View Full Version : How well does the "average" North American comics reader know Tintin and Astérix?

Matthew Shepherd
05-08-2008, 08:16 PM
Short and sweet:

I'm doing a column for Comics Now! about bédé -- Franco-Belgian comics, which come out on very slow release schedules in hardcover.

The point of the column (called the Venerable Bédé, which is hilarious if you're a history major) is to try to introduce North American readers to the vast, almost overwhelming, world of Eurocomics.

This is what I'm struggling with right now:

The first column deals with the bédé as an entity; broad strokes of what bédé is like, especially in contrast with mainstream North American comics.

The second column is about Largo Winch, just because there's a Largo movie coming out and I wanted to give people a heads-up on what Largo is all about in case the film gets released on our side of the pond. Also because the premise of Largo Winch is ALMOST "Batman if Batman was just Bruce Wayne," and Largo Winch is awesome.

The third column...

This is where I need advice.

I'm a lone funnybook writer that lives in small-town Quebec, so my view of comics and bédé is a bit... skewed. So I was thinking of Tintin and Astérix as my third and fourth columns, but here's the question:

Does everyone know about Tintin already?

Because my goal is to INTRODUCE North American comics readers to the best of bédé, not to the things they're already familiar with. And I'm honestly a bit clueless as to the familiarity of the "average" comics reader with Tintin. And Astérix.

I'd prefer to focus on more obscure (by N.A. standards) bédé like Donjon and Monsieur Mardi-Gras Descendre and Professeur Bell, but I feel kind of obliged to work Tintin and Astérix into the mix, because they're sorta the Superman and Spider-Man of Franco-Belgian comics.

But if everyone and their uncle knows them -- beyond just a "oh yeah that French comic" -- than I needn't bother.

So: Tintin. Astérix. Does your typical comics reader know about them, or could they genuinely benefit from a 1500-word primer on what these two pillars of bédé are all about?

Thanks for your insight, folks. It's very much valued.

05-08-2008, 09:03 PM
A primer probably would be appropriate. I'd say the average comics reader in North America only has little more than a vague awareness of Tintin and Asterix.

The only Franco-Belgian comics most here know much about are The Smurfs and, to a lesser extent, Snorks -- and only because of the Saturday-morning cartoons based on them.

05-08-2008, 09:10 PM
I agree with KD, even though I find him a vile, repugnant, and despicable person in every way.

Based on previous threads on this site (whose users may be a little above average in comics awareness), American comics readers' awareness of Tintin is very low, of Asterix probably even less. Nice Bede joke! His epitaph is the only Latin lyric I can ever remember (I can barely even remember English lyrics)-


Ian Ascher
05-08-2008, 09:18 PM
Growing up in a small(er) city in Ohio I really didn't have any knowledge of these books for the longest time.

I want to say I saw a TinTin book in the library while in grade school and it wasn't until I found an Astrix book in the school library in high school that I knew the latter even existed.

Neither of them were my cup of tea.

Meanwhile, I had a treasured reprint copy of FF #1 without the cover stashed away in my 1st or 2nd grade classroom.

I didn't even know Smurfs and Snorks were foreign creations until probably late high school or college (didn't really care much either)

I know the people that do read these books and are aware of them, treasure them just as deeply as I do my american super hero comics so a primer might not be a bad thing if your goal is to draw attention to them.

05-09-2008, 07:10 AM
tin-tin's rubbish. Racist and homo-phobic.

Ingrid K. V. Hardy
05-09-2008, 07:49 AM
Tin-Tin was written in a different time.

I can't really add anything intelligent to this Matthew, but I would really like to read your article, it sounds very interesting. I live in Bromont, a relative stone's throw from you, and to be honest, the only reason I have heard of Tin-tin and Asterix is because my sister - who started out francophone first - read them religiously. I would think Asterix would be a bit more well known - didn't they put out a movie lately?

Outside of a francophone community, I am not sure that too many North Americans under 25-30 would know about them. But I could be wrong.

05-09-2008, 08:43 AM
every kid who takes French in high school knows Asterix, and every big comic store i've ever been in has Asterix volumes on the shelves. Borders and Barnes noble seem to have the large books. Tin Tin had a cartoon on cable it may even still be on, so I think they are pretty well known. I'd say most Americans who have an interest in children's literature and comics know them pretty well already. Don't need any help! I mean most comic-files are well versed in French comics and comic creators.

05-09-2008, 09:15 AM
I guess that depends on your definition of "comic-phile." I doubt that more than a relative handful of (North American) people who post on DW -- whom I presume have more than a passing interest in comics -- could tell you much, if anything, about bande dessinée or Franco-Belgian creators.

Matthew Shepherd
05-09-2008, 03:23 PM
Thanks for the insight, folks! I'll plug away with the column as planned, then. I really appreciate the advice!

05-11-2008, 11:26 PM
I guess it's different for me here in canada . I'm in BC but still am fairly familiar with Astrix and oblix I've read a big chunk of the series. tintin never interested me much. But I know a bit about him. about as much as I do about a comic like Bone. I've read a few other french comics as well but but can't remember they're names for the life of me.

05-12-2008, 11:36 PM
Yeah growing up I think every elementary school seemed to have a few tin tin books. I didn't' really care much, but I did enjoy the cartoon that was on Nick when I was a little older.

05-14-2008, 07:10 AM
At primary school, the mobile library's book delivery would arrive once a week and the Asterix books would always go first, swiftly followed by Tintin. We used to go to each other's houses to read them before they were returned.

Those comics had an innocent quality and sense of old-fashioned adventure that I haven't seen in any comic since.

05-14-2008, 07:58 AM
What the fuck's a Tin Tin??


Hob Anagarak
05-14-2008, 12:30 PM
HBO ran a Tintin cartoon what, like 15ish years ago? Has Asterix had anything even close to that exposure in the US?