Pam’s Pictorama Toy Post: I am, frankly, a bit weak on the Tintin comics in general. I believe Tintin in Tibet might be the only one I have read – and as a traveler to Tibet I enjoyed it greatly. It hit as many of the highlights of Tibet travel as I could have hoped from a comic book and then some. (The Dalai Lama even liked it enough to present it with the Light of Truth award.) In addition, I almost never buy new toys, so it is a bit surprising that while traveling at a mad pace through the South of France on business recently I stopped dead in my tracks over a stuffed Snowy in the window of a store. However, my responsibilities of the moment did not allow for me to break off long enough to go in and investigate, but this is where living in the internet age is a great benefit. I tucked this image into my mind and upon my return home I found him online and Kim, being the very best husband in the world, purchased him for me as an anniversary gift. Snowy took his own good time getting here however and I present him to you now. Don’t you agree that he was worth the trouble?
Seems that Snowy was on the scene from the first, appearing in Tintin in the Land of the Soviets in January 1921. He was a wry, wise-cracking sidekick with his own balloons of chatter for many years, evidently he gets demoted later in the strip and then only Tintin can read his thoughts. I read that he was inspired by a Fox Terrier at a cafe Hergé frequented, and named (Milou in the French) for his first girlfriend – despite the fact that Snowy is a boy dog and the translation – if that – is a bit mystical. Snowy, although an utterly dependable companion was, like most dogs has an extreme weakness for bones. (Who doesn’t have their Achilles heel?) In addition, I understand that he suffers from arachnophobia – I would prefer my dog (and cat) defend me against multi-legged intruders, but again, no one is perfect and if a dog constantly rescued me from all sorts of peril, saved my life and defended us against enemies many times his size, I could be forgiving on these points. I read that Snowy was known to frequently have a good snort and really tie one on too.
Somehow this toy seems to have the unusual characteristic of really embodying the drawing it is from. I find that is rarely the case – when it comes to Felix I enjoy the wildly off-model nature of the early British ones – but with many toys derived from comics I find it just annoying, especially in contemporary toys. Things are called Krazy Kat that bear no resemblance to even the film version of the character. There is a general disregard for the design of characters – so to find one that has the right spirit and appears to be well made alerted my radar.
Westerns have brought Tintin to Tibet in a big way and his image graces everything from bars to t-shirts, existing in high contrast to things like the Potala. (Until recently Kim was wearing one of these machine embroidered t-shirts with Tintin and Snowy, drawn somewhat free hand, that I brought back years ago.) It goes almost without saying that your average Tibetan has absolutely no idea who or what Tintin is (let alone Snowy), and I have wondered what they make of this persistent symbol of the West, lurking from far beyond their mountain home.