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Tintin in China, legally

Planet Tintin

Beijing, May 13

TINTIN AND SNOWY, cartoon characters of world renown, are set to make their first legal entry into China 65 years after they were transported to the Middle Kingdom by the imagination of their creator.

That was in The Blue Lotus the 1936 opus by Belgian artist Herge, in which the tiny reporter with the distinct hairdo saved China from evil opium traffickers.

Now, China Children Publishing House will start publishing all 22 volumes in the Tintin series, replacing pirated black-and-white editions that have so far been the only ones available to a Chinese audience.

"Our books are identical with the original, same size, same paper quality," said Xiao Liyuan, an executive with the Chinese company, picked from 16 candidates by Belgian publisher Casterman. "Only the language is different".

Herge, Tintin's father, had a life-long love affair with China and its culture, beginning in 1934 when he met the Chinese artist Chang Chong-jen as he was preparing The Blue Lotus.

Chang not only helped provide sketches of the Chinese characters in the album, but persuaded Herge to avoid the racist stereotypes that had marred Tintin in the Congo, published in 1931.

Written by: John Hardwood