot more flying heads.
There doesn't seem to be a lot written online about Shôchan and Herge, but I'm not the only person to notice the resemblance. It's pretty insane. It looks to me like Herge stole the whole Shôchan concept, drawing style and formula. And I keep thinking that Tintin is wearing Shôchan's socks.
You can also see more Japanese book arts at the NYPL here. Ehon: The Artist and the Book in Japan.