More Tintin, Mostly from Snowy's POV 

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Photo used by permission of Annie Rhiannon.

Last week, in a flurry of Tintinology, I gobbled up seven Tintin adventures in my quest to read all the (accessible) Tintin adventures in chronological order.

Following The Blue Lotus, is The Broken Ear.

It was great to see Tintin wearing Chinese-style blue pyjamas, a souvenir from his Blue Lotus days, along with the huge Blue Lotus vase from the cover of the previous book. Then, on the ocean voyage, there's cringeworthy depiction of a black waiter, utterly black with shiny brown patches, exaggerated lips and something of a popcorn hairdo, rather like Balthazar the artist's apartment manager's nighttime hairdo earlier in the book. Then again, one of the Hispanic characters is called Señor Tortilla.

Other interesting tidbits: Tintin is very dashing in his colonel's uniform and Snowy goes through a lot in this story. The poor dog gets shot by a bullet and a poisoned arrow, nearly goes off a waterfall, runs into a predatory South American tribe that wants to kill him and pluck out his heart, and is attacked by piranhas. It'll get worse for Snowy in upcoming stories.

Next in line on my Tintin reading list was The Black Island, a Scottish gorilla tale. Snowy has the following mishaps:
  • he somehow ends up with a bandaged face on page 6,
  • he clings to the back of a speeding car,
  • gets hit on the head with a spike,
  • is robbed of his bone by some bully dalmatian-doberman cross,
  • flies out of a runaway trailer when it collides with a tree,
  • gets hit in the head by a falling apple,
  • jumps on a moving train,
  • gets drunk on Loch Lomond Whisky,
  • his plane crash lands in Scotland,
  • gets spanked by Tintin the third time he has a run-in with Loch Lomond Whisky,
  • falls down a cliff while chasing a rabbit,
  • lands in a patch of thistle,
  • gets strangled by a gorilla,
  • is hit on the head with a falling gun,
  • and has a fright from a menacing spider.
According to Wikipedia, this is the only Tintin book in which the reporter physically punishes Snowy.

Yet Snowy also shows his brilliance: he uses a goat to save Tintin's life, he brings a fireman to the chloroformed Tintin lying helpless in a burning house, steals a whole roast chicken (and gives Tintin a mere drumstick to nibble on), he harasses the gorilla, and retrieves a gun from the criminals, getting rewarded with a bone but not that Loch Lomond Whisky.

This book was also cunningly copied into Tamil by children's author Vaandumaama. To get around copyright restrictions, Tintin becomes Balae Baalu, an Indian boy who, remarkably, goes on the exact same adventure, with the Indian equivalent of Snowy.

King Ottokar's Sceptre finds Tintin in the fictional Balkan state of Syldavia. Tintin still has one of his Chinese vases around, though it is smashed at the beginning of the story. The Thomson Twins, as in the previous story, play a big role in this story, and the awful opera singer Bianca Castafiore appears. Oddly enough, though Tintin presumably loses his luggage when travelling to Syldavia - did they throw his suitcase after him when they ejected him mid flight? Did they put his suitcase in the Klow International Airport lost and found? - his Chinese-style pyjamas turn up again when he sleeps over at King Muskar's place.

This time, Snowy
  • is burned by a cigarette,
  • is hit on the rumps with a stone,
  • is ejected from an airplane,
  • is forced to eat a secret note,
  • has the diplodocus bone he stole from a natural history museum in turn stolen by some bully Syldavian mutts,
  • and gives up another bone because of visions of a thunderbolt-wielding maniac of a Tintin.
However, he gets some fancy digs when his actions save the rule of King Muskar XII, and he gets a smart blue ribbon around his neck while his master receives the Syldavian Order of the Pelican. All in all, Snowy gets off pretty easy in this adventure.

Some other King Ottokar's Sceptre comes again from its Wikipedia entry. In the 90s cartoon version, Professor Alembick's evil twin is the smoker instead of the other way around. The cartoons also downplayed Captain Haddock's drinking problem (and apparently made a mute out of Snowy). Though Tintin in America and The Black Island were banned in Nazi Germany because they were set in enemy countries, this book squeaked by despite its criticism of forced unification and its villain, the would-be usurper Müsstler (his name a melding of Mussolini and Hitler).

