…for the sailor’s worst enemy is not the raging storm; it is not the foaming wave which pounds upon the bridge, sweeping all before it; it is not the treacherous reef lurking beneath the sea, ready to rend the keel asunder; the sailor’s worst enemy is drink!
No, that isn’t an extract from the Alcoholics Anonymous manifesto. Speaking on the radio at the end of his first adventure with Tintin, that is Captain Archibald Haddock, president of the Society of Sober Sailors. He is sharing his views on a topic close to his heart, and after these words when he pauses for a moment to wet his lips with a drink, he promptly collapses. We learn that the drink was something he isn’t quite used to: water.
Like many others, I discovered the adventures of Tintin during my childhood. Looking back, it strikes me that Tintin contributed significantly to my education about the world during those days. I learnt about the moon’s rocky surface not from photographs published by NASA but from Tintin’s explorations on the moon, and I discovered the wonders that lay at the bottom of the sea not through Discovery channel but while hunting for Red Rackham’s treasure. Red Indians came to my knowledge when Tintin went to America, and the Inca civilization revealed itself to me when he was made a prisoner of the Sun. The first footprints of the Yeti were the ones I saw when Tintin visited Tibet, and the first opera singer I encountered was the irresistible Bianca Castafiore, whose melody transcended those pages, tickled my ears and sent a chill down my spine.
These days I am reading these timeless adventures in chronological order, discovering the minute details depicted there, and rediscovering the idiosyncrasies of adorable characters who surface from time to time. Captain Haddock has just made his acquaintance with Tintin in The Crab with the Golden Claws, where he is in his elements from the beginning, causing one calamity after another in his inebriated state and reserving the choicest words for Tintin’s worst enemies. His vocabulary, when carefully accounted, is prodigious:
Miserable whipper-snapper! … Meddlesome cabin-boy!… Swine!…Jellyfish!… Tramps!…Troglodytes!…Toffee-noses!… Savages!… Aztecs!… Toads!… Carpet-sellers!!… Iconoclasts!… Rats!…Ectoplasms!… Freshwater Swabs!… Bashi-bazouks!… Cannibals!… Caterpillars!… Cowards!… Baboons!… Parasites!… Pockmarks!… Blistering Barnacles!!!…Bandits!… Brutes!… Oh Columbus!… Slave-trader!… Twister!… Heretic!… Technocrat!!!… Bucaneer!… Vegetarian!!!!…Politician!!… Pirate!… Corsair!… Harlequin!… Hydrocarbon!… Aborigine!… Polynesian!… Gyroscope!… Blackamoor!… Anthracite!… Coconut!!!… Fuzzy-wuzzy!… Anthropithecus!… Blackbird!… Nincompoop!… Anacoluthon!… Invertebrate!… Liquorice!
All this in his very first outing with Tintin. Phew!
When this rekindled interest in Tintin had me hooked, I scouted the web for Tintin related sources and found plenty. The official Tintin site is a real treat for Tintin lovers. An interesting piece of information I gathered there was about the usage of the Golden Ratio by Herge – creator of Tintin – to depict some scenes :
Vitruvius, a Roman architect from the 1st century B.C., defines the principle as follows. For an area divided in unequal parts to be aesthetical, there must exist between the smaller area and the larger one, the same relation than between the latter and the entire area.
The result is 4 golden points, among which the artist can choose one to place the most important element of his work, thus be assured that it will be placed most appropriately on an aesthetics stand point.
Apart from the official site, I found a Tintin Webring, Tintin trivia quiz, Tintin wallpapers, Tintin Video previews, Tintin Video Games, Tintin Magazine, and Tintin Stores. There is also an exhibition of Tintin’s sea adventures scheduled to be held in March in London’s National Maritime museum.
About an year back there was a press release which stated that Steven Spielberg will be making a movie based on Tintin. The film is expected to be released in 2004, so after three years of Lord of the Rings this year there is something new and different I can look forward to.