Tag Archives: Tintin


I have met Frank Gardiner, and was as shocked by his shooting as I was impressed and moved by how he has fought on as a journalist, now in a wheel chair. His race after the story of Tintin last night was very interesting, though perhaps it lacked a little humour. But Gardiner is a serious journalist, he says inspired to the cause by the books themselves, and it is certainly true that Tintin is the straight man to all the other action. So following the first book, Tintin in the Land of the Soviets, still banned in Russia, was a worthy journey. It was fascinating to see how Herge used real life, up to the minute press stories, and how his own politics was influenced by exposing the evils of the Bolsheviks. He was engaged with his time, on a world scale, and that itself may have justified a young man’s initial silence about the Nazis, in a country under occupation. Remember they tried to suggest PG Woodhouse had facist tendencies too.

But the best bit was learning about that man-woman team who championed the cause and became Tintin’s original translators. Every culture makes great works their own, and of course to us the Tintin books were identifiably British, thus easy to relate to, though with more than a hint of the exotic too. Marlinspike Hall locates it in a British world, though modelled on a French Chateau, but of course that was thanks to translations of characters like Professor Turnasol into Calculus, and Dupont and Dupond into Thomson and Thompson. Above all though in those oddly Belgian books comes Tintin’s great friend and cypher, beyond Snowy, Captain Haddock. The old sea dog’s Red Rackham’s Treasury of colourful swear words were summoned from their imaginations and we owe them a very great debt, by blue blistering barnacles!

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PRESS RELEASE: Phoenix Ark Press adopts Tintin as Mascot:

They argued it hotly on The Review Show recently, rather condemning Stephen Spielberg’s Motion Capture techniques for the new Tintin, the only possible literary mascot for Phoenix Ark Press! Particularly because Motion Capture deprives the actors of facial emotion. Many kids love it, which is its own vindication, and yet, although classic strip cartoons were in a sense a kind of precursor to movies themselves, they are also far more than that, as are Graphic Novels. Who could forget just one box from Tintin in Tibet, the moment Tintin has his dream and wakes with an explosive sneeze of ‘CHANG‘?

So much is happening, just in that one picture, it might be a movie in itself. The point is that in those marvellous, original and heroic books lies so much more than can be contained in a speedy narrative adventure. The art in enjoying them is not the speed either, it is the slowness, what your imagination has to create and interpret between the gaps, the very point of books, and the joy that you and kids can paw over them for hours and hours on end, rediscovering things all the time. Just study who is looking at who in the picture above.

Some of the female commentators especially said that Tintin never turned them on, like this movie, because it is so lacking in emotion. In fact, the process for a child is learning emotion and complexity through the drawings, and the Tintin series is filled with emotions, from Chang’s rescue, a book that was pennded during a nervous breakdown, and the Yeti’s heartbreak at the loss of the human he protected, to Captain Haddock’s passionate rages, guilts and embarrassments, to the horror of Raskacapak, and the anger of the Gypsy at Marlinspike, in The Castafiore Emerald, that might put you on the side of Dale Farm. Although it is true Tintin never gets a girlfriend. They are also filled with an understudied theme in literature, the role of animals, while they capture some eternal truth about the real world, which is why in King Ottaker’s Sceptre the adventure is spliced between children rooting around on a Third World rubbish tip, at the start and end of a story of regime change. As for the politically correct, that could be complicated, especially during Nazi occupation which Herge admitted part swept him up. But perhaps Tintin in Tibet was a kind of moral redemption for him, after his flirtation with Jungian analysis, while Herge was not only a person of his time, which still allowed the Robinsons Golliwog, he was also an artist who grew all the time, and was constantly on the side of the underdog – with Snowy at his side, of course, pawing over all the marvels. Which brings us to the true story of finding a real Snowy at Battersea Dogs Home recently, but not having signed up early enough to take him home. Woof woof!

The cartoons are from public domain Wikepedia images of Tintin.

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