Series in Review #1: Tintin

So before you even get started on this one – how on earth is Tintin a classic, you might think? Well – just let me tell you for now: it is. (Don’t worry, I will go deeper into that a bit later).

As for why I wanted to review this one? Well, about halfway through September, I realised I hadn’t read a single book yet. And what with me needing to finish my Reading Challenges, I knew that just wouldn’t do. So, I grabbed a pile of Tintins (literally, we’ve got some at home) and made my way through the entire series. In 3 days.

(Why do I always that?)

Anyways, so I read all of the Tintins (and basically ensured that I’d get my Goodreads Reading Challenge done) and I came to realise that a) I love comics; 2) I love Tintin; and finally: why hadn’t I written a reviewing the classics about this series already?

Classic Comics

Let’s just go back to my starting question for a minute real quick: are comics really classics? Well, I did have an entire course in college dedicated to nothing but the way comics first came into being ànd to their literary traits – so let’s just go ahead and give that one a yes.

What’s more, Tintin specifically developed a cult-following and a comic magazine was founded “based” on it. So I’m gonna go ahead and give that one a big yes as well.

Tintin

As for why I wanted to “review” the Tintin-series for the Reviewing the Classics-series?

Well, first things first, as I already sort of said in the beginning: I just plain old love reading them. I’ve read them a bunch of times, probably even starting when I’d only just learned how to read. And I fall more in love with the intricate way in which the story is built every time again. Not only that, but the way the different characters complement each other makes for a very entertaining read as well – the humor may be quite explosive (get it? Because of captain Haddock?) but it’s also just plain old really funny.

And then of course, the ultimate selling point for me: Hergé had a way of building a story, taking history and facts as a starting point and then building an incredible story around those. The way he uses, for example, the discovery of America and the “Wild West” makes for a story that is both very entertaining and somehow always makes me want to look further into that particular piece of history! The main character, Tintin, actually starts out as a reporter – and if you follow my Twitter, you’ll know that I just started my master of Journalism, so of course that would hold an extra selling point for me!

Imagery

Now, as is the case with any comic, the story isn’t all there is to it. The drawings make up such an important part of the way you “read” this story, that some attention has to be given to them. For Tintin, the style has evolved quite a bit throughout  the different albums, but I actually kind of love both the old and the new images – just look at the differences between these two:

Source: Bozinsky
Source: Bozinsky
Source: Comic Strip Shop
Source: Comic Strip Shop

Problematic?

Now, if you understand at least some Dutch, you’ll have realised that some of the stories are quite problematic. After all, they were written quite some time ago (the one on the left, Tintin in Africa, was first published in 1931 as Tintin in Congo). And don’t get me wrong, I definitely am aware of that. And I don’t condone it in any way! However, I’ve found that at certain times, it’s important to realise that you should be able to appreciate a work for its contextual beauty, and leave the “problematic discussion” for another time.

Again: that doesn’t mean I think the problematic elements and stereotypes in this series are okay. It does, however, mean that from a literary-critical and historical point of view, I also love reading this series because they give such an excellent, somewhat alternative, look into the way people really did perceive these elements.

Anyways, the final thing that makes this series into an absolute classic? Just the fact that some of the subjects which it touches upon – be it politics, friendship, the need to travel the world, and of course the fact that Tintin starts out as a reporter (again: I’m studying journalism, remember?) are just timeless. And as such, I feel just as good enjoying them at 23 as I did when I was 7!

Now I’m wondering: are you a comics’ fan? Do you think they could be considered classics? And of course, what’s your opinion on Tintin? Be sure to let me know below!

-Saar