Life as a Cub

TintinWhere have all the cub reporters gone? Fictional enterprises no longer seem to harbor the fantasy of underaged journalists risking life and limb in the pursuit of a hot scoop, something that seemed once to be a fairly commonplace — or at least somewhat plausible — pretext for throwing likable young adult characters into unspeakably dangerous situations.

This was the absurd and yet intoxicating premise behind the indefatigable cub reporter Tintin, the Belgian comic strip character who celebrates his 75th anniversary today. My father, who spent a good chunk of his childhood growing up in France, introduced me to the oversized collections of Tintin’s adventures when I was a kid, and I was blown away by the sure artistic hand of the character’s creator, writer and illustrator, Georges Rémi — he signed his work simply as Hergé — and I was sure then as I am now that he was some kind of genius.

Tintin’s excursions across the Eurocentric globe struck me as incredibly romantic, as did the fact that he seemed to be able to move about at will, free of the oversight of any true parental figures, accompanied only by a faithful white terrier and an irascible, alcoholic and landlocked sea Captain. For a kid, the idea that young man could secure himself a job in an adult profession like journalism and operate essentially autonomously was wonderful. It’s a reverie that has fallen into disuse, apparently, as our increasingly litigious society has become less comfortable with the idea of minors with careers outside of show business. But I’m glad to see that the idea has survived healthily with Tintin for three-quarters of a century.


One Comment

  1. The greatest comic books of my life. Those and Asterik and Obelix. I should start collecting Tintins all over again. Good memories.

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