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“The Adventures of Tintin” Primer: A 101 guide to the famous boy detective


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Steven Spielberg’s ambitious film “The Adventures of Tintin” will finally make it to American theaters today, nearly two months after being released in the United Kingdom. While the boy reporter Tintin is one of the most famous comic characters in the world, stateside the beloved creation of Belgian cartoonist Hergé has always played second fiddle to superheroes.

So, in order to ensure that you, our beloved readers, are ready to fully enjoy and appreciate Steven Spielberg’s “The Adventures of Tintin,” we’ve compiled the following primer. The flick, which adapts elements from three of Hergé’s books, including “The Crab with the Golden Claws,” “The Secret of the Unicorn” and “Red Rackham’s Treasure,” is totally self-sufficient and succeeds on its own merits, but with this primer, you’ll be able to impress fellow filmgoers with your knowledge of bande dessinée (French for comics, natch).


The focus of Hergé’s most famous work, Tintin is an intrepid boy reporter, easily identifiable by his blonde, flipped up hairstyle and signature blue sweater. Somewhat of a blank slate, Tintin’s past and family are never mentioned, and his only character traits seem to be culled from the Boy Scout Oath and Law. In the past, Tintin has sometimes been criticized as an unrealized or even bland character – similar to the complaints lodged against contemporary portrayals of Superman. But like Superman, Tintin is interesting not because of any character flaws, but as an idealized force of nature (in this case, his curiosity, dependability and optimism) cast into a world of deceit and shady goings-on.

Fun fact: The proper Franco-Belgian pronunciation of the character’s name actually sounds like “Tantan,” but unless you’re wearing a beret, you should probably just stick to “Tintin.”


Tintin’s constant companion is his small, white terrier-esque dog Snowy. Though he can’t speak, in the comics Snowy does occasionally have thought balloons, and is also otherwise heavily anthropomorphized. Snowy is a faithful, well-meaning pet, but frequently lets his animal nature get in the way of a case. Just as often, however, its Snowy’s reckless exploration that sets Tintin on the path of solving a mystery. Thus, Snowy’s impulsiveness serves as a counterpoint to the measured, almost analytical acts of his owner.

Captain Haddock

Similarly, Tintin’s friend Captain Haddock (who he meets for the first time in “The Crab with the Golden Claws”) serves to illustrate what Tintin is not. While Haddock is a loyal friend, he’s also a drunkard, and given the option, he’ll choose Scotch Whiskey over pretty much anything else. In this way, he’s like an extreme version of Snowy, often ruled almost entirely by his base instincts, and the source of countless tirades that substitute a bevy of great SAT words for actual profanity. Unlike Tintin and Snowy, who are largely ciphers, Captain Haddock is a more fully realized character, with strengths and weaknesses that serve as a contrast to the ultra-goodness of Tintin.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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