Tintin in the Congo – Herge

You read a book as a child and think it’s great. Then you read it as an adult and think oh my how incredibly racist. Enid Blyton, Robert E. Howard and now Herge it seems. There would be as much chance of publishing this book as a new work as there would be of bringing back the Black and White Minstrel Show. The black inhabitants of theCongoare definitely the butt of all jokes. There is humour within but should I feel guilty about laughing?

This work is typical of the 1930’s in which it was published. Attitudes to other cultures were a lot different then. At least we like to think they are. This is quite a valuable work providing a telling glimpse into a less globalised and less politically correct society. This book was redrawn in colour from its original drawings in the 1960s and to my knowledge none of the dialogue was changed, meaning even then we were still laughing at ignorant foreigners.

If anyone comes off worse than the natives it’s the animals. Tintin thinks nothing of blasting away at antelope, monkeys, lions, elephants and so on, accumulating skins and ivory at a frightening rate. Another example of how attitudes have changed.

Having said all that it’s not a bad little story although it is never explained why Tintin goes to the Congo and as for the villain trying to kill him there is no way you will guess his identity in a million years.

Thumbs Up for showing us how far we have come, and how far we have yet to go.

122/243.

Tomorrow: The Walking Dead Volume 1: Days Gone Bye – Robert Kirkman

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Tintin in the Land of the Soviets – Herge

Having fond childhood memories of Tintin I thought I would succumb to nostalgia and revisit the books starting with number one. I got quite a shock.

This story is entirely in black and white with simple outline drawings. Like the early episodes of the Simpsons, characters are recognisable but the style is still forming and growing. Tintin has a much rounder head and there is less definition in the character’s features. However, the simplistic method and the monochrome texture means you don’t stop to admire the view and are whisked along by the story.

It was originally a newspaper comic strip so the regular cliff-hangers mean that Tintin is getting shot at, blown-up, or in car crashes every other page. Whilst this gets a bit fatiguing after a while it means the story moves along at a fair old pace. You won’t get bored and can finish the book very quickly.

Herge wrote this in 1929 meaning the politics are just as black and white as the pictures. The Soviets are evil. Like the Nazis in Indiana Jones they have no redeeming features. This conjures the feel of an old Saturday Morning serial like Flash Gordon or Buck Rogers. Much of the humour wouldn’t look out of place in a Charlie Chaplin movie either. This is definitely a fascinating snapshot of a bygone era and quite an accomplishment for a 22 year old amateur with no formal art training. Whilst the English translation can sometimes get a bit patchy it is still an interesting read.

Thumbs Up!

121/244.

Tomorrow: The Walking Dead Volume 1: Days Gone Bye – Robert Kirkman

PS: Later tonight – Tintin in the Congo – Herge