Ambidextrous Tintin

September 1998

Authors' note: This article began initially with just the body of an old email from Irene to Jesper, with several randomly picked examples depicting Tintin's amazing dexterity with both his hands. Recently the original article caught the attention of left hander, Klas Eriksson of Sweden who decided to take on the task of proving Tintin is really a left hander.

"Great men such as Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison were left handers, so our great reporter detective Tintin has got to be a left hander," Erik declared. Irene agreed with him but felt the need to gather proof to convince the rest of the right-handed world. So the two examined a number of books in the Tintin series, and came up with the following list to support their argument:

Proof #1: Tintin holds his knife with his left hand at lunch. For that matter, Captain Haddock also holds his knife with his left hand! [Reference: The Shooting Star, page 24 frame 11]

Proof #2: Tintin carries his suitcase with his left hand [Reference: The Shooting Star, page 15, frames 4, 5, 7, 8].

Proof #3: Tintin holds the flag the way left handers do [Reference: The Shooting Star, page 47, frames 4, 9, 10, 11, 12].

Proof #4: Everyone is gathered at the dining table, and Tintin's pair of chopsticks have been placed by his left. This suggests that Tintin may hold his chopsticks with his left hand. [Reference: The Blue Lotus, page 62].

Proof #5: Tintin holds the broom in a way left-handers do [Reference: Cigars of the Pharaoh, page 26, frame 9].

Proof #6: Tintin holds a pistol with his left hand [Reference: The Broken Ear, page 8, frame 9; page 28, frame 2].

Proof #7: The coffee cup handle faces the left suggests Tintin holds his cup with his left hand [Reference: The Broken Ear, page 9, frames 3, 4].

Proof #8: Tintin puts on his coat the way a left-hander does [Reference: The Broken Ear, page 2, frame 2].

Proof #9: as in the previous case [Reference: The Broken Ear, page 7, frame 2].

Proof #10: Tintin holds the bird cage the way left handers do [Reference: The Broken Ear, page 7, frame 9].

However, during the process of collecting evidence to support their argument, Erik and Irene noticed that Tintin is also very able with his right hand, so able that there are in fact more instances of Tintin using his right hand than his left. Despite being a bit displeased to see that Tintin may be a right hand dominant, fairness compelled the authors to present the truth.

Tintin appears to be right-handed in the way he holds firearms (e.g. throughout Tintin in America and also in The Broken Ear, King Ottokar's Sceptre, The Black Island), a walking stick (The Black Island), a pair of Scissors (Explorers on the Moon), a spoon (Tintin in America), a knife (King Ottokar's Sceptre). We also observed that Tintin writes with his write hand (The Shooting Star, The Blue Lotus, Land of Black Gold, Tintin and the Picaros, The Broken Ear, Tintin in America).

So, does this mean Tintin is right-handed? It can be argued that certain tasks can be done easily with either hands by most people, tasks such as picking up the phone receiver. Indeed this is what Irene and Erik have found: Tintin picks up the phone receiver with his left hand four times and with his right three times in five books, and twice he switches hands when putting the receiver down.

Consequently, Irene thinks Tintin is ambidextrous; however Klas maintains it is possible that Tintin is really a left hander who, in his unhappy childhood, was forced trained by his ultra-conservative governess to become right-handed. That is another story!


Posted by: Ahmed Fasih
Date: 23/01/1999

Hey Jesper! Great article on which hand Tintin is (uses; but what's the correct term?). But, to tell the truth, I really must disagree with you. Whether someone picks up the phone, opens a door, or punches with a hand is no indication of their handedness. Most people lift things (phone, toast bottle, flags) with whichever hand is more convenient. Punching is likewise: you needn't be black-belt, seventh dan, of taekwondo to punch with all nine hands.

But there are two things which only very, very hard training can overcome, and even that'll usually revert sometime: writing, which I've no pix of; and how arms are held and shot with. The best example is in the Black Island, where Snowy brings the forgers' (in the cave) guns, and Tintin trips and falls. He grabs for the pistol and fends off the villains using his left hand but when he gets up immediately switches it to the right . Throughout the book, he uses arms likewise. In Flight 714, when providing cover for his friends' get-away, Tintin holds the machine pistol with his right hand. (I love that line: Now my turn! A burst on the left(!)... and another on the right(!)... and beat it while they still think I'm about it"(!) Sooo GI Joe-n!) In Explorers, the pistol used to disarm Jorgen is on his right. The rifle in Crab with Golden Claws used against the desert raiders. In Shooting Star, Tintin throws a rock at the giant spider with his right hand. The way he holds his sword and gun in Broken Ear is also typical of righters. It's much more difficult to maneuver a sword than a gun. Don't believe me? Look at Sir Francis Haddock in Unicorn when he's fighting pirates with both.

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