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Tintin in the Land of the Soviets: Hooray blatant propaganda!

Updated on March 16, 2012

"Tintin in the Congo" gets a lot of guff in the world of comics, much of it deserved thanks to its rather racist and colonialist attitudes, combined with rather amateurish storytelling. However, no one really talks about its predecessor, "Tintin in the Land of the Soviets," which, if anything, is worse.

"Tintin in the Land of the Soviets" was the very first Tintin story written and drawn by Herge, published in the La Petit Vingtieme newspaper from 1929 to 1930. It documents the titular Belgian reporter going on assignment to the Soviet Union to report on what it's really like there. What follows is Tintin and his dog Snowy dodging constant assassination attempts by the OGPU (Soviet secret police) while uncovering the brutal reality of what it's like in Soviet Russia.

What makes this problematic is that the comic was also written for an audience made up largely of children, and therefore what you generally get are pratfalls. this means what anti-Soviet propaganda there is is fairly basic and broad (a man handing bread out to orphans beating a boy who isn't a communist, for example), and therefore it seems rather infantile and unfair. Also, since Herge published in weekly installments, the narrative is rather fragmented, mostly an endless repetition of Tintin being captured and escaping, only broken up by the occasional absurd plot twist (OGPU agents being scared by Tintin pretending to be a bedsheet ghost, Tintin stumbling upon the secret stash of goods to be shipped abroad for propaganda, etc).

The art is also somewhat ugly, Herge not having yet developed his "clear line" style and never bothering to go back and redraw the story (as he later did with "Tintin in the Congo"). Tintin and Snowy are not particularly consistently drawn, and all in all the pictures drawn just look ridiculous. Combined with the weak storyline, this is really only of interest to curious Tintin fans and people interested in early 1930s anti-Soviet propaganda. If you're curious, check it out, but otherwise don't bother.


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