88th anniversary of Tintin’s first adventure

Tintin had such a great success that he is even better known than his creator, Hergé. Born Georges Remi (1907-1983), Hergé was his pen name, based on his reversed initials, as pronounced in French. The only rival to Tintin’s fame in Franco-Belgian comics is Asterix, created by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo in 1959. Tintin and Snowy (Milou, in French), his faithfull dog, share adventures with distinctive characters well known by every generation, such as: captain Haddock, detectives Thomson and Thompson (Dupond and Dupont) and Professor Calculus (Tournesol).


Tintin au pays des Soviets, 2017 (new colour edition).

January 2017 marked the 88th anniversary of Tintin’s first story: Tintin au pays des Soviets (C200.a.4909). It was published in the children’s supplement of the Belgian conservative newspaper Le Vingtième Siècle, called Le Petit Vingtième. This anti-Bolshevik sketch was later considered by Hergé a “sin of his youth”. His knowledge of Russia was limited, and unlike his following stories, this book is almost plotless. The original was published in black and white and has been recently released for the first time in colour. In his second adventure, Tintin visits the Belgian Congo. On the one hand Tintin au Congo has been considered racist by some, because of its naïve portrait of native Congolese peoples; on the other hand, others think is shows a benevolently paternalist vision of colonialism. Despite the books’s old-fashioned vision –a result of the time it was written and Hergé’s ignorance about the Congo, which he recognised– the book was a great success. Interestingly P. Delisle wonders if Tintin au Congo is, in fact, antislavery literature. Continue reading

Latin American Graphic Novels in the UL

This is a guest post by Joanna Page, Senior Lecturer in Latin American Cultural Studies and Director of the Centre of Latin American Studies.


Cover of our copy of El eternauta (2014.8.4976)

The graphic novel has been enjoying a boom in many regions of the world, and is increasingly finding a serious, adult readership. Following on from Art Spiegelman’s renowned Maus (1980-1991), which demonstrated as never before the potential in graphic fiction for the treatment of important political themes, writers such as Joe Sacco, Marjane Satrapi, Chris Ware and Alison Bechtel have found the graphic novel to be a very effective medium to reflect on contemporary topics from war and religion to social isolation and sexuality. Continue reading

Graphic novels in the UL – Les cinq de Cambridge

We have previously written about our struggle with selecting which bandes dessinées we should buy for the UL’s collections. As well as our burgeoning interest in collecting BD, we also have a selection of scholarly works of criticism of BD. Three new books help to demonstrate the breadth of material available:

The UL doesn't feature in the story, but Trinity College does.

The UL doesn’t feature in the story, but Trinity College does.

A new set of graphic novels aptly demonstrates the challenge that we have in determining whether to buy graphic novels: Les cinq de Cambridge by Olivier Neuray & Valérie Lemaire will be a series of graphic novels about the Cambridge Spies. While comic books about spying are not the usual domain of the University Library, the subject matter of these made them difficult to ignore. We have received the first in the series (TrinityC201.b.7951) and I had a quick look through to see if the UL makes an appearance (sadly, it doesn’t). The next volume, 54 Broadway, moves beyond Cambridge, so our hopes for immortality in the world of the graphic novel are dashed for the moment. Continue reading

Cortázar’s only graphic novel – an account of an Argentinian vision, or a vision of hell


La raíz del ombú (2014.11.1003)

On August 26th this year, our team unfortunately missed the opportunity to write a blog-post on the centenary of Julio Cortázar – one of the pre-eminent Latin-American “boomers” of the 1960s. However, on that same day we were fortunate enough to purchase a fascinating item by the author: La raíz del ombú is Cortázar’s only graphic novel, created in collaboration with artist Alberto Cedrón between 1977 and 1981.

Although Cortázar had previously explored the interplay between text and images (see for example his Fantomas contra los vampiros multinacionales, 1994.8.201 and Ub.8.472) this is his first “full” graphic novel. In the words of Cortázar himself in the introduction, the work is “an account of an Argentinian vision, […] a current vision of hell”. It is an allegory of Argentina’s unsettled and often violent history from 1930 to the late 1970s, built around Alberto Cedrón’s memories, dreams and obsessions. Continue reading

French graphic novels in the UL

Recent graphic novel acquisitions.

Recent graphic novel acquisitions.

Graphic novels are a well-established aspect of French literature. 32 million were sold in 2012. A glance around any large French bookshop will find not just the famous French comic books – Largo Winch and Adèle Blanc-sec, Astérix and Tintin —but also works on political scandals, international politics and adaptations of novels. The University Library, however, does not have a consistent policy regarding acquisition of such material.

The Culturethèque (“the digital platform of the Institut français du Royaume-Uni”) offers a variety of ‘comic books’ available to read online to users in the UK. This type of material is not generally acquired by the UL. As with popular fiction, the UL has been unsure of which bandes dessinées to buy, and how to complement the University’s teaching and research needs.

The UL has recently purchased a number of graphic novels in French, among them : Continue reading