Can anybody check whether I have got my information correct because, at present, I have no confidence in my French. Any further information is also welcome.
Better late than never, I suppose...!
Here's some additional information I have gleaned over time as to what the Petit Vingtième
did for the start of Tintin in America
On the 13th August there was a two page conversation (in dialogue form, with illustrations) between Snowy and Tintin.
It ran under the English headline Gangsters? Bootleggers? Hijackers? Racketeers?
, and after a bit about the weather, and Snowy not being keen on the rain, it reveals that Tintin had been discussing a trip to America with someone from the paper. Much of that conversation was in English, which Tintin apparently speaks fluently, but Snow doesn't understand, so Tintin has to do a recap for him (and thus the readers) of the state of America - largely dealing with Prohibition and bootlegging.
The fact that the headline so neatly evokes the as-yet-to-be-created Captain Haddock, and the piece is largely about the problems of alcohol, is quite interesting.
In the week of the 20th, Tintin and Snowy answer their post (this is the "courrier" mentioned above - it's a French word for mail
) which has been coming in from around the globe; this includes letters from various leaders and statesmen, calling on Tintin to undertake various commissions for them; he's also had a "formidable" pile of letters from America, some of which are threatening, but some of which are charmimng, and include an invitation to visit Chicago.
There then follows a section which is notable for condemning racism in America, and criticising the poor treatment of people of colour. It's an interesting counter to the questions over whether Hergé was inherently racist or not, however, it needs more un-picking.
While Hergé will have passed the copy for publication, he didn't actually write it; it also contains what I think is meant to be a joke (which seems to involve a punning word-play over why a Rastafarian from Abyssinia supposedly invited Tintin but not Snowy/ Milou, because he is a "ratter", rather than "rasta") which can be classed as racially and culturally insensitive.
At the time Jamin was strongly engaged with right-wing politics in Belgium, and indeed left Le Petit Vingtième
to work for the Rexist Party of Léon Degrelle, producing many anti-Semitic cartoons; he then rejoined Hergé to work at the Le Soir
Volée on Le Soir Jeunesse
; I've seen it said that Hergé apparently remarked in 1939 that the success of the Rexist Party was more a result of Jamin's cartoons than Degrelle's speeches. Having gone to live and work in Berlin, Jamin was tried as a collaborator on his return to Belgium after the war, and sentenced to death for the more than 500 anti-Semitic cartoons he'd had published, and ordered to pay reparations; the death sentence was later commuted to a term in prison, and he was released in 1951.
So he has a background even more problematic than Hergé's, and perhaps we'd need more research into the origin and motives for the depiction of America in this Le Petit Vingtième
But it's food for thought all the same.
Then on the 27th August, a further two page spread reveals that Tintin and Snowy are departing for America, on a liner from Cherbourg, on what will be a six day voyage. Snowy is worried abut having nothing to do, but Tintin explains that the boat is like a floating town, full of anything one might find there, such as hairdressing facilities, tobacconists, restaurants, bars, theatres and cinemas. There is also the chance to contemplate the raging waves!
This idle chit-chat is interrupted by an enounter with a bearded man, who asks for a light for his cigar. The illustration shows him doffing his hat, which reveals to the reader, if not our heroes, that the man's beard is false, held on by strings tied with a bow (his nose may be fals too, going by the picture). Tintin regrets he cannot oblige, as he doesn't smoke (using the English word "Sir" in his reply).
There is then a short epilogue, in which the stranger says (to himself) that he will telegraph "A.C." to say that the "little Belgian" is on his way, for which information he will be paid a lot of money.
Tintin and Snowy have gone to have their dinner, and Snowy asks Tintin if he thought there was something odd about the bearded man...?
The piece then ends with a message to readers that our heroes will arrive in Chicago the following Thursday, for their newest adventure.
I suspect that once again, Hergé provided the spot illustrations, while Paul Jamin wrote the text, but again, I can't say for certain.