Tintin is a comic book series written by Hergé. It features the adventures of the young reporter Tintin and his dog Snowy while they solve mysteries, fight crime, and go on adventures. Steven Spielberg’s film adaptation brought some light to the comic, but living in America the majority of my friends and acquaintances have yet to pick up the books. If you are not into stereotypical comics, fret not, Tintin is more akin to Hardy Boys than to Batman. Let me introduce you to the main characters and give you some reasons as to why you definitely should give this series a read.
Tintin is a young adult who makes a living as a reporter. Hergé hints that he hails from Belgium, but throughout the comics he travels the world. Tintin has strong morals, never accepting bribes or consuming drugs or alcohol. He is capable of flying planes as well as driving cars, tanks, and motorcycles. He is also an excellent marksman, preferring handguns. He only carries a gun when necessary, and only shoots when absolutely necessary. Tintin is primarily known for his whit and outsmarting the older and stronger villains who are out to put an end to the lousy sleuthing reporter.
Captain Haddock is a fiery tempered sailor with a penchant for alcohol. He coined the phrase “Blistering barnacles” and despite his crudeness, is Tintin’s most reliable friend. He goes from rags to riches as the drunkard captain of a merchant ship discovers the vast inheritance his ancestor has left for him. Captain Haddock’s uncontrollable temper and drunken tirades make him a constant source of humor.
Thompson and Thomson
Thompson and Thomson are identical twin detectives in the employment of Scotland Yard. They are at best incompetent in their line of work, but always find themselves hot on the case. The Thompson and Thomson signature is adorning stereotypical (some would say racist) outfits as they travel across the world. They are well known for identifying themselves as Thompson (or Thomson) with or without a p. The twins incompetence is a great source of aggravation to Captain Haddock.
The stereotypical absent minded professor, Cuthbert Calculus is a genius. However his greatest hinderance is his hearing. He occasionally keeps a hearing trumpet handy, but most of the time he responds with a humorous and irrelevant answer. Calculus plans some of Tintin’s great adventures into uncharted territory and he adds an element of science fiction to the series.
On top of the complex character relations Hergé develops, the comic series contains beautiful yet simplistic illustrations. Here is the cover from Explorers On The Moon (1954):
Hergé was a master of the clear line technique. He used black ink to draw solid lines around his shapes and solid blocks of color to fill them in. Despite the simplicity of this technique, Hergé’s work has immense clarity and depth. The complexity of his drawing increased as his career progressed, including complicated backgrounds and interactive characters. Here is a panel from Destination Moon (1953):
What makes Tintin standout among other comics is the depth of the plot and the originality of each story. Having read quite a few stereotypical comics and graphic novels, Tintin’s dialogue and story beats them all. Hopefully I have inspired you to give this series a read!
Attention fellow Tintin lovers, if you are out there we must fan boy together! Feel free to fill the comments with your favorite Tintin moments and what got you hooked to Tintin.