Following tons of international controversy, PW reports that Little, Brown has canceled the US version of Tintin in the Congo:
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, which had been planning to publish Tintin in the Congo, a book criticized for its racist, Colonial-era depictions of Africans, has quietly pulled the title from its fall list, PW has learned. The publisher also said it will not include the book in a forthcoming box set of all 24 books in the Tintin series.
Publicist Melanie Chang did not give a reason for the standalone book’s cancellation, but of its omission from the box set she said, “Given the controversy surrounding the Congo title, we felt including it in the box set would eclipse the true intention of the collection, which is to showcase Hergé’s extraordinary art and his remarkable contribution to the graphic arts.”
Although Belgian-born Herge later repudiated the views of this early work, it has long been criticized for its racist and colonialist views — repugnant today but common for the time.
Similar problems have long scotched even the concept of an English version of Tezuka’s KIMBA, THE WHITE LION, as PWCW recently reported:
PWCW: Any interest from Vertical in licensing Kimba the Lion [a classic manga and anime work by Tezuka ]?
IM: We’re interested, but the depiction of black people in Kimba is problematic. If everyone can for a moment put their sensitivity aside then we can do it. Otherwise people may be offended by the stereotypical drawing of Africans. A disclaimer might not be enough. And the author no longer being alive, it can’t be redrawn. If people promise to be understanding, we will publish it.
Of course, we would first have to talk to Tezuka Productions, too. They might have their reservations. I know for a fact that they are very careful about Kimba. They got into trouble in Japan in the early 1990s when certain groups said that it should be taken off the shelves—and it was. So they added a disclaimer and now you can buy it, but you don’t see it that much in bookstores.
Our thoughts? While all of these contemporary treatments are promlematic — like Eisner’s Ebony in THE SPIRIT — pretending they never existed doesn’t seem to be very useful, either.