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Recap / Tintin - Tintin in Tibet

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While on holiday in the French Alps, Tintin reads about a plane crash in the Gosain Than Massif in the Himalayas. That evening at their hotel, Tintin has a vivid dream that his friend Chang Chong-Chen is terribly hurt and calling for help from the snowy ruins of a plane crash. The next morning, Tintin reads in the paper that Chang was aboard the plane that crashed in Tibet. Believing that his dream was a telepathic vision, Tintin flies to Kathmandu in Nepal with Snowy, followed by a skeptical Captain Haddock. They hire a sherpa named Tharkey, and, accompanied by some porters, travel overland from Nepal to the crash site in Tibet.

Upon entering Tibet, they discover footprints in the snow that Tharkey claims belong to the yeti. The porters abandon the group in fear, and Tintin, Haddock and Tharkey go on and eventually reach the crash site. Tintin sets off with Snowy to try to trace Chang's steps, and find a cave in which Chang carved his name (張仲仁) on a rock, proving that he survived the crash.

Tharkey decides not to go on any further, believing Chang to be dead, but Tintin, Snowy and Haddock travel on after Tintin spots a scarf higher up on a cliff face. Following Tintin, Haddock loses his grip and hangs perilously down the cliff wall. He tells Tintin to cut the rope tying them together to save himself, but Tintin refuses. Tharkey, who was moved by Tintin's selflessness and had a change of heart, returns just in time to save them. They trek onwards, unable to sleep lest they freeze, and eventually arrive within sight of the Buddhist monastery of Khor-Biyong before collapsing due to exhaustion. An avalanche occurs, and they are buried in the snow.

Blessed Lightning, a monk at the monastery, 'sees' in a vision Tintin, Snowy, Haddock and Tharkey in peril. Up in the mountains, Tintin regains consciousness and, unable to reach the monastery himself, writes a note and gives it to Snowy to deliver. However when chewing a bone Snowy loses the message, but runs to the monastery to make someone follow him. The monks head after him as he is recognised as the white dog in Blessed Lightning's vision.

Days later, Tintin, Haddock and Tharkey awaken in the monastery and receive an audience with the monks. After Tintin tells the Grand Abbot why they are there, the Abbot tells him to abandon his quest and return to his country. However, Blessed Lightning has another vision, through which Tintin learns that Chang is still alive inside a mountain cave, but that the "migou", or yeti, is also there. Haddock doesn't believe the vision is genuine, but Tintin, after being given directions by the Abbot, travels to Charabang, a small village near the Horn of the Yak, the mountain mentioned by Blessed Lightning. Haddock initially refuses to follow Tintin anymore, but once again changes his mind and pursues him to Charabang. The two of them and Snowy head to the Horn of the Yak on the final leg of their journey.

They wait outside until they see the yeti leave the cave. Tintin ventures inside and finally finds Chang, who is feverish and shaking. The yeti returns to the cave before Haddock can warn Tintin, and he reacts with anger upon seeing Tintin taking Chang away. As he reaches toward Tintin however, he sets off the flash bulb of Tintin's dropped camera, which scares him away. Tintin and Haddock carry Chang back to the village of Charabang, and he explains to them that the yeti saved him after the crash and took him away from the rescue parties.

Tintin, the Captain, and Snowy bring Chang back to Khor-Biyong, and after a week, when Chang has recovered, they return to Nepal by caravan. As their party travels away from the monastery, Chang muses that the yeti is no wild animal, but instead has a human soul, while the yeti sadly watches their departure from a distance.

The story came about in part because Hergé was still searching for Zhang Chongren, having lost contact with him after he returned to China due to World War II and the Chinese Revolution. Producing the issue became very difficult for him because he was undergoing a deep personal crisis a the time: His marriage was on the rocks, but as a former boy scout he felt obliged to stay with his first wife while already spending most of his time with the woman who would eventually become his second, a colorist at his studio. The psychoanalyst he consulted even advised him to abandon work on the album, but luckily for the readers he persevered. Many people consider Tintin in Tibet Hergé's most personal book.

