Review: “The Adventure of Tintin 1: Tintin in the Congo” by Hergé

Ah! The first real Tintin novel and what a looker, like the previous volume this was originally publish in black & white but I never found the original, I doubt folks even know about it existence outside of Europe. I have special passion for this volume, not only because it was one the first full album of Tintin I saw in store, but because it took place within that distant land, of Africa.

I don’t exactly remembered the summer, but knew it was brutal one, all my friend’s had gone overseas to be with their families and I was at my uncle’s house who was bachelor and had no way of entertaining a curious boy like myself. So I ahead for the library, counting steps and stones as I approached the place, and upon entering my eyes came to rest in ancient beautiful cover of a book title: King Solomon’s Mines. This would be my introduction to the wild Africa, but also the Alan Quatermain and to land that needed to be protected for it sacred resources, nature.

This comic shaped my views of traveling across the glove, as Tintin stared to travel around our sphere I started to similarly hunger embarking en journey of my own. So let dig into it!

Story: The story begging with Tintin embarking on a journey to Africa, after taking a train to his cruise his luck turn sower. First Milu, his trusty dog is attack by a parrot and falls on top of a mysterious stranger. The stranger turn out to be stowaway who quickly tries to rid of Milu, but Tintin saved him. Upon landing on land, Tintin finds that the same stowaway is trying to get revenge on him, platting murderous act against our reporter. Our hero faces many challenges until he learn just who and why the stowaway is really after him.

Art: It hard to critic this art, remember after it all it age. But if I must I shall say not all panel flow, such are jarring to the point you have to look back and see what Tintin did last. Or massive actions are skip such a character getting up, next page running down and jumping this obviously because they were so many version of this book, the first was the original black and white serialize in the newspaper, the came the collected album and then a less offensive version of the album.

Tintin versions.png

The panel on the left is re-drawn with color, but still consider too barbaric during the 70s and was replace with more animal friendly one in the right.

Dialogue: The dialogue really shows it age, the jokes are outdated and while others of recent generations would find this insulting in one way or another. I have to admit that, yes the writing on this book was better again than the last but still limited

Continues in: The Adventures of Tintin 2: Tintin in America

Conclusion: Tintin is sort of mixture between Batman and MacGyver, and that before the later even existed. What I mean with that? Is he is capable of getting away from the craziest situations with just simple tools and like Batman his incredibly detectives with physical skills to match it, he also happens to be journalist and be there order to get the scoop…but we really never see him do that.

The Congo, was one my first adventure to Africa and I dare say for most the populace of that time. There was no internet back then, only Atlas of the world. But why the Congo? Well it’s quite obvious is as the choice, evangelism, Tintin was being publish be a Catholic newspaper who ran several articles to encourage young man and Tintin the world traveler he was, needed to go to place where young man were needed, the Congo. And while Hergé himself never traveled there, as good reported he ask question to all the missionaries which allowed him to format this book, tell me that not awesome!

tintin-catholic

The idea of missionaries change the uncultured people, was prevailing one in those days.

Now for the elephant in the room, many folks are turn off by the racism in the book, as is shows Africans specially native of the Congo as the book title, in black face and being particularly cowardly, lazy and easy to manipulate.

tintin-racism

A classic colonial mindset from Europe in that time.

tintin-racism-2

The recolor version offers us none of that

Similar charges of racism have been place against other writers such as H.P. Lovecraft, who use the stereotypes of untrustworthy blacks and treacherous behavior. But let us remember that those were the times, there was nothing unusual about what he was writing, it was just reflection of colonial mindset. Just as much as today on we would write about Ipads and future generation may call us shallow, what awaits in the future quite different and change the past is incredibly hard. However years later Hergé was quite ashamed of his treatment of the people of the Congo, again because times had change, as they often do and rewrote several parts of the story. I didn’t allow the racist connotation to bother me at all, but not here to post political point just say what think of comic grew up with.

However my issue with this comic, is what later being done in the name of censorship. Like cruelty to animals panels were redrawn, yet again this a comic not real. Scenes of rape, murder exist other works and we need to understand they part of them, if we don’t wish to see them let not gaze at them.

As for issue, yes they are outdated caricatures of blacks, and what some folks call animal cruelty but I suggest you pick up as it marvelously fun, with Tintin classically getting away from all sorts of troubles.

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