Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tintin & Asterix - Trivia

I think even as I try to sound serious about comics, I shouldn’t desist from posting a bit of interesting observations. Even though in one of my earlier posts, I had said that Tintin and Asterix are as different as chalk and cheese in the sense that they don’t fall into the same genre in comics, I cannot help notice a lot of similarity between the main stars of both the comics. Maybe it’s because they are from the same backyard, or maybe it’s accidental, or maybe certain things inspire certain other things. But as the Boy Reporter appeared almost 30 years before the Gaul, I guess the onus is on the latter to vindicate his name that I am about to sully a bit.

Tintin & Asterix

All right, protagonists first! No comments on the funny nature of names. That happens with every single comic book hero. But couldn’t help notice the lack of height! Well yeah, Tintin is a boy (though he often gives the impression that he is at least a 20 year old). So he has to be short! But being the first kid on the block, he owes no one no explanation. But what about Asterix? Why does he have to be a midget? So that he’ll look cute? Or is it that before he debuted in the comic book he was part of a stock character team along with Obelix as shortso and fatso?

Haddock & Obelix

Both the protagonists got companions who are not as brilliant as them and are there mostly for comic relief! One drinks like a fish and one eats like a pig!

Snowy & Dogmatix

The dogs! The only difference here is that the latter belong to the sidekick. There is a huge mystery here. How did Dogmatix end up on Obelix’s lap instead of on Asterix’s lap, as is usually the case? I mean it’s the hero, who always has a dog, isn’t it? I mean the hero does all the adventuring, doesn’t he? I mean the hero deserves the dog, doesn’t he? So was it rather deliberate?

Calculus & Getafix

When you are in fix, get a fix! That’s what the Druid is for. Lack of technology meant that he had to fool around with potions and mistletoes. But his earlier Belgian counterpart, a certain Professor Calculus has the 20th century at his disposal and dabbles in modern day inventions. Not as potent as the magic potion, nevertheless his inventions can take you all the way to the moon. Bottom line is, both are inventors in the their own right.

Castafiore & Cacofonix

Now it’s a mere question of gender! The ladyhood and 20th century snobbery might have saved Madam Castafiore a lot of blushes, but for the poor old Cacofonix, it was tough life indeed. But then you can’t expect a bunch of bashing barbarians to have an ear for music, can you?

Apart from the main stars I can only think of one other character similarity off hand, but this one is even more striking.

Abdulla and Pepe

Aha! Both of them are spoiled brats and irritate the hell out of the readers themselves that you want to enter into the comic book just to spank the hell out them. But that’s beside the point. The point is that both of them are there for diplomatic reasons and their protection is top priority. Besides both look similar. Coincidence?

But well, even though one can point out all these similarities proudly like Thomson and Thompson, I am not going to argue that the creators of Asterix liberally helped themselves to the characters from Tintin except perhaps in the case of Pepe and to a certain extent in the case of Cacofonix. It was perhaps merely a question of creating a wide array of characters and besides in Asterix some of the stories revolve entirely around these characters, which is not the case with Tintin.

But then at the end of the day it is quite interesting to note these little similarities that add a lot of colour and breadth to the two great comic book series ever written!


King Viswa said...


apart from the above mentioned similarities, there were quite others as well, if i might add a few:

1. Versions: These two are the 2 sets of comics books that were translated into the most number of languages (and that's a record). and that lead to the popularity as well. considerably, the legacy was built and when you go and enquire in a book shop for comics, the first reply will be "tintin, asterix?".

2. translation: The Translators must be given as much importance as that of the creators. In Fact, translating Tintin was such a difficult task in those days, that a separate team was formed to translate these books as there was many layers of communication that was given in some of the stories. without such accurate translation, i wonder we would not have loved them as much as we love them now. it's a shame that the translators were not that much recognised and their efforts was not given their due worth.

in fact, translating Asterix is THE most toughest thing. recently i was speaking to a publisher who had just translated sherlock holmes and he also echoed the same with regards to Asterix.

3. Other Mode of entertainment: Even now, they are made into mainstream movies and TVS's. by 2011, tintin Movie will be made by none other than spielberg himself. apart from the perennial superhero comics based movies like batman, superman, these 2 were the most successful.

4. Controversy: Both these series were also affected by controversies, esp. of racist nature. while asterix was into that only once, tintin was a serial offender with his books being banned in some of the countries.

well, these were the other small things that i could think of instantly after reading this.

Rafiq Raja said...

That's an interesting piece of comparison work on TinTin & Asterix Gk. Never before I remember to have read such a thought provoking work on the series before.

