Draisine Engine In "Tintin in the Land of the Soviets"
Tintin in the Land of the Soviets was the first book of the Tintin series that was made by Hergé. Commissioned by Le Vingtième Siècle (The Twentieth Century), the first tale of the adventures of Tintin was an explicitly anti-communist work, meant to illustrate the corruption, cruelty, and falsehoods that could be found within that fictional Soviet Union. Such things were shown as voters being forced to assent at gunpoint, factories that were quite literally smoke and mirrors, and the general willingness of the Soviet government to silence Tintin in his quest to learn more about the Soviet Union and report back to Le Petit XXE, the reporting house that Tintin worked for in the English version.
Ironically enough, the draisine engine does not, in fact, result from any of the corruption that was found within the fictional Soviet Union in the story, but merely from Tintin being late for his train! Distracted by the need for a new set of clothes (which, admittedly, was a result of an attempt on Tintin’s life by the Soviets) and lunch, Tintin lost track of time and simply missed his train. In an attempt to catch it, Tintin used a trolley, only to fail as the lever which he used to propel the vehicle broke, leaving him stranded. Thinking quickly, Tintin was able to use a scrap pile to jury-rig a basic petrol powered draisine, an obvious precursor to the clever and ever resourceful Tintin that we all know and love.
Although no doubt crude compared to the more modern Tintin stories, Tintin in the Land of the Soviets possesses its own sort of charm. As the first of the series, there are many signs of things that would become a staple later down the line, such as Tintin’s ingenuity, Snowy’s ever witty comments, and the ever corrupt foes that they face.