Monday, February 06, 2006

Billions of billious barbecued blue blistering barnacles !!

Some of the sweetest memories of my childhood come from the time I spent reading Tintin comics. I was a die hard Tintin fan (and still am). I had painstakingly collected all the Tintin comics available in the market over a period of time. I must have read each Tintin comic dozens of times. The simple yet extraordinarily detailed sketches, the rib-tickling humor, and the wonderfully crafted storylines made for an intoxicating cock-tail. Every Tintin adventure was unique, from the treasure hunt in The Secret of Unicorn and Read Rackham’s Treasure, to Inca encounter in The Seven Crystal Balls and Prisoners of the Sun, from UFOs in Flight 714 to Meteoroids in The Shooting Star. And yes, the grandest adventures of them all, Destination Moon and Explorers on the Moon, when Tintin and co. landed on the moon a decade before Neil Armstrong did. The degree of detail present in the 2 Moon adventures just blew me away. I often wondered, why did Herge create so few (only 23) Tintin comics. I later realized that with the amount that went into the creation of each comic, Herge would have had to be super-human to create more than what he did.

As I grew up, I began to discover newer facets of each Tintin adventure. I realized that Tintin was not just about humor and action. Through, Tintin, Herge voiced his opinion on various salient issues facing the world of his time. Tintin comics, in subtle and humorous ways, made potent statements again international deceit and hypocrisy. From showing how imperialist Japan exploited China , in The Blue Lotus, and how capitalist Whites exploited the Red Indians in Tintin in America, to unraveling African slave trade in The Red Sea Sharks, and international oil politics in Land of Black Gold. While The Calculus Affair is story woven around the concept of Cold War arms race, The Ottokar Sceptre hints towards Nazi Germany's attempts to overtake neighbourhood nations. Herge even took a dig at dictators ruling their countries from ivory towers, while their country men suffered, in Tintin and Picaros. Did Herge spare India? No he did not. In Tintin in Tibet, Herge shows how superstitious Indian’s refuse to move a cow that had been blocking a road, saying that she is a sacred animal.

Perhaps it is this universal appeal of Tintin, which has made him one of the most popular global cartoon characters of all time, appreciated by people of all ages, across the world. Even the great Satyajit Ray was a great Tintin fan, and had shots of Tintin comics in some of his movies.
Unlike most other creators, Herge did not want anyone else to sketch Tintin after he died. Thus, Tintin retired from the comic world after the death of Herge. I guess it was quite apt too, as I doubt if any other illustrator could have matched the incandescent brilliance of the original.

“My only international rival is Tintin. We are both little people who are not afraid of big ones".- Charles de Gaulle

P.S.- Here is my previous post about comics and me.

2 comments:

Nikhil Kulkarni said...

I have hardly ever followed Tintin (except for 1 or 2 1/2 hr peaks) but definitely acknowledge that Tintin.com is one of the best comic-project websites.
Further, the sketches and color shading of tintin comics is simply 'simple'! Its just what is needed for a 'clean' and 'quiet', yet appealing imagery.

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