This is Volume 1 of the seven hardcover collections each other a trio of the Adventures of Tintin written and drawn by Herg'. The first is rather quaint by the overall standard of the series, but it does serve as a clear indication of how much Herge's creation grew over time. There are a pair of even earlier adventures, "Tintin in the Soviet Union" and "Tintin in the Congo," but they are more political and cultural oddities today and not really part of the main Tintin canon (because of the political sympathies of the former and the inherent racism of the latter). Just be aware that once you start here you are going to have to complete your Tintin collection, because this is one of the landmark comic books in history:
"Tintin in America" has our hero coming to America, which is a land of Chicago gangsters and Native Americas. The art here is a bit more cartoonish than what comes later, but the most important difference is that this is basically Tintin and Snowy on their own with the wonderful cast of colorful supporting characters that end up populating the Tintin universe nowhere to be seen at this point. That may explain why Snowy "talks" a lot more in this early Tintin adventure than is his habit in later volumes. This is not a great Tintin adventure, but it is certainly an interesting one because of the way Herge presents America to his readers. Tintin arrives in Chicago to clean up the city ruled by gangster bosses and Al Capone is not happy to see the world famous reporter. Tintin survives so many attempted gangland hits that you lose count of them, and it is a toss up whether there are more last second escapes or scenes where Tintin pulls a gun on a gangster. The perils of Tintin continue even when our hero and his faithful terrier companion make their way out West and become involved with some of the quaint customs of the local natives.
As for "Cigars of the Pharaoh," if your understanding of human history leads you to believe that the Pharaohs did not smoke cigars, then you already have a leg up on the fact that this adventure of Tintin is not what it seems. Our hero is sailing the Mediterranean with Snowy when he encounters a strange academic type named Sophocles Sarcophagus whom he dismisses as a clumsy nitwit. Tintin also has a runin with Rastapopoulos, the film tycoon who owns Cosmos Pictures. The next thing we know we have the first appearance of the Thom(p)soms, who arrest Tintin for having heroin in his cabin. Obviously, our hero is getting to close to something, but what could it be? From an Egyptian tomb filled with cigars, to floating in an coffin on the Mediterranean, to wandering the Arabian desert, to being lost in the jungles of India, Tintin does some major traveling to solve this particular mystery. Herge certainly shows more of an understanding for various cultures than he did in the previous Tintin adventure, but the overall improvement of "Cigars of the Pharaoh" over "Tintin in America" is pretty noticeable and quite impressive when you think of the state of comic books stories in the early 1930s.
"The Blue Lotus" begins where "Cigars of the Pharaoh" left off, with Tintin and Snowy in India as the guests of the Maharaja of Gaipajama. The evil gang of international drug smugglers had been smashed and all of them are now behind bars except for the mysterious leader, who disappeared over a cliff. A visitor from Shanghai is hit with a dart dipped in Rajaijah juice, the poison of madness, which is enough to send our intrepid hero to the Chinese city where his rickshaw runs into Gibbon, an occidental who is not looking where he is going and starts beating the rickshaw driver for daring to barge into a white man. Tintin intervenes, calling the man's conduct disgraceful and Gibbon vows revenge. The next thing we know Tintin is being shot at every time he turns around. Things become even more mysterious when another bystander is hit with a Rajaijah dart and Tintin embarks on a ship for Bombay only to wake up in the home of Wang Chen-yee, who begins to unravel the mystery for our hero.
This Tintin adventure was first published in Belgium in 1934-35, but the story is actually set in 1931, which was when Japanese troops were first occupying parts of China. Herge incorporates 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. The title of the story comes form an opium den that figures prominently in the resolution 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, and who would inspired the classic adventure "Tintin in Tibet" in 1960. "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 Herge's career. So by the time you get to the final story in this first trio, it should be clear to you that you are reading something special.
on September 20, 2005
I bought these for my seven year old son who was introduced to Tintin through a regular sized version at a friend's place. These 3-in-1 volumes are great for these reasons:
- You get 3 stories for almost the same price as 1.
- The books are more portable and easier to handle for kids
- The hardcover also makes them more durable than the regular softcover ones.
The only negative is the smaller font and picture size, but if you can deal with that, these are great!
on December 19, 2000
The Tintin books are fascinating in their simple and easy to understand details and plot. I'm thirteen years old, and I must say that these books are some of my favorites to read when I'm tired. They are mysteries, but fun to read over and over. My favorite so far is probably "Tintin and the Broken Ear," "The Black Island," or "Explorers on the Moon." These are books for all ages of people, and I disagree with a review stating that the print was hard to read, I started reading these books when I was eight or nine, and I never found the print difficult, though that is my own personal experience. These books are a treasure!
on December 22, 2011
I loved reading TinTin about 30 yrs ago, but the book was about 8.5"x11". This book is only 5"x7", and is hard to read. I was very excited about the books, but now I am very disappointed. Don't waste your time buying the small sized books. If I have a hard time reading, then my kids will too. I have good 20/20 eye site, but won't if I read these books. I am returning the TinTin books I bought, and looking for the larger ones even if it costs more. If I buy them, I want my kids to enjoy them as much as I did when I was young.
on November 23, 2004
Tintin is the best comic ever and here you have three of his adventures together:
Tintin in America - My favorite Tintin book. Tintin and Snowy are kidnapped by Al Capone immediately after arriving in the United States. Of course they escape - and spend the rest of the book rounding up gangsters. They chase Mr Smiles from the big city to an Indian reservation and through the wild west, so you get a good variety of American adventure landscapes. Finally they return triumphant to the city and Snowy gets kidnapped. There is a sequel so you know things end happily.
The Cigars of the Paroah - Part 1 of The Blue Lotus mystery - On a journey to Egypt Tintin meets absentminded Egyptologist Professor Siclone. The professor is in search of mystery. The only clue is a symbol drawn on a piece of parchment. Once in Egypt Tintin and Snowy follow the professor into an underground passageway marked by the symbol and find empty sarcophaguses marked with their names. They escape and find themselves pursued by mysterious criminals. All the while the mysterious symbol keeps turning up on stone walls, painted on trees, and on cigar labels...
The Blue Lotus - Part 2 (final part) of the Blue Lotus Mystery - While staying with the rajah in India Tintin receives a mysterious visitor from Singapore. The visitor has come to warn him of danger, but before he can deliver the message he is shot by a blow dart dipped in poison that makes the recipient absent minded. As the poison takes effect he gasps out one name... "Mitsuhirato" Tintin sets off to Singapore to find the mysterious Mitsuhirato and trouble...
These are all good stories and have jokes for adults as well as children. They are printed on smaller size paper than the separately bound stories, which is more economical but makes them harder to read and doesn't do the graphics justice. This is an economic edition for families, but libraries should invest in the larger separately bound stories.
on January 18, 2012
I am giving these books one star because I believe the ability to actual make out the text is a fairly important component to a book. My 9 yr old, who has perfect vision, sits with a microscope to read these books. The magic of the illustrations is lost printed this tiny. I don't typically look at the dimensions of a book before I purchase online - but there is no way I would have purchased these books if I had seen them on a shelf. I'll know better next time.
on February 16, 2001
This is a wonderful book that is perfect for any age. I've been reading Tintin since I was about 4 and right now, I'm 12. You may think of Tintin as just a regular kid's book, but trust me, these books are perfect for even adults (like my father, who is 48). It's full of mystery, comedy, and just regular old fun! All of his books have something interesting to talk about. The pictures are very clear and accurate, especially when it comes to portraying actual places.If you are looking at this book, BUY IT NOW!("Cigars of the Pharaoh" is a great book).