It has been five months since I bought The Adventures of Tintin Complete Collection box set, but I’ve only just started reading it. The delay was due to the first story, “TINTIN IN THE LAND OF THE SOVIETS” (first serialized 1929-30). Hergé‘s style is simple, here it looks rough. (It reminded me a bit of Art Spiegelman’s Maus.) Hergé himself must not have cared for it, either, because he blocked its publication until 1973. It was colorized in 2017, but is presented here in the original black & white. Now that I’ve read that first story I intend to read the rest, so I thought I’d start a discussion here. (Who knows? I may even stick to it.) We have already determined (in “Your Favorite Things of the Year” when I first posted about it in October) that the controversial “Tintin in the Congo” is not included in the set, so next up is “Tintin in America.”

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This was the story that introduced Professor Cuthbert Calculus.   During the Occupation years, Herge studiously avoided anything that could be called "political", and focused on character development  instead.   

The next story you will read, The Seven Crystal Balls, was begun during the war, and then cancelled after the liberation.  it was completed after the war.

Anyone who worked for German-controlled media was treated as a collaborator after the war.  Herge was arrested on four separate occasions, and was blacklisted for a time.  From what I've read, it was the fact that he was the creator of the beloved Tintin that saved Herge from doing time and possibly even a firing squad.



Jeff of Earth-J said:

RED RACKHAM’S TREASURE: As I mentioned before, this combines with “The Secret of the Unicorn” to make one extended adventure. I quite enjoyed it.

I read two more Tintin stories over the weekend. Just as “The Secret of the Unicorn” combines with “Red Rackham’s Treasure” to make one extended adventure, so too does THE SEVEN CRYSTAL BALLS combine with PRISONERS OF THE SUN. The stories are becoming much more detailed, not only in terms of the artwork, but in terms of plot and continuity as well. I find myself looking forward to reading the entire series a second time (at some point in the future) to better appreciate plot elements and characters as they are introduced. “The Seven Crystal Balls,” for example, reintroduces General Alcazar and Bianca Castafiore. It also features a well-done standalone page of Eisner-esque physical comedy on page four, as a butler carrying a tray of drinks tries to rehgain his balance after being upset by Snowy chasing a cat. In “Prisoners of the Sun,” Tintin and company are rescued by a cliché (which was probably cliché even back then).

This was around the time that the "Tintin family" of characters really took shape.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

I read two more Tintin stories over the weekend. Just as “The Secret of the Unicorn” combines with “Red Rackham’s Treasure” to make one extended adventure, so too does THE SEVEN CRYSTAL BALLS combine with PRISONERS OF THE SUN. The stories are becoming much more detailed, not only in terms of the artwork, but in terms of plot and continuity as well. I find myself looking forward to reading the entire series a second time (at some point in the future) to better appreciate plot elements and characters as they are introduced. “The Seven Crystal Balls,” for example, reintroduces General Alcazar and Bianca Castafiore. It also features a well-done standalone page of Eisner-esque physical comedy on page four, as a butler carrying a tray of drinks tries to rehgain his balance after being upset by Snowy chasing a cat. In “Prisoners of the Sun,” Tintin and company are rescued by a cliché (which was probably cliché even back then).

I am really enjoying these stories. Everything I've heard about Tintin over the years is true; it's reputation is well-deserved. I'm so glad I bought this set.

I was able to read four Tintin stories over the weekend: LAND OF THE BLACK GOLD, DESTINATION MOON, EXPLORERS ON THE MOON and THE CALCULUS AFFAIR.

Land of the Black Gold was my least favorite of the stories I’ve read recently. It begins with the Mcguffin of exploding gasoline and takes us to the land of Khemikal. Dr. Mϋller (Black Island) and Olivera da Figueira (Cigars of the Pharaohs) make return appearances, and Bianca Castafiore makes a cameo appearance as well. What I didn’t like about it was an extended slapstick scene with Thompson & Thomson in the dessert encountering multiple mirages. They mistake an oasis for a mirage, a mirage for reality, lather rinse repeat. Actually, all of the Titntin stories have a certain amount of farce and slapstick, but this one went on too long and didn’t appeal to me. (The bits about the sneezing powder, too.)

I’ve read enough Tintin by now to realize by the titles alone that Destination Moon was an extended set-up for Explorers on the Moon. Taken together, the two did not disappoint. Dick Tracy and the Spirit went to the Moon, but Tintin beat them both. The artwork was particularly stunning this time, with splashes of an atomic pile, the blueprint for the rocket, the rocket itself and gantry, the takeoff, the landing and moonscapes. The Thompsons have a relapse from the pills they took in Saudi Arabia and end up looking exactly like “Hairless Joe” from Li’l Abner.

Professor Calculus had taken to carrying a deaf horn, and hilarity ensures when he actually hears one of the insults hurled his way by captain Haddock. (This installment’s slapstick sequence appealed to me more than the one from Land of the Black Gold.) In retrospect, it’s a good thing Haddock called him a “goat” and not an “upstart”!

The Calculus Affair returns to the standard Earth-bound format.

Land of Black Gold was the story being serialized when the Germans invaded Belgium.  Herge abandoned it at the time, and did not complete it until after the war.

When Apollo 11 landed on the Moon, Herge produced the following panel, which he sent to Neil Armstrong, who had no idea what it meant:

"When Apollo 11 landed on the Moon, Herge produced the following panel..."

That's pretty good.

"...which he sent to Neil Armstrong, who had no idea what it meant"

I hope somebody told him. :)

Likewise, I often wonder whether Paul McCartney appreciated this Jack Kirby original (gifted to him for "Magneto & Titanium Man").

I'm told some explained it to him.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

"When Apollo 11 landed on the Moon, Herge produced the following panel..."

That's pretty good.

"...which he sent to Neil Armstrong, who had no idea what it meant"

I hope somebody told him. :)

RED SEA SHARKS: I read only this one Tintin story over the weekend. (I think now that I'm getting toward the end I'm slowing down to make it last.) It's another one of those stories with a very pedestrian beginning (General Alcazar reappears out of the blue, loses his