Scouting around the net the other day, I saw a mention of a book called Tintin and The Secret of Literature by Tom McCarthy. I haven’t read it yet, but I have seen a few reviews (that I can’t be bothered including here – visit Google, they need a bit of business) and they’re all positive, so I’m planning to hunt it down in the next couple of weeks and check it out.
The reason the book caught in my eye is because I loved, loved, loved reading Tintin when I was a kid. My brother has a few Tintin books and I’ve been known to sit down and relive my childhood in the last few years with The Seven Crystal Balls, or Prisoners of the Sun, or my favourite Cigars of the Pharoah. I was never aware of the ‘controversial’ elements of the series, like Captain Haddock’s drunkeness or the racial overtones that were especially present in the earlier books. I just thought they were ripping good stories with fantastic illustrations, great humour and colourful villains that were never as clever as our young freshfaced hero.
While I liked the cowlicked Tintin okay, he was a bit too much of a goody goody for me. Even his dog Snowy, with his sarcastic comments had more of an edge than his owner. Captain Haddock was my favourite character and I loved the colourful expressions he used whenever he was annoyed or surprised. This was often, due to the fact that he was a grumpy old bugger who was friends with an investigative reporter who had the amazing ability to involve himself in the most bizarre situations, such as operating a shark shaped submarine constructed by Professor Calculus in order to locate a sunken ship (Red Rackham’s Treasure).
Some of these exclamations included “billions of bilious blue blistering barnacles” and “ten thousand thundering typhoons” and I loved his insults as well, “jellyfish!”, “blackbird!”, “bodysnatcher!”, “carpetseller!”, “bath-tub Admiral!”, “Addle-pated lumps of anthracite!”. The list goes on.
I also loved Thomson and Thompson, the identical detectives. These two were absolutely hopeless, frequently confused and terribly incompetent. Despite this, they were assigned to the most important cases and their boss must’ve been just as clueless as they were, because he kept sending them back out there. They were also prone to getting themselves into the most ridiculous situations, the most memorable being when they accidentally swallowed some pills that cause them to grow long beards that frequently change colour.
Not only has Tintin been a favourite of children and adults the world over since the 1930’s, he has also inspired several bands, including metal outfit Karaboudjan a.k.a Dan Swano, whose music is solely based on Tintin. Unfortunately I was unable to locate a sample to post here. There have also been several animated and real-action adaptations of the series, with a motion capture trilogy to commence filming in September this year. Peter Jackson and Stephen Spielberg are combining their talents for the project, with Spielberg set to direct the first film. I’m interested to see how this will pan out – I didn’t enjoy the TV version of Tintin and I think that planning a trilogy may be a little ambitious. However, lovers of The Adventures of Tintin will flock to see it, as will fans of Jackson and Spielberg.
If you’ve been living under a rock for the last 70 years and are not familiar with Herge’s much beloved hero and his cast of bumbling supporting characters, do yourself a favour and make yourself aware. Even if you’re not a comic book fan, you should find something to enjoy, whether it’s the simple illustrations, the silly slapstick humour, the purity of Tintin’s good intentions, Snowy’s sarcastic asides, or the snapshot views of society way back when Tintin first flicked up his ‘do and took off on his first investigative adventure.
Cartoons – Kristin Hersh
Heroes & Villains – Kites
Hairdo – Tall Firs
And a track I came across purely by chance before I even knew I’d be referencing Spielberg…
Steven F***ing Spielberg – Bearsuit
Please note Steven, that this track reflects the opinion of Bearsuit only, and not myself. I just like it it for it’s relevance to my Tintin post, and it’s likely that I’ll send some of my hard earned buckaroos your way once your Tintin venture graces our screens, so please don’t sic your dinosaurs on me.