Tintin's Timeless Appeal To All Ages
A Good Role Model
For the past 91 years, Tintin, the gutsy reporter and staunch ambassador of The Good, has been delighting young and old alike with mind-boggling tales of mystery and adventure. He’s taken us treasure hunting in the Caribbean and mountain climbing in Tibet. We even rode shotgun as he rocket-shipped into space and walked on the moon.
Not only did he add drama and excitement to our childhood, his attitude and behaviour also instilled good values and morals. He fights for justice and stands up for the underdog, often dispatching villainous Goliaths in the process. This ‘courage under fire’ message is an important one for kids especially these days when good role models are a rare breed.
Reading Tintin now as a crusty, somewhat cynical middle-aged man is a slightly more complicated experience. Of course it’s harder to suspend your disbelief at the fabulously fantastical situations that Tintin finds himself in which means I don’t get lost in his world as readily as I once did decades ago. But this hardly matters. The familiarity, the warm and fuzzy nostalgia that accompanies every read is intoxicating and I find myself enjoying the books perhaps even more now than I did then. For me, Tintin’s timeless appeal to all ages is real.
Brushing Up Against Boyhood Past
I lived in foreign lands for almost two decades and every time I returned to my parent’s home in Johannesburg, I would gather my Tintin collection (21 in total) and put them on the bedside table. Each night I would pick one and read as many pages as it took for me to get sleepy. The feeling of nostalgia would, without fail, wash over me and for those brief moments, I was rewinding my soul back to blissful, boyhood days.
One title stands out for me more than the rest. For it has a particularly strong pull to the past – Tintin and the Broken Ear (1937). As a boy, it was the only one I hadn’t read and remained for a long while illusive to me. There were no complete sets in those days and for whatever reason, bookshops just didn’t seem to stock it.
One afternoon after school, my mother took me to the Rosebank library. I strolled casually, not expecting much, to the comic bookshelf and to my great surprise there it was just waiting patiently for my arrival. The frisson of excitement is palpable even now. A few seconds later I was ensconced in a bean bag losing myself in Tintin’s Amazonian adventure.
Tintin and the Broken Ear. Rosebank library. The feelings of innocence and youth.
Nostalgia score, 8/10.
It’s not a huge moment I admit, but that’s not important. The feelings are there and they’re strong. The connection to the past is well established through the medium of a children’s book.
Educating Through Comics
The great thing about Tintin is that, although a comic, it is likely to give children a better perspective and interpretation of the world at large. As Tintin globe trots far and wide, not only does one get a feel for the places of the past, but the people too. When I read Tintin in Tibet (1960) as a child, we had just been learning about Mount Everest in geography class and I suddenly had a much more visual impression of the region.
One is also lulled into learning a bit of history because many of the stories are woven into the fabric of historical truth. For example, In Tintin in America (1932), Tintin thwarts the criminal exploits of Al Capone and his lynch mob as well as exposing the pathetic plight of the Native Americans. In Blue Lotus (1935), Tintin takes a trip to China and witnesses the horrific Japanese invasion of Manchuria. All these events are important in understanding the world in a general sense.
On a final note, children who are reluctant readers are more likely to be persuaded into reading a comic than a regular book. At that age, any kind of reading is good reading and let’s not forget that comics help with the development of visual literacy too.
Tintin and the Crab with the Golden Claws (1941) is my favourite. Perhaps because this is when Tintin meets Captain Haddock, who’s raging temper forever after causes one to cackle in amusement. The stories seem more balanced from here on because the idealism of Tintin is weighted against the cynicism of Haddock.
But I’m getting ahead of myself because I’ve just realized that I haven’t actually read all the books. This makes it impossible to choose a favourite. It also makes me a pretty poor excuse for a fan.
Viewing titles on Amazon, I see that there are 24 in total. But the collections available only include 23, Tintin in the Congo (1930), is mystifiably absent and only available in hardcover. ‘Congo’ was the second installment after Tintin in the Land of The Soviets which kicked off the series in 1929. I had never heard of either of them. The final book, Tintin and Alph-Art, published posthumously in 1986, is also on my Tintin reading list.
What do you think of these titles? Have you read Tintin in the Congo and found it offensive? What is your favourite Tintin book? Let me know in the comments below.
Tintin Gift Ideas
There is a lot of memorabilia out there, especially on Amazon, Etsy and Ebay. Amazon is usually cheaper with more selection and so I’ve chosen them. And if you’re not super satisfied with what you’ve bought, their returns policy is really good.
With so much to choose from, where do you start? My focus has been on cool, fun and quirky items, all garnering decent ratings from well-priced sellers.
Please note that I am an Amazon Affiliate and receive a small compensation if you use my links, but it will not increase your purchase price. If you use my links, I truly appreciate it 😉
Paperback Box Set 23 Titles
This collection and the compact one were both released in 2019 to mark the 90th anniversary. There are 23 in total with Tintin and the Congo conspicuously absent probably because it’s a little offensive.
Check it out on Amazon.