Robot 6

Comics A.M. | Tintin in the Congo isn’t racist, Belgian court rules

From "Tintin in the Congo"

Legal | A Belgian court of appeals has ruled that Tintin in the Congo is not racist and stated that the book has “gentle and candid humour.” The ruling came in a case brought in 2007 by Bienvenu Mbutu Mondondo, an immigrant from the Congo, and the Belgian Council of Black Associations. Although Herge himself expressed regret in later life for the book, which includes numerous depictions of black characters as stupid and inferior, the court did not support the plaintiffs’ claim that “The negative stereotypes portrayed in this book are still read by a significant number of children. They have an impact on their behaviour.” [Sky News]

Publishing | John Jackson Miller parses the November direct-market sales numbers, noting that this is the first time in more than five years that all of the Top 10 comics sold over 100,000 copies in their first month. Marvel dominated the Top 10, thanks to its Marvel NOW initiative, and IDW Publishing had its best-ever showing with My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic #1, in the No. 15 slot. [The Comichron]

Retailing | Kelley Poole, owner of Empire Comics in Enterprise, Alabama, has a refreshingly clear-eyed view of his business: “I basically sell luxury items – not food or clothes or other necessities – but I do offer inexpensive local items that kids can grow up with and the geek community has a place to come to.” [Dothan Eagle]

Bergen Street Comics

Retailing | Heidi MacDonald reports on two new New York partnerships: Critic Tucker Stone is now a partner in Bergen Comics, and Ron Hill and Nick Purpura are the new co-owners, together with Jim Hanley, of Jim Hanley’s Universe. [The Beat]

Creators | Kevin O’Neill chats about his work on The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and the evolution of his collaboration with Alan Moore, and teases the next chapters in the series. [Comicus]

Creators | The concept behind Avengers Arena may be strikingly similar to The Hunger Games and Battle Royale — 16 teenagers are trapped in a game, and only one will emerge alive — but writer Dennis Hopeless says it won’t be “a meat-grinder book where all of their characters die for shock value.” Instead, he says, “It does have really high stakes, but it’s a very character-centric piece. It’s designed to get you in the head of these characters and fall in love with them and be scared with them.” [USA Today]

Green Lantern Corps #15

Creators | Green Lantern Corps writer Peter Tomasi talks about the ring-less Guy Gardner and where he’s going from here. [USA Today]

Creators | Christopher Borrelli profiles Lilli Carre, who has works in two Chicago-area shows and a new book on the shelves, Heads or Tails. [Chicago Tribune]

Creators | Madeline O’Leary places the work of Brecht Evens in the larger context of the Belgian comics scene, noting his rejection of the traditional ligne claire style and a general movement by many Belgian artists toward more experimental forms. [Reuters]

Comics | Laura Nelson takes a look at the new tablet-based magazine of graphic journalism, Symbolia, and talks a bit with co-editor Erin Polgreen. [Hero Complex]

Comics | As part of a weeklong discussion of comics in the United Kingdom, Alex Hern discusses the comics journalism of Karrie Fransman and Tom Humberstone. [New Statesman]

Conventions | Ayodele Elegba, organizer of the first-ever Lagos Comic Con, is looking to revitalize the Nigerian comics scene: “We are trying to win back the comic culture in Nigeria with this programme. When I was much younger I used to read comic books and that was how I learnt to read. But now that I am an adult I discovered that people don’t read anymore.” Elegba feels that the local film industry (Nollywood) is suffering because of the lack of comics to provide source material. | [AllAfrica]

Analysis | Michael Arthur examines the furry aspects of Jason’s Werewolves of Montpelier. [The Hooded Utilitarian]



It is the most racist comic I’ve read in my life. I used it in writing my BA dissertation about Europeans picturing the African continent. I think the comic book should remain being published, but only for a scholar use, with the historical text attached that will explain the content. It should never be a comic you you buy for your children to read as it CREATE the stereotype of black man being stupid and inferior to the white man.

Did the court actually look at the picture posted above? Because that alone is incredibly offensive and racist.

Doesn’t seem racist to me…

Roquefort raider

December 11, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Hurrah, common sense has prevailed!

