SA Publishers Cancel ‘Racist’ Comic Book

Celean Jacobson, AP, July 28, 2007

The South African publisher of “Tintin in the Congo” said it would not release an Afrikaans translation of the comic following complaints of racism, local media reported Saturday.

Publisher Human & Rousseau said it had canceled its Afrikaans version of the book in the popular Belgian series because it portrayed Africans in an offensive way, according to SABC radio.

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In the book, author Remi depicts the white hero’s adventures in the Congo against the backdrop of an idiotic, chimpanzee-like native population that eventually comes to worship Tintin—and his dog—as gods.

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The American bookstore chain Borders said this month that it was removing the book from the children’s section of its stores in Britain after a customer complained the work was racist.

Similar steps will be taken at the company’s stores in the United States, where the book will be stocked alongside graphic novels.

Alison Lowry, the CEO of Penguin Books South Africa, said the English translation of the French original would still be distributed. According to the SABC Web site, the English version will carry a notice warning potential buyers of the racial sensitivity of its contents.

The illustrated work by Belgian author-cartoonist Georges Remi, who wrote under a pen name, is the second in a series of 23 tracing the adventures of Tintin, an intrepid reporter, and his dog, Snowy. The series has sold 220 million copies worldwide and been translated in 77 languages.

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[Editor’s Note: Other ARNews stories about “Tintin in the Congo” can be read here.]

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