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Soumyadip Choudhury
Friday , November 18, 2011 at 17 : 55

My adventures with Tintin


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I am yet to watch The Adventures of Tintin on the big screen. Read a few reviews, but I rely more on my peers than the reviewers and friends recommended that I should go watch. And I will. As someone growing up in the 1980s and the '90s before the onslaught of cable TV and Japanese cartoons, I have a strong emotional connect with the characters.

Tintin and his loveable whisky-loving and faithful fox terrier friend Snowy kept me in adventurous company during many a rainy afternoon. I owned very few of Tintin comics (the price was a big deterrent), but read almost all of them thanks to the comic exchange programme that we friends practiced. One which I missed was the very first one, published in 1929, Tintin in the Land of the Soviets (the other was the last but semi-complete - Tintin and Alph-Art).

A giant poster of Tintin is displayed above the Tintin route at Place de Brouckere on October 19, 2011 in Brussels, Belgium

Wilfing on the Internet a few years ago, I accidentally discovered Tintin in the Land of the Soviets on Scribd. Though the artwork in Tintin's first adventure is a far cry from the ones later ones which carried our young reporter (though he's rarely seen doing what reporters usually do) and his four legged friend to different parts of the world (including India, particularly the kingdom of Gaipajama, complete with all the stereotypes of fakirs and the Indian Rope Trick).

Tintin comics were not only about entertainment but were also a critique on different existing political systems. Be it the coup curry of Latin America or the Japanese interference in China.

Hergé or Georges Remi (this was a favourite question of quizzards during our time as the name Hergé is a result of transposition of Georges Remi's initials) seemed to uphold monarchy as depicted by Tintin's friendship with the Maharaja of Gaipyjama or his help for King Muskar XII of Syldavia in King Ottokar's Sceptre.

Hergé didn't fancy the communists much. Tintin in the Land of the Soviets shows the Bolsheviks in a very poor light (unlike what we were taught in the school texts during our time). This was perhaps the reason why the comic was not available in India.

Tintin had inspired a number of people to produce unofficial comic books - one being Tintin in Thailand where Tintin goes on a 'sex holiday' to Thailand (it also features almost all of the major characters) - and I too produced my own.

I was 14 and in Class VIII when I put my very own Tintin adventure on paper (with pencils, a black Pilot pen and Camlin sketch pens), titling the work Tintin in Shilliont, keeping alive Hergé's tradition of fictitious lands based on real places. Shilliont was Shillong, my home town.

Unfortunately, I lost that comic. If I remember right, Kisholay Ray (now a budding filmmaker in Canada), a good school pal, who had a much better hand at drawing than me also had his own version.

When the Adventures of Tintin had appeared on television as an animated series, I rarely missed an episode and later watched all of them on my mobile phone. While it may seem that nothing can the experience of the comic book in paper it is as engrossing on a tablet device.

Earlier this month Tintin lovers were overjoyed to find a 'Tintin: The Complete Collection' iPad app for only $4.99. But that was too good to be true. The app is no longer available on the Apple App Store. Apparently the developer didn't have the rights to publish the comics and therefore the app amounted to piracy.

This weekend I plan to put on some 3D glasses inside a dark Delhi theatre to see how Steven Spielberg treated my childhood hero. I don't want to step out disappointed.


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More about Soumyadip Choudhury

Soumyadip Choudhury aka Somu aka Chaiwallah is an internet addict. His wife and family suspect that he is secretly married to his laptop. The electric shock that he got while trying to fix a neighbour's TV set as a kid, perhaps ignited his interest in everything tech. A do-it-yourself guy, he doesn't believe in hiring electricians, plumbers or carpenters. But often ends paying the professionals more to fix his botched jobs. Somu secretly wishes he knew how to code better and also grumbles a lot. He also tweets a bit as @soumyadip and you can find him on Facebook here.
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