The Adventures of Tintin are classics in the world of comics. Tintin is a young reporter who solves mysteries with his faithful side kick the dog Snowy. The character was created by Herge who both wrote and illustrated the albums.
Tintin and the Broken Ear is a classic from the adventure series and is believed to include a political subtext like many of Herge works. The middle part of the adventure is set in a fictitious South American dictatorship of San Theodoros in which the native generals are in a battle for power. The conflict between San Theodoros and Neuvo-Rico in the book is called the “Gran Chapo War” which mirrors the Gran Chaco War of 1932 to 1935 fought between Bolivia and Paraguay for control of the Gran Chaco region falsely believed to be rich in oil.
The story begins when a fetish (an object believed to have supernatural powers) that originally belongs to a tribe of South American Indians is stolen from a museum in the town where Tintin lives. The next day the statue is returned with a note saying it had been a bet. Tintin though ever the hero realises it is a fake because the replacement is complete when the original was missing an ear.
Tintin now obviously want to get to the bottom of the mystery so begins the journey to solve the crime. He finds that a wood carver has recently been killed and deduces that this man Balthazar probably carved the fake so goes in search of the mans parrot in a hope to getting a clue to the killer.
The lead sends him to South America along with two other men who also are following the trail Alfonso Perez and Ramon Bada. They are all trying to outdo each other. Ramon and Alfonso on the journey over by boat kill Roger Tortilla (not very imaginative) who was the man that originally stole the fetish. Tintin who had been in disguise arrest the men on docking in San Theodoros. In a twist the Colonel who greets them lets the men go and it is Tintin who is later arrested and is framed for terrorism and sentenced to death.
As Tintin is about to be killed by the firing squad he is saved by a rebel leader General Alcazar. Tintin who unusually has been drinking heavily swears his allegiance to Alcazar who is now in command of the country and makes Tintin a Colonel.
Tintin new position proves a help and a hindrance as Perez, Ramon and the disgraced General Tortilla try to kill him. It is at this point we are introduced to the “Gran Chapo War”. This war is pushed by two competing oil companies that both want the oil believed to be beneath the earth in the Gran Chapo region.
Tintin escapes another attempt on his life by General Trickler of Great American Oil (one of the competing companies). Tintin eventually finds himself among the people of Arumbaya. He tries to find out why so many people are after the fetish that in monetary value is worthless. Tintin gains information that leads him to believe that there is a valuable diamond belonging to the Arumbaya tribe hidden in the fetish.
Tinin leaves the tribe and comes across Perez and Ramon who have deserted the San Theodoros army. Tintin manage to capture them and learn from a note in Perez’s wallet that Tortilla had in fact placed the diamond in the fetish. How Tortilla is connected to Lopez is not revealed Perez and Ramon later escape from Tintin. Tintin is at a loss and has no leads returns home only to find many replicas of the statues are for sale. He learns that the factory producing them is owned by Balthazar’s brother who found the fetish among his brother’s effects. Balthazar’s brother has sold the fetish to an rich American Samuel Goldbarr, who has left for America. Tintin flies out on a plane to the ship only to discover that Ramon and Perez are already in possession of the fetish and therefore the diamond. There is a confrontation and the fetish breaks revealing the diamond. All three men try to save it but it falls into the ocean and is lost. Tintin is saved by the crew of the ship however Alonso Perez and Ramon Bada are lost at sea. It is typical of a Tintin mystery as they are all easy to follow which was the intention of Herge when creating his masterpieces. There are 23 albums in all and there have been over 200 million books and albums sold worldwide. There is to be a Tintin movie released in 2009 which will bring these books back to the mainstream where they belong.
John Helios has been a big Tintin fan for a number of years. He is very much looking forward to the new Tintin movie directed by Spielberg and Jackson. At his site you can watch Tintin and the Broken Ear in five easy parts.