I’m French, so I basically grew up reading The Adventures of Tintin, Asterix & Obelix, Lucky Luke and other famous comics of that type. In fact, my grandmother used to offer me a new one every year for my birthday and for Christmas. I just re-read those comics so much. Well, I know that there are not as well known outside of my country as I thought they were. So, here is a small guide to enter Hergé’s world.
What are The Adventures of Tintin?
Created by Belgian cartoonist Hergé in 1929, The Adventures of Tintin follow the intrepid globetrotter reporter and adventurer named Tintin as he travels all over the world to investigate mysteries. Aided by his faithful dog Snowy and his friends, the brash and cynical Captain Haddock and the intelligent but hearing-impaired Professor Calculus, Tintin evolves in realistic environment as well as in pure science fiction and fantasy.
Disclaimer: It’s an old comics, so there are some ideas and representations that are quite offensive today. It’s sometime racist. Just saying. You know, like in the old issues of The Spirit.
The Adventures of Tintin Reading Order:
The way The Adventures of Tintin were written is really formulaic. There’s a bit of continuity, but almost all the stories can be read independently from one another. There are a few exceptions with some 2-part stories.
The first books
This three books were the first published, but you can skip them and came back later. It’s not a great entry point.
- Tintin in the Land of the Soviets – It’s the last one I read, but it’s the first one. It’s the only one in B&W. Sent on assignment to the Soviet Union, Tintin boards a train but after an explosion, Tintin is blamed for the bombing. He must then make his way to the Soviet Union where he uncovers some shocking secrets.
- Tintin in the Congo – Talking about racism… this one is quite problematic on that front. Still fun if you can overlook some pretty outrageous things. Tintin travel to the Belgian Congo where he hires a native boy named Coco to assist him. After that, he becomes the standard white savior, stop a war and some diamond smuggling gang before returning home…
- Tintin in America – Tintin goes to America, to Chicago to the Wild West. This time, he fights crime and prejudices.
My recommended entry point
- Cigars of the Pharaoh – Part 1 of 2. Tintin tries to take a vacation, but while on his cruise ship a mystery unfolds! He meets Dr. Sarcophagus who leads him to the undiscovered tomb of the Pharaoh Kih-Oskh. First appearance of Rastapopoulos, Thomson and Thompson.
- The Blue Lotus – Part 2 of 2. The story starts where Cigars of the Pharaoh ends with Tintin who are invited to China in the midst of the 1931 Japanese invasion. There he reveals the machinations of Japanese spies and uncovers a drug-smuggling ring.
- The Broken Ear – A sacred tribal statue has been stolen from the museum. Tintin and Snowy are on the case and follow clues that lead them straight into the heart of the jungle.
- The Black Island – Investigating a mysterious plane crash, Tintin discovers he’s onto something big! The case leads Tintin to Scotland, where he learns of a monster that stalks a lonely island.
- King Ottokar’s Sceptre – Tintin meets Professor Alembick, an expert with a very rare royal seal in his collection-the seal of King Ottokar the IV of Syldavia. Tintin joins the professor on his trip to this foreign land. First appearance of Bianca Castafiore.
- The Crab with the Golden Claws – The introduction of Captain Haddock. A can of crab meat turns out to be a small clue to a big mystery when Tintin meets Captain Haddock in his escape and his plan to track down the crooks takes him to an exotic desert city.
- The Shooting Star – A meteorite collides with Earth and Tintin is part of the expedition to the Arctic Ocean to locate the fallen star. But they aren’t the only ones hungry to make the new discovery-someone is trying to sabotage Tintin and his team.
- The Secret of the Unicorn – Part 1 of 2. Tintin stumbles across a model ship at the Old Street Market. Only it isn’t just any model ship-it’s the Unicorn, carved by one of Haddock’s ancestors, and it holds a clue to find the pirate’s treasure. First appearance of Nestor.
- Red Rackham’s Treasure – Part 2 of 2. Tintin and Captain Haddock set sail aboard the Sirius to find the sunken remains of the Unicorn ship and notorious pirate Red Rackham’s treasure. First appearance of Professor Calculus.
- The Seven Crystal Balls – Part 1 of 2. Seven explorers return from an expedition in the Andes, where they unearthed the tomb of an Incan priest. One by one, they fall into a coma. Can Tintin figure out what is causing the mysterious illness?
- Prisoners of the Sun – Part 2 of 2. Tintin discovers that one of the last Incan descendants has kidnapped his missing friend, Professor Calculus. Tintin and Captain Haddock follow the kidnapper to Peru to save Calculus?
- Land of Black Gold – Car engines have started spontaneously exploding all over the country … someone’s been tampering with the oil! Tintin, with Thompson and Thompson at his side, sails on an oil tanker to the Middle East to track down the source of the faulty oil.
- Destination Moon – Part 1 of 2. Professor Calculus is building a rocket, but Tintin quickly realizes that there are spies around every corner trying to steal the professor’s design! When Professor Calculus’ rocket finally takes off for the moon, Tintin and his dog Snowy are on board.
- Explorers on the Moon – Part 2 of 2. Picking up where Destination Moon left off, Professor Calculus and Tintin discover a secret agent has managed to sneak on board the rocket with plans to hijack it and abandon everyone on the moon!
- The Calculus Affair – Tintin and Captain Haddock peek in Professor Calculus’ laboratory to find a sonic device and a very mysterious-and violent!-stranger. Realizing that Calculus’ life is in danger, Tintin and the Captain rush to warn him before it’s too late. First appearance of Jolyon Wagg.
- The Red Sea Sharks – When his old friend Mohammed Ben Kalish Ezab is overthrown by Sheikh Bab El Ehr, Tintin goes to his aid. But before Tintin can help return his friend to power, he will have to survive shipwrecks, fires, and worst of all, Abdullah, the emir’s rotten son.
- Tintin in Tibet – One day Tintin reads about a plane crash in the Himalayas. When he discovers that his friend, Chang, was on board, Tintin travels to the crash site in hopes of a rescue. Chang Chong-Chen was introduced in The Blue Lotus.
- The Castafiore Emerald – When Tintin and Captain Haddock happen across a community of gypsies they invite them home just as Bianca Castafiore, the famous opera singer, decides to visit Tintin. It’s chaos at Marlinspike Hall, and then a precious emerald goes missing!
- Flight 714 to Sydney – On their way to Sydney, Tintin and Captain Haddock run into an old friend, a pilot who offers them a ride on a private jet. But when the plane gets hijacked, Tintin and the Captain find themselves prisoners on a deserted volcanic island.
- Tintin and the Picaros – Bianca Castafiore, Thomson and Thompson are being imprisoned for allegedly attempting to overthrow General Tapioca’s dictatorship. Tintin, Professor Calculus, and Captain Haddock set out to clear their friends’ names.
- Tintin and Alph-Art – Unfinished book, published posthumously and mostly for the completist. Opera singer Bianca Castafiore has a guru: Endaddine Akass is handing his advice out to everyone, but Tintin doesn’t buy it-especially when he realizes that Akass might be connected to the death of the owner of an art gallery, who had been on his way to see Tintin when he died.