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Oh, and in 1981, Georges Remi (a.k.a. Hergé) and Chang Chong-Chen were reunited.
This Tintin adventure was first published in Belgium in 1934-35, although the story is actually set in 1931, which was when Japanese troops were first occupying parts of China. Shangai, the great northern seaport on the Yangtze river, had an International Settlement that served as a trading base for Western nations. Herg√© incoprorates several actual events in this narrative, including the blowing-up of the South Manchurian railway, which served as an excuse for further Japanese incursions into China, and led to Japan walking out on the League of Nations.
Of course, it is the Japanese invaders who are after Tintin, who is pretty much on his own for most of this adventure until the Thom(p)sons show up with orders to arrest him (of course the duo don native dress, wanting to avoid causing a scene by walking around dressed in European clothes). The title of the story comes form an opium den that figures prominently in the resoltuion of the tale. "The Blue Lotus" finds Herg√© fully committed to providing accurate cultural details in is stories, although this story has the added virtue of being the most "realistic" in terms of portraying current events in a world poised on the brink of war. His drawings of Asian figures can certainly be considered caricatures, but then this is pretty much true of the way he draws everybody in these stories, with the simplistic look of Tintin being the exception that proves the rule.
"The Blue Lotus" is also the adventure in which Tintin meets Chang Choug-chen, a young orphaned Chinese boy our hero saves from drowning. Chang is surprised a white devil would bother to save his life and Tintin haas to explain how not all white men are wicked. The character of Chang is based on Chang Chong-Chen,a young Chinese student who became Herg√©'s friend in 1934, as is the case with Chang and Tintin. When the Communists took over China the two friends lost touch. Decades later Tintin would race across half the earth to help rescue his friend in "Tintin in Tibet" in 1960. Even though he does not appear in the interim, Herg√© makes it clear that Chang is a very special friend to Tintin. "The Blue Lotus" is a first rate Tintin adventure, made all the more special because once World War II began Herg√© made a concerted effort to distance his stories from the horrors of the real world. After the war Herg√© would deal with East-West tensions on a completely fictional level, making this early adventure of more than passing interest in Herg√©'s career.
Oh, and in 1981, Georges Remi (a.k.a. Herg√©) and Chang Chong-Chen were reunited.
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