Not all things are created equal, and the same is true for Tintin comics. Overall, our favorite albums ran through the mid-1940’s to the late 1950’s. The art, characters, and stories were more sophisticated and full of action. During this period, Hergé hit his stride with Tintin as an investigative reporter and several complex story elements. The introduction of villains like Colonel Sponz (a sinister Nazi-looking baddie), Doctor Müller, and Colonel Jorgen made the stories richer and therefore lent the comics opportunities for bigger thrills. During this period, we also see more of Skut, the enemy pilot turned repentant friend. We also see more of Bianca Castafiore and get to meet Joylon Wagg, both for comic relief. We especially like Joylen Wagg.
Here are the comics listed from our most favorite to the least.
- Explorers on the Moon (it blows us away that Hergé researched this story so intensely and that he got so much right even though it was 15 years before the first moon landing).
- Destination Moon (a thrilling story leading up to the moon landing).
- Red Rackham’s Treasure (the hunt is on and a surprising and rewarding conclusion awaits! The first appearance of Calculus!)
- The Secret of the Unicorn (like Destination Moon; a fantastic set-up for the story)
- The Calculus Affair (mature story-telling in the vein of 1950’s espionage films)
- The Crab with the Golden Claws (our first Tintin! The first appearance of Captain Haddock!)
- Land of the Black Gold (even in the 1950’s, oil in the Middle East was causing trouble; the Thompsons are big players in this story and are hilarious)
- The Red Sea Sharks (return of Rastapopulous and Allan; intro of Abdullah (how badly we want to beat that boy!), an improvement on Tintin in the Congo in subject matter – still, though)
- Cigars of the Pharoah (secret societies are fun! The Thompsons first appearance!)
- The Seven Crystal Balls (we really like Calculus; again another set-up story for a two-parter, but this one’s better than the second for a change)
- Prisoners of the Sun (not really much into Inca culture, so we’re biased on this one but The Seven Crystal Balls is better anyway)
- King Ottakar’s Scepter (travelling to Eastern Europe? Love the scenary! Bianca’s first appearance)
- Tintin and the Picaros (complex story – sort of a political statement on corruption in South American politics)
- The Shooting Star (a sea adventure, has its good moments)
- The Black Island (starts of well, but the ending is a let down)
- Flight 714 (secret tunnels, remote island, the return of Rastapopulous! The ending is as out-of-place as Asterix and the Falling Sky)
- Tintin in Tibet (again, like The Black Island; starts off well, but ends up poorly for the same reasons as Black Island)
- The Castafiore Diamond (a classic who-done-it? good: takes place in Marlinspike Hall (which we really like), Bianca and Haddock get lots of time together, so there’s plenty of humor; bad: dull at times and the ending is a let-down)
- The Blue Lotus (imperialism and racism affect the ability to enjoy the story)
- The Broken Ear (boring)
- Tintin in American (it makes sense that the story feels like mini-vignettes since the book was originally published in strips; still, probably wouldn’t have helped; boring too)
- Tintin in the Congo (terrible all around; Si quieres ver que tan horíble es, lea Tintin En El Congo en español)
We haven’t read Tintin in the Land of the Soviets or Tintin and Alph-Art, so we can’t rank them. Tintin and the Lake of Sharks isn’t part of the mainstream canon, but we would put it somewhere into the middle of the pack. If it hadn’t been a cartoon first, it probably would have been better.
Take a look at the Tintin Cover Gallery!