Those losing sleep over Vladimir Putin’s rise and new growls from an unpredictable Russian wolf, don’t panic. There’s a hero at hand — and in technicolour, no less. Famous Belgian boy reporter, Tintin, is the man of the moment, with his Tintin in the Land of the Soviets being relaunched in colour. Originating in 1929, in the famously right-wing and sharply black-and-white magazine La Petit Vingtieme, Tintin traversed the Soviet Union over comic strips printed until 1930. His creator, Herge, was first an editor; seeking a life less ordinary, he began drawing, but battling deadlines, he often didn’t know how to extricate Tintin from his travails. Hence, Tintin’s Soviet adventures are supposed to be Herge’s crudest works, printed as anti-Soviet propaganda for tender, trusting minds.
Now, Herge’s most political adventure is being relaunched, its pugnacious punchlines taking on Russia. America may quiver at the thought of Russia influencing everything borne in the USA, from its presidential election to its president-elect’s recreation. But the West can reply with a Molotov cocktail of its own; an intrepid investigator who tears through iron curtains for the stark truth.
In Soviet Russia, Tintin sees secret police, tyrannical soldiers and wily propaganda officers starving people and burning straw in factories to convince “poor idiot” British Marxists that Soviet Russia is as productive as any capitalist nation — minus the capitalism. Tintin even finds a house “where Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin collected the wealth stolen from the people”. The storyline may beggar belief, but the message still stings. A strongman can try to control the world. But all it takes is one reporter to do what no hacker ever can; celebrate freedom and denigrate bullies for, in Captain Haddock’s words, the “blistering barnacles”, “fancy-dress Fascists” and the “hooligans” they really are.