Recap / Tintin - Tintin in America

It's 1931 and having dealt with Al Capone's diamond smuggling operation in the Belgian Congo Tintin and Snowy head for Chicago to clean up Gangsterland. He almost at once runs afoul of Al Capone himselfnote  but manages to evade the mob boss only to find himself making an enemy of Capone's rival Bobby Smiles.

Smiles repeatedly tries to have Tintin killed but after the young reporter turns the tables on him Smiles flees Chicago for Redskin City and Tintin spends most of the rest of the adventure trying to bring him to justice. He returns to Chicago in time for a showdown with the rest of the mobsters.

For many years Tintin in America was the earliest adventure available in English and it shows. Aside from Tintin and Snowy there are no other familiar characters, the plot (and research) is near nonexistant, and Snowy still talks (admittedly only on one page).


  • Adapted Out: The Native American storyline doesn't appear in the Ellipse-Nelvana animated adaptation.
  • Americans Are Cowboys: Once Tintin leaves Chicago and its mobsters, pretty much every American he encounters in the countryside is a cowboy or some other kind of frontiersman. Somewhat justified, as the cowboy era was not long dead. The trope is Played With in the same book, however: A Boom Town is built overnight in an area that used to be pretty Wild West. The next morning, Tintin finds himself the only person in the city still wearing his cowboy outfit, and receives a chiding from a police officer who tells him to put on something proper.
  • Animal Wrongs Group: An elderly woman on a train pulls the lever because she saw a puma attack a deer and insists the conductor intervene. She ends up inadvertently saving Tintin's life since he was Chained to a Railway at the time.
  • Ascended Extra: Al Capone in the Nelvana adaptation.
  • Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop: Some of them actually make the Thompsons look halfway competent.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Bobby Smiles is the principal villain of the story, but Al Capone is actually the first gangster who Tintin runs up against, and a separate gang tries to go after Tintin in the closing sections, after Smiles has been caught.
  • But Not Too Black: When Tintin finally got marketed in the USA in the 1950s he was forced to change a few black extras into white people. For instance: the man guarding the hotel after the Native Americans are being removed from their land was originally black, as were the woman and her crying baby, whom Tintin incorrectly assumes is Snowy crying for help.
  • Chained to a Railway
  • Climb, Slip, Hang, Climb: The Ellipse-Nelvana animated version adds this to a ledge-walking scene that had averted it in the book.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: All over the place. Maurice Oyle is a prime example.
  • Covers Always Lie: The Nelvana animated adaptation uses the same album cover, but no Native Americans appear in the story, probably due to political correctness.
  • Cowboy Episode: It was based on European stereotypes of the USA and features plenty of Wild West imagery despite being set in the 1930s.
  • Deus ex Machina: Arguably uses this more than any other entry in the series. Smiles' mooks using knockout gas instead of poison gas by mistake, the animal lover stopping the train, Tintin and Snowy being tossed off a cliff and landing on a branch conveniently next to a cave network, the cannery workers going on strike, Tintin mistakenly being tied to a set of wooden weights rather than real ones.
  • Eagleland: Flavor 2
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Roberto Rastapopoulos in one panel in the recolored version.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Tons of it!
    • Basically, the USA gets Flanderized to the point that it reads like an ...actually pretty amusing parody overall.
    • This is the last Tintin book where Snowy is shown actually talking, and (though it's slightly ambiguous) Tintin seems to understand what he's saying.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Tintin is upset when the people most applauding him for taking on Al Capone are a rival group of gangsters led by Bobby Smiles.
  • Gangsterland
  • Here We Go Again: The Animated Adaptation ends with Tintin finishing his report, before getting a phone call about an unknown situation and leaving to solve it. He even mentions the trope name. Since this was also the last episode aired, it also qualifies as And the Adventure Continues.
  • Historical-Domain Character: Al Capone, who was still alive at the time this story was drawn. For obvious reasons Hergé had to let him escape. In Harry Thompson's "Tintin and Hergé: a double biography" Thompson wrote down a funny quote about this cameo: "We don't know what Al Capone ever thought of the album. He probably never read it, seeing that Hergé was never found on the bottom of a Belgian river with his feet in a block of cement."
  • I Have Your Dog: Snowy is kidnapped by gangsters, and Tintin has to rescue him.
  • Inexplicably Identical Individuals: The horses appearing in the story have pretty strange postures. And if you compare carefully, they all have just two or three different outlines.
  • Injun Country: A rather mixed example - the Blackfeet Indians are violent and gullible but they are also depicted as victims.
  • In Medias Res: Because Tintin in the Congo was not available for so long but this story was, it came across as this. Al Capone referring to his previous clash with Tintin sounded more like a Cryptic Background Reference to readers than referring back to an actual written previous story.
  • Karma Houdini: Al Capone, assuming he had not been arrested offscreen. In Real Life, Capone was tried and arrested for tax evasion while this story was still being serialised, so one can presume his fictional counterpart eventually followed suit. Averted in the Animated Adaptation, where he's arrested alongside the other gangsters (due to the real Capone being long dead at that point).
  • The Man They Couldn't Hang: Tintin. Twice.
  • Mob War: Played with; the mobs are initially battling each other, but near the end of the story most of them call a truce in an effort to get rid of Tintin once and for all.
  • Mystery Meat: Grynde Corp. make their tinned meat out of dogs, cats, rats and nearly Tintin, until he escaped.
  • National Stereotypes: The USA is depicted as a country full of gangsters, skyscrapers and cowboys and Native Americans who apparently still roam the Wild West. When Tintin strikes oil countless American business people quickly appear out of nowhere to buy the ground from him. After being informed that it actually belongs to the Native Americans the business people quickly pay them a small fee, force them to leave immediately and build an entire city from scratch in a matter of 24 hours!
  • Punny Name: Mr. Grynde and Grynde Corp., who make ground tinned meat.
  • Random Events Plot: Not to the same extent as Land of the Soviets or Tintin in the Congo, as about half of the storyline is focused on Tintin's attempt to take down Bobby Smiles, but it still doesn't really have a coherent overall storyline, instead just being based around the general theme of Tintin battling gangsters.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The original 1931 story had a shout-out to Mary Pickford near the end, when Tintin is speeching to a bunch of rich people. This was removed from the color version.
  • Tickertape Parade: In Tintin's honor at the end, after he cleans up Chicago.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The comic starts with Tintin searching for Al Capone. After a short confrontation, Al is never seen again, and the story switches to having Bobby Smiles as the main villain.
  • The Wild West: Apparently coexisting with 1930s Chicago. That being said, the redrawn version at least indicates that Tintin needs a two-day train journey to get there, whereas the original edition had it practically on Chicago's doorstep.
  • Wretched Hive: Chicago is presented as such, and the US as a whole comes across as a Crapsack World.