So I had the idea for a new ‘project’ the other day which I will try and keep up with.
Titled The Tintin 24 it will be me re-reading all of the Tintin books and the accompanying chapters from Michael Farr’s Tintin: The Complete Companion. I’m mostly doing this so I can re-read all the books, something I haven’t done in a while and so I can hopefully write a good blog about each of them. I only have four to buy before I actually own all of them, so that might push me forward with that too.
Firstly, Tintin in the Land of the Soviets.
The books deals with quite a serious subject matter – communism in Russia in the late 1920s, early 1930s but Herge plays it down with slapstick and gags. You could argue that lightness is needed in a “children’s” comic, but some of the later stories deal with drug dealing, gangsters, money forgeries and the fact that our hero is threatened with murder multiple times across single books.
One thing I did notice is that many classic Tintin “tropes” were used in this book when they’re usually used sparingly across all the books. Perhaps this was Herge trying things out, and if it hadn’t worked in his favour, well at least he’d cholorformed Tintin at least once!
The panels aren’t particularly detailed, which if you’ve only read the later books is a bit disappointing. Obviously as Herge’s first solo creation, he needed time to develop and create solid ideas for characters and settings. In Farr’s book, Herge is quoted as saying “Le Petit Vingtieme came out on Wednesday night and it happened that sometimes on a Wednesday morning I still did not know how I would extricate Tintin from the scrape I had unfairly left him in the previous week.” (page 15). This way of working doesn’t really lend itself to quality artwork, no matter how good you are. Later on, Herge would have assistants and his own studio and thousands of reference photographs, but at that time it was just himself, a pen, and as much reference as he could manage to get together himself. In the future he would send a team of artist to England and Scotland to take sketches for The Black Island, but then it just wasn’t possible.
Tintin in the Land of the Soviets is probably my least favourite book in the series but probably because it wasn’t available to me when I was growing up with Tintin, so I’m really unfamiliar with it. I think reading it today is probably only the second time I’ve read it completely. As an introduction to Tintin now, I don’t think it serves as a great one, but I’d urge anyone to stick with it and see some of the truly great stuff that’s to come!
That’s all for now,
Next week: Tintin in the Congo
Current word count: 2,552