Tintin sting

Three men are arrested for creating a lewd version of the popular Belgian comic.

By Jack Boulware

Published February 26, 2001 8:16PM (EST)

Since it first appeared in 1929, the comic strip Tintin, created by Belgian artist Hergé, has won the hearts of millions of children around the world. Boy reporter Tintin wanders the globe, having adventures with his white fox terrier named Snowy.

Tintin fans were horrified recently to discover the existence of a new, X-rated forgery called "Tintin in Thailand," a sleazy Bangkok adventure packed with lap dancing, gay bars and sodomy. Last week Belgian police arrested three men in connection with the forgery, and seized 650 copies of the unauthorized comic.

In a sting operation straight out of a Tom Clancy novel, undercover officers posed as potential buyers and chatted up smugglers in the town of Tournai, Belgium, near the French border. Once they had their evidence, they nabbed two of the men, and a third from Antwerp, after the bootleg publishers admitted their scheme. According to the Guardian, 1,000 copies of the comic were produced in Thailand and then shipped to Europe for resale in Belgium, where Tintin is considered a national hero.

The "Tintin in Thailand" tale contains many adventures Hergé would probably never have created himself. For instance, Tintin visits a Bangkok lap-dancing bar with his friends Captain Haddock and absent-minded Professor Calculus, guzzling beer and swearing. Another scene depicts Tintin in a gay escort bar called Sexy Boy, where he gets propositioned by two Thai male prostitutes. The cute Snowy also gets his due via sodomy with Tintin's Chinese friend Chang.

Authorities uncovered yet another odd twist in this saga. In Thailand, another group of forgers has apparently taken the bootlegged "Tintin in Thailand" and produced thousands more copies. Investigators note with chagrin that the newer copies are of better quality than the versions seized in Belgium.

Jack Boulware

Jack Boulware is a writer in San Francisco and author of "San Francisco Bizarro" and "Sex American Style."

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