How would you characterize Hergé’s politics, and how did they apparently change over time?
In my opinion Hergé’s politics has two stage, one is the original stereotype of himself, the other is he has been attacked by Chinese culture.
Tintin on Soviet Land, the first book of Tintin, was elaborately compiled according to the orders of Hergay’s superiors and was a limited perspective of anti-Soviet propaganda.
Still, Hutch worked willingly: “I’m sure I’m on the right track,” he said later. His only source was Moscou Sans voiles, written by Joseph douillet, a former Belgian consul in the Soviet Union in 1928. In this book, Dudley, less than a decade after the October Revolution, condemns the Communist system for causing poverty, famine and terror. The secret police maintain order and spread deception to foreigners. However, the anti-totalitarian theme of the first book will run through the series. Here the author is also a cartoonist who obeys the orders of his superiors to publish (“Herge: the man who created Tintin”, 2010) . [I think Tintin here is also wonderful, but he has no soul of his own, nor reflects the real human design. In my opinion, Tintin is a heroic person.]
Tintin’s presence in Congo reflected the dominant colonial ideology at that time. As Herg said in subsequent interviews, “It was 1930. My understanding of Congo was what people thought of it at that time: “Black people are big children, and we are lucky to be there to support them, and so on.”
Belgium’s paternalistic description of Congolese indigenous peoples is more childish than racism. In this book, Herg develops an important theme of Tintin: international trafficking. Later stories were also influenced by the threat of World War II, followed by the war itself and the Nazi occupation of Belgium.
The Blue Lotus in the later works is a work which is different from others and has the author’s own ideas in my opinion. From a Chinese perspective, looking at that period of history, I am also curious why the author described China so much [Tintin’s description of China is particularly mild compared to other works of the same period]
In Blue Lotus, Hergre euphemistically expresses the feeling of re-understanding China: Detective Thomson Brothers came to China in the 1930s with their Ling Ting and long gowns and jackets and thought that they had to dress up like Chinese people. As a result, they were surrounded and ridiculed by people and made a fool of themselves. Of course, what’s more important is that Blue Lotus takes Zhang Chongren as its prototype and portrays a Chinese child named Zhang Zhongren. He is modest and brave, risking his life to fight with the Japanese army, helping Tintin defeat the drug traffickers and embodying the dignity and courage of the Chinese people in the face of the national crisis. In this work, there are also a lot of Chinese elements that make Chinese readers feel more cordial, such as restaurants and restaurants with Chinese plaques, rickshaw drivers, blue and white porcelain, cheongsam and so on. They are authentic Chinese goods. The Chinese characters with elegant wording or characteristics of the times, such as “lucky celebration”, “casual drinks”, “abolition of unequal treaties”, “the world is for the public” and “overthrowing Japanese imperialism”, all came from Zhang Chongren’s hands. In particular, on a notice of the Japanese army’s wanted Tintin, the Chinese character “offering a reward for the arrest of the murderer Tin” was clearly written, and “TinTin” was thus given the official Chinese translation. By actively assisting Herge, Zhang became the most famous Chinese in French-speaking countries. The name of Zhang Zhongren is known to as many as 1 billion people in Western countries (“Herge: the man who created Tintin”, 2010) .
From this process we can see a qualitative change in Tintin’s author’s thinking. One has changed from a purely racist mind to a pluralistic and inclusive one. A writer sees more of the world and has a wider horizon, which affects his thinking of painting.
Mountfort, P. (2011). ‘Yellow skin, black hair… Careful, Tintin’: Hergé and Orientalism. Australasian journal of popular culture, 1(1), 33-49.
Mountfort, P. (2016). Tintinas spectacle: The backstory of a popular franchise and late capital. Journal of Asia-Pacific Pop Culture, 1(1), 37-56.
Herge: the man who created Tintin. (2010). Choice Reviews Online, 47(10), 47-5459-47-5459. doi: 10.5860/choice.47-5459