Tintin and the Picaros

Backstory Key Characters

First edition album (Belgium) published in 1976.

Most of Tintin and the Picaros takes place in the fictional country of San Theodoros, an unstable state first depicted in the Tintin story The Broken Ear. Two colorful characters are perpetually fighting for control: General Alcazar and General Tapioca. At the time the story is set, the latter is the master of the country, and Alcazar has been forced into hiding.

Bianca Castafiore travels to San Theodoros to give a concert. She is arrested by Tapioca’s authorities on a trumped-up charge of plotting against him. Behind the scenes, Tapioca’s regime is being aided by the Bordurians and Colonel Sponsz — a character whom readers met in The Calculus Affair.

Tintin, Haddock and Calculus are determined to rescue their friend and, along the way, they end up helping General Alcazar plan a coup to snatch power back from his rival. However, the plans are complicated by the fact that General Tapioca keeps Alcazar’s men supplied with whiskey, ensuring their ineffectiveness as a fighting force. Enter Professor Calculus and his new invention!

Tintin and the Picaros

Backstory

The historical context for this adventure was the liberation movements throughout Latin America in the early 1960s. Fidel Castro and his barbudos (Spanish for “bearded men”) inspired General Alcazar and his band of guerrillas, whom Hergé originally envisioned calling the bigotudos (“mustachioed men”). Additionally, Hergé pulled his inspiration for Peggy Alcazar from a television show he saw about the Ku Klux Klan in America. One of the movement leaders was a woman who wore curlers, colored glasses with an eccentric shape, and an outfit in poor taste — hence, the dictator’s wife was born.

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Tintin and the Picaros


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