On The Tintin Trail

Tintin is more than just a fictional character. Tintin is a real person to some people. He is an inspiration that everything can go right if you stay positive and keep trying. His resilience and bravery along with his loyalty to friends (and his great hairstyle) make him an icon. Herge made Belgium famous for more than chocolate he made it famous for Tintin! The Tintin books are always full of adventure whether it’s taking to the high seas to look for treasure or exploring the dangerous mountains of Tibet to find a friend.

The best part about Tintin is that wherever he goes adventure follows, even while on a nice calm cruise trip he has to ride the wild ocean in a coffin or run from grenades. What I’m saying is no matter which book you choose, you are guaranteed a story full of thrills and adventure.

One of my favourite things about Tintin books is that Herge manages to convey complex character traits using his illustrations unlike some authors who do a poor job even using hundreds of words. Captain Haddock’s quick temper is easily discovered and so are Thomson and Thompson’s scatter-brained personalities.

Out of all the books I have to have a favourite, and I do, at least I kind of do. My favourite varies from time to time but it is always Tintin in Congo, King Ottokar’s Sceptre or The Black Island.

Tintin in Congo is the second Tintin and the first one in colour (the first Tintin, Tintin in the Land of the Soviets is in black-and-white). It’s about Tintin going on a big game hunting trip and coming back after landing a team of gangsters in jail for a VERY long time.

King Ottokar’s Sceptre is about him unearthing a plot to dethrone the king of Syldavia by stealing his sceptre. Syldavia comes up later in Destination Moon and Explorers on the Moon as well.

The Black Island is Tintin’s first confrontation with Dr. Muller in which he busts the villain’s money laundering operation in Scotland and places the giant gorilla, Ranko, in a zoo instead of stomping around an old castle (long story).

There is one thing common in all these stories and that is Tintin’s world-hopping; he must have some serious frequent-flier-points. His adventures take you to Russia, Congo, America, Bombay, China, South America, Scotland, Syldavia and many more. He visits place reals and imaginary and outsmarts gangsters also real as well as imaginary.

Bashi Bazouk! Imbecile! Polynesian! Sea-Gherkin! Buccaneer! Vegetarian! Fuzzy-Wuzzy! You forgot me! And Calculus and Snowy and Nestor and the Thomsons!

Image: From my trip to the Stockel station in Brussels

Calm down Captain Haddock, I was just getting to that. Calculus the slightly deaf professor was the only reason for books like The Calculus Affair or Destination Moon. Without Captain Haddock we wouldn’t be able to read The Secret of the Unicorn or Red Rackham’s Treasure. The absence of Snowy would mean Tintin losing his life on multiple occasions. These characters make the stories of Tintin’s adventures work so much more. They are well-developed and relatable.

Fun Fact: In Tintin and the Picaros there is an image featuring Asterix in this Viva Tapioca scene (try to spot him!). Later Gosciny and Uderzo repaid the favour by placing Thomson and Thompson in ‘Asterix in Germany’.

So, now I hope you Bashi Bazouks out there are on the Tintin Trail. Goodbye! Calm down Captain, I am not a carpet-seller!

PS: All the images are from my trip to the Herge Museum near Brussels.

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