Oct 9, 2016

Tintin and Captain Haddock

When I studied Spanish, I got songs about liking blonde girls ("Las rubias me gustan mas") and a story about Juan y Maria in love, though when I snooped around on my own, I found Papa Soltero and the boy band Menudo.  When I studied French, I got comics: the muscular Roman Alix and his Egyptian boyfriend Enak; Asterix the Gaul;  the cowboy Lucky Luke; the race car driver Michel Vaillant; bellhop turned adventurer Spirou and his reporter boyfriend Fantasio; and of course, Tintin.











A teenage reporter, Tintin first appeared in the Belgian children's magazine Le Petit Vingtième.  23 comic albums, or bandes-dessinees, appeared between 1930 and 1976, sending Tintin to the Congo, Egypt, Tibet,  America, and eventually the Moon (a 24th, Tintin and Aleph-Art, was left unfinished at cartoonist Herge's death).  The albums have been translated into over 100 languages, and in an interesting twist, dozens of dialects. Would you like to know how the Antwerp and Oostend dialect differs from ordinary Dutch?  How about Picard and Gallois from standard French?




There was not a lot of beefcake in the comic stories or the animated films and tv series, but two live-action films starring Jean-Pierre Talbot took care of that.

Early on, Tintin made new friends in each adventure.  His most intimate relationship came in The Blue Lotus, when he rescued Chang, a Chinese boy victimized by the Japanese invasion of Manchuria.

But in The Crab with the Golden Claws, Tintin meets the blustering, irascible Captain Haddock and helps him reclaim his ancestral home, Marlinspike Manor.  Tintin moves in.  After that, there is no question: they are a couple..







During their adventures, Haddock and Tintin work as a team, rescuing each other over and over, hugging, pressing against each other.  At home, they are blatantly domestic, often shown sitting at breakfast, lounging around the parlor, going to movies, taking vacations.

Neither expresses any interest in women, but in Tintin in Tibet, when Tintin's old friend Chang writes to ask for help, Haddock blisters with jealousy and refuses to accompany him on the adventure (he relents later).  And when Haddock spends time with a new friend, Tintin mopes and pouts.

Many commentators, including Jamie Bell, who played Tintin in the 2011 movie, have noticed that Tintin and Haddock behave precisely as a gay couple.

Even Herge himself found it necessary to address the "accusations": he said that Tintin and Haddock could not actively pursue women because mostly boys read the comics, and they were interested in adventure, not romance.  But if that is the case, why did Herge put them into a relationship that looked and felt precisely like a romance?

Anyway, he was wrong: gay boys wanted both adventure and romance.  And they found both in Tintin.