Notable for its portrayal of a true-to-mythology Yeti, with a high pointed skull, brown fur, and unusual big toed-feet. This is in part due to Herge's friendship with none other than Bernard Heuvelmans, the man who pioneered the practice of Cryptozoology (the hunt for legendary animals like the Yeti and sea serpents), who provided information on the Yeti for the book.


  • All Monks Know Kung-Fu: The doormen of the monastery are shown wielding thick staves, implying the trope, although they never strike a martial arts stance presumably because their "opponent" in this case is a dog.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Haddock delivers a long rant to the Abbot of everything that's happened to them on Tintin's wild goose chase, culminating with the worst: the yeti stole Haddock's last bottle of whiskey!
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti: A yeti serves as a major character of this album. He befriends Tintin's friend Chang after a tragic airplane accident in the Himalayas. The same accident which prompts Tintin to Send in the Search Team.
  • Blatant Lies: Haddock again refuses to go with Tintin, only to turn up a few days later claiming he's returning Tintin's camera.
  • Boring, but Practical: Snowy's opinion of Haddock crossing an unstable log bridge on hands and knees.
  • Boring Return Journey: Most of the issue covers an epic journey through the Himalayas. The end of the story has the rescue group making their way back to a secluded monastery in Tibet. The return journey is never depicted.
  • Canine Confusion: Snowy drinks some whiskey, mistaking it for water. A real dog would have been able to smell that it wasn't water.
  • Changed My Mind, Kid: Tharkey leaves Tintin and Haddock in the mountains. Soon after, Tintin and Haddock are in a dire situation, with Haddock ready to Cut the Safety Rope. Tharkey reappears then and saves them.
  • Clumsy Copyright Censorship: The plane that Tchang flew in was originally meant to be of real-life company Air India. Hergé was told to change the name to avoid negative publicity, calling the company "Sari Airways", but you can still see a faint "Air India" logo on the plane.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Subverted: A horrified Haddock hears the Castafiore singing and thinks she's followed them. However, it turns out to be the sherpas' radio.
  • A Crack in the Ice: Tintin falls into a crevasse during a blinding snowstorm. He climbs his way out two hours later.
  • Creepy Good: Haddock gets momentarily terrified upon waking up in the monastery, as his room turns out to have a couple of grotesque krodha guardian statues, one of them holding up a dagger over him.
  • Cryptid Episode: The story prominently features the Yeti.
  • Cut the Safety Rope: Captain Haddock attempts this, but drops his pocket knife. Tharkey, who has walked out, catches up to Haddock and Tintin and makes his presence known, before saving them off-page.
  • Determinator: Tintin himself in his quest to rescue Chang Chong-Chen. He inspires Haddock not to give up, which in turn inspires Haddock to encourage Tintin to do the same the one time he does almost give up.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Tintin dreams of Chang calling for help, alone in the snow after hearing he took a plane, the next day, he learn in a newspaper that Chang's plane crashed in Tibet. Tintin believe that Chang is still alive because he was in his dream, he was right in the end.
  • Empathy Doll Shot: Tintin finds a teddy bear near a plane wreck in the mountains. This brings a tear to Haddock's eye.
  • Freeze Sneeze: Captain Haddock sneezes with enough force to rip open the overcrowded tent.
  • A Friend in Need: Tintin goes rescue Tchang, who he insists is still alive and in need of his help.
  • Genius Loci: The monks treat an avalanche as sign of the wrath of the White Goddess (presumably a reference to the real life Tibetan Buddhist goddess Tara).
  • Gentle Giant: The yeti was at first believed to be a threat. However it was caring for Chang after the accident.
  • Gilligan Cut: Haddock tells Tintin he's not going. In the next frame they're both stepping off the plane in New Delhi.
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: Snowy has his own doggie versions.
  • Guile Hero: Tintin gets Haddock to continue by getting him drunk, then suggesting the yeti thinks they're running away from him.
