||IN THE LAND OF THE SOVIETS |
The first KUIFJE "album". Only, when it first appeared somewhere around 1970, it was a rip-off and publisher Casterman even denied it was authentic. But if you read it, you got convinced it was authentic. And finally, after all these years, it appeared with the Casterman imprint.
Replacing the even more politically incorrect TINTIN IN CONGO. After all, there is no Soviet Union anymore so who's to complain?
Not the first KUIFJE "album", but the first one in the format Hergé would stick to.
The book is so politically incorrect by now, it's a miracle there have been no protest riots in the streets. Is what you would think. But here in Curaçao, where some 90% of the population is "negro", in Hergé's terminology, I can't remember anybody ever taking exception to his stereotyped characterizations. For what it's worth, my opinion is that nobody, black, blue or white, can relate to this weird but at the time popular way of drawing blacks and recognize himself in there. It's just too far out and altogether removed from reality.
Click on the cover picture and I'll show you what I mean.
It has now disappeared from the back-cover of the Tintin albums.
Some real good laughs, if unintentional, can be had here by Americans, and these days by most people all over the world. It shows how Europeans looked at the U.S.A. not so long ago. Kuifje even narrowly escapes being burned at the stake by Indians; as if those things were still bound to happen around 1940.
|CIGARS OF THE PHARAOH
Much less primitive than its two predecessors; as a matter of fact quite sophisticated. Good plotting, solid characters. Drawing style, too, is technically much better. Part 1 of 2 volumes. Dumb-ass detectives Jansen and Janssen, Dupond & Dupont (dese guyses love disguises) are introduced here and are kept in for future appearances.
|THE BLUE LOTUS
Part II. This one gets really funny. Racism again raises its ugly head. To get your bellyful of laughs, click on picture.
One of my favorites. If only because there's a parrot in there that keeps repeating a knife throwing artist's remark after him:
Caramba! Missed again!
An expression I have had many occasions to use as a photographer; not to worry about that.
|THE BLACK ISLAND
Good and solid. There's a King Kong type of gorilla in it, only real-life sized.
|KING OTTOKAR'S SCEPTRE
Clearly shows Hergé's attitude towards monarchy. It's all about a dirty plot in a Balkan country to rob the 'rightful' king of his throne. Of course, this must be prevented. (See also Charlie Chaplin's A King in New York on this sort of idealism). What can you say? But very entertaining indeed.
|THE CRAB WITH THE GOLDEN CLAWS
The first book with Captain Haddock. Many Kuifje villains keep making their appearance under new identities, but they are still obviously the same characters; often even looking alike. But Haddock is such a strong vaudeville comedian (and I'm sure Hergé must have seen this right away) that he keeps coming back. On Haddock there's more to say, click picture link.
Essentially science fiction. OK. The first Kuifje I remember reading.
Look, I am not making a habit of discussing plot improbabilities or anything like that or this page would never get finished.
|SECRET OF THE UNICORN
Really fine. Again, part 1 of 2. This is where, I feel, Hergé is reaching the top if his career.
|RED RACKHAM'S TREASURE
Part 2. Even better! Intro of Professor Girasol, Zonnebloem, Calculus, whatever you want to call him. A real schlemil and all absent-minded professors you've ever seen rolled into one. Too bad that here superstition starts working its way into Hergé's work. Clink the lick.
Of course, you can't go far wrong when you lift so much out of R.L. Stevenson's Treasure Island.
|SEVEN CRYSTAL BALLS
Part 1. Really fine with a good sense of mystery, and the superstition is still easy to take. Just go along for the ride and enjoy the trip.
|PRISONERS OF THE SUN
Part 2. I cannot restrain myself here and will remark that it's inconceivable that Kuifje would be saved from being killed by Incas by the occurrence of a solar eclipse they didn't expect. The Incas didn't figure on this? Cummon, gimme a break.
