I've got rather alot of graphic novels, most of which sit on my bookshelves or in boxes in my closets from one year to the next, never being looked at. So, I've decided to go through them all, re-reading each one and deciding whether to keep it or to cull it. Culls will be donated to the local public library.
As I re-read each one, I'm going to try to present my impression of each one, and then announce the verdict: Cull or Keep?
There will be spoilers here, so beware. I most likely won't read one every day, but I 'm going to try to keep up a steady pace.
The Baron said:
Re-read Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. You may not have heard of this - it's an obscure 80's book that doesn't seem to be much-remembered today. I'm pretty sure I've read some other stuff by Moore at some point. Gibbons I mostly remember from the Doctor Who comics he used to draw. (Speaking of my favorite show, there's a character called "Capaldi" in this! Funny coincidence!) The book features pastiches of several old Charlton characters, in a sort of alternate history story that examines what it might be like if costumed heroes existed in the real world. Oddly, the writer comes to the conclusion that it super-heroes were real, comic books would all be about pirates! I remember when it first came out, there was even talk of making it into a movie. ((Don't know if anything ever came of that.) I recall somebody (in Wizard or some such place) suggesting that Robert Englund would of been good to play the character "Rorschach"! Freddy Krueger as Rorschach - that would be pretty funny!
Worth a look if you can find it somewhere - no idea if it's still in print.
Cull or Keep?: Keep.
The Baron said:
Re-read Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. You may not have heard of this - it's an obscure 80's book that doesn't seem to be much-remembered today.
Good one, Baron!
Read Tintin, Reporter for "Le Petit Vingtième", in the Land of the Soviets, by Hergé. This is a replica of Tintin's 1929 debut. As such it's interesitng as a curiosity, but the story itself is pretty bad. It's essentially anti-Soviet propaganda so hamfisted that even the author himself later regretted it. It remains the only black-and-white Tintint story that was never adapted to color, and Hergé refused to let it be reprinted for years. The story consists of Tintin outwitting attempts by Commie idiots to kill him while showing how miserable everytihng was in the USSR. The art is alos very crude, especially compared to how good Hergé's work later became.
Cull or Keep?: Keep, for its historical significance.
Next, I read Tintin, Reporter for "Le Petit Vingtième", in the Congo, also by Hergé. This is a replica of the original 1930 black-and-white version of the story (I've nver seen the color version). In it, our hero goes to the Congo and breaks up a diamond-smuggling racket.
Ah, what is there to say about this book? Well, certainly to modern eyes, it's as racist as Hell. Hergé himself later admiitted as much, with the proviso that that was "how we all thought at the time". The blacks are all depicted as thick-lipped primitives, either malevolent schemers or childlike and in need of protection and education by the whites. By the standards of the day, it probably wasn't alot more racist than most other comics, but it's certainly cringe-inducing now. (There's also the issue of how Tintin slaughters wildlife right, left and center, but it's the racial issue that is most noticeable.). The later books improved a great deal in how they portrayed other cultures, but to the end, they never quite escaped the whole "good-hearted white man goes to the Third World and helps the natives solve their problems" issue.
Now, as for Hergé, he ran into trouble after the war, when he was accused of being a collaborator with the Nazis, since they let him continue working even after they overran Belgium. I've read up on him a little and I don't think he was a Nazi sympathizer (although he did have a tendency to create "semitic"-looking villains). Certainly, he was no heroic resister, and his racial atittudes were probably not "progressive" by modern standards - though not unusual for the day - but not a fascist, no.
That said, he was arrested for a time after the war, and I strongly suspect that it was only the fact that he was the creator of the beloved Tintin that saved him from a firing squad.
As with the Asterix books, the Tintin books were not easily obtainable where I grew up, and were generally Christmastime treats that my parents brought back from their trips to Canada.
Cull or Keep?: Keep, but have a long talk with the kiddies before you show them this one.
I've read both the above TinTin books in the last few years. The first is a bit of a shaggy dog story as he keeps getting chased by the agents and giving them the slip. Obviously the feedback was good as you could tell they kept extending the story. This happens often in newspaper strips. You can see that they are extended because the reaction is going well.
In that light, the ending where TinTin returns to Belgium to a hero's welcome, because everybody's been following his reports from the USSR is somewhat 'meta' and blurs the line between reality and fiction. Herge's open-eyed view of what was going on in Russia at the time wouldn't have been easy for lefty, literary audiences to take in, or appreciate, but he was vindicated by history. How quickly he arrived at this view - the USSR hadn't been around long at this stage - might show that Herge's sympathies were more rightwing than leftwing, but rightwing folk can't be wrong all the time!
Have you many Tintin books to review? Tintin and the Secret of Literature is a wonderful book on Tintin comics that lift the lid on what might 'really' be going on in them. You'll love what it says about Herge's extraordinary family history, and how that is reflected (revealed and disguised at the same time) in the stories.
I was reading Tintin books to my daughter for a while a few years back, but my wife disapproved of his habit of punching people in the face. The wean hasn't punched anyone in the face since I stopped reading Tintin to her, so that's a score for censorship!
She didn't say anything about Captain Haddock being a drunk?
It was the early books. I think I skipped the Congo book... Capt Haddock hadn't appeared at that stage.
Nevertheless, now that she's 5 she seems to know about booze. She told her mum she couldn't drive after drinking 2 wines with a meal last week!
.... the USSR hadn't been around long at this stage - might show that Herge's sympathies were more rightwing than leftwing, but rightwing folk can't be wrong all the time!
As they say, even a broken clock is right twice a day.
You teach them how to drive early over there.
She's already smarter than the idiot neighbors that drive off a few minutes after tossing their beer caps in my yard.