The battle cry

The battle cry
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First Published: Sat, Feb 09 2008. 12 12 AM IST

Numero uno: Asterix wins over Tintin.
Numero uno: Asterix wins over Tintin.
Updated: Sat, Feb 09 2008. 12 12 AM IST
This writer doesn’t usually react to views expressed in other columns, especially those that appear in this paper, for three reasons.
One, that’s what these are—views—and every columnist is entitled to his or her own.
Numero uno: Asterix wins over Tintin.
Two, nothing ages a paper faster than two columnists sniping at each other from the relative security of their columns.
Three, there’s no accounting for tastes (which probably explains why Robert Howard’s Kull the Conqueror rests happily next to JRR’s TLTR in this writer’s library).
And so, your favourite columnist has displayed considerable restraint, even when other people have written about music and books, arguably the two subjects on which he knows more than he does about business (ok, 2008’s quota of shameless plugs over).
Still, when one of the columnists of this paper chooses to write about comics it is nothing short of an act of war. And if the said column rates Tintin over Asterix...
This writer is surprised at the fact that this has provoked only a few indignant responses from readers. He can only surmise that rating Tintin over Asterix was so shocking that several good readers of this paper choked on their breakfast/coffee/morning drink a few weekends ago, seriously affecting their longevity/memory/ability to write.
For the record, CF’s stand is that both Tintin and Asterix are excellent examples of the genre. However, if a ranking is necessary, Asterix wins hands down.
This is easily proved: the only real-life character to appear in Tintin is Al Capone; among the several characters who appear either as themselves or as inspirations for characters in Asterix are The Beatles and James Bond. This columnist rests his case.
For those who are still not convinced, here’s more.
There is no humour in the Tintin books, unless: you’re the kind of person who thinks a dog getting drunk on Loch Lomond whisky is funny; you think the use of swear words based on sea creatures (barnacles, molluscs, etc.) or atmospheric weather phenomenon is hilarious; you find a pair of bumbling detectives who dress up in weird costumes rib-tickling.
There is a lot of humour in the Asterix books if: you think punning is funny; you are observant enough to see what else is happening in a particular panel than just the next logical step in the story; you are smart enough (not Umberto Eco smart, but maybe half that) to catch all the allusions.
Now that this has been settled, let’s start all over again.
There’s Tintin, which is enjoyable.
There is Asterix, which is enjoyable too.
And we should leave it at that.
Write to Sukumar at cultfiction@livemint.com
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First Published: Sat, Feb 09 2008. 12 12 AM IST
More Topics: Books | Comics | Column | Asterix | Tintin |