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The one where Tintin is lynched
on 24 May 2010
There's not really a whole lot to recommend about one of Tintin's earliest adventures. In terms of plotting, characterisation and artwork, Tintin in America - created in 1931 and completely redrawn for collected colour publication in 1945 - is rather primitive compared to the sophisticated later adventures, the story suffering from no clear single storyline other than Tintin chasing one particular criminal across America. The book reflects rather its serialised origins where Tintin and Snowy are put through sequences borrowed from every genre of Hollywood filmmaking, from gangster films to Westerns.
Following on from Tintin's run-in with Al Capone's operations in, of all places, the Belgian Congo (in Tintin in the Congo), the news that the fearless reporter is coming to America to continue his crusade against the gangster strikes fear into the hearts of Al Capone and his gangsters, who immediately try to capture and dispose of him the moment he arrives in Chicago. Escaping their clutches, Tintin however soon breaks up their organised crime activities, but has to chase one big-time gangster, Bobby Smiles across half the continent and through Red Indian lands.
There's at least no shortage of incident in Tintin in America, a mixture of crime-fighting, mishaps and adventuring through exotic landscapes that would become a familiar formula in later Tintin books. It gives Hergé the chance to indulge in classic US movie imagery and escapades, with gangsters and Indians, lynch mobs and runaway trains, with Tintin in cowboy gear sitting at a campfire or dressed as a bellboy. Even if all those incidents and imagery are well-worn clichés from Hollywood films of the period, and the artwork isn't quite as refined as it would later become, there is at least some flair in how those sequences are storyboarded, with some terrific larger splash frames.