AVENTURES DE TINTIN (LES) T.05 : LE LOTUS BLEU (French) Hardcover – Nov 14 2005
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Picking up where he left off in the Egyptian adventure Les cigares du pharaon, Tintin travels to China in Le Lotus bleu (The Blue Lotus), which is generally considered Herge's first masterpiece. It's also Tintin's only foray into actual history, specifically the Sino-Japanese conflicts of the early 1930s. The political tensions combined with the chilling threats of drugs give the story an especially high and realistic sense of danger. Herge's interest in China was spurred by a friendship with a young Chinese student named Chang Chong-chen, a relationship that Tintin mirrors with a Chinese boy also named Chang Chong-chen. Herge paints a vivid picture of China and takes the opportunity to denounce ethnic prejudices (though ironically his artistic depiction of the Japanese businessman Mitsuhirato is quite grotesque). Years later, Tintin's relationship with Chang would become the basis of Tintin au Tibet. --David Horiuchi
About the Author
Herge (Georges Remi) was born in Brussels in 1907. Over the course of 54 years he completed 23 albums of The Adventures of Tintin series, which is now considered to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, comics series of all time. With translations published in over 80 languages, more than 230 million copies sold worldwide and a Hollywood movie to its name, Tintin dominates the Comics and Graphic Novels chart even today. Sadly, Herge died in 1983, leaving his 24th album, Tintin and Alph-Art, unfinished, but his hero continues to be one of the most iconic characters in both adult and children's fiction. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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Herge's artwork here is also intricate - it is excellent. In addition to providing a great scenic backdrop, he captures so well all that is Chinese: people, clothing, buildings and residences, and Chinese designs and artwork. Herge had been introduced to a young Chinese sculpture student in Brussels who helped him portray Chinese culture and artwork. This is in stark contrast to the simple and stereotypical portrayals of things in "Tintin in the Congo" and "Tintin in America."
The consummately corrupt and evil Japanese operative Mitsuhirato is perhaps Herge's most compelling villain. Tintin measured against Mitsuhirato is the apotheosis of representations of good and evil in the Tintin series. Herge's portrayal of the Japanese was not well-received by them, but before Pearl Harbor he compensated for this to some degree in "The Crab with the Golden Claws." Note that Herge, the occasional social commentator, also takes a shot at Western arrogance in "The Blue Lotus."
Tintin's relationship with his friend Chang Chong-Chen and the other Chinese people in the secret society that combats the opium trade is very poignant. Within the series, it represents the most compelling display of teamwork: Tintin is heroic as always, but he also receives considerable heroic help. China is a huge country, as was its struggle against the occupying Japanese. Tintin's nobleness, courage, persistence, and emergence as a hero are uniquely grandiose and melodramatic in this story, clearly one of the best in the series. Quite interestingly, it is No. 18 on Le Monde's list of 100 Best Books of the Twentieth Century.
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