Or so I wrote a while back. Well, as happens more often than I care for, I was wrong. It was the Mayas who wouldn't have been fooled—the Incas didn't know the first thing about astronomy. Brings up the question: Did they, then, worship the sun as Hergé would have us believe? It's all very moot.
|THE LAND OF THE BLACK GOLD
Very funny! What more do I have to tell you?
Here Hergé has a serious plot problem (
How do I get Haddock on the scene to save Tintin in the nick of time?) but he works his way out of it very cleverly: He doesn't even try to answer the question and turns it into a joke.
Part 1 of 2; published when I had just made it to High School. That's in the early 1950s, if you want to know. Very impressive (I don't mean the fact that I made it to that crummy school or even that I finished it). Don't be put off by things we know much better now; it's still pretty accurate and, to paraphrase Harvey Kurtzman (The Katch and Hammer Kids), without the monkey business there is no comic strip. Much better than the average SciFi novel anyway. Yeah, that often is not saying so much.
|EXPLORERS ON THE MOON
Part 2 of 1. That can't be right... Anyway, they arrive on the moon and get back home safely. But even when I read it first I couldn't imagine how they could have reached the moon with two stowaways on board—and pretty hefty ones, too. Hope I didn't ruin the suspense for you, but the fact there are more titles coming is a dead giveaway, after all. Also, the interior of the rocket ship is even roomier than Jules Verne's Nautilus.
And by that proverbial way, Hergé should be ashamed of himself, always insisting on copyright claims. His decors in this book are shamelessly ripped off from George Pal's Destination Moon; the movie that probably inspired him in the first place.
|THE CALCULUS AFFAIR
That's some title to attract strip crazed kids!
The book where prima donna Bianca Castafiore is introduced. Now that I've typed that down, a great surprise. I had always figured she was in the strips practically all the time, but it turns out she's only in four of them. With a vengeance: A rather impressive personality. (Hergé was an opera fan, specifically Verdi).
Adolf Hitler is in there as well, but not everybody has found him. You want to brag to your friends (such as they are) with your trivia knowledge, click on the link and I'll help you out.
More trivia on that same page on castle Molensloot/Muizenmeul/Moulinsart. Or whatever it's called in your language. Eureka! I found the original! Triviata galore!
|THE RED SEA SHARKS
If you have dutifully clicked on my preceding links, you will have to agree with me that Hergé was a racist. But he didn't want to be one! More power to him. Try this one and I'll offer proof.
Here, I feel, the quality of the strips starts to decline. A pity, but what do you want? I myself recently made a translation of something that was godawful. Not that I could really help it, but neither could Hergé, of course.
Still a fine work (the strip, not my translation).
Hmmm... This one, as far as superstition is concerned, is definitely over the edge. Yetis yet, for starters, forsooth. Click the pic and have a good laugh, if not intended so by Hergé.
|THE CASTAFIORE EMERALD
A healthy bounce back to reason and fun! A plot that might well have turned out to revolve about occult forces, but he fools you all right. Also very sympathetic in, for a welcome change, its non-bigoted treatment of gypsies. I love this one.
Sorry, my friend Hergé here went too far. I got more laughs from what he seems to believe in than from the gags. Still, that's something. Actually, it's an awesome lot!
Click and shake your head; or waggle your belly-button to choice.
|TINTIN AND THE PICARO'S
The last album Hergé completed. Don't care much for it.
But in here Jansen and Janssens, or whatever they're called in various languages, do have their great moment which really makes it worth your while. Also Bianca Castafiore is, for once, not ridiculous but even dignified. And Zonnebloem, or Girasol, or Calculus, or Chicken Feed—who knows or even cares? so much for trivia—tries to cure Haddock of his alcoholism. About time, too. But does he succeed? Buy the strip and find out.
What I really like about this one is the come-back of Alcazar from Broken Ear; only, he's better shaven here.
|TINTIN AND ALPH-ART |
Hergé's last album which he never completed. For the die-hard fans. It's in very crude form and if you can learn anything from it, is that his strips were much more dependent from the drawings than from the plots. Wodehouse, it ain't.