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Tintin and the Picaros by Hergé
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Tintin and the Picaros (1949)

by Hergé

Other authors: Bob De Moor (Illustrator)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Tintin (23)

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1,0791011,763 (3.88)11

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» See also 11 mentions

English (8)  Danish (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (10)
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
Feels a bit thin and polished compared to the mid-series classics, but still enjoyable. The final image is a kicker. ( )
  sometimeunderwater | Jul 1, 2019 |
My review from Tintin Books:

"As Napoleon said, 'Think of it, soldiers. Forty centuries look down upon you.'"
-- Captain Haddock to Calculus


I hadn't read "Tintin and the Picaros" since I was a kid, so it's arguably the completed album I know least. Returning to it, I found much to love. After the creative misstep that was [b:Flight 714|192043|Flight 714 (The Adventures of Tintin)|Hergé|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1172574530s/192043.jpg|360256], Herge was very much back on track.

Of all the albums in the "Tintin" ouevre, "Picaros" is less clearly aimed at children. (Even the formula-defying [b:The Castafiore Emerald|146106|The Castafiore Emerald (The Adventures of Tintin)|Hergé|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1172178126s/146106.jpg|159890] features a great deal of slapstick and mistaken identities.) There is a mature, autumnal feel from the first two frames, as Tintin arrives at Marlinspike in different clothes on his motorbike, amidst the barren, tilled fields, dark skies, dead trees and the constant presence of ravens. And there are SO many words! The early pages, during which Haddock and Tintin ponder their connection to the coup in San Theodoros, and whether to travel there to clear their names, is filled with frame after frame of news bulletin and lengthy debate. It's wonderful to see the two personalities going head to head, and for each to make a decision that truly reflects them. (While Tintin's ultimate desire to join his friends is in character, it feels a bit abrupt, it must be said.)

The sequence where Haddock and Calculus travel to San Theodoros must be the longest without Tintin in the canon, and allows them to shine. Here, Calculus is decidedly more subdued, and Haddock seems to have lost his taste for alcohol. (Incidentally, it's nice that many characters - including Nestor - drink, which evens out Tintin's own teetotalism.) Herge is clearly enjoying himself: the crowd scenes are still lively, and he decorates the jungle landscape much more than other recent works (it wouldn't be "Tintin" without a few encounters with the native wildlife), although - oddly - a lot of time is again spent in confined quarters. (Perhaps still echoing his growing interest in comedies of manners?).

There are many small things to enjoy - the comedy of Tintin and Calculus failing to eat the spicy food of the Arumbayas (themselves making a pleasant return after being the focus of [b:The Broken Ear|1169556|The Broken Ear (The Adventures of Tintin)|Hergé|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1181599821s/1169556.jpg|4773497], and General Alcazar has never been more lively than he is here.

It's in the final third of the work that Herge steps things up a level. At first, he makes a point of how alcoholism has destroyed some native tribes, and continues to redress his characters - with Tintin comically forcing the stoic Alcazar to refrain from killing anyone if he wishes for help with his coup. And then we meet Alcazar's wife Peggy: a brash redhead in curlers (who, naturally, only Calculus finds attractive - shades of La Castafiore). Suddenly, the general is washing dishes in his wife's pink apron, and finding himself henpecked morning and night. Over the last 15 pages, Herge begins to deconstruct his own world. "Picaros" is a very personal story, with Tintin forced to step into the local politics to save his own friends. The alcohol mystery is only solved right near the end (when, in a neat bow, it becomes integral to the climax), and Herge delights with some of the later frames - the fire-lit silhouette of the Picaros' last party; the Viva Tapioca party (with wanted posters of the Thom(p)sons in the edge of the frame!).