  • Hair-Trigger Avalanche: Played for Drama and Laughs throughout the story.
  • Ill-Timed Sneeze: A maid gives sneezes in a way that sounds like someone shouting 'CHANG!', startling our heroes.
  • Kneel Before Frodo: The monks left the convent to pay homage to Tintin. The monk with visions foresaw his return, having successfully liberated Chang from the yeti, despite all odds (and even their warnings).
  • Levitating Lotus Position: Averted. A monk levitates involuntarily, as he's uttering a prophetic warning (and doesn't remember anything afterwards, including levitating) — but does so while standing upright. Then he drops down on a monk's foot.
  • Luck-Based Search Technique: Tintin finds a cave where Chang took shelter, but the entrance has snowed over the next day. After searching for two hours, Haddock decides to have a rest, promptly falling through the cave entrance.
  • Manly Tears:
    • Shed by Tintin after learning that the airplane used by Chang had crashed with — apparently — no survivors. The fact that Chang is the only person other than Snowy over whom Tintin is shown crying has not gone unnoticed by those engaging in the exegesis of Hergé's works, of course.
    • Captain Haddock sheds a Single Tear when Tintin finds a teddy bear in the wreckage, that probably belonged to a now dead child.
  • Nightmare Sequence: Haddock has one when he falls asleep when walking.
  • No Antagonist: The Yeti just wanted to befriend Chang. The closest thing to a malevolent antagonist is probably the climate.
  • Out of Focus: Thompson and Thomson do not appear in the story. Calculus only makes a few brief appearances in the beginning, and doesn't participate in the adventure.
  • Post-Script Season: According to Hergé, the series concluded with this issue and the works that came after were basically this. However; they actually were well received.
  • Psychic Link: Tintin has one with Chang. He is able to see in dreams that he is alive and in need of help.
  • Rule of Three: At the beginning of the story, a loud "CHANG!" occurs three times: First when Tintin cries out when he has his prescient dream about Chang, then when he shouts out Chang's name on receiving his letter, and then when a snooty lady calls on her pekingese, who coincidentally is called Chang, to stay away from Snowy. Then the rule is subverted when Tintin and Haddock hear a maid's loud sneeze which just happens to sound like "CHANG!"
  • Scenery Porn: Look at the big panel where Tintin, after falling asleep waiting for the Captain to make his chess move, wakes up with a loud "CHANG!!", startling everyone around him in the hotel.
  • Send in the Search Team: This forms the basic plot. Tintin and Haddock strive to locate and rescue the missing Chang Chong-Chen, following a plane crash. They are not even sure Chang is still alive. Chang turns out to have been cared for by the Yeti.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Tharkey's name is inspired by Ang Tharkay Sherpa, a guide to Maurice Herzog in the first ascent of the Annapurna.
    • A young monk is named Lobsang, echoing Lobsang Rampa, whose book The Third Eye was among Hergé's research materials.
  • Sneeze Interruption: Haddock sneezes while camping in the middle of his sentence about them being "packed like sardines" and rips the tent apart.
  • Sneeze of Doom:
    • A sneeze from Haddock causes the destruction of Tharkey's overcrowded tent in the midst of a storm.
    • Haddock initially assumes Tintin's Catapult Nightmare is due to a sneeze.
  • Spoonerism:
    Haddock: "Blistering yetis, it's the barnacle! I mean... Yettering barnacles, it's the blister!"
  • Tempting Fate: Haddock says it'll take an earthquake to move him. Next moment, the entire snowcliff they're sitting on breaks away.
  • Tongue-Out Insult: Subverted when a boy sticks his tongue out at Captain Haddock and he gets offended, but it turns out that where the boy comes from, it's a way of saying goodbye.
  • Undying Loyalty: Haddock. No matter how stupid and unreal Tintin's quest is, he'll angrily follow him. Tintin gets to admit he's the best friend a man can hope for to Tharkey. Perhaps his most awesome moment is when he charges towards the 8-9 foot tall Yeti, armed with just his ice axe, despite the fact that the Yeti could've squashed him like a bug. Fortunately, it was scared away by the flash bulb of Tintin's camera.