Rediscovering Tintin

Tintin and Snowy

No, this is not about the movie, ‘The Adventures of Tintin’, Spielberg’s cinematic adaptation of the classic comic series by Hergé. I have not watched the movie as yet; though I do want to watch it – in 3D. Maybe I’ll try and catch it this weekend. This is about the Tintin books, compiled by Hergè over many years, and loved by readers across the globe. This post is about my love for the books, or to put it the way Thomson and Thompson would have, ‘to be precise it is to book my love’ for the classic series.

I first read Tintin when I was in school. A great many Library periods were gainfully employed in reading about the adventures of Tintin across the world, from Congo to America to Egypt to India to China to Scotland; even the moon. I remember desperately wanting to buy all the 24 books that I saw in the school library, but I knew we couldn’t afford it. So, I continued reading and re-reading them in the library, wistfully looking at the attractive cover pages, feeling the glossy inside pages, marveling at the beautiful drawings, and laughing at the slapstick humor. And then I grew up.

As I got into High School, I grew an interest in novels and short stories, and by the time I went to college, I had developed a strong preference for non-fiction. Comics of all kind were forgotten for a while. I did read the strips that appeared in the newspapers but I did not take any serious interest in them. Sounds oxymoronic isn’t it; a serious interest in the funnies! Then I discovered Calvin & Hobbes, and fell in love with it. Bill Watterson made me realize that comics were serious art. What Calvin & Hobbes did for me was, it kindled, well rather re-kindled an interest in comic strips. I started reading and enjoying comic strips like Peanuts, The Far Side, and to a lesser extent, Garfield all over again.

However, it was only a month ago, that I rediscovered my love for Tintin. I took membership to a library near my house and I issued and read quite a few books, mostly non-fiction. I also read collections of short stories, by authors such as Thomas Hardy, Mulk Raj Anand, and O Henry. Then, about a month ago, I went to the library and wanted to pick up something light to read. I glanced upon the collection of Tintin books on the shelves, and I picked up ‘Tintin in America’. And ‘blistering barnacles’, I was transported back in time. As I turned page after page, I started enjoying myself more and more. A strong sense of nostalgia enveloped me and I recalled those days spent in the school library, poring over the adventures of Tintin.

To the uninitiated, Tintin is a crime reporter based in Belgium, however, he comes across more as an investigator than a reporter. He has a faithful dog with him called Snowy, and together they go on a series of adventures around the world. During these adventures, they meet other interesting characters, such as, detectives Thomson and Thompson, Captain Haddock, Professor Calculus, Chang, and many more. Tintin solves complex cases, using his sharp mind, his bravery and sometimes sheer luck, and is instrumental in sending quite a few bad guys behind bars. One differentiating factor with Tintin as opposed to other comic series is that in Tintin, more often than not, real events of the 20th century in real places, serve as a backdrop to the story, and therefore give a glimpse into the history of the 20th century as well.

I have now read; rather re-read 6 Tintin books so far, and I’m loving every one of them. ‘Great Snakes’, ‘Thundering Typhoons’, ‘Blistering Barnacles’, it has been a great ride again. Rediscovering Tintin has been a lot of fun. Hope the magic continues!

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