Monday, June 23, 2014

The Classics - Tintin in the Congo

   While I was gone the past couple of weeks, I spent some time in exotic countries (which is to say, Europe) and I made a stop at one of the highly-recommended Forbidden Planet comics shops in London.

   At a rather late stage of the game (like, this past year) I've finally started picking up the beloved Adventures of Tintin volumes. (The cashier looked at this book and said, "A fan of the classics, are you?")

   This one (just the second volume in the 24-volume series), Tintin in the Congo, is apparently a bit difficult to track down in the United States - and it's easy to see why, since its portrayal of blacks in Africa is distasteful and unacceptable by modern day standards.

   They're depicted as grotesque, childish figures, with cartoonish lips and bulging eyes - sadly, a typical depiction at the time the book was created in 1931.

   There's plenty to find offensive in this volume, since it also takes Tintin on a number of game hunting outings, including one where he tracks and kills an elephant for its tusks! So animal lovers may want to skip this one, too.

    It's actually pretty crude stuff, though the creator, Belgian artist Hergé, is starting to find his voice and style here. A vast improvement over the first volume, he's included more action, an actual plot instead of a series of comic events (although those are also in evidence), and the young reporter Tintin is shown to be courageous and resourceful young man (if a bit foolhardy at times). His best friend Snowy (the dog) also gets some moments in the spotlight.

   It's just a preview of the greatness to come (according to friends who have read the later volumes). I look forward to tracking them down, though I'll probably stick a little closer to home for now.

Grade: B


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My son bought me a copy of this book when he was traveling in Belgium, and it is indeed the work of a budding talent finding his way in the early days.
But I've owned and read and re-read the later volumes for decades, and they are wondrous adventure stories for young and old alike, with well developed characters and suspenseful plots which will have you turning each page!
Chuck, the best is, indeed, yet to come!

Sam Kujava