Tintin in Arturo Pérez-Reverte’s The Nautical Chart

tintin red rackham's treasure

This one is just fun. The Nautical Chart by Arturo Pérez-Reverte is a love letter to adventure novels, well, adventure novels of the sea to be specific. In fact, The Nautical Chart could be read as an imaginative riff on a single Tintin panel. Instead of a review, I offer this extended quote that features one of the greatest comics adventurers, Tintin.

“At that, clutching the two books to her chest, she began to laugh. She seemed like a different woman, laughing openly, happily, and then she said, “Thundering typhoons!” She deepened her voice and spoke like a one-eyed, peg-leg, pirate with a parrot on his shoulder. Then, as the sun turned the asymmetrical tips of her hair even brighter gold, she sat down next to Coy and again opened the brightly colored books and began to turn the pages. “The sea is here too,” she said. “Look. And adventure is still possible. You can get drunk with Captain Haddock—Loch Lomond whiskey, in case you didn’t know, holds no secrets for me. I also parachuted over a mysterious island with the green flag of the EFSR in my arms, crossed the borders between Syldavia and Borduria more times than you can count, swore by the mustache of Kurvi Tasch, sailed on the Karaboudjan, the Ramona, the Speedol Star, the Aurora and the Sirius—more ships than you, I’m sure. I searched for Red Rackham’s treasure, westward, farther westward, and walked the moon while Thompson and Thompson, with their green hair, performed as clowns in the Hiparco Circus. And when I’m lonely, Coy, when I’m very, very, very lonely, than I light on of your friend Hero’s cigarettes, make love with Sam Spade, and dream of Maltese Falcons while through the smoke I summon my old friends Abdullah, Alácazar, Joylon Wagg, Chester, Zorrino, Skut Oliveira de Figueira, and listen to the CD of the jewel song from Faust on an old Bianca Castafiore recording.

As she spoke she set the two books on the table, They were old editions, one with blue binding and the other green. The frontispiece of the first showed Tintin, Snowy, and Captain Haddock in a plumed hat, and a galleon under full sail. In the second, Tintin and snowy were skimming along the bottom of the sea in a submarine shaped like a shark.

“That’s Professor Calculus’s submarine,” said Tánger. “When I was a girl, I saved my money from birthdays, saint’s days, and Christmas gifts to buy these books, pinching pennies as hard as Scrooge himself.”

Red Rackham’s Treasure, page 40

“She opened Red Rackham’s Treasure to page 40. In a large illustration in the middle of the page, Tintin, dressed in a diving suit, was walking along the bottom of the sea toward the impressive wreck of the sunken Unicorn.”

“Look carefully,” she said in a solemn voice. “That one picture marked my life.”

The Nautical Chart by Arturo Pérez-Reverte, p.96-97

BK Munn has a long-running blog showing books when they appear in various comics. Maybe I should start a series on comics that appear in books?