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« Bloggers Scorned, or, Journalist, Heal Thyself (Dean) | Main | The Ghost Workers »

June 21, 2007


I'm a big fan of Tintin and his oddly indestructible dog. I actually read them all in my public library in Berkeley, growing up. Somewhere or other, I can't remember where, I just read Tintin in America and Tintin in Tibet. Hilarious! I also read Asterix, which inculcated in my impressionable young mind a love of feasting -- although in light of some experiences at the local Cheesecake Factory, feasting is more American than Gallic at this point.

My son is a major fan of Tintin and Asterix, and insists on getting his paws on any missing book from the whole collection every time we visit India (much cheaper there than We also have a complete VCD set of the animated Tintin series which the kids love watching repeatedly.

My first exposure was to Asterix in the original French and on reading the English translations later, I realized the cultural differences involved in the translation. One striking example was from Asterix in Corsica ( Asterix en Corse) where one of the characters was named Ocatarinetabellatchitchix in the French original ( lyrics to an immensely popular song by Tino Rossi, a singer of Corsican origin) became Boneywasawarriorwayayix in the English version, if I remember correctly.(Link to cultural references in Asterix- it's in French, but fairly easy to make out.)

Don't forget to check out the official Tintin site at Unfortunately, most of the fun features are in French only and available only to registered members of Club Tintin, the better to bombard your inbox with spam, I suppose.

I liked Tintin, but for some reason preferred the goofiness of Asterix and Obelix to the former.

I enjoyed Tintin too when I was in school. It would be interesting to go back and read it again with a whole new sensibility that I now have. This time I would focus more on the politics of the comics. Conventional wisdom has it that its creator’s political instincts became more progressive over time but his earlier, overseas stuff, especially in the Congo, has a rather objectionable view of the locals. Many have also alleged sexism, pointing out the rare, diminutive, and negative roles women have played in his stories. Wonder if I would like it enough on a second reading to recommend it to a 10-13 year-old nephew or niece.

Come, come, you can't just say 'maritime exclamations such as "blistering barnacles" and "thundering typhoons" '. The uninitiated reader doesn't know what he's missing out on until he knows the exclamations were actually "ten thousand thundering typhoons!" and "billions of blue blistering barnacles!"

I read through all the Tintin and Asterix books one summer in the Children's Library at ITO. I have to confess though, that I much prefered Asterix to Tintin. Maybe that's because I was already 13+, at the very top of the target age-bracket you mentioned for Tintins.

Ah, nostalgia! I have some Asterixes with me as e-books on my computer.. I know how I'm going to spend the rest of the day!

Andrew: I am not surprised that you found Tintin books in Berkeley in your youth. My search was confined to the midwest. Two different planets culturally, don't you think?

Sujatha and Hemanshu: I too was a bigger fan of Asterix than of Tintin - more sophisticated, clever and a whole lot funnier.

Namit: Yes, re-reading the comics with adult sensibilities is a different experience altogether. Here too, I found that Asterix withstood the test of time better. I had read somewhere that Hergé may have harbored Nazi sympathies during the early years of the Hitler regime. I am not sure of the veracity of this claim. He was also advised to be sensitive to Chinese culture by a well wisher familiar with China when he embarked upon writing the The Blue Lotus. But as you said, the man lived and learned.

I have read some Tintin comics as a kid. But I still think that Asterix was the best comic strip ever. I have read every episode numerous times in Serbian and English and also noticed cultural differences (e.g., Getafix is Aspirinix). My son also read most of Asterixes and they are all still in his room.

Sujatha and Coturnix:

Both your sons are acquainted with Tintin and Asterix because you yourselves were familiar with the comics in the respective countries you grew up in. I would like to know if any of your sons' friends in the US are familiar with the series. If so, do they enjoy the books also?

From what my son tells me, none of his friends have heard of Asterix or Tintin, much less read the comics. I do recall having seen an omnibus edition of Asterix, but it was shelved with the Advanced picture books that are usually the province of the K-1 set, rather than the 10-11 year olds.
Maybe the Tintin craze will take over when marketing for a planned 2009 Spielberg production begins.

I am not aware of any of my kids' friends ever having heard of Asterix or Tintin. It was me who bought all the Asterixes in the first place, when my son was just a baby - he discovered them on his own (well, they were on a bookshelf in his room) when he was about 12 or so and liked them ever since.

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