80 years. 50 languages. 200 million copies. A 3D movie with Spielberg & Peter Jackson in the works. The creator of Tintin, Georges Remi alias Herge, must be a happy ghost.
The babyfaced reporter and his Shabaab (crew) captured the imagination of Europe and subsequently the entire Commonwealth. Herge relied on a potent formula: Meticulous research into the geopolitical climate , mischievous illustration, good vs. evil, consistent rib-tickling and satire, and above all, glorious disregard for political correctness. Or, to be precise (a la Thompson and Thomson :)), “a political correctness that disregards glory.”
All sorts of stereotypes are supremely exaggerated; from a naked fakir sitting on a bed of nails to a wild Arab sheikh with a tiger as a pet and a penchant for whipping blondes. We’ve got the savant professor, the foul-mouthed drunken sailor with the heart of gold, and the opera diva.The illustrations play along- African slaves are drawn coal-black, the Asians have no eyes…These comics would never get past the back room if published today, but they are bloody brilliant, and I’m glad that they’re around.
One more thing, the abuses in the book are….wait for it…..legendary! To make the book children-friendly but still stay true to his characters, Herge invented innovative non-swearwords used luxuriously by Captain Haddock. These include “ectoplasm!”, “Bashi-Bazouk!” “Patagonian Petticoat!“, and the most famous phrase of them all “Billions of bilious blue blistering barnacles (Mille Millions de mille milliards de mille sabords!)”. Wit combined with alliterative allure make Haddock’s abuses among the most famous comic book expressions of all time, right up there with Mr. Lodge’s “Egad!” and Obelix’s “These Romans are crazy!“.
*The download link to the entire Tintin series, in PDF, here.
Enjoy the magic of the comics that inspired the likes of Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and so many others. Jump into the world of the boy-wonder reporter who became a global icon, so much so that General Charles de Gaulle once quipped that his “only international rival is Tintin”.