Thursday, 10 August 2017

Tintin and the Picaros - The Adventures of Tintin 23 by Hergé

As the final complete album in the Adventures, Tintin and the Picaros inevitably has a lot riding on it, more so when one considers that this was the only completed story produced by Hergé in the last fifteen years of this life. There are some signs that the series is aware that things are winding down and thus it tries to tidy up some matters. But at the same time this story also sees some changes to the regular characters, as though the intention was to take them into the last quarter of the twentieth century in a far more modernised pattern.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Tintin and the Lake of Sharks

It's actually slightly surprising to see this album is kept in print. In many other comic traditions movies come and go, with a flurry of adaptations made at the time of the initial release but they usually then drop off the radar, going out of print and never being included in subsequent collections without much comment. But some of the Franco-Belgian comics instead keep the adaptations around, regardless of their status in canon. (Another example is the book The Twelve Tasks of Asterix, which is the illustrated text adaptation of the film of the same name, though the comic adaptation, with the English-language title "Asterix Conquers Rome", is long out of print.) Another curiosity is the title of this album - "Tintin and the Lake of Sharks" is almost a literal translation of the French "Le Lac aux Requins" but the English-language Region 2 DVD calls this "(The) Mystery of Shark Lake", with the "The" appearing or not in different places. (Even more strangely the French title is used on the sleeve cover.) It's not clear how this difference arose but one effect is to isolate the album from the source material to the point that it can appear to almost be a twenty-fifth adventure. The back-cover gallery on all of The Adventures of Tintin relegates this to the list of "Other Tintin Adventures to collect" (yes, plural, even when this sometimes the only one listed) but it can be found along with the other albums in bookshop displays to be obtained with all the rest, in spite of its status in the canon.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Flight 714 to Sydney - The Adventures of Tintin 22 by Hergé

The full title of Flight 714 to Sydney is a recent change, bringing it closer to the original French Vol 714 pour Sydney. The English language translation was originally published as just Flight 714 back in 1968; the same thing happened with the Dutch (Vlucht 714) and a number of other translations seem to have taken their cue from one or other of these editions. But in the last decade the destination has been added, maybe to increase the album's appeal in Australia, maybe to create greater conformity, maybe for some other reason.

But however long the title is, it's a misnomer. For the whole adventure is an interruption from Flight 714, with the characters having temporarily disembarked in Djakarta (now Jakarta) for a refuelling stop, only to transfer to another flight. Only at the end of the story do they once more board a commercial flight, also numbered Flight 714 and we never actually see them arrive in Sydney. In between they wind up on a deserted island and make some highly unusual discoveries.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

The Castafiore Emerald - The Adventures of Tintin 21 by Hergé

There's a notable cover variation with The Castafiore Emerald with the size of the spotlight on the cover varying, with a corresponding effect on how dark the remainder of the cover is. One effect on the current Egmont edition, with the smaller light, is that Tintin almost looks like he's been lifted from a cartoon cell. By the time this story appeared the series was now being adapted as a cartoon (known in English as Hergé's Adventures of Tintin). It's a reflection of the changing environment in which the Adventures now appeared. With this story they also began appearing much less frequently, with this album coming out three years after the preceding one, then it would be five years before the next, eight years until the one after that and presumably even longer had the final story been completed at the time. Tintin was more famous than ever before with an established volume of work and further appearances need not be so frequent. It was now possible to sit back, relax and bask in the fame, much like one of the characters in this tale.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Tintin in Tibet - The Adventures of Tintin 20 by Hergé

In some corners of the internet, which is an inevitable warning sign about the truth of this, there are claims that Tintin in Tibet was intended to be the final of The Adventures of Tintin and that everything which came afterwards was by publisher and popular demand. It's not clear how true this is, and it may be a misunderstanding of Hergé's considerations and circumstances at the time when it was conceived, but it's interesting to consider how this album might have stood as a conclusion to the series.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

The Red Sea Sharks - The Adventures of Tintin 19 by Hergé

The Red Sea Sharks is a rare example of one of the later Adventures which had subsequent modifications to solve problems that brought up with it. However, the current Egmont edition appears to be a translation of the original album and thus the problematic dialogue, mostly relating to characters' understanding of the language in one way or another, is present here. One notable change from the original French is the title - originally this was called Coke en stock, meaning "Coke in stock" or "Coke on board", but it was felt that in English this evoked the soft drink far more than the fuel (and it would have also dated badly as coke is now little used domestically).

Thursday, 29 June 2017

The Calculus Affair - The Adventures of Tintin 18 by Hergé

The Calculus Affair is the most overtly political of the Adventures since King Ottokar's Sceptre. Appropriately it returns once more to conflict between the fictional countries of Syldavia and Borduria. Yet whilst the earlier tales were making clear points about and jibes at contemporary political developments, this one instead just uses situations to provide a framework for the plot.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

The Adventures of Jo, Zette and Jocko: Mr. Pump's Legacy, Destination New York and The Valley of the Cobras by Hergé

As previously noted, much of Hergé's non-Tintin work isn't well known in English because so little is still in print in translated form. However, there is one other series with three albums currently available in the UK, which can often be found alongside The Adventures of Tintin in bookshops.

The Adventures of Jo, Zette and Jocko are the tales of a brother and sister and their pet monkey. Hergé created them on request from one of his French publishers but ultimately only produced five complete albums. Two of the albums, The 'Manitoba' No Reply and The Eruption of Karamako, have only had a limited English-language circulation in a double-volume that used the overall story title The Secret Ray and is now out of print. Some of the depictions in them are controversial and were thus passed over by first Methuen and then by Egmont.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Explorers on the Moon - The Adventures of Tintin 17 by Hergé

"This is it! I've walked a few steps! For the first time in the history of mankind there is an EXPLORER ON THE MOON!"

When Neil Armstrong landed on the Moon he received many messages from all over the world. One that baffled him the most, so the story goes, was an illustration of him standing by the lunar module being greeted by three men and a dog in orange spacesuits, with a red and white rocket in the background. He soon learned that another had already visited the Moon in fiction.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Destination Moon - The Adventures of Tintin 16 by Hergé

This is the big one. Of all The Adventures of Tintin, by far the best known is the two-part story that begins with this album. Such is its prominence that a special display stand for the albums in book shops is even modelled on the rocket. It is arguably the second best known Moon landing of all time. However much of that is to come in the second part of the tale. For now we have the story of events at ground control.