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Tintin in the Congo: A review thread

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Mr Blumenstein
Member
#1 · Posted: 3 Aug 2008 18:33 · Edited by: Moderator
The purpose of this thread is for fellow Tintinologists each to add a detailed, thoughtful and sensible review for Tintins 2nd adventure, Tintin in the Congo. Please take note though that one sentence posts like "Tintin in the Congo is bull****." or "Tintin in the Congo is amazing" are not reviews. A post like " I think Tintin in the Congo is a great/rubbish book because...." are much more interesting to read. Ratings out of /5 and /10 are great but a post shouldn't just consist of a rating.

Moderator Note: While it is perfectly acceptable to set up a review thread (or similar), and to canvas your fellow members for an opinion, it has to be said that in that case, the initial poster should be prepared to give their own review; it’s hardly fair to set terms and conditions of what is deemed acceptable or not, and to judge what is interesting to read or not, and then to sit back and wait, without providing something interesting to read on the topic they have set.

Let’s see initial posters get the ball rolling, rather than leaving it to others.

The All-For-Fairness Tintinologist Team
cigars of the beeper
Member
#2 · Posted: 4 Aug 2008 17:48
Tintin in the Congo exists because Herge's boss thought that he should send Tintin to the Belgian Congo instead of America, where Herge wanted to send him next. As such, It is rather uninspired in storyline and artwork. The biggest problem, however, is the depiction of the natives. Back in the thirties, it was all right for there to be "black savages" in comics, and they would occur often. However, now whites have come to their senses and realize that blacks/Indians/Asians are not inferior, so any such thing is now offensive. It is because of the time it was written in that it is now so scorned. In some ways, Tintin in the Congo is part one of two adventures, which could be called "The Al Capone adventure", as Tintin encounters Chicago gangsters in both. However, Tintin in the Congo is more about big game hunting, and through the storyline, Snowy always knows more about the gangster villain than Tintin does. Just like in "Land of the Soviets", his first and previous adventure, Tintin careens through one amazing escape to another, stopping only to shoot wild game or to play tricks on the natives, or cruelly take advantage of them. The pace of adventure without a plot continued in Tintin until Cigars of the Pharaoh and The Blue Lotus were written, when Herge started to take his work more seriously. Tintin in the Congo probably would have been better if Herge had wanted to write it, and had not been forced to instead.
Briony Coote
Member
#3 · Posted: 24 Jan 2009 05:37
I think the political correctness issues and weak artwork (check out those stick-like crocodiles and compare them to the beautifully-drawn alligators in Prisoners of the Sun) have been discussed enough and I will not repeat them here.
In my opinion, the best part is right at the beginning on the ship, where Snowy has a contretemps with a parrot and then Tintin has to rescue him from drowning.
This is the only part I really find in any way exciting, funny and capturing the true flavour of Tintin.
The rest is either too boring, too silly or too stereotyped to grab my attention; overall the story conveys the feeling of listlessness and has none of the energy which I can feel with Tintin in the Land of the Soviets or Tintin in America.
This is no surprise when we learn Hergé was pressured to produce it; his heart was not in it and it shows.
The stowaway who is out to kill Tintin gets full marks for sheer relentlessness but he is simply not in the league of Alan, much less Rastapopoulos or Dr Muller.
At least he was a step up from the villains in Soviets who were there as types representing the Soviet police state but they had no personality, no names - and no brains!

2/10
Spune
Member
#4 · Posted: 6 Feb 2009 19:31
Actually I found it far more enjoyable than others say.

The capture/escape, capture/escape style of story telling is a little annoying but different enough from the other books to make it uniquely entertaining. There are also some great moments of peril, for example when Tintin is about to fed to the crocodiles.

Yes the stereotypical and down-right racist depiction of the natives is very uncomfortable, but undeniably interesting from a historical point of view. When I read the book, I just laughed at the unavoidable ignorance of Herge and the paternalistic attitudes of the era. You can't really deny that it makes this book a little more enjoyable to read as simply a means of seeing how times have changed.

The same goes for Tintin's treatment of the wildlife. It's so ludicrous now to think that a cartoon children's character would shoot a chimp, take out it's innards and wear the skin to fool another monkey that all you can do is laugh.

