Ok, I want to talk about something a bit personal this time. Don’t worry, it’s not my life story, because that would bore you to tears. No, this is about someone who made me who I am today and is still a source of guidance and inspiration to me even now. Someone who helped me through difficult times and was there for me through thick and thin. His name is Tintin.
For those of you who don’t know, Tintin is a young Journalist from The Adventures Of Tintin comic book series by Hergé which debut in 1929 and continued until 1976. Tintin and his loyal fox terrier dog Snowy travelled all over the world uncovering conspiracies, solving mysteries and basically having good old fashioned adventures with a cast of colourful characters. Now I realise that this might sound very simple, childish even. So let me explain why I hold this series, particularly the lead character so close to my heart and why I rank it with some of the best comics ever written.
For starters, while the plot of these comics are fairly straightforward the characters are not only likeable but memorable. Also their strengths are tied to their weaknesses, making them feel realistic and relatable. Tintin is a good hearted person who will do almost anything to help and is both knowledgeable and eager to learn. However he often acts impulsively which gets him into trouble. For a guy who deals with drug smugglers, the mafia and kidnappers on an almost daily basis he is far too trusting and is constantly caught off guard. He gets kidnapped and shot in almost every adventure, you would think that would teach him, but nope! He sees, or at least tries to see good in practically everyone he meets. True he makes new allies in every adventure but come on Tintin! Then there is the Scottish sailor Captain Archibald Haddock. Oh boy, as much as I love the Captain, he is a bit of a walking stereotype. He constantly gets drunk and is quick to anger, one of the most violent characters in the comic. That being said he is Tintin’s most loyal friend second only to Snowy. In fact the two seem to share an almost father and son relationship. He would risk anything to help Tintin. He is also famous for his iconic curses which include “Tribe of Polynesians”, “Miserable blundering barbecued blister” and my personal favourite “Freshwater politicians!” I would be here all day if I talked about all of the characters, so let’s move on.
One of the many factors that has been praised over the years is the art of these comics. The vibrate colours, the line work and the stylised look of the characters. The look of the comics are iconic in their own write and I love it. No two characters look alike (with the notable exception of Thomson and Thompson, but that was intentional and is a running gag in the series) not to mention the incredible backgrounds. That is not to say this comic has no flaws. Some parts can be dated or straight up offensive especially in todays PC world. The second comic Tintin in the Congo has had the most backlash due to the original cover and the content. Not to mention the use of now illegal drugs and characters getting drunk. However as the series went on these moments got fewer and fewer.
Alright, here is where it gets personal. I was introduced to the comics when I was in my second year of secondary school. Being 13 is never easy but for me it was one of the worst years in my life. This was mostly due to bulling. The bulling in first year was bad enough, but it stepped up a level that year. I was bullied due to my voice, for my sheltered upbringing and for being different. I was deemed to be “posh” because I didn’t use slang nor have a Glaswegian accent. Almost anytime they got the opportunity to strike they took it. Two girls even beat me up outside of the techy department. Not to mention not all of the bulling came from the pupils. There was the history teacher, let’s call her Mrs M. Mrs M hated me. She would shout at me constantly and degrade me, often bringing me to tears which only gave more ammo to the bullies in my class. She even said I was the bane of her life to my parents at parents evening. My mother wouldn’t let me pick history for 3rd year in fear that I would have her again. Needless to say, I was at an all-time low. There were only two places I felt safe and happy at that School, The Autism Unit (nicknamed the AU) and the library. One day, I met the new boy who recommended the Adventures of Tintin to me.
These comics were unlike anything I had read up until that point. These characters struck a chord with me. What stuck with me the most is that Tintin often gets in trouble, and the whole world was out to get him. He got into misunderstandings with the police and the mafia where baying for his blood. But did he give up? NO. He kept going to get to the bottom of the story. To prove his innocence and to defeat the villains. Even in the times when his determination faltered, his friends gave him advice and stuck by him. For me, it felt like they were on my side. Cheering me on and giving me advice when I opened the pages. Honestly, I don’t think I would have made it if it wasn’t for that ginger Journalist. After reading all the comics, watching all the movies and every episode of the cartoon I realised what I wanted to be. I wanted to be like him. I know I will never be able to travel the world and bust up crime circles with my dog, but I can be a Journalist. I can write about events around the world, and learn about other cultures. This is one of the reasons I wanted to be a Journalist and why I am studying Journalism. Even now as I watch the cartoon on Netfix, which I highly recommend, I can’t help but smile and realise how much I owe him. Thank you, Tintin.