Having had to buy the hardcover of “Tintin in the Congo” from the UK, it came with a statement saying it was made when people were less socially sensitive and some such. It was a good, fun read. Yeah, it’s a product of it’s time, which was 81 years ago. Knowing what is going on in the actual Congo right now, it makes this comic extremely small potatoes.

Still quite funny regardless.

big ggogly eyes, red noses, unearthly big lips, also said characters are stupid and inferior. How did common sense prevail? How is that not racist? Ugh.

just because it was done at a time people were “less socially sensitive and some such” doesn’t mean it’s not racist. Even if the creators or people that enjoyed it at the time (and now apparently).

It is racist, but I think it should still be available for anyone to read if they so choose.

Avengers Arena is complete garbage, regardless of the justifications Hopeless makes. I’ve read the first issue, and nothing about it makes me ‘fall in love with the characters’ – I ALREADY loved them prior to Hopeless getting his hands on them, all he’s doing is murdering them for shock value, and the end of his garbage first issue is a testament to that.

What does it matter if a court stamps something as racist? If that is the case you can say “Dolemite” is racist. Get some court to stamp it as such. Asking a judge to reaffirm your belief is makes no sense. There are many things I don’t care for, but I don’t raise a stink to get them banned.

Given the history of Belgian Imperialism and mass slaughter that was committed by the Belgian state in the Belgian Congo is it surprising that the Belgian court did not want to implicate a Belgian cultural icon in racist practices?

read all about it

It’s clearly a product of racism even if the court disagrees.

Those look like people with painted black faces to me and the big lips.If it walks like a racist and talks like a racist.It’s a racist.

In one scene, a black woman prostrates herself before Tintin, saying: “White man very great. White mister is big juju man.”

Okay, Americans, before you spout out your opinions, spend some time checking out Belgian law to see what the effects of labeling a piece of literature “racist” would do to accessiblity/publication and what, exactly, is the definition of “racist” that the legal courts are using… for good or ill, it probably is more precise than your own or definitions of racism talked about in anthropology, sociology, etc. Here’s an example of how the UK is reporting it: One critical piece of being legally considered “racist” in Belgium is that it is “intended to incite racial hatred.”

Yes, it’s rife with racial stereotypes and is borne of an institutionalized racism, no argument. That it should be banned from publication and limit access by Belgians… I’m a bit more dubious.

(That telegraph article was from the original ruling that was appealed and rejected yesterday.)

Roquefort Raider

December 12, 2012 at 6:16 am


“big ggogly eyes, red noses, unearthly big lips, also said characters are stupid and inferior. How did common sense prevail? How is that not racist? Ugh.”

Common sense prevailed in that *everyone* understands that this book, written almost a hundred years ago, is rife with silly stereotypes typical of its era, and that there is no need to ban it from anywhere. It is not harmful literature nor does it does not promote hatred. It is a product of its era, and its faults can be pointed out to kids today who will see first hand how a colonialist mindset sees the world. If this book were banned, then we’d also have to hunt down and ban all early 20th century pop literature and movies set in Africa, in Asia or in the Far West, because in such works insensitive depiction of ANYONE but white Anglo-Saxons was the norm back then.


December 12, 2012 at 10:14 am

Roquefort Raider is quite right: It’s a product of its time, and is rather stereotypical.

But to the steamed: it’s probably best to come down from the “high” horse, aiming frightened potshots at some mean old drawings from 100 years ago. (How righteous we seem! How courageous!)

Get real: It’s an old comic book from a different era. No harm will ever come from its existence. However much energy you waste on being offended over it is simply lost to you.

If you know your history then you’ll know where your coming from. I wouldn’t ban the thing but it should be clearly labelled for what it is.

Sorry but i have to call BS when O’Niell says if wasnt Harry Potter in LXG Century. If it wasn’t him then who was it?

If the court had decided the work to be racist, would that have been grounds for banning the book under Belgian law?

Chaim Mattis Keller

December 13, 2012 at 3:00 am

jemurr, he didn’t say that. He said OFFICIALLY, he wasn’t. He doesn’t deny that there’s a character in there who’s meant to be him, but due to copyright reasons, he can’t be referred to as such. In other words – unofficial.

I don’t think the Congo book contains so much of racisms. The book narrates it as a humor way, Herge also admitted it and feels sorry about the peoples in Africa. That’s why the court case was won by the Tintin.

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