So unintentionally, I think this book is still a good romp. Yes there is hardly any plot and the art isn't as good but it's still a nice bit of escapism if part of me wishes that this book had never happened. :D

5/10
number1fan
Member
#5 · Posted: 28 Apr 2010 17:52
Briony Coote:
2/10

Thats a very harsh rating the drawings in the colour version are great.The animals drawn in the book reminded me alot of Herge's Fable series

My Rating for Tintin in the Congo
8/10 My reason I waited a very very long time for this book to come out in England and when I read it I coudlnt help but like it I sort of count this book and Tintin in America as the a double bill.It takes authors years to perfect there books I think Herge done it with this one.I am also a huge fan of Tintin in the Land of the Soviets the book always amazes me every time I read it.
Briony Coote
Member
#6 · Posted: 1 May 2010 06:09
Tintin in the Congo is back in the news for its racist stereotypes; there is a court case in Belgium to have it banned because of this. I think that's going a bit far. The book is a product of its time and we just have to make allowances for this if we are to have full sets of Tintin.
jock123
Moderator
#7 · Posted: 1 May 2010 13:00 · Edited by: jock123
Briony Coote:
The book is a product of its time and we just have to make allowances for this if we are to have full sets of Tintin.

It’s an interesting point, but you might want to put the shoe on the other foot, sometimes, and try and look at it from the other side.
If the book truly and deeply causes offence to a person or a group of people, why shouldn’t it be removed in this day and age?
Why don’t we look at it and say, “It is of its day, its time has passed, and we can now consign that work, which may have been created innocently, but today is revealed as unworthy, to the dustbin of the past?”
We basically seem to have a situation where people are going, “Well yes, we can see there’s a problem, but why bother to fix it now?” My question would be, “Well why not?”

Hergé himself was quite happy to deny us a chance to have a complete set of albums throughout most of his life, by ceasing the production of Soviets, more or less it would seem because he didn’t like it as an example of his naïve early style. It was only in an effort to thwart pirates that it came back into the fold. He could have done the same thing with Congo, but not only did get a colour version, it stayed in print (and was commercially very successful), even when he was aware that it was controversial - that seems a hard position to justify now, to me at any rate.

To cause genuine hurt to someone, to even consider tacitly promoting racist views in world beset by iniquity and inequality, seems a high price to pay for having something as trivial as a comic book? Doesn’t it seem a wee bit contrary to the views generally promoted by Tintin himself?
cigee
Member
#8 · Posted: 1 May 2010 16:58
jock123
jock123:
If the book truly and deeply causes offence to a person or a group of people, why shouldn’t it be removed in this day and age?

I liked your post, jock, but here's a counter argument.

For some years, "Tintin au Congo" was not published at all, neither in colour or B&W. I reappeared in serial form in an African publication - IIRC, in the early '70's. It was the African themselves, who were quite happy that Tintin had come to their land, that they were quite willing to discount the naive aspect of the book.

(This information, I got from the Numa Sadould interview book. Also, I remember borrowing my cousin's books, when I was old enough to start reading, and being surprised that the first album listed on the back was America, not Congo.)
cigee
Member
#9 · Posted: 7 May 2010 15:20
I've been thinking about your post all this past week, especially this comment:

jock123:
If the book truly and deeply causes offence to a person or a group of people, why shouldn’t it be removed in this day and age?
Why don’t we look at it and say, “It is of its day, its time has passed, and we can now consign that work, which may have been created innocently, but today is revealed as unworthy, to the dustbin of the past?”

The question become: how do you decide which books should be removed, and which ones kept?

I don't know if you're from Europe or North America. As a North American, I can tell you that the subject of racism in books written in the past is still quite controversial. "To kill a mockingbird", whose subject is about confronting racism, is still in the top 10 list of books that people complain about because of its racist content, according to the association of public libraries in the U.S. Other classics, such as "Tom Sayer" (sp? - sorry, I've never read it) or "Huckleberry Finn" seem to raise complaints every so often.

Now, I'm not saying that "Tintin au Congo" is in the same league. In fact, if it were not part of the Tintin cannon, it would probably have been forgotten by now. But it does have one thing going for it: it is a reflection of that attitudes of the time. (I had one prof in University who came from Belgium. He taught in the Congo when it was still a colony. Once during a class, he did talk, very briefly, about how Belgians in general were acting with Congolese people. It stuck me that what he was describing was exactly how the white people in "Tintin au Congo" were acting.)

Do I have problems with the book? Yes. Do I still read it? Yes, when, every 10 years or so, I re-read the entire series from Soviet to Alph-Art. Do I think the book should be accompanied by documents explaining the historical origins, to put it in context? Absolutely! But, should it be banned? I'm not sure I should be the one making that decision. Banning just one book could open a can of worms, forcing us to makes decisions on countless other books, with no guarantee that the right decisions will be made.
Richard1631978
Member
#10 · Posted: 7 May 2010 20:17
A front page disclaimer should be sufficent, like the one in The Blue Lotus.

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