Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Héctor Germán Oesterheld's and Carlos Roume's Nahuel Barros' Last Story - Coda










1. Tintin teaches Congolese children all about their homeland: Belgium, of course (Tintin au Congo [Tintin in the Congo] by Hergé, Editions du Petit «Vingtième» [the little «20th Century» publishing house], 1931; the "wonders" of colonialism!); in the Portuguese edition published in O Papagaio [the parrot] # 230 (1939), the story was titled "Tim-Tim em Angola" [Tintin in Angola]; Tintin teaches Angolan kids all about their homeland: Portugal, of course (as an aside: O Papagaio was the first mag in the world, Belgium included, to publish "Tintin" in color);
2. African women were "naturally" servants to their colonial mistresses (panel from Tim Tyler's Luck newspaper comic strip by Lyman Young, 1933);
3. panels from the Tarzan newspaper comic strip by Burne Hogarth (page 445, September, 17, 1939; as published in Tarzan in Color Vol. 9, NBM, 1994): after my detection of Lavater's physiognomy theory in the series Flash Gordon by Alex Raymond (cf. my April, 19, post) and Tarzan (cf. above), I must conclude that it was important as a visual short cut to newspaper (and comic book, I'm sure) comics artists (I also detected it in the Asterix albums, by the way); to see how it works we just need to compare the good guy's appearance (athletic and handsome, even if approaching middle age) with the baddies' mugs (the African baddie is a mean looking "savage;" the Caucasian baddie isn't in very good physical shape and looks like a rat: baddies rarely shave); the captive woman is young and attractive and, in the first panel, has the pose of a Christian martyr;
4. more panels from the Tarzan series by Burne Hogarth (page 356, January, 2, 1938; as published in Tarzan in Color Vol. 7, NBM, 1994): the word "savages" (and "horde") is actually used to define the African attackers (the name "Ishtak" sounds like a whip cracking); they're depicted as an ugly bloodthirsty lot while the colonists are "pious folk" (the Christian iconography couldn't be absent; there's even a Moses figure); the colonial popaganda can't get more obvious than this; forget slavery, forget the exploitation of Africa's natural resources by the colonial powers, forget reality: when Francis Lacassin compared Burne Hogarth with Michelangelo (in a cliché that became famous: "Tarzan rencontre Michel-Ange" [Tarzan meets Michelangelo], Giff-Wiff # 13, first quarter of 1965) he could only be kidding!;
5. panel from "The Tall Man," Cowboy Comics # 144 Buck Jones, September, 1955, Charles Roylance (a), writer unknown; American Indians are seen as superstitious children that are easily deceived by the Caucasian hero;
6. page from the "Nahuel Barros" series (Hora Cero Suplemento Semanal # 95, June, 24, 1959); Héctor Germán Oesterheld and Carlos Roume depict this peaceful meeting of two different worlds beautifully (Pedro becomes friends with Chonki; this one and the following quotes, my translation): "...[Pedro] didn't know it at the time, but there, near the thick blackness of the grazing, something was happening. Something big. The birth of a friendship.";
7. another page from the "Nahuel Barros" series (Hora Cero Suplemento Semanal # 96, July, 1, 1959); Chonki answers Pedro's question "Why do you, the Pampas, attack the Christians' settlements?": "the huincas, the Christians, taught us... [...] we still own the desert! But we don't own ourselves anymore... [...] The huinca says that we are savages, that we're beasts... the Pampas, it's true, aren't the same [as the Christians], we aren't better or worse than the huincas..."; (to those who defend that comics are primarily a visual medium this page may seem too wordy; I don't understand such a logophobia though: why be against words if they're greatly written?; are mediocre drawings better than great words?; besides: the best visual artist isn't someone who just has technical abilities (that's a virtuoso), a great visual artist is someone who uses visual thinking in a remarkable way; in this page Carlos Roume delivers his own messages: he uses the thistle as a symbol of the Pampa: the plant's thorns are a reminder of how hard life in the desert is; the bird (an howl) represents freedom and knowledge; the moon (the circle: Pedro) represents perfection (the unity) and change (because of the moon's phases);
8. Sgt. Kirk sez (Héctor Germán Oesterheld - w -, Jorge Moliterni - a -, Hora Cero Suplemento Semanal # 101, August, 5, 1959): "Do you know doctor, what I've just learned?... / That there are no palefaces, or indians... there are just men... just men [...]";
9. Nahuel Barros says that he also wants to explore Patagonia (Hora Cero Suplemento Semanal # 101): "That's how Pedro, Chonki and Nahuel Barros began travelling southbound. Their backs turned to civilization, facing the unknown..."; Carlos Roume repeats the symbolism of the thistles (Nahuel, Chonki) and the moon (Pedro) between them.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the Tintin (Tim-Tim) example. I never knew about a Portuguese version of Tintin in the Congo.

I've featured it on my blog.



Unknown said...

Why would Lacassin be kidding?

Isabelinho said...


You're welcome.


He was dead serious, I'm sure.

so lonely said...

sr. Domingos Isabelinho,

o meu inglês muito rudimentar não deu para perceber o que aqui escreve, embora tenha compreendido que o Domingos é português. Fiquei com pena de não poder acompanhar o que escreveu.

Isabelinho said...

Caro (obrigado pelo seu comentário):

Escrever em inglês foi uma opção que tomei de início. Baseio-me no seguinte: quem, no mundo de língua portuguesa, poderá estar interessado no que escrevo, em princípio, percebe inglês. De resto abro, assim, todo um mundo de possibilidades a possíveis leitores de outras áreas linguísticas (e não só no mundo anglo-saxónico). Claro que esta opção deixa de fora muita gente, mas não se pode agradar a todos. As minhas desculpas a todos os que se encontram na situação do leitor so lonely.