Tintin's Timeless Appeal To All Ages

The Adventures of Tintin poster used as the main image in 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.

Screenshot of Tintin and the Broken Ear in the blog post, Tintin's Timeless Appeal To All Ages

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.

Screenshot of Tintin in Tibet, where I leant about the Himalayas
Tintin in Tibet (1960)
Screenshot of Tintin and the Blue Lotus in the blog post, Tintin's Timeless Appeal To All Ages
The Blue Lotus (1935)

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.

Still of Tintin and the Crab with the Golden Claws, my favourite Tintin, in the Tintin's Timeless Appeal To All Ages blog
Tintin and Haddock in The Crab with the Golden Claws (1941)

Picking Favourites

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.

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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 😉

Still of Tintin collection box set which is a cool nostalgia present for men

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

Captain Haddock shirt is a nice nostalgic gift for a guy

Captain Haddock T-Shirt

Most of the shirts on Amazon are too garish. This one, with Japanese translation, is more understated and I think quite trendy. 

Check it out on Amazon

Tintin figurine in the blog post Tintin's timeless appeal to all ages

Astronaut Tintin Figurine

The detail on this Moulinsart Tintin collectible is amazing. It would be a great father’s day gift.

Check it out on Amazon

21 thoughts on “Tintin’s Timeless Appeal To All Ages”

  1. Very interesting article, in-depth and useful to readers.
    Love the structure of this too, kept me interested and wanting to read on which for me is a key tactic, congrats 🙂
    Thanks for writing and sharing this with us all!

  2. Wow, what a journey I have taken reading this post – thank you. A journey back into my childhood, where I was not the Tintin fan but my brother and he was an avid reader of the Tintin series – you can’t live with a fan of Tintin and not become a convert!!! And that is how I became a converted fan of Tintin……I still haven’t read the books but for me, it was about being fascinated with the artistry. The comic / cartoon pictures never failed to captivate me. Reading your post and seeing the pictures took me back to my childhood and pleasant memories.

    I saved your site to my favourites so that I can come back and purchase through your site – I had a feeling a while back that my son might find the Tintin series interesting and now I have read this post, I know where to make a purchase especially as I only need to click here. Thank you for such a pleasurable reading experience.

  3. Hi Ola, thanks so much for the lovely comment. I hope you return here at a later stage when you’re in a buying mood 😉 Hopefully, although you’ve earmarked Tintin for your son, you’ll enjoy reading them too.

  4. Hi!  I liked your article and it was a fun read.  I was a fan of The Adventures of Tintin cartoon that use to air on HBO when I was a kid.  I use to watch the the show all of the time.  Although, I never really knew that Tintin was a comic book.  If I had known this when I was a kid, I would’ve tried to find it and I might have a deeper connection to it today.  Thank you for sharing your experience with this classic character!

    1. I’ve watched some of those cartoons on YouTube and they’re pretty fun. If you’ve never read the comics, it’s never too late to start. I almost envy you since you get to experience them for the first time, something that I can’t do. That first time is usually pretty special.

  5. Hi

    Some people would say apart from the beers, Tintin is the best export from Belgium. I remember the cartoon version that was shown on tv but I have only read some of the books. i got to admit that the adventures were very good and enough to keep people entertained.  It would be interesting to know if they ever make a real-life action version of it, as that will be a movie I would see. I found the movie to be good but it could have been better.  Tintin and his dog Snowy will be always etched on my mind.

    Thanks for the memories.


    1. Beer and Tintin – 2 pretty awesome exports! I agree with you, a real life action version would be pretty awesome and would no doubt capture the essence of Tintin way better than the animation.

  6. Hello, thank you so much for such a beautiful piece, you have a way of making your readers glued to your writings, i admire your writing skill, reading through this article has just been making me smile because it reminds me of my childhood memory with my siblings how my dad reads these tintin comic for us and all we could do was create pictures in our mind Thanks for sharing this article, I have saved this site already so I can share with my siblings. Hoping to get more of this here

    1. Glad I could assist with a stroll down memory lane, Jomata. That’s what this site is all about!

  7. Being a girl, when I was younger, I probably would not have read Tintin. Reviewing your website was enjoyable. You made your article interesting and exciting. I can see how a young boy would enjoy Tintin and look forward to reading all of his adventures. You told how his adventures came alive for you, and I can picture your excitement as you read. And to know that you followed him in his adventures as he aged is interesting. Reviewing your website brought back memories of my favorite comics when I was younger. I loved Wonderwoman and Archie. When my brother & sister played I always had to be Wonderwoman.

    Your website is interesting, gets the reader involved, and makes them want to read Tintin’s adventures.

    1. I used to read Archie a lot in my boyhood days. And I read the Superman comics too and sometimes Wonder Woman would make an appearance. I’m glad you enjoyed the content of my site. Thanks for visiting.

  8. I love Tintin, but I didn’t know there were so many books about him. I watched the movie and thought that was it, and here i am looking at the whole Tintin world. Among the Tintin Gift Ideas… i immediately fell for Tintin and Snowy in the Chinese vase and the Toy Snowy.

  9. The Tintin movie is one of my all time favorite animated movies. But little did i know that there are books about Tintin, and i only got to know this through your article. I am also really impressed wit the use of imagery, i enjoyed reading the entire article. I especially love the Tintin gift ideas, planning to treat myself with these gifts lol, big Tintin Fan in the making here. Great article!

    1. Glad you enjoyed the article and that you’re a Tintin fan in the making. It’ll definitely add colour and texture to your life.

  10. Wow! I’d never thought i will see an article or even stories of tintin again as it has been decades since I followed up with his adventurous stories, i read his books to the extent I enjoyed reading them more than watching TV as a kid. Tintin in America was my favorite. I will like to get one of his memorabilia so i can keep in my room.

    1. Tintin in America is a good one for sure. And with how bad TV was and sometimes still is, I would also most certainly choose a Tintin comic over the idiot box 😉

  11. I love these articles especially the creative pictures and your passion for the materials. Indeed, the goal will always remain in my memory and I can say that I am happy that my childhood was more beautiful with all this series available. 

    I saw that you also put some products on Amazon and I would really like to buy a Tintin T-shirt.
    Thanks again for this article and i hope to read all your post in the future. All the best!

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