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Tintin in the Congo: Egmont to cease publication of the book

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MT50446
Member
#21 · Posted: 23 Jun 2015 07:48
Should Tintin and the Soviets also be banished to some museum to be used for reference to?
jock123
Moderator
#22 · Posted: 23 Jun 2015 08:24
MT50446:
Should Tintin and the Soviets also be banished to some museum to be used for reference to?

That has no more relevance to talking about reasons why Egmont might have decided to stop publishing Congo than your earlier random question about Alph-Art. Just throwing random names of books out isn't contributing constructively to the debate; the thread is quite far enough off-topic already.

If you have strong feelings that Alph-Art and Soviets are upsetting to you, and contain material which is strongly derogatory and which society at large would see as beyond the pale, by all means take it up with the publisher.

So, to get things back on track, a precis of the situation:
Congo is no longer being published by Egmont.
There are issues in Congo which have led to it being held up to scrutiny.
The latter point may have informed the decision of Egmont in the former, but we are not (yet) party to that information.
Congo continues to be available in English, in a digital form through the Tintin iOS app. It has not, therefore been banned or subject to censorship in any form.
MT50446
Member
#23 · Posted: 23 Jun 2015 17:12
No they don't upset me nor does Congo not in the slightest ...BUT I was just throwing it out there as examples to how far should we go ,your drink driving comment was equally irrelevant and off topic.
BUT we have gone round in circles so I suppose it's time to close the debate unless anyone has anything new to add.
Have enjoyed ithe debate nothing wrong with differences of opinion and we are all singing from the same hymn book to a certain extent.
I'm no expert on the subject not at all just a lifelong fan .
It's quite quiet on here a lot of the time so it's good when a subject catches fire of which fans feel strongly about
FormulaFourteen
Member
#24 · Posted: 23 Jun 2015 22:46 · Edited by: FormulaFourteen
jock123
Hello everyone, sorry this response is so tardy... This is the first chance I've had to weigh back in, so I know I'm a little late with this. As MT50446 said earlier it is probably a fine time to close the debate for now, but I would like extend it a little farther to respond to Mr. Jock123.

Jock, you actually bring up some excellent points and I must say that in general I agree with you in the overall message of your post. You yourself highlight the fact that in reality the album is not being banned from society. Arguing that the vast majority of books written throughout history are out of print,however, is not quite a balanced argument. Sure, it's absolutely true. The difference is that I can walk into a bookstore and buy Whispering Smith by Frank Spearman for $10, whereas even now while Tintin in the Congo is still (briefly) in print it just cost me $90 to purchase it from Amazon. Egmont is the sole publisher - to my knowledge, Jock you would probably the publishing status better than I - of the volume in English, so I wouldn't be surprised if that volume becomes prohibitively expensive very soon as a collector's item, which I think is a bit of a shame. Tintin has such an astoundingly large world-wide audience I think it's a bit sad that one of the stories could become so cost-restrictive to purchase an English translation in physical form to top off a collection.

This leads into my conclusion about banning and censorship - No, the book is not being outright banned or censored, but Egmont dropping it in print format has a much larger impact than many other books going out of print. (And yes, I use the term 'other' very loosely.)

Next, I think many of us would agree that this volume really only has it's merit in a historical context. I stated earlier:

FormulaFourteen:
if you read something which challenges your own personal beliefs to the point that you wish it censored or banned, then perhaps you should instead examine the strength of your own beliefs.

You rejoined:

jock123:
if you read something which is seen by so many to be offensive, out-dated and out-moded, but aren't moved to change, you too should examine the strength of your belief...

The only problem with this is that you yourself suggest that the volume's merit lies in it's historical context. If it's merit lies in it's historical place in the Tintin canon, then it shouldn't be vilified for 'propagandizing,' per se, racism, animal brutality, and colonialism because it's not, it's simply mirroring the morés of the times it was written in. It's not a matter of buying into the volume's morality, its a matter of respecting it for what it is (especially since Hergé eloquently displays the quality of his character in most of his other body of art.)

Now you could argue that the news reports that another, unnamed, publishing company is purportedly going to pick up the book. Well, if we assume that Egmont dropped the book for it's racial tones, because it was not making enough profit, or both, it seems reasonably illogical that another company would be pick it up. If it was dropped for it's racism, it could very likely prove unsellable as a curiosity piece for another publishing company just like it was for Egmont. And if it was dropped purely for monetary reasons, any other company would have to advertise it in order to generate a profit that makes it worth while - which would require 'selling' a book full of questionable morals.

I have trouble seeing it being picked back up any time soon in an English print format.


