Sketchbook: TinTin Discovers Edward Said


My son was watching The Adventures of TinTin, an early 90s animated adaptation of Hergé’s classic comic books, and it inspired the above entry in my sketchbook. The series is faithful to the look and style of the comics, the character design, the stories and, more unsettling, Hergé’s unapologetic racism and imperialist condescension. If anything, putting his stereotypes into motion and giving them buffoonish voices only makes them worse. Seriously, it’s mind-boggling. To it’s only credit in this respect, the producers wisely omitted TinTin’s notorious adventures in the Belgian Congo.

For those who don’t know, the late Edward Said was a Palestinian-American intellectual best known for Orientalism, a ground-breaking study of how Western literature, art and other art forms treats Middle Eastern peoples and religions as monoliths, as a threat or as exotic, as animals or as mystics, or simply in the way of resources the West wants. I thought TinTin would have a horrible epiphany should he ever come across the book.

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5 thoughts on “Sketchbook: TinTin Discovers Edward Said”

  1. Love this sketch. And yes, one would only hope that TinTin had such an epiphany should he come across, Orientalism. Some characters and people would be in their own bubble too much to understand the connection.

    1. Thank you both for the kind words. I think it’s great this little sketch gets some love every now and then. For me it represents an inherent tension I feel whenever I encounter TinTin. Hergé’s cartooning and storytelling are wonderful in so many aspects; but his Belgian imperialist condescension and his eye-popping racism continually undermine the pleasure.

  2. Love the image. Sharing it with my students in a postcolonial theory course. Thanks for great art.

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