Tintin's troubles in the Congo spread to U.S.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bookstore chain Borders said it has removed copies of a book about Belgian comics hero Tintin’s adventures in Africa from the children’s section of its U.S. stores, as well as British outlets, amid allegations of racism.

The move comes about a week after British racism watchdog, the Commission for Racial Equality, recommended bookshops remove copies of “Tintin in the Congo.”

The CRE received a complaint from a member of the public who saw the book in a branch of Borders chain and urged Borders and all other bookshops to remove the “Congo” book, saying it made black people “look like monkeys and talk like imbeciles”.

The U.S. Borders said in a statement received on Tuesday that it was committed to carrying a wide range of materials and supporting its customers’ right to choose what to read and what to buy. But the retailer also said it was committed to acting responsibly and with sensitivity to all communities.

“Therefore, with respect to the specific title ‘Tintin in the Congo,’ which could be considered offensive by some of our customers, we have decided to place this title in a section of our store intended primarily for adults - the graphic novels section,” Borders said.

“We believe adults have the capacity to evaluate this work within historical context and make their own decision whether to read it or not. Other “Tintin” titles will remain in the children’s section.”

“Tintin in the Congo” is the second in a series of 23 books depicting the intrepid travels of a fictional young journalist named Tintin and his dog Snowy. The character was conceived by Belgian George Remi. Remi signed his works Herge, the French pronunciation of his initials in reverse.

Herge, Tintin and most specifically “Tintin in the Congo” are no stranger to criticism. Critics have accused Tintin’s creator of being a racist and have blasted the Congo adventure for its scenes of violence against animals.

Supporters say some Tintin books championed native populations in the face of business-minded whites.

The tufty-haired Tintin and his trusty white dog Snowy first appeared in 1929 and were featured in adventures until 1976, selling more than 200 million copies worldwide.