I hate Tintin

Like any other artistic medium comic books have their seminal works. The works that have won award after award, received critical acclaim, and maintained popularity decade after decade. Hergé’s The Adventures of Tintin is one of those works. It has proven immensely popular since its 1929 debut, and the meticulously researched stories of a young Belgian reporter is one of the few European comic books to have widespread recognition in North America. Oh, and it will soon have a film adaptation by Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson. And I hate it.

The thing is Tintin kind of sucks. I just don’t get it. I never liked it as a kid and I recently picked up a 3 volume trade which formed the basis for the new movie. It still isn’t very good. I just cannot get into the stories.

The stories are slow, and at times the pacing is brutally so. The use of excess panels adds nothing to the story and at least half of them could be eliminated as boring filler. Check out the following page from The Crab with The Golden Claws.

Oh, I see, we needed two pages describing how wind can blow paper, and how Tintin is kind of an idiot. By Jove, I think he’s solved the mystery of the missing scrap of paper! And he is the protagonist! Which brings me to another point of annoyance.

The characters are either bland or annoying. Tintin is such a non-entity. I have never found any way to care about the character. Others are so one-dimensional and ridiculous (Thomson and Thompson, Snowy) that it makes me want to scream. But the worst, the worst, is Captain Haddock.

This guy is a total liability. From the moment he and Tintin meet this guy is nothing but trouble. An annoying drunken stereotype that serves no purpose other than to get Tintin into even more trouble, I am amazing that Tintin wouldn’t just shoot Haddock. In the face. As a preemptive form of self-defence.

This critically acclaimed series has just always seemed lame to me. And it isn’t that I hate non-North American comic books because I quite enjoy Asterix, Dylan Dog, and Lone Wolf and Cub. I’ll be surprised to see if the Tintin movie can make the characters and stories appealing.  This rant also got me thinking on no matter what, as with all art forms, enjoyment of comic books is quite subjective.

I have friends and colleagues who hate Sin City, From Hell, Sandman, and Watchmen. Key works that are thought to be the best that the medium has to offer and they are so vehemently disliked as to be avoided at all cost and mocked publicly whenever possible.

So what is your most hated best work of all time?

Anthony Falcone Written by:

Anthony Falcone is a freelance writer living in Toronto and he is the Ayatollah of Rocknrolla. You should definitely follow him on Twitter.

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11 Comments

  1. Ed Campbell
    December 6, 2011

    ” just shoot Haddock. In the face. As a preemptive form of self-defence.” – Anthony, that line alone made my day.

  2. marc
    December 6, 2011

    You are obviously a moron. Go back to reading that pinnacle of comics craft: McFarlane Spider-Man.

  3. December 6, 2011

    Now, now, no need for name calling. I can only assume that you felt this was an effrontery to your Francophone heritage. Not true (I did say I enjoy Asterix).

    The McFarlane Spidey stuff is gold and I would encourage you to re-read some of these gems of comicdom and really compare them with panels about a blowing piece of paper.

  4. Arbel
    December 7, 2011

    I kinda agree and disagree with you at the same time. Like you, I recently tried reading some collective works of Tintin and i couldn’t even finish reading them because they are sooo boring. I agree that it is tedious and at times too long and overinformative. the way the panels are set is just super standard and not too innovative (well… who am I kidding – not innovative at all) but…. unlike you (or anyone else who usually writes here) i try to enjoy EVERY comic book I read. The beauty of Tintin is the color scheme of the pages, the very well drawn backgrounds and characters. I find some of the “action” scenes pretty awesome and very well presented. Yes, Tintin is an idiot and his dog, Snowy, is annoying but i kinda like the slapstick jokes of the two detectives (I know I’m childish).
    We also need to put everything in time perspective – these works are pretty darn old. comparing them to Spiderman or anything modern is like comparing the visual effects and the writing of movie from the 40s, 50s or 60s to Avatar 3D.

    As a reader, I’ll suggest to you to try and find something positive in every review because to hear someone ranting about how shitty things are will get old very fast.

    You don’t have to like Tintin (I know I don’t) – just don’t get angry over this shit. 😉
    take it breezy!

    Arbel

    p.s.
    + please remember the influence of the Tintin style on artists to this day. check out the 2008 Eisner winner book “Exit wounds” by Rutu Modan – an adult and very beautiful book influenced directly by the style (to name one).

    enjoy life!

  5. Walter Durajlija
    December 7, 2011

    I love this post! Very courageous!

    The bourgeoisie Marcs of the world are just too afraid to stick their necks out in such a way!!

  6. December 7, 2011

    Oh, I am not angry. I rarely get angry. I do appreciate your suggestion that we try to find something positive about every review. We generally do that. When we review works we try to provide as much information to our readers as we can so they can make informed decisions. Yes, we do have our own biases, but in general I think that you will find that we are quite even handed when posting reviews.

    However, this column is not a review. I am not rating Tintin by number of stars, nor am I not suggesting that someone pick up or pass by the series.

    I am merely pointing out that, as with many artistic genres, sometimes critically acclaimed and universally loved works are not very good.

    This find-something-positive-to-say-world that we live in, thankfully, does not extend to my column.

  7. DH
    December 12, 2011

    While most of Tintin’s earlier stories are indeed slow, clumsily-paced, and crudely drawn, Herge quickly matured into a great story-teller. Beginning with “The Seven Crystal Balls”, Tintin’s adventures became complex, mature, and breathlessly entertaining. Also, please remember that for it’s time Herge was ground-breaking. Many great works of literary art are not celebrated because of their modern sensibilities but because they were ground-breaking and helped pave the way for the current works of art that are being created today.

  8. February 15, 2012

    I agree with you. I read a few Tintin comics as a child, but I could never really get into them. The characters are uninteresting and there is no humour. How anyone can compare it to a work of genius like Asterix is beyond me.

  9. Bob Wierdsma
    January 11, 2013

    That extra detail makes the story kind of interesting even if you might find it boring. I have tintin in several languages so each one has its own expressions.

  10. March 10, 2015

    i can t agree at all , because , after all , i am a huge fan of the character .
    did you try the animated series ?
    if the slow pace of the books are what irritates you , than you might enjoy the animation better

  11. HojO
    October 11, 2016

    Very unique post.Being a huge Tintin fan I still understand some of yours points.Probably you have started with wrong stories as early Tintin adventures were pretty slow paced and ,and as you said,have many uninteresting filler panels/sequences. Like If you start with ‘Tintin in Soviet…’ you will probably discard the series there…But once you start with later stories like ‘7 crystal balls’ or even better ‘Tintin in tibet’ or that adventure with Picaros etc,you will find the series is much better..

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