The Adventures of Tintin Volume 1 - Herge

This book claims to be the first volume, but there's a self-referential joke in the second story where a character has a Tintin book and says he's been following his exploits for years. I don't know if it's an indication that there are older stories that weren't in this collection, or if it's just a joke. At any rate, it does seem to be fairly early in the adventures of Tintin and his dog Snowy. Captain Haddock and Professor Calculus are nowhere to be found, so presumably Tintin hasn't met them yet. (Thompson and Thomson, the blundering twin police, do make several appearances here.)

The stories in this book are "Tintin in America," "Cigars of the Pharaoh," and "The Blue Lotus." They're all fairly lengthy stories, and it's amazing how many different ways Herge manages to put Tintin in impossible-to-escape situations, and then gets him out. If indeed "Tintin in America" was the first story, we don't get any information about Tintin other than that he's an investigative reporter, this time trying to clean up crime in Chicago. All the gangsters are after him, of course, and we get a humorous (and somewhat disappointing) look at the way Herge saw Americans in the 1930s.

"Cigars of the Pharaoh" is a mystery about a drug-smuggling ring which Tintin stumbles upon, and then repeatedly gets framed for various crimes. The final story, "The Blue Lotus," is set mostly in Shanghai and works in some real-life events surrounding Japanese-Chinese relations in the 1930s. It continues the story of drug-smuggling (opium this time, of course). It's funny, though, that parts of the book seem well-researched (the Chinese on signs is authentic and not just scribbled marks; Tintin has a conversation with a Chinese boy about stereotypes) but then the Japanese characters (the bad guys, of course) are all buck-toothed and slimy.

It's definitely a comic from an earlier time, yet a lot of the humor and the story is still just as enjoyable now. Intrepid reporter, master of disguises, as quick with a gun or his fists as he is with his mind. The one thing I noticed in this volume compared to volume 7 is that Snowy has numerous speech bubbles here, but later on apparently Herge decided they were just thoughts that nobody else could hear. It's unclear whether anyone can hear him in this volume, but he does appear to be talking, which is amusing.

All in all, I wasn't disappointed, and I'm glad there's several more volumes to discover. It's not particularly deep, but it's definitely one of the more literate comics I've ever read.

Fed to jonathan's brain | July 24, 2006 | Comments (0)


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