Saturday, August 22, 2009
I'm not above reading any children's literature, but it's usually only the literature that I enjoyed as a child more than a decade earlier, and it consists solely of my old Tintin books and the Bone cartoon books. Lately I've been reading my Tintin books again. I have them all except for Tintin and Alph-Art, and the original Tintin in the Land of the Soviets.
When I was eleven I first heard that Herge, the creator of Tintin, was affiliated with the Nazis. And he did work for the newspaper Le Soir which was under Nazi rule, and he did believe during that time that the Nazi regime was going to establish world control. I don't think that he was anti-Semitic or fascist, but there are theories supporting those thoughts.
I've noticed for awhile that some of the Tintin books don't exactly portray Arabic people in a positive light. For example in The Red Sea Sharks when the Emir doesn't fully express sympathy for African slave-trading; Tintin says it's horrible, and the Emir responds 'Er...yes...' as if he's implicitly taking some part in it as well. Pretty strange.
And on the subject of African stereotypes...When I went to New York for the first time I visited a comic book shop and was surprised to discover Tintin in the Congo, a book I'd never even heard of before. Yet to this day I haven't read the whole thing because of how stereotypical the book portrayed African people. There's a scene where an African fails at doing something and Tintin responds "I'll show you how a real man does things", and that pretty much turned me off from the rest of the book. Tintin doesn't talk like that.
I know that some Tintin books refute stereotypes though, such as The Blue Lotus which clearly disputes widespread European beliefs about the strange practices of Chinese people, such as women dumping their babies in rivers. But it seems Herge was advised to refute these stereotypes, rather than doing it of his own accord...
And Herge should've given credit to his whole staff and not just put his own name (which is actually a pseudonym) on all the books.
I admired Tintin so much as a kid that I went to the Tintin Store in Montreal with my mom once and bought a Tintin watch and a couple of books. And when I read The Beach by Alex Garland I found his discussions on Tintin pretty cool (he also references the series in The Tesseract with the Karaboudjan and in The Coma with the word puzzle).
And even though I plan on buying the Alph-Art book, I still find the realities behind Tintin a taking larger and larger presence.
And no, I don't plan on seeing the movie. Why aren't there more original movies being created rather than remakes of what was popular in the past?