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Tintin

The Adventures of Tintin is a well-known comic strip written and drawn by the Belgian writer-artist Hergé. The hero of the series is a young reporter named Tintin, who travels around the world landing himself in a variety of adventures.

The narratives are diverse: some stories are swashbuckling adventures with elements of fantasy, some are mysteries or science fiction, others have political or cultural commentary. The most notable stories take place in well-researched early-20th-century historical settings. All include plenty of slapstick humor.

The comic has been admired for its stylish drawings, its exceptional direction and, in later stories, the painstaking research that went into the background story. It fits in with other comics in the great 20th century tradition of the European humouristic adventure strip (such as Franquin's Spirou and Goscinny's Asterix). The series was an inspiration to famous movie directors such as Steven Spielberg and to painters such as Andy Warhol.

Table of contents

Characters

Tintin

The hero of the series

Captain Haddock[?]

Seafaring captain, introduced in The Crab with the Golden Claws. Often badmouthed, Haddock is usually the target of the slapstick-like scenes of the comic. Haddock uses all sorts of words as insults, such as "waffle iron" and "anacoluthon". There is a book by Albert Algoud, Le Haddock Illustré which gives all of Haddock's expletives, ISBN 2-203-01710-4. Haddock lives in the Chateau de Moulinsart, which is modeled on the real Chateau Cheverny.

Professor Cuthbert Calculus[?] (Professeur Tryphon Tournesol)

Lit. Professor Tryphonius Sunflower. A hard-of-hearing professor, inventor of many objects used in the series, such as the moon rocket, a one-person submarine and an ultrasound weapon. His inventions are usually disliked by Haddock, although Calculus usually interprets this the other way round. His deafness is a frequent source of humour, as he repeats back what he thinks he has heard: "attachez votre ceinture" "une tache de peinture?". This contrasts with the Dupontd's spoonerisms. It's widely admitted that Calculus character was inspired by Auguste Piccard.

Snowy (Milou)

Snowy is Tintin's faithful fox terrier[?]. Very early in the series he talks to Tintin, later he is reduced to occasionally having picture bubbles representing his thoughts.

Thomson and Thompson (Dupont et Dupond)

Two clumsy detectives who look like twins, providing many of the comic reliefs throughout the series. They are afflicted with spoonerism.

A great number of other characters also occur in more than one of the books:

  • Roberto Rastapopoulos[?] - A Greek-American tycoon, involved in criminal activities. Also known as Marquis di Gorgonzola.
  • Allan - originally a first mate under an alcoholic Haddock, Allan is often involved in smuggling and other criminal activities as one of Rastapopoulos' henchmen.
  • Chong-chen Chang[?] - A Chinese orphan, who is rescued by Tintin and becomes his friend. The character is based upon a real friend of Hergé.
  • General Alcazar[?] - General of the army of San Theodoros, Alcazar switches with comedic frequency between being president of the country and leading a rebellion to battle the government.
  • Dr. J.W. Müller[?] - Archeologist and villain.
  • Bianca Castafiore[?] - A satirical diva, best-known for the 'Jewel Song' from Faust. Has a crush on Haddock, for whom she has a strong mothering instinct. She always pronounces his name incorrectly ("Capitaine Karbock"), and whenever she showers him with tokens of affection the results are disastrous. Later gets involved in rumours surrounding an affair with Haddock.
  • Ben Kalish Ezab[?] and his son Abdallah[?] - Emir of Khemed, and his very spoilt son.
  • Piotr Skut[?] (originally Szut) - Estonian pilot.
  • Oliveira da Figueira[?] - Portuguese travelling salesman, who settled in Khemed.

Race and Colonialism

The earliest stories in The Adventures of Tintin have been criticized for racist and colonialist leanings, including caricatured portrayals of non-Europeans. However, Hergé changed his views sometime between these early works and The Blue Lotus[?]. This story, set in China during the then-current Sino-Japanese War, was the first for which he did extensive background research. It helped to dispel popular myths about the Chinese people. From then on, meticulous research would be one of Hergé's trademarks.

Some of the early albums were altered by Hergé in subsequent edition, usually at the demand of publishers. For example, at the instigation of his American publishers, many of the black characters in Tintin in America were re-colored to make their race white or ambiguous. The Shooting Star originally had an American villain with a Jewish name, who was changed to a South American with an less ethnically-specific name in later editions.

For a further discussion, see The ideology of Tintin.

List of books

(Also see the legend below)

Legend
BWBlack and white, only published much later in book form.
+unfinished work
Ffilm adaptation
nwhere n is a number. Several stories are spread over two books, the numbers indicate which books go together

The books are listed in the order in which the stories first appeared in newspapers or magazines. Land of Black Gold was started in 1939, but was put on hold when World War II broke out. (Sceptre and Gold actually deal with the rising threat of a second big war.) Gold was not finished before 1971.

These fall in to three rough groups (rough outline follows. There are books on this...):

  1. Tintin as a reporter / detective, exploring real countries (Soviets - Crab)
  2. fantasy adventures: treasure hunts (Unicorn), ghost stories (Crystal Balls), Science Fiction (Moon). Tintin is joined by a crew of secondary characters: Haddock and Tournesol. These were written during the buildup to World War II and the occupation, when Herge had to steer clear of anything that could be construed as political
  3. Coming of age: Herge returns to political intrigue seen in Ottokar, the odysseys seen in Ear, but with a much broader stroke. Most are set in, or involve, fictional countries. Characters from old adventures make reappearances, e.g. Dawson from Lotus.

In 1993, after the death of Hergé, his friend Frederic Tuten published Tintin in the New World: A Romance (ISBN 0-7493-9610-5). In this story Tintin loses his boyish innocence and lives fully, even to excess.

Fictional Countries

Hergé devised several fictional countries later in the series. Syldavia in particular is described in considerable detail (history, customs, language etc).

Another is Nuevo Rico[?] in South America, mentioned in The Shooting Star[?]; this was added for the publication of the comic in book form (specifics needed here -- the original newspaper version had the bad guy masterminds as stereotypical Jewish puppet-masters -- the book vesion darkens their skin tone and inserts Nuevo Rico as a hasty reference.). Nuevo Rico may be another name for, or the capital of, San Theodoros; there is a newspaper clipping in Sharks with the headline "Coup d'état in Nuevo Rico: Alcazar overthrows Tapioca".

See also:

Franco-Belgian comics

Trivia: There is a female character in the puppet series Thunderbirds named Tintin Kyrano, but the similarity of names appears to be coincidental.



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