Tintin and Snowy

Tintin and Snowy

CIGARS OF THE PHARAOH

(Tintin en Orient  /  Les Cigares du Pharaon)

An eccentric Egyptologist, and a Pharoah’s strangely evasive tomb lead Tintin and Snowy on a dizzying race through the Mediterranean and Egypt to the Middle East and India. What is the secret of Kih-Oskh’s tomb? And how is it connected to the icy film producer Rastapopoulos?

(more…)

"Tintin in America" cover

TINTIN IN AMERICA

(Tintin en Amérique)

Tintin jets off from the Congo to Chicago in the good ol’ USA. Here, he is menaced by Al Capone, encounters a Blackfoot Indian tribe, and battles big oil.

(more…)

"Tintin in the Congo" merchandise
Proof that even severe racism
wont stop the merchandisers

TINTIN IN THE CONGO

(Tintin Au Congo)

In Tintin in the Congo – the reporter’s most controversial outing – Tintin and his dog Snowy head to the Belgian Congo, where they investigate diamond smuggling, and protect a village from a corrupt witch doctor, whilst fending off wildlife – by whatever means necessary!

(more…)

Cover of "Let Petit Vingtieme"

The cover of "Le Petit Vingtieme"

THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN IN THE LAND OF THE SOVIETS

(Tintin au Pays des Soviets)

In The Adventures of Tintin in the Land of the Soviets, reporter Tintin leaves his comfortable Brussels apartment, accompanied by his dog Snowy, to go undercover in Soviet Russia. His attempts to research his story, however, are compounded by the bureaucrats and Moscow’s secret police…

On January 10th, 1929, a curious comic strip began in the pages of Le Petit Vingtième, the children’s supplement to the Belgian newspaper La Vingtième Siècle (the Twentieth Century):

“At ‘Le Petit XXE‘ We are always eager to satisfy our readers and keep them up to date on foreign affairs. We have therefore sent TINTIN, one of our top reporters, to Soviet Russia. Each week, we shall be bringing you news of his many adventures.

N.B. The editor of “Le Petit XXE” guarantees that all photographs are absolutely authentic, taken by Tintin himself, aided by his faithful dog Snowy!”

(more…)

Tintin and Snowy In the beginning, there was the reporter…

Hergé’s Adventures of Tintin  is one of the all-time classic series of animated literature. From 1929 until his death in 1983, the Belgian artist devised 24 albums featuring the young reporter (of ambiguous age, sexuality and morals, as we’ll see over the next couple of months). At first accompanied solely by his loyal fox terrier Snowy, Tintin’s world soon encompassed a vast canvas of recurring characters: the dipsomaniac sea-dog Archibald Haddock; kind-hearted egghead Professor Cuthbert Calculus; domineering diva Bianca Castafiore; the unctuous salesman Jolyon Wagg; devil incarnate Roberto Rastopopolous… and so on. From his creaky beginnings uncovering the “stinking slums” of Bolshevik Russia, to his liberal awakening and attempts to promote peace from the Balkans to the Andes, Tintin became an icon for the global village – a human being who saw all those around him as citizens of the world.

As a child, I was obsessed with the Tintin oeuvre. I read 20 of the 24 albums rapaciously (three were not commonly available, as we shall see, and one – Tintin and the Picaros – was missing from my local library…) and would spend many a day turning them into film scripts. (Or, rather, play-cum-film hybrids, since I wasn’t quite old enough to recognise the deft differences between the formats). The Canadian animated series subsequently became a mainstay of my childhood, but it wasn’t until my university years that I first learned about the person and politics of Hergé (that’s pronounced air-zhay for all you heathens out there!) himself: of his psychological battles, his adversarial relationship with a large swathe of the European public, and the eventual internecine battles at Tintin Studios. Beyond this lies the story of a remarkable artist, and of his most beloved series, now entering its 9th decade of popularity and showing no signs of wavering.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I kept encountering people – particularly those from the North American continent – who had no knowledge of this influential series. Tintin‘s popularity was primarily in the French-speaking world and then, from the late 1950s, in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. Indeed, while there are obvious exceptions (and I’m sure there are many, many devoted Tintin freaks across the divide of the Atlantic), it seems that Tintin was just another strange import (like Doctor Who) until the 1990s animated series at least brought it to the attention of children everywhere. But in just eight months, we’ll see Tintin’s first big-screen adventure devised and written in English. With the talents of Spielberg, Peter Jackson and Steven Moffat behind the scenes, and with the characters brought to life by Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis and Simon Pegg – amongst others – The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn will introduce these albums to a new generation.

Before this, I’d like to weigh in with my thoughts on the series. My aim is simply to review the 24 albums in the series, as well as the two or three principal reference books published in English on the subject. In doing so, I will utilise my initial reviews written for Goodreads.com, hopefully expanding them whilst at the same time providing at least a basic primer on the creation and reception of each album. In no way can I compare to Michael Farr’s grand Tintin: The Complete Companion, but I promise that everything I say here will be true to the best of my knowledge, and my opinions will hopefully reflect a contemporary take on the series.

Beyond these reviews, I’ll hopefully post a few articles on the characters, the creator, the adaptations – particularly the animated series and, when the time comes, the film – and perhaps some various ways of reading the series. I’ll also weigh in with some thoughts on the non-canonical works (yes, Doctor Who fans, you aren’t alone!). Some of these were written by fans, others primarily to make a political point, one as a legitimate (if unwanted) merchandising opportunity, and one as a way to complete Tintin’s unfinished swan song, Tintin and Alph-Art.

In closing, I should confess my own flaws and biases: my French is limited, so unfortunately I won’t be able to discuss the swathes of reference material emanating from Belgium, nor can I weigh in on the translation efforts (except the occasional tidbit courtesy of Mr. Farr). My sensibilities, as a child of the ’90s, are undoubtedly modern, but my aim is to provide a window into how the albums were received at the time, as well as judging them by how they stand today. And finally, yes: I am a devoted Tintin fan. I do not love all 24 albums; indeed any of them could be seen as flawed. But I’m definitely wearing rose-coloured (Bianca rose-coloured?) glasses on this one.