Saturday, 18 November 2006

Tintin in the Congo, Hergé, 1931, 2005

TINTIN IN THE CONGO, Hergé, Egmont, 62 pages, hardback, NZ$29.99
ISBN 1-4052-2098-8

No need to use such terms as ‘colonial attitudes’ or ‘paternalistic stereotypes’; they’re already included in the publisher’s blurb, along with the shrewd suggestion that this volume is for ‘adult collectors’ wanting to complete their uniform set of all 24 Tintin adventures. It may be Hergé’s child-like Africans who worry the publishers, or perhaps the alarming number of animals slaughtered by the intrepid boy-reporter, Tintin, (who shoots fifteen antelope on one page).
First published in 1931, Tintin in the Congo shares the simplistic style of Tintin in America and Tintin in the Land of the Soviets. The subtleties and strengths of Tintin in Tibet are yet to come. Children will be amused by the knockabout antics as gangsters pursue Tintin across the savannah, and teachers will find it a marvellous example of 1930s racial attitudes. Collectors will be thrilled to learn that Hergé re-drew page 56 for a Scandinavian edition.

Trevor Agnew

First published in The Press, Christchurch, New Zealand, in November 2005.

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