Also, as a matter of taste, I should state that I am not racist.

jock123:
you too should examine the strength of your belief...

The implication here was on par with the implication of my own statements earlier, but I should clarify that I was not arguing to defend racism or colonialism. On the other side of the coin, I don't doubt that you, Jock123, give the album a degree of historical respect it deserves either. I certainly respect your opinion as a Tintin aficionado as well as a practiced artist of discussion. I was merely making a point, as I trust were you.

Now, back to the topic - and as Jock123 points out in his later post - the real point here isn't about the books racism, it's simply the news that Egmont is dropping it's print publishing of the volume. I would suggest that the argument we've all been having really isn't about racism - at least it shouldn't be. That's pretty clear cut - it's bad. Rather, the discussion surrounding Tintin in the Congo should be about how justifiable it is to vilify the album over it's racial (among other) overtones.

I'm solid in my opinion: it is not justifiable. The book has merit on a predominantly historical and canonical context. It has (by today's standards) mature themes of violence, racism, and - as Jock123 eloquently pointed out - colonialism - which make is largely unsuitable as being held in the same moral esteem as most of Hergé's other works. But these overtones should be taken in stride with the times in which it was written as well as where Hergé was in his own artistic development when he penned it.

Respectfully,
Bailey
Lochlomondwhisky
Member
#25 · Posted: 25 Jun 2015 03:02
jock123
How can you say that? It's one of Hergé's earliest works! I just don't understand that statement...
jock123
Moderator
#26 · Posted: 25 Jun 2015 09:23 · Edited by: jock123
MT50446:
your drink driving comment was equally irrelevant and off topic.

I beg to differ - the titles you threw into the mix were diversions, and if they were relevant you never stopped to make a case.

The drink-driving example was to show that society regularly re-evaluates behaviours and values once held to be acceptable, and then takes steps to rectify those which are found wanting; the decision to drop Congo (if motivated by concerns over the racial content) falls clearly into the same category as deciding that drinking and driving has had its day, as opposed to the application of radical censorship and book-banning where texts are deemed to be dangerous to a state...

Drink-driving is just an example: it could just as easily have been bear baiting, smoking in public places or ritual human sacrifice.

FormulaFourteen:
Egmont is the sole publisher - to my knowledge, Jock you would probably the publishing status better than I - of the volume in English,

You can still buy the black-and-white version, and the digital version is available on the app. Neither are the Egmont version.

FormulaFourteen:
I think it's a bit sad that one of the stories could become so cost-restrictive to purchase an English translation

That's a point, but a very minor consideration; the frustration felt over the inability to complete a collection seems insignificant against the fear/ hurt/ damage felt by someone who has been the subject of outdated depictions of race.

FormulaFourteen:
but Egmont dropping it in print format has a much larger impact than many other books going out of print.

Why?

FormulaFourteen:
If it's merit lies in it's historical place in the Tintin canon, then it shouldn't be vilified for 'propagandizing,' per se, racism, animal brutality, and colonialism

This I definitely don't follow: placing the book in its historical setting explains why the content is as it is, certainly. That doesn't mean that it still can't be found wanting, or excuse the behaviours shown. It's entirely possible to do both - one doesn't negate the other. If that were true, what couldn't be excused?
FormulaFourteen:
I was merely making a point, as I trust were you.

Quite so.
FormulaFourteen:
The book has merit on a predominantly historical and canonical context.

I'm not sure what the historical merit is: it does demonstrate the prejudices of the day, but that isn't really a merit, per se. It could be use to illustrate those prejudices, but excerpting a few frames would be enough for that.
Canonicity is also a minor thing, surely? It never hurt the series, as far as can be told, that for the vast majority of its English-language existence Congo wasn't a part of it: it didn't make it harder to read, or difficult to understand any of the other titles.

Lochlomondwhisky:
How can you say that?

Really? After all that's been written, on both sides, you haven't picked up my point of view...? ;-)
FormulaFourteen
Member
#27 · Posted: 26 Jun 2015 08:00
jock123:
You can still buy the black-and-white version, and the digital version is available on the app.

That is actually quite true, and a good point worth considering. I myself own the black and white (and the color now too...)

Also true, part of my problem with removing the color edition is indeed largely due to availability and collectibility. Your point of weighing the relative 'value' between the ease of a collector to complete his collection and the "fear/hurt/damage" of an individual personally touched by the album's content is a difficult one to argue away (for both the color and b&w versions.)

