The first ever adventure of everyone’s favourite Belgian reporter, Tintin, has been released in colour by publishers Casterman. Currently only available in French, the new edition was launched on Wednesday 11th January in Brussels’ Grand-Place, where an actor re-enacted the return from Russia of Tintin and his loyal companion, Snowy. Though the story of Tintin’s journey and his ensuing escapades with the Soviet army, police and spies, has been available in black and white as a collector’s edition for many years, this new colour issue finally makes the story more accessible to fans, and is a celebratory occasion for historians of comics and Tintinophiles alike.
Tintin began as one of earliest comic strips in Europe, and the artist Hergé is widely credited with introducing American innovations to this continent, such as integration of text and picture. Land of the Soviets first appeared as a strip in Catholic newspaper Le Vingtième in 1929 and was published as a book in 1930, with limited reissues after. Hergé apparently disowned his earliest work, calling it “one of the sins of my youth”, and refused to rework it in the 1950s and 60s when all the other black and white adventures were issued as colour editions.
Indeed, Soviets ‘ rough style, lack of plot and reliance on anti-Soviet propaganda do make it the least polished of all Tintin adventures (including the other “sin” of Tintin in the Congo, which became the first official Tintin story despite its racism which demonstrates 1930s colonial attitudes. Hergé later disowned this too). Artists at Studios Hergé have laboured over the last three years to rework Soviets ‘ original sketches, using muted and pastel colours in the same manner as the 1960s issues (without gradient or shading) to create a book recognisable as the Tintin “house style” but still clearly from a time when Hergé was developing his storytelling and iconic artistic style.
This colour issue of the famous reporter’s first adventure will appeal to fans and collectors of Tintin and comic books alike, as well as those interested in European perceptions of Russia in the late 1920s. Long-time fans of Tintin may also be pleased to see the first and only time in his adventures that he actually writes a newspaper article, and gets completely drunk!