Maybe it is s a little weird, a sixty-three year old reading and commenting on the Tintin series of books, but hey – why not? These books take me back to my childhood and there is a lovely innocence about them.
I actually bought the full twenty-three book box set a few months ago and am gradually working my way through them. (I know – more money than sense, probably.) Interestingly, with present day PC / ‘woke’ attitudes, to complete the full set of books, I had to purchase ‘Tintin In The Congo’ as a separate edition, the producers of the box set probably not keen on reproducing stereo-typical images and language from less informed times.
The first book in the series, though, is ‘In The Land Of The Soviets.’ from 1929 and appeared initially in the children’s section of the Belgian newspaper, Le Vingtieme Siecle. Tintin author Herge, had just been employed as an artist for the paper, and although he had not been to Russia himself, he was inspired by a book he had read the previous year to write the story line highlighting the Soviet propaganda machine,
The artwork is monochrome and pretty basic, with no more than six image panels to a page, resulting in this book being longer, certainly as far as pages go (141) than any of those subsequent.
Of course, the language is very ‘stiff upper lip’ quaint and pours ridicule and scorn on the Soviet Union and all it stood for. Ironically, in doing so, the book could stand accused of pushing propaganda on behalf of ‘the West.’ It’s all jolly good fun though.
The second Tintin book is the one mentioned earlier – ‘Tintin In The Congo.’ It does not even merit a mention in the box set of paperbacks. The copy I have is a ‘Collector’s Edition’ hardback that ‘completes the series of twenty four Tintin adventures by Herge.’ It is published by Casterman, as opposed to Egmont who ran with the rest.
The story once again appeared in serialised newspaper form, in 1931, then published as a book a short time after. The book’s foreward states the following:
‘In his portrayal of the Belgian Congo, the young Herge reflects on the colonial attitudes of the time. he himself admitted that he depicted the African people according to the bourgeois, paternalistic stereotypes of the period – an interpretation that some of today’s readers may find offensive. The same could be said of his treatment of big game hunting.’
Yeah – I can see why some may consider the book to be inappropriate nowadays. Personally, I’m certain the author had no intention of causing offense, but it was a good idea to withdraw this adventure from the box set and not ‘force’ it upon buyers keen to read all the other stories. This way the curious and ‘completists’ like myself can still access the book, and in the prior knowledge that it could be upsetting.
In some respects, those put off by the attitudes evidenced in the ‘Congo’ book could also find offence in some of the depictions in the third book, ‘Tintin In America,’ originally published in 1932.
This adventure sees Tintin confront danger at the hands of ‘the mob’ and also native Indians. Already, the storylines have a good deal familiarity with those already read, but (forgetting they were written for children) they are still good fun!
‘Cigars Of The Pharaoh‘ sees the introduction of the Thomson Twins – two bowler hatted, policemen who have the knack of messing things up. At this point, we know of them only as the police numbers, X33 and X33A and it is a few tales down the line before we we are made aware of their surname. I believe they appear in all but one of the following storylines.
From the title and cover artwork, I fully expected this adventure to be centred around Egypt, but as it happens, most of the action I would say takes place in India, which i did find a little strange. No ‘spoilers’ here, but I was interested to read about a present day world problem being an issue back in the times of this tale too..
Well – that’s four down, twenty to go! I have to say, I’m actually enjoying these books. I don’t remember owning any of these as a kid, but have vivid and fond memories of reading them / borrowing them from my local library.
This box set I now have, comprise the larger, glossy, paperback versions. They are bold and colourful, produced on good quality paper. At £89 (at time I bought) from Amazon, it’s not a cheap purchase. Broken down though into an average book cost of £3.87, then that changes the perspective totally, and in my opinion, well worth the outlay.
(From time to time, I will post further brief comments on the others in the series.)