My response to that actually also encompasses your question about my use of the wording "historical" in reference to Tintin in the Congo. By referencing the books historical merits I alluded specifically to the fact that it is an interesting example of the biases/prejudices of the day. It is true that a few frames illustrating this (pardon the pun!) would be sufficient to fulfill this function.

I also used the term 'historical,' however, to express that it depicts Hergé's place in his artistic development at the time he wrote it as well as highlighting his future personal developments (which is something I also mentioned in my last post, albeit slightly disconnected from the 'history' statements.)

When Hergé wrote Congo he was still years (to my knowledge) from meeting Chang Chong-Chen. Tintin in the Land of the Soviets as well as Tintin in America are incredible testaments to the aggressive dynamism of Hergé's imagination and critical mindedness when read next to The Blue Lotus. The influence of Chang Chong-Chen over Hergé and his art is certainly impossible to downplay, but it would be difficult to viscerally understand the breadth of that influence without the pre-Lotus volumes. Thus, Tintin in the Congo is 'historical' because of what it adds to the entirety of Hergé's pre-Lotus body of work. It is fulfills an important and irreplaceable function here - it displays Hergé's ability to both believe in racially prejudiced social preconceptions as well as his ability to critically dismiss them. We can actually see the difference in The Blue Lotus when Hergé portrayed the Chinese not as baby-eating, yellow skinned sadistic devils from the East (the popular conception,) but rather as real people with very real and often tragic lives that actually aren't so different from our own.

As I said, it is difficult to dismiss your point about those who have had to deal with the fear/hurt/damage that the ideals present in Tintin in the Congo often engender. I believe that the books eloquence, however, in lending to the proof of Hergé's character and open-mindedness (specifically referencing my points above) should adequately earn the album a solid place in the Tintin canon. Tintin in the Land of the Soviets is interesting as a first attempt at a serialized but coherent story (some of the stigmas there concerning communist Russia were closer to accurate though, I think - correct me there if I'm wrong, please!) Tintin in America is interesting as an example of the crazy, slapdash quality of Hergé's early plot construction. Tintin in the Congo is eloquent sitting beside The Blue Lotus because of the violently garish brutality and disrespect of the one and the gentle appreciation and subtle poetry of the other. That was highly personal change - development - in a man's most private mind, and we are lucky enough to be able to see it in an expressly and evocatively visual form.

B&W or color? Well, yeah... the Black and White is still out there, so the album won't go completely away, I'll definitely concede that.

Bailey

p.s. - The "canonicity" is a relatively small thing, true, but that doesn't hurt it's strength. It may be a poor example of Hergé, but it is still canon, and by definition quality doesn't necessarily have the ability to change that. (This really doesn't have too much bearing on our discussion, but I mention it out of fairness since you justly highlighted it in your last post.)

jock123:
It's entirely possible to do both - one doesn't negate the other. If that were true, what couldn't be excused?

You're right. What I meant was that - assuming it is obvious that is should be taken in the context of when it was written - it shouldn't necessarily be vilified today as a current voice championing certain moralities and values because it has lost it's relevance/poignancy as a modern/current voice. I suppose what I mean is that it was clearly aimed towards a different time and people, and while that doesn't depreciate the strength of it's errors I (personally) can certainly read it with some level of disenfranchisement because of it. Sure, I recognize and appreciate it's negative qualities, but I have a mental compartment in which they fit that (hopefully) allows me to accurately assess them without diminishing the weight of their messages, good or bad. Because of the album's qualities I mention above I feel I am justified for the compartmentalization, and not merely calloused.
Richard
UK Correspondent
#28 · Posted: 28 Oct 2016 07:26
An update: according to this Spanish Tintin blog, Casterman will take over the publication of this title in English, with their edition due out on 30th November.

I've not seen the news anywhere else, but if/when confirmed it might be worth a spin-off thread.
jock123
Moderator
#29 · Posted: 28 Oct 2016 15:46 · Edited by: jock123
Hmmm... It's a bit unclear *what* is going on, really, considering that the article deals with objections made to the book at the start of the 19th century ("del siglo XIX"), which was prescient... ;-)

The book also hasn't been unavailable - the black-and-white version remains available, and the digital version of the colour edition has been out a while.

It will be interesting to see if the MT&LL-C translation is what Casterman use, or if they go for the Michael Farr, which could be problematic, due to the digital copy not fitting the word balloons in all places, and being radically reduced in size in places as a result to get all the words in.
snowybella
Member
#30 · Posted: 5 Sep 2017 14:21
Richard:
However, a new publisher will be taking on the book "in the near future".

A bit late (8 months since its reprint!), but Casterman republished the book in English in January 2017, as a collector's edition.

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