Tintin and "Chang!"

March 30, 2009 by  
Filed under Bits and Bobs

tintinI’ve been reading a book about the life of Hergé, the creator of Tintin, and the stories about the intrepid Belgian reporter are suddenly making much more sense – particularly Tintin in Tibet.

I now understand all about “CHANG!” and the peculiar storyline that relies on nothing other than Tintin’s dreams and intuition for narrative drive. Tintin in Tibet was the first Tintin I read, and I just didn’t get it at the time – it’s pretty basic fare compared to some of the others, even if the art is amazingly clean and beautiful (and there’s a yeti!).

But now I know the history of Hergé and his real friend Chang (someone who’d opened his eyes to Chinese culture, and even played a major role the creation of Tintin and the Blue Lotus), it becomes clear that Tintin in Tibet is a calling cry to a friend who he’s sure is still alive, even after they’d lost touch many years ago. I was almost in tears reading how events of the 20th Century conspired to keep Hergé from Chang for nearly 50 years.

It is a story worthy of a Tintin book in itself, and I can’t do it justice here, but when I read that after Hergés death Chang took to wearing a yellow scarf in honour of him (the same as the character wore in Tintin in Tibet), I realised that Tintin in Tibet had a lot more going for it than I first thought.