For controversial Tintin, visit Lambiek
29 August 2007 - Abroad, attempts have been
made to have the book Tintin in the Congo banned because of its
racist content. Amsterdam bookshops sell the book as usual. Comic
book shop Lambiek has the unexpurgated edition.
In the UK, sales of the book soared after complaints about its
racist content. Amsterdam bookshops say demand has increased only
marginally. At Lambiek, two to three customers asked for the book
because of the controversy, says Boris Kousemaker.
expects to receive a reprint of the original 1930s black and white
edition today. In the 1940s, a redrawn and expurgated coloured version
was published. Incidentally, the redrawn version is far from politically
correct too: “It’s Sambo this, Sambo that”, Kousemaker
Withdrawing the book because of the controversy is out of the question:
“There is no reason whatsoever. Then you might as well ban
Sjors en Sjimmie [a Dutch comic from the 1930s featuring a stereotyped
black kid] too”. Of course, it is not his intention to attract
shady characters. “I have not been visited by Neo-Nazis asking
for Tintin in the Congo yet”, he says laughing.
Scheltema, Het Beeldverhaal and Fantasia also rule out pulling
the book from the shelves. “Let people concern themselves
with serious matters”, Het Beeldverhaal’s Jeanet Scheepers
Athenaeum does not sell Tintin at all, but says it is inconceivable
that it would stop selling a book because of a controversy like
this. “Other people’s opinions do not dictate what we
sell”, an employee says.
A Congolese student in Belgium and a Swede of Congolese descent
have tried to get the the book banned. The Swedish public prosecutor
announced last week that it will not pursue the case for procedural
In the UK, the Commission for Racial Equality called on booksellers
to stop selling the book. The Borders book chain moved the book
from the children’s section to the adult graphic novels section
A spokesperson of the commission was not satisfied: “How
and why do Borders think that it's OK to peddle such racist material?”
she told the Guardian. According to the spokesperson, the only place
where the book belongs is in a museum, with a sign saying ‘old-fashioned,
As a result of the controversy, UK sales of the book rose by almost
four thousand percent. According to Rob van Muijden of the Fantasia
comic book shop, this is partly because hardly any copies were sold
in the UK before the controversy.
In the past, Tintin in the Congo has also been targeted by Danish
animal rights activists, because Tintin uses dynamite to blow up
a rhinoceros. In the redrawn Danish and English versions, the rhinoceros
flees after Tintin has fired a shot, according to the French
Illustration: cover of the black and white English edition
(in English), Het Beeldverhaal,
(in Dutch). Sweden,
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