Finally posting the third entry in my 2015 Tintin reading challenge tonight with The Broken Ear! (So far I’ve also read Cigars & The Blue Lotus).
This one’s a solid entry into the Tintin series for me– and a solid Tintin story is still pretty ace when you get down to it, but ultimately, it’s just not one of my favourites.
During his search for the missing fetish with the broken ear, Tintin ends up in South America where he enlists in the army under the temperamental General Alcazar (who will go on to have other appearances in Tintin adventures) the high point of which being a pretty impressive car chase.
As ever, there are some great phrases in Tintin comics – often insults or exclamations – and it was fun to see ‘great snakes’ in this one. I also really enjoyed the comedy around the ‘fake Tintins’ on the ocean liner scene. Especially noteworthy, I thought, were the devils who are seen taking two of the villains away right near the end of the story.
Again, not the best Tintin adventure, but in no way disappointing.
Next up: The Black Island.
So, a while back I decided to read all the Tintin books in 2015, which I’m really looking forward to. The challenge itself is pretty simple – I have to read about 2 a month. What might take a bit of time will be tracking down the first few and the last one. (The others I have on the shelf :) )
And being as it’s 2015 now, I’m kicking off with one of the earliest Tintin’s I remember reading as a kid – Cigars of the Pharaoh. (I’ll read in chronological order from here, looping back to the first Tintin in December.)
Still one of my favourites, Cigars of the Pharaoh feels like ‘classic’ Tintin, even if it’s only the fourth release in the series and a lot of aspects to Herge’s Tintin-universe were still being developed.
It’s got a heap of action and the twists are piled on, there’s great word play from Thomson & Thompson (who make their first appearance) and the bounds of reality are amusingly stretched when Tintin carves a trumpet and learns the language of elephants. There’s also plot lines that run into the next volume and Snowy’s asides are great – and as ever, I love the ‘clear line’ style and the expressiveness of those few lines. There’s a panel where Snowy thinks Tintin has been killed and the despair on his poor face is drawn so well!
Easily one of the best Tintin adventures in my book.
Next up: The Blue Lotus.
Perhaps the most emotional volume in Herge's Tintin series, Tintin in Tibet (1960) is certainly the one I've read the most times.
Not as much action as in other adventures, but with its mystery woven around a heartfelt storyline that sees Tintin and Haddock searching the snowy mountains of Tibet for Tintin's friend Chang, it's a fantastic piece of storytelling, that, despite the darker subject matter, is still graced with Herge's usual fine sense of humour.
While it can be difficult to separate pleasant memories of reading this one as a child from the reviewing process, I can safely say that Tintin in Tibet remains distinctive not just for the personal nature of the story, but for the powerful use of white space in the panels - Herge's famous 'clear line' style is so direct in conveying a sense of space that I always find myself drawn in to the setting as much as the story. This is partly what makes the moments of colour, such as the visit to the monastery, so vivid.
If your only experience of Tintin is the more explosive CGI outing from Jackson and Spielberg, and you're not sure about the comics, perhaps start with some of the faster-paced volumes such as the Calculus-themed releases - but if you're already a fan and you don't actually have this one by chance, then don't deny yourself one of the most moving Tintin adventures any longer.
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Ashley Capes is an Australian writer of fiction, poetry and very occasional non-fiction.
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