I would love to add that the legacy established by TinTin, and being the fore-runner would have helped many a creators to base their ideas, even subconsciously on the greatest comic series to have known that time. Asterix came out to the fore, since it had a comical nature associated to it. No one knows, how many others failed in their mission to imitate even without knowing that they are doing one. :)

Thanks for a nice write-up.


GK said...

thats a lot of similarities! and yeah it seems that all that bookstores can stack up under the title comics are Tintin & Asterix which is disappointing as one wants to see a sea of other titles and genres.

but what i was trying to point out here was the not so uncanny similarities between the characters of asterix vis a vis tintin which suggests more than "inspiration"

it kind of makes you put your hand to your chin, cock your eye brow and wonder aloud: hmmm... thats too close to be coincidence.

but well as these characters don't play similar roles i think it's best dismissed off as an interesting bit of trivia!

GK said...

thanks rafiq.

i think you have a very valid point there. the comic book scene in europe is not the way we understand it here in india. as there is a deluge of characters and genres, it's perhaps inevitable that some of the characters share similarities.

when we talk about the american comic book industry, we sort of take it for granted that superheroes resemble each other on a lot of fronts. its the order of the day.

in europe perhaps thats the case and both these guys shared the same magazine space and were supervised by the same editorial board.

as you rightly pointed out, we would never know about the ones that have failed. an example of that would be Bob and Bobette (which by the way is a huge hit among the dutch). one of their stories called "The Flying Bed" reminds you a lot about the Tintin adventure "The Secret Of The Unicorn".

but well, even so, i think these little character similarities between Tintin and Asterix is best dismissed off as an interesting bit of trivia!

Rafiq Raja said...

GK, thanks for supporting my view on comics inspired by comics.

You are right too, Same magazine, same editorial team, does contribute a lot too the build-up of characters... so similarities are unavoidable.

On the other note, Bob et Bobette aka Spike and Suzy, may not have been a big hit in Western countries, but in Tamil Comics there was a time when they were featured in some great stories.... Those were golden times for Tamil Comics. Now we are only reduced to reading them on the scarcely available originals.

GK said...

Whenever I visit your blog I am amazed! The number of comics (original as well as translations) that were available to you guys is astounding! iznogoud, Spike & Suzy, and steel claw... you had a good exposure. great!

and its great to see the medium of blog being used to great effect by you.

cheers - GK

Rafiq Raja said...

Hi GK,

Those were some golden times, when Lion & Muthu were so regular in printing their issues, and we witnessed a barrage of titles from differnet genres like British, Franco-Belgian, Italian, and even a glimpse of Manga :). It's pretty hard to run a comics busines (esp. with the advent of TV and Internet Media) when you are going to concentrate on a single language, and the limited budget meant they were never able to break it big in English. So, now they are reduced to occasional prints.

But, I should thank those who were behind Lion & Muthu (S Vijayan, the Editor, to name specifically), without whom, I wouldn't have been exposed to these many genres. And the void left by them are now filled with the bigger brands like Euro Books & CineBook, who are bringing a host of titles at regular intervals to all the Comics fans.

The only problem, is that unlike Tamil Comics fans, many of the other language friends, are new to these genres, so tend to skip them and continue liking only those whom they have exposure to in forms of American Superheroes concept. That's the very reason I wanted to start a blog to introduce these wealth of comics to other language friends, along with providing a base for Tamil Comic fans to relive their childhood passion.

Good to know that friends like you have been supportive to the cause. Thanks much, Bro :)

Let's continue to enjoy our beloved Comics, as always :)


பூங்காவனம் said...

காமிக்ஸ் நண்பர்களே,

வேறு ஊரை சேர்ந்த யாரோ ஒருவர் ஒவ்வொரு மாதமும் சென்னைக்கு வந்து சென்னையில் கிடைக்கும் பல நூறு அரிய காமிக்ஸ் புத்தகங்களை கொள்ளையடித்து, அதனை பதுக்கி செல்கின்றனர். ஆனால் சென்னையில் இருக்கும் பல காமிக்ஸ் ரசிகர்கள் தமிழ் காமிக்ஸ் கிடைக்கவில்லை, தமிழ் காமிக்ஸ் கிடைக்கவில்லை என்று அவதிப்படுகிறார்கள். இந்த கொடுமைகளுக்கு வழியே இல்லையா?

புஷ்பவதி பூங்காவனத்தின் புதையல்கள்

இன்ஸ்பெக்டர் இன்பராஜின் விசாரணை - காமிக்ஸ் குற்றம் - நடந்தது என்ன? பதிவு 1
காமிக்ஸ் குற்றம் - நடந்தது என்ன? பதிவு 1

GK said...


Am afraid I can't read Tamil. But I appreciate you writing. Was wondering if you can send a translation.

thanks a lot