Herge's Tintin In The Congo Analysis

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READING COMICS: A POST-COLONIAL REVIEW OF TINTIN IN THE CONGO Dr. Sanghamitra Ganguly Assistant Professor, Department of English, Maheshtala College (Affiliated to the University of Calcutta) E-mail: ganguly.sanghamitra@gmail.com ABSTRACT Comics are a medium primarily meant for entertainment. However there are some comics that have become controversial for their content. One such album is Herge’s Tintin in the Congo which has attracted criticisms for being racist and pro-imperialist, so much so that it has been banned from the children’s sections in book-stores in Britain and in the USA it is yet to be published. There are reasons for this discontent among the post-colonial readers, for the book abounds in imagery and language demeaning to…show more content…
For the idea of colonization to be made acceptable and meaningful to the European public, who at the time were heavily steeped in prejudices, it was necessary to construct a prototype identity of colonized peoples. This led to the writing of Hergé’s Tintin in the Congo. Commissioned by the editor of Herge’s magazine The Little Twentieth, it was written ostensibly to encourage the colonial and missionary spirit of the Belgian people. The fact that Tintin in the Congo is a comic book lightens the theme of colonization in the minds of readers. Presented as an easy, enjoyable read, Tintin in the Congo shifts focus away from the evils of imperialism in the Congo. We are inclined to laugh at Tintin’s endeavours. Africans are drawn as monkeys and animals are personified, given the ability to feel and speak. In this comical piece, logic is defied. For example, Tintin is able to humorously escape and survive multiple attacks from lions and crocodiles. The comic book serves as an alluring and funny yet inaccurate source of information of life in the Congo under Belgian rule. Through the characterization of Tintin as a young boy, European colonizers and explorers are portrayed as good, innocent and pure in their intentions. Despite wielding a gun, Tintin never actually murders…show more content…
Due to such on-going controversies the album was not published in English until 1991. The colour edition did not appear until 2005. When finally it was published (by Egmont Publishing), it included a cautionary cover indicating that it contained “bourgeois, paternalistic stereotypes of the period” that may be offensive to contemporary readers. The edition also had an introduction providing additional historical contextualisation. Tintin in the Congo again hit the headlines in 2007, when Bienvenu Mbutu Mondondo, a Congolese citizen, claimed the book was racist and campaigned to get it pulled from the shelves in Belgium. Again in 2007, the UK 's Commission for Racial Equality called for the same book to be banned, saying it contained imagery and words of racial prejudice, calling it a “racist claptrap”. The Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) asked the bookstores Borders and Waterstones to stop selling the book, in response to a complaint it had received. The CRE stated that the album contained “imagery and words of hideous racial prejudice, where the ‘savage natives’ look like monkeys and talk like imbeciles” (The Telegraph, 12th July 2007). The result of these objections was moving the album to the adult graphic novel section, sealing the content, and marking it with a warning label. In the US, plans by Little, Brown & Company to publish the colour
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