My Reaction To Tintin

Oct 24 2008

Tintin imageSo I’ve finally bought and read some Tintin, the iconic comic book character created by French artist Herge. Specifically, I read The Adventures of Tintin, Volume 1.

I’d like to write that I loved it, that it was a work of genius. I can’t. It had fun moments, and inventive moments. It was certainly good, in a timeless sense.

But it just didn’t come together for me.

According to the Tintin Wikipedia article, Herge initially improvised all his stories, throwing Tintin into predicaments without knowing how to resolve them, then coming up with a solution on-the-spot. As a result, the book features many frustrating cliffhangers of the worst sort, such as Tintin being rolled up in a carpet, shot, then thrown into a river, only to discover that Tintin had escaped from the carpet earlier (with no prior clues to indicate this).

Herge began planning his stories with The Blue Lotus, which is included in Volume 1. The planning improves the storyline tremendously; I fully enjoyed that particular storyline.

Another problem was the characters. Tintin’s a plucky young man, but he lacks sufficient depth of character to make me really root for him. The rest of the cast is filled out by broad, simple personalities common to the era.

I wouldn’t mind that if the stories themselves carried any depth, but most of these adventures are, well, adventures–simple mysteries and thrillers. Astro Boy, for example, has simple characters, but depth of plot. Tintin just felt…simple.

Perhaps that’s his appeal: simplicity. I can appreciate that, and perhaps I’ll revisit Tintin with an eye for clean stories and straightforward characters. But for now, I can’t be counted a Tintin fan.

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