The Crab with the Golden Claws finally introduces Captain Haddock. His most amusing insult in this issue, among equally alluring fuzzy-wuzzy, anacoluthon, technocrat, carpet-sellers, ectoplasms, etc., is toffee-noses.

Snowy starts off the story by getting his snout caught in a can of crab meat. Tintin admonishes his "dirty habit of exploring rubbish bins." Poor Snowy must not be fed at home because he robs a homeless man of his bone. With regards to the homeless man's bone, my parents told me that they once ate a roast chicken at a Polish restaurant where a poor woman asked for their bones, which she took away in her bag. So there is something about poor Europeans collecting bones. Anyone know why?

Back to Snowy, he has to play the role of "dog," fetching Tintin's wretched magnifying glass and, when Tintin is absorbed in his mystery, Snowy sneaks off behind the couch to gnaw away. I should mention that Snowy has an angry and devious look on his face at this point.

Snowy then:
  • almost gets crushed to death by a pallet of cans of crab,
  • is hit square between the eyes by a champagne cork (but gets to lick the bottle when Tintin isn't looking),
  • clings fearfully to Tintin's back as he climbs from porthole to porthole on a ship,
  • barely manages a tongue-full of Haddock's whiskey,
  • his lifeboat is capsized,
  • his plane crashes in the Sahara,
  • beats up both Tintin and Haddock with a camel bone (for once not being the recipient of paint),
  • is snapped at y Haddock's suspenders,
  • nearly dies of thirst,
  • steals some sort of ham from an Islamic merchant,
  • gets hit with another gun,
  • has his paw stepped on by a thug,
  • gets drunk on wine fumes,
  • and bites a villain on the bum only to have the beaast's crushing weight fall down on him.
Finally, a secret admirer (and concerned animal lover) sends Snowy a parcel of a large beribboned bone.

My favourite Tintin book as a child was The Shooting Star. A little sillier and more sci-fi, this story had cute white mushrooms with red splotches and funny spiders.

But enough about the humans. Let's see what happens to our canine hero. Poor Snowy has the following misfortunes:
  • he runs into a pole thanks to his owner's stargazing,
  • a nasty observatory worker slams a door on his pristine white bum,
  • another spider harasses him,
  • a horde of rats chases him,
  • he gets trapped on a road of melted tar,
  • in a Titanic movie moment, both he and Tintin get splashed with some bracing seawater,
  • he gets seasick,
  • he is almost washed overboard,
  • he gets caught by the tail,
  • he slips on the frozen deck,
  • he topples hot spaghetti onto himself,
  • he has the galley door slammed onto his face,
  • he falls down a ladder,
  • he is sat upon,
  • he is stranded on a plane wing as the contraption takes off,
  • he is plucked off the plane wing by his leash (and nearly strangling the poor thing),
  • he is burned in boiling water,
  • he has an apple core tossed onto his head,
  • he is attacked by a monster butterfly,
  • a mammoth apple crashes onto his head,
  • he has a near-death encounter with a mean-spirited overgrown spider,
  • he has to bite Tintin on the bum (hopefully he didn't get pink eye),
  • he falls down a steep slope,
  • and he is whipped across the snout with a rope.
Yet Snowy displays remarkable brilliance once again as he douses a stick of dynamite with his urine. He also manages to gorge himself on sausages. Most cutely, he dons a bonnet, cape and bootie ensemble (his "best bib and tucker") in the Arctic, proudly proclaiming that he "is going to cause a sensation." Does anybody appreciate our little Snowy? No. They don't even share their whiskey with the poor dear, not even when Captain Haddock, the honourary president of the Society of Sober Sailors, gets an overflowing thimbleful for his tonic. Obviously, Snowy is miffed, alone under the table on page 31.

The Secret of the Unicorn has Nestor and Marlinspike's debuts. This book, along with the other WWII-era books The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Shooting Star and Red Rackham's Treasure, keeps to a less controversial story, centring on a treasure hunt.

From the beginning, we see there is no end to Snowy's suffering. To please his tactless master, he accompanies him to a flea market, picking up some sort of itching parasite as they wander among the bric-a-brac. His sacrifice is hardly noticed and, rather, Tintin blames Snowy for breaking a newly acquired trinket. Only later on will Tintin realize that Snowy's one instance of poor judgment turned out to be a lucky one. Snowy also shows he can answer the phone and bring it to his master.

