In Praise of Tintin

So Garfield has been banned from the house. There comes a time in most families with boys where the comics get ripped out of the Sunday paper before the parents even wake up… so giddy they are to read the fresh strips from Peanuts, Garfield, The Family Circus and the like. This translated to my children checking out full collections of comic books at the library which I’ve tolerated for the past 6-7 months or so. One can resist twaddle only so much after all…

But once the kids started mimicking Garfield’s bad attitude, and laughing about John’s busty girlfriend commenting about the need to shave her legs, and seeing “Shut up!” in there, I’ve put the kibosh on that cat being allowed in our house anymore.

Thankfully there’s The Adventures of Tinitinto fill in the void. The boys have had a growing interest in Tintin for close to a year now and it’s coming to a full apex where they read each adventure from start to finish in one sitting, wide eyed and willing to sacrifice sleep and play in order to finish whichever new comic they’ve checked out. For those who are unfamiliar with Tintin, here’s a brief excerpt from Wikipedia to fill you in:

Set during a largely realistic 20th century, the hero of the series is Tintin, a young Belgian reporter. He is aided in his adventures from the beginning by his faithful fox terrier dog Snowy (Milou in French). Later, popular additions to the cast included the brash, cynical and grumpy Captain Haddock, the highly intelligent but hearing-impaired Professor Calculus (Professeur Tournesol) and other supporting characters such as the incompetent detectives Thomson and Thompson (Dupont et Dupond). Hergé himself features in several of the comics as a background character, as do his assistants in some instances.

The comic strip series has long been admired for its clean, expressive drawings in Hergé’s signature ligne claire style. Its “engaging”,well-researched plots straddle a variety of genres: swashbuckling adventures with elements of fantasy, mysteries, political thrillers, and science fiction. The stories within the Tintin series always feature slapstick humour, accompanied in later albums by satire, and political and cultural commentary.

These are true, blue adventures with great characters and great endings… the kind of stuff with which boys should grow up (though the PC police will have their objections to the stark “good guys” vs. “bad guys” dichotomy, period-typical prejudices and use of weaponry). For all this and more, I am still happy to welcome Tintin into our home.

On December 23rd of this year, Steven Spielberg is releasing an animated Tintin movie in 3D which looks very promising and exciting. Certainly it needs a preview before the littles are allowed to watch it (Reading about gun fights and watching gun fights on a sensory overloaded movie screen are two different things.) but I am hoping it’ll be fine for my 7 and 9 year olds to see with their father.

One should absolutely NOT consider seeing the movie without first becoming familiar with the beloved comics themselves first! (I feel the same way about almost all book-to-movie adaptations… but especially important stories like Narnia, Lord of the Rings, The Little Princess, etc.) Watching the trailer I can’t help but think, “Thundering Typhoons! Look at that phenomenal animation!”