Tintin and the Picaros

Tintin and the Picaros

Graphicnovelbox| englishtitle=Tintin and the Picaros
foreigntitle=Tintin et les Picaros

caption=Cover of the English edition
series="The Adventures of Tintin (Les aventures de Tintin)"
transtitle=Tintin and the Picaros
transseriestitle="The Adventures of Tintin"
translator=Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper and Michael Turner
previssue="Flight 714", 1968
nextissue="Tintin and Alph-Art", 1986

"Tintin and the Picaros" ( _fr. Tintin et les Picaros) is one of "The Adventures of Tintin", a series of classic comic-strip albums, written and illustrated by Belgian writer and illustrator Hergé, featuring young reporter Tintin as a hero.

"Tintin et les Picaros" is the twenty-third and final completed book in the series. It caused the most controversy of the Tintin stories since the first two ("Tintin in the Land of the Soviets" and "Tintin in the Congo"), although the controversies were aesthetic rather than political: Tintin no longer enjoys adventuring and has abandoned his trademark plus fours; Captain Haddock can no longer drink the Loch Lomond brand whisky; and General Alcazar's masculinity is ridiculed by his new dominant wife.


Tintin hears in the news that Bianca Castafiore, her maid Irma, pianist Igor Wagner, and Thomson and Thompson have been imprisoned in San Theodoros for allegedly attempting to overthrow the military dictatorship of General Tapioca, who has yet again deposed Tintin's old friend, General Alcazar. Tintin, Calculus, and Haddock soon are accused themselves and, travelling to San Theodoros to clear their names, find themselves caught in a trap laid by their old enemy, Colonel Sponsz, who has been sent by the East Bloc nation of Borduria to assist Tapioca. Sponsz has concocted the conspiracy of which Tintin and his friends are accused in a plot to wreak revenge upon them for humiliating him in "The Calculus Affair". Escaping, Tintin, Haddock, and Calculus join Alcazar and his small band of guerrillas, the Picaros, in the jungle near an Arumbaya Indian village.

Meanwhile, in a show trial orchestrated by Sponsz, Castafiore is sentenced to life imprisonment and the Thompsons are ordered to be executed by firing squad. Tintin enlists Alcazar's help in freeing his friends, but upon arrival at his jungle headquarters, finds that Alcazar's men have become demoralised drunkards since Tapioca started dropping copious quantities of alcohol near their camp. Additionally, Alcazar is continually henpecked by his shrewish wife Peggy, who nags him constantly about his failure to achieve a successful revolution. Fortunately, Calculus has invented a pill which will make alcohol unpalatable to anyone who ingests it (which he proves to have tested on Haddock, much to the latter's ire). Tintin offers to use the pill to cure the Picaros of their alcoholism if Alcazar agrees to refrain from killing Tapioca and his men. Alcazar reluctantly agrees; moments after his men are cured, Jolyon Wagg arrives with his musical troupe the Jolly Follies, who intend to perform at the upcoming carnival in San Theodoros. Alcazar — with a little advice from Tintin — launches an assault on Tapioca's palace during the carnival by 'borrowing' the troupe's costumes and sneaking his men into the capital. He topples Tapioca, but on Tintin's urging, does not execute him, as is tradition; Tapioca is instead forced to publicly surrender his powers to Alcazar and is exiled, while Sponsz is sent back to Borduria.

Meanwhile, Thomson and Thompson are due to be shot on the same day as the carnival. Although as naive as ever in their observations, the detectives show courage by refusing to be blindfolded. Tintin and Haddock reach the state prison in time to prevent the executions from taking place. Castafiore, her maid, and her pianist are also released, and Alcazar can finally give his wife the palace he has promised. With all matters resolved, Tintin and his friends leave. As they fly home, Tintin and Haddock express gratitude about being able to go home, showing a more weary attitude towards travel than in earlier books.

The second to last panel shows a final, skeptical political message: as under Tapioca, the city slums are filled with wretched, starving people and patrolled by indifferent police. Nothing has changed, apart from the police uniforms and a "Viva Tapioca" sign has been changed to read "Viva Alcazar", demonstrating Hergé's view that even if regimes change, everything else stays the same.


Contrary to the optimism of his earlier works, Hergé here presents a more world-weary and (perhaps) less naive Tintin who aids a coup (demanding, admittedly, that no one be killed) only to free his friends from prison. The final frames of the book show that the revolution has brought no improvement to the lives of the poor people of San Theodoros, and Tintin, tired of adventure for once, joins Haddock in wishing to return to the peace and quiet of home.

The book showed another break with Hergé's previous style: Tintin is depicted differently, practicing yoga in his spare time, riding a motorbike, and trading in his standard plus fours in for a pair of bell-bottoms. His helmet is marked with the Peace symbol.

As in "The Broken Ear", the invented language of the Arumbayas was originally based on Marols, the Brussels dialect spoken by Hergé's grandmother. The English translation replaces this with a version of pidgin English that sounds like Cockney.

The pyramid on the cover, which also appears in the story, seems to be inspired by the El Castillo pyramid of Chichen Itza.

During the Carnival, masks and costumes of different cartoon characters, such as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Asterix are seen.

Deleted Page

In the course of illustrating the story, Hergé found that he had gone beyond the 62-page limit required by his publishers. He therefore took out a page which follows the one in which Tintin has shown Haddock all the bugs and hidden cameras in their villa and Sponsz has told Alvarez how it was he who framed Castafiore.

The deleted scene has Sponsz announcing how he will break his enemies and throws his glass to the floor, but it is of the unbreakable variety and bounces back and breaks the moustache of a bust of Kurvi-Tasch. Alvarez bursts into laughter, before being put in his place and asked to bring in "you-know-who". Sponsz suspects that Alvarez will claim that he broke the bust deliberately. He thus warns the young officer about his prospects for advancement. Alvarez gets the message and Sponsz tells him to "sack that clumsy cleaning lady who broke Kurvi-Tasch's moustache".

This "deleted scene" was later used in an article in which Hergé demonstrated how a single page in a comic book was developed from rough sketches to a fully-drawn and colourised page.

External links

* [http://www.tintinologist.org/guides/books/23picaros.html Tintin and the Picaros] at Tintinologist.org

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