December Books 4) Kuifje in Afrika / Tintin in the Congo, by Hergé
F borrowed this from the local library out of curiosity, and we both read it pretty quickly. It is just as bad as I feared: the Africans encountered here are stupid, illiterate, desperately aping civilisation and pathetically grateful for rule by white men; by the end of the book they are worshipping idols of Tintin and Snowy. Even more startling is Tintin's casual slaughter of large amounts of African wildlife, often as the punchline of a joke. The book's most effective single frame is a huge and enraged elephant pursuing our heroes; unfortunately the elephant gets killed off on the next page. The plot, such as it is, is supplied by a rather inefficient hitman sent after Tintin by none other than Al Capone (who appears in person in the next book). One can see the elements here that Hergé would use for his much better future work - the deadpan humour, the ligne claire style, even the bearded naval personnel - but it comes with some very unpleasant baggage here. Aren't you glad I've read it, so you don't have to?