Great blistering barnacles! The cartoon hero, Tintin, created by Herge (Georges Remi) celebrates his 75th birthday today. The cub reporter and his dog Snowy made their first appearance in the Belgian newspaper, Le Petit Vingtieme, on this day in 1929.
Tintin comics — in which the intrepid reporter battles all sorts of spies, villains, and mad scientists around the world (and even on the moon) with the help of his faithful dog Snowy and the drunken Captain Haddock— are immensely popular. This week, Tintin and Snowy were honored with their very own €10 silver coin in their native Belgium. Last year, Steven Spielberg announced that he planned to make a trilogy of films based on the cub reporter's adventures.
The first episode of the comic strip, Tintin in the Land of the Soviets, was controversial because of its anti-communist message. Tintin's newspaper sends him to the Soviet Union where he discovers fake factories producing nothing behind the facade. Tintin protects the farmers when soldiers come to steal their wheat and later finds that it is exported and the proceeds used for Soviet propaganda. Herge later disavows the strip, describing it as politically sectarian.
The poor Russians. They have always had to endure so much propaganda! Even though I have been to Russia three times in the last year, have lived here for almost five months, and have visited fourteen cities (including Siberia and the Ukraine), I am still surprised at just how friendly Russian people are.
Seventy-five years later, Tintin would hardly recognize the old U.S.S.R. Anybody who visits Russia cannot help but be charmed by the openness and friendliness of the population. As the saying goes: "The world is a book, and those who do not travel, read only a page." We see that people are the same the world over, with similar concerns and desires for themselves and their loved ones.
That is why, in spite of the language barrier, the preaching is so effective here. Like people all over the globe, the Russian people also want to become free from the problems of birth, death, old age, and disease, and they welcome Srila Gurudeva's message of hope and the Krishna conception of divinity.