The Blue Lotus

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First edition album (Belgium) published 1936

The Blue Lotus is the sequel to Cigars of the Pharaoh. While Tintin is in India taking a well-earned rest, he is drawn into a dangerous mystery revolving around a madness-inducing poison. The young reporter travels to the source of the poison, Shanghai. Within the real historical context of the tensions between China and Japan during the 1930s, Tintin sets to work, unraveling a nefarious web of opium traffickers. He also meets a young Chinese boy, Chang Chong-chen, who becomes a key ally and lifelong friend.

In the spring of 1934, when Hergé announced that he was sending Tintin to China, he was contacted by Father Gosset, a priest in charge of the welfare of Chinese students at Leuven University in Belgium. Father Gosset was worried that Hergé would offend Chinese people if he portrayed them in stereotypical and clichéd ways. The priest put Hergé in contact with Chang Chong-chen, a Chinese student. Chang taught the author about Eastern philosophy. With his help, Hergé carried out extensive research on China to write The Blue Lotus.

Tintin in the Blue Lotus

Backstory

Set in Japanese-occupied China, The Blue Lotus required Hergé to undertake extensive research for the first time.

In the late 1920s, China was in the midst of a civil war. In 1931, the Japanese intervened, setting up their own government throughout China, save for Shanghai. This city remained an international territory and is Tintin’s destination in The Blue Lotus. This adventure marks the first time the Chinese culture was represented in cartoon art in what could be considered a realistic way. Hergé relied on the assistance and insight of Chinese artist Chang Chong-chen, who was immortalized in the story and became Hergé’s lifelong friend.

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