Herge through his journey of Tintin from the very first comic, Tintin in the Land of The Soviets, to the last Tintin in Alph Art, kept the theme of friendship as a very dominant theme in the comic. Tintin in Tibet starts with a series of uncanny happenings that revolve around Tintin remembering his friend Chang and setting out to Tibet to rescue him from a piece of news he saw in the newspaper about an aeroplane wreck that happened in Tibet.
Tintin strongly believes that his friend Chang is not dead and sets out on his quest to rescue him with his best friend Captain Haddock, and his pet dog Snowy who has accompanied him on various other adventures. The first instance of friendship is shown in Tintin’s determination of saving a friend he saw in a dream and believing his whims to save him at any cost.
The next instance is shown where the Captain agrees that Tintin is being obstinate and says, “Go to Nepal, go to Timbuctoo, go to Vladivostok, for all I care! But you’ll be on your own, remember; I’m not coming and that’s flat! And when I say no, I mean no!” but we see in the very next panel that Captain Haddock in waiting in line at the airport with Tintin and Snowy.
This is a classic representation of Captain’s unshakable faith in Tintin and a portrayal of his friendship with Tintin as he wouldn’t let him wander off alone in the search of a friend in an unknown place.
Interpretation of friendship in Tintin in Tibet from Herge's personal life
Herge acknowledges the theme of friendship in the comic as he creates Chang and Tintin’s friendship on the basis of his relationship with Zhang Chongren, a Chinese Catholic student who befriended him in Brussels, at the Academic Royale de Reux-Arts, in 1934. Tintin’s resolve in his quest to save Chang is accompanied by emotions like worry and concern which is shown in Tintin in Tibet, more than in any other comics Herge had previously written.
Tintin is shown to firmly control the plot with his determined act of believing his intuitions and worrying about his friend stuck in a crashed aircraft, somewhere in the frosty depths of Tibet. Herge creates this imagery and friendship as a creative vent for the psychological problems he was facing at that time.
Instances of friendship in Tintin in Tibet
Throughout the story, Tintin keeps Snowy company and saves him and this is a portrayal of the bond that Tintin shared with Snowy, which was much deeper and imperial than a pet and master’s relationship. Tintin saves Snowy multiple times and Snowy has great instincts that help Tintin solve many questions along the adventurous journey. Snowy is shown to never leave the side of Tintin which is a signature act of their bond that is shown in every other Tintin comic.
Snowy is the one who is sent as a signal of SOS to the nearby temple where he helps Tintin, Captain and Tharkey seek shelter for a while. The deep trustworthy tryst that Tintin and Snowy show throughout the comic is no less of a friendship and deserves to be acknowledged.
Another noteworthy instance that portrays the theme of friendship in the truest way in the entire story is when Tintin and Haddock are hanging on a nylon rope and to save Tintin, Haddock asks Tintin to cut the rope while the latter staunchly denies it as he does not want to choose his life over his best friend, leading Haddock deciding to cut off the rope without thinking twice of his life.
He wants to save Tintin at any cost which shows how sacrificing Captain Haddock is and how he can go to any level for his friendship with Tintin.
Another fascinating feature of the portrayal of the friendship between Haddock and Tintin is their close resemblance to that of a father-son relationship. Funnily they accompany each other on every adventure and Tintin is never left alone by Haddock, while he also puts up with his attraction to alcohol while Haddock refuses to give Tintin any.
The whole friendship is a roller-coaster ride of fun and emotions where no matter what goes wrong, Haddock stays and saves Tintin and Tintin never leaves Haddock behind in any way.
Another praiseworthy aspect of Tintin’s brotherhood and friendship is its influential nature that influences Tharkey, the Sherpa who returned before to save himself but then turns back and rejoins Tintin in his quest as he feels moved by Tintin’s determination and brotherhood to save his friend.
Herge portrays Tintin’s character as that of a brotherly compassionate human who does not use any national boundary to save or lend a helping hand to anyone. Till the last and the final phase of the comic, Tintin shows unshaken belief in his quest to save Chang from the “Abominable Yeti”, as said by the people at the monastery. Tintin’s ‘never-say die’ attitude helps him save Chang while his faith in their friendship allows him to come this far to be able to save him.
Tintin puts forward his virtue of understanding while trying to understand the Yeti while also saving Chang and wondering if the Yeti comprised of a human heart and motherly compassion that saved Chang from dying in the snow.
Herge creates Tintin with not a heroic composure in mind, but a human with an extreme range of capabilities as hoarding human emotions. His flexibility in feeling things makes him adored by the populace and his friends have deep trust in him due to his unshakable character arc that tries to help as many as possible while keeping his intelligence and principles at par with the other beautiful attributes of his character.
Tintin’s benevolent nature helps him achieve the greatest blessings and friendship from everyone and is adored by all. Tintin comics are predominantly known for their theme of friendship influencing all its readers and is one of the greatest creation known in the literature.