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Tintin and the Picaros is the twenty-third tale in The Adventures of Tintin series, written and illustrated by Hergé. This was the last book Hergé was able to fully complete before his death. This story sees Tintin return to South America, this time with his friends to aid him in his plight.


Tintin hears in the news that Bianca Castafiore, her maid Irma, pianist Igor Wagner, and Thompson and Thomson have been imprisoned in San Theodoros for allegedly attempting to overthrow the military dictatorship of General Tapioca, who has yet again deposed Tintin's old friend, General Alcazar.

Tintin, Calculus, and Haddock soon are accused themselves and, travelling to San Theodoros to clear their names (though Tintin at first refuses, only to change his mind and follow a couple of days later), find themselves caught in a trap laid by their old enemy, Colonel Sponsz, who has been sent by the East Bloc nation of Borduria to assist Tapioca. Sponsz also framed Tintin because he wanted to get revenge for being humiliated in The Calculus Affair.

Escaping, Tintin, Haddock, and Calculus join Alcazar and his small band of guerrillas, Los Picaros, in the jungle near a village of the Arumbaya people.Meanwhile, in a show trial orchestrated by Sponsz, Castafiore is sentenced to life in prison and the Thompsons are ordered to be executed by a firing squad. Tintin enlists Alcazar's help in freeing his friends, but upon arrival at his jungle headquarters, finds that Alcazar's men have become corrupt drunkards since Tapioca started dropping copious quantities of alcohol, including Loch Lomond whiskey, near their camp.

Additionally, Alcazar is continually henpecked by his shrewish wife, Peggy, who nags him constantly about his failure to achieve a successful revolution. Fortunately, Calculus has invented a pill that makes alcohol disgusting to anyone who ingests it (which he proves to have tested on Haddock, much to the latter's annoyance). Tintin offers to use the pill to cure the Picaros of their alcoholism if Alcazar agrees to refrain from killing Tapioca and his men. Alcazar reluctantly agrees; moments after his men are cured, Jolyon Wagg arrives with his musical troupe the Jolly Follies, who intend to perform at the upcoming carnival in San Theodoros.

Alcazar, with a little advice from Tintin, launches an assault on Tapioca's palace during the carnival by 'borrowing' the troupe's costumes and sneaking his men into the capital. He topples Tapioca, but on Tintin's urging, does not execute him; instead, as is tradition, Tapioca is instead forced to publicly surrender his powers to Alcazar, and is banished, while a disappointed Sponsz is sent back to Borduria.Meanwhile, Thomson and Thompson are due to be shot on the same day as the carnival. Although as naive as ever in their observations, the detectives show courage by refusing to be blindfolded. Tintin and Haddock reach the state prison in time to prevent the executions from occurring. Castafiore, her maid, and her pianist are also released, and Alcazar can finally give his wife the palace he has promised. With all matters resolved, Tintin and his friends leave.

As they fly home, Tintin and Haddock express gratitude about being able to go home.The second-to-last panel shows a final, skeptical political message: as under Tapioca, the city slums are filled with wretched, starving people and patrolled by apathetic police. Nothing has changed, except the police uniforms and a Viva Tapioca sign that has been changed to read Viva Alcazar.

Colonel Sponsz surprised to see Tintin and Captain Haddock show up beyond his expectations.

Changes From Earlier Books

Tintin and the Picaros features changes in the representation of Tintin. The most visible change is that his trousers have been modernized, as he wears bell-bottoms rather than the plus fours that he had always worn previously. In addition, the book introduces some new hobbies that Tintin had not previously engaged in: he is shown practicing yoga in his spare time, and riding a motorbike; his helmet is marked with the Peace symbol.

Also, Captain Haddock can no longer drink alcohol while Nestor develops a taste for alcoholic beverages. Nestor also is shown to eavesdrop on Tintin and Haddock's conversations.

Deleted Page

In the course of illustrating the story, Hergé found that he had gone beyond the 62-page limit required by his publishers. Therefore, he took out a page that follows the one in which Tintin has shown Haddock all covert listening devices and hidden cameras in their villa, and after Sponsz tells Alvarez how it was he who framed Castafiore.

The deleted scene has Sponsz announcing how he will break his enemies and throws his glass to the floor, but it is of the unbreakable variety and bounces back and breaks the moustache of a bust of Kûrvi-Tasch. Alvarez bursts into laughter, before being put in his place and asked to bring in "you-know-who" (most likely Pablo who appears in the following page). Sponsz suspects that Alvarez will claim that he broke the bust deliberately. He thus warns the young officer about his prospects for advancement. Alvarez gets the message and Sponsz tells him to "sack that clumsy cleaning lady who broke Kûrvi-Tasch's moustache." The scene was also additionally deleted because it was too similar to the scene in Flight 714, where Rastapopoulos claims he will crush Tintin like a spider, but then fails to trample the animal.

This deleted scene was later used in an article in which Hergé demonstrated how a single page in a comic book was developed from rough sketches to a fully drawn and colourised page.





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