There's something neat and perfect in the plotting too. Although not much happens (it takes a full third just to get Tintin to San Theodoros, and another third of chases), the climax genuinely feels climactic. There's a haunting sense in the last few pages, as the Thom(p)sons face death with a moving stoicism, while Alcazar cannot get through to the executioner: it's a scene that has played out in countless movies, only here, the soldier first deliberately dials the wrong number, and then gets a voice saying "The number you have dialled does not exist"!!. The delightful climax, in which Tintin travels in an inflatable parade balloon to save his friends, is breathtaking. And the penultimate page ends with an hysterical frame: Castafiore preparing to sing, and everyone she knows looking terrified. We don't even need to hear her sing anymore (and don't here, except on television): the set-up is now as perfect as the joke itself.

I feel like I've said a lot and yet not much. Well, in short, this is never going to be the most remembered "Tintin" album. So much relies on previous events, and - as biographer [a:Michael Farr|50187|Michael Farr|http://www.goodreads.com/images/nophoto/nophoto-U-50x66.jpg] would argue - the involvement of Herge's studio assistants means that the frames sometimes lose just a little something. (Dialogue scenes, particularly, seem a little less artistically dense than they once were). But truthfully there's very little to criticise: all the supporting cast play roles here, but none overtake the picture. Tintin has developed considerably as a character, with his bike, his yoga and his peace symbol. The politics are clever, the guest cast amusing, and the logic taut.

Of course, it wouldn't be a review without commenting on how things end. Jolyon Wagg has shown up amidst a tour bus headed for the festivities, and Herge has a lot of fun showing these clueless tourists interacting with genuine people, but treating them as if they are some kind of cultural exhibit (perhaps reflecting a little on how readers of "Tintin" could portray themselves as post-racial, while accepting stereotypes and half-truths without question?). On the final page, though, things reach their most terrifying. As Tintin and friends jet off back to the safety of Belgium, they've re-instated Alcazar as General of San Theodoros. In reality, he's already being henpecked by Peggy while - in the album's penultimate frame - Alcazar's grim-faced soldiers patrol a garbage-strewn slum. A happy ending indeed. ( )
  therebelprince | Oct 30, 2018 |
As the baby of the family I torn this one into pieces, as a result, when I grew up and learned to read by my own the remaining pieces left me wonder about the ending of the story. Now I got to read it after 25 years and I have to say it's the best of the series. It shows the circle of revolution in the militarist countries in a smart fun way and make you smile when it keeps reminding you how it can really be. ( )
  GazelleS | May 11, 2016 |
The final Tintin story (not counting the incomplete Alph-Art) goes out on something of a anti-climax. It's not a bad story in the Tintin canon (though not one of the best, either), but somehow I wanted something more from it. That said, I suppose the lack of a crescendo means that Tintin still lives in the mind, unchanging and ready for new adventures that I'll never see. Hmmm - that thought is actually quite comforting.

The most striking and thought provoking panel in the book (I think this might be a spoiler if you haven't read it yet!) is the penultimate one. Following Alcazar's bloodless coup, Hergé leaves us with the image of Tintin's plane whisking him back to European comfort, whilst below two armed, military police officers swagger past a shanty town. Over the rubbish heap bordering the slums, two emaciated faces stare hopelessly out, next to a sign reading "Viva Alcazar". Has Tintin's involvement in South American revolutionary politics really made any difference to the people of San Theodoros? It appears not.

I've enjoyed reading the Tintin books, though I'm not entirely sure why the adoration of the stories has arisen. Maybe I came to them too late in life and would have found them more compelling as a child. Now that I've completed them in order, I can go back and dip in where I will and see how they stand up to re-reading. ( )
  Michael.Rimmer | Apr 23, 2014 |
i picked this book because the front of the book gave it away because it looked ( )
  connormatarau | May 2, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
HergéAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lonsdale-Cooper, LeslieTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Turner, MichaelTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
De Moor, BobIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Janzon, Allan B.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Janzon, KarinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zendrera, ConcepciónTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Ah! vous voilà rentré!
Ah! There you are...
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Tintin, Snowy, Captain Haddock and Professor Calculus travel to South America for Carnical, revolution and a rescue operation of the famous opera singer, Signora Castafiore.

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