Posted: 16 Aug 2004 16:20
Well, I just back back from Hanoi this evening, and thought I'd give the run-down on the Tintin situation in Vietnam, much as I did for China.
In another thread, I mentioned some wall plaques of Tintin covers (in French) I'd come across in a street market in Vancouver once, made in Vietnam, and selling for about $25-$40 Cdn. depending on size. Arriving in Hanoi, I wondered if I'd find the things at their soruce...
Boy, did I! Pretty much every little tourist shop in Old Hanoi sells these things. Completely unauthorized, of course, but very, very cool (and far cheaper than when they're exported across the world!) I picked up a large Tintin in Tibet and smaller Prisoners of the Sun one... some Australians in the shop at the time confirmed that these items, to their knowledge, hadn't yet made it to Australia, which is a shame for the Aussies on this board...
In Old Hanoi, there were also a number of Tintin T-shirts, usually with fictional titles like "Tintin in Vietnam," or "Tintin in Saigon" (it doesn't seem entirely taboo to still call the renamed Ho Chi Minh City by its former name, which surprised me).
Anyway, determined as I was in China to find a Vietnamese Tintin book, I hit a bookstore in the newer part of town. (There are about 4 in a row, and as far as I can tell, these are the only bookstores in Hanoi!) Not entirely sure what Tintin was called in Vietnamese, I took to drawing a little picture of him and Snowy on the back of a receipt, and wrote "Tintin" beneath it. One of the vendors first shook her head, but then her coworker started pointing to an area elsewhere in the shop, saying "Viêt, Viêt" (meaning they only had them in Vietnamese, which they probably thought would be a disappointment to me).
Of course I started nodding vigorously and saying back "Viêt, yes, Viêt!" and she directed me to the area she was discussing. Why hadn't I seen them on my own? Well it turns out that, as is the case in China, the Vietnamese series looks a little different from the Western ones. They are printed on far thinner paper and don't have a flat spine the way the Western softcovers do. So unless you know what you're looking for, from the side they just look like children's coloring books!
What was odd, anyway, is that they had far more selection of the Jo, Zette and Jocko series than they did of Tintin! In fact, they only had two Tintin titles there (Broken Ear and Secret of the Unicorn... I opted for the former as I already own Unicorn in Hebrew). Broken Ear is known as Búc Tuong Tai Võ in Vietnamese. The publisher seems to make little distinction, as the back of the JZJ books show the Tintin albums only.
However, not that many of them are actually made in Vietnamese. At least a couple of the two-part books go unresolved, as I don't believe either Rackham or Explorers are made. Meanwhile a few of the other notable titles (such as Cigars, Tibet or Red Sea Sharks) never made it. I don't know if this has to do with government censorship, or economics, or what.
In all, 12 titles plus the Lake of Sharks are shown on the back.
In the meantime, sorting through, er, "very legitimate" DVDs, my former roommate and I uncovered copies of both Golden Fleece and Blue Oranges, which we purchased for an embarrassingly low sum. No subtitles, and I've since learned that my listening-French isn't good enough to handle much of what the characters are saying, but it's a pretty cool find anyway... who'd have thought these comparative relics would be in a store like this, where usually only very current, and mostly action, movies are sold?
So the people may not get to read that many of them, but all in all Vietnam is a relatively Tintinny place!