Of course, it wouldn't be a Tintin adventure without more physical pain for Snowy:
  • a stack of books tumbles onto Snowy's head,
  • he is snapped across the nose by the secret note,
  • a glass of whiskey falls on his face,
  • he is nearly cut through by a sword-wielding maniacal Captain Haddock,
  • he gets dizzy drunk on more whiskey,
  • his tail is stepped on,
  • a dying man's hat blinds him momentarily,
  • he jumps out of a second-storey window,
  • he is twice splashed with mud by careless motorists,
  • he is nearly run over by a speeding villain,
  • and he has yet another glass of whiskey thrown in his face.
Red Rackham's Treasure marks the first appearance of the annoying Professor Calculus. However, Snowy gets a little bit of a reprieve while Haddock and the Thomspon Twins take the flack. But his relatively pain-free vacation comes at a price; Hergé cut his dialogue back. Snowy is almost mute, hardly voicing any complaints about being forced to accompany Tintin in a never-tested submersible.

The poor dog does get drunk again (on whiskey), is caught with a human thigh bone in his mouth, nearly suffocates in Calculus' diving shark, falls on his bottom (with a preoccupied Haddock not heeding his mournful crying), gets slapped on the nose with another rope, and is hit with dirt. Though by the end of the story, he gets his bone. Still, I hope that this doesn't mark the end of Snowy as the little complainer.

The criminals' objectives in these seven stories were:
  • The Broken Ear: a diamond.
  • The Black Island: counterfeit money.
  • King Ottokar's Sceptre: a sceptre through which rule of Syldavia was guaranteed.
  • The Crab with the Golden Claws: opium.
  • The Shooting Star: fortune and possibly fame.
  • The Secret of the Unicorn: a treasure map.
  • Red Rackham's Treasure: the treasure.
Now, to find the next set of books.


Ah, you reveal your non chef-y-ness, as well as your don't-own-a-dog-ness.

1) The most common cooking use for bones is as the base for soup stock. However, it's possible that they might just be going for the marrow.

2) Snowy not fed? Most dogs, unlike most cats, will eat bloody anything they can get their teeth on just about any time they can get their teeth on it. When we first got our dog, we were inadvertently overfeeding it, and the poor mutt would gobble up its food, then throw some of it up, and then usually re-eat the mess.

None of that would prevent it from taking every opportunity to raid the garbage, find bones on the lawn, et cetera.

But I love these reviews!
1) But other people's bones? Doesn't that come with other people's saliva?

2) Yes, I forgot that dogs sometimes eat their own vomit. I am suddenly thankful for being a hamster owner. Well, I should be a hamster owner again soon.
I agree about soup stock. And isn't the theory that you boil the bones, thus (hopefully) killing any nastiness in remaining saliva?

This makes me want to dig up my old Tintin books...
1) aside from the fact that Boiling Kills Everything*, I daresay that the phrase "beggars can't be choosers" was never more apt.

2) dogs are gross. There's no two ways about it.

*does not apply to botulinum toxin
Ryan: I once adored a dog. Then it went into the women's washroom and came out with a used menstrual pad taped to its back. I don't pet dogs anymore.

Poor beggars, nevertheless.

Justin: Read those Tintins! Wait, you have a collection of them?
Please tell me that the picture of the man is NOT your husband!
LJ: technically, that's not Matt, but it could be the spitting image of Mr. Maktaaq.

Maktaaq: the joys of dog ownership, vol. XLIV.
LJ: See Ryan's answer.

Ryan: I commented on your photo. Yes, that dog of your is bad. Breed? Age? Maybe these have something to do with it?
RE: "Please tell me that the picture of the man is NOT your husband!"

Hello! That picture of the man is my brother, Fergus. He's had that tattoo for about 10 years now. In fact, I just blogged about him myself.

And thanks Maktaaq, for using the pic – love the article.
Fergus is his name? That's great to finally know who's photo I used!

I'm going to check your blog about him now. :)
Anyone that owns a dog knows that they will eat pretty much anything, mine eats dog food (of course) pizza, chips and just about anything I am eating, she loves bones and buscuits and for some unknown reason my argos garden furniture which she will chew on, not out of boredom or malice but because I like to lounge on it, she also eats bugs, spiders or anything that walks, crawls or flies past her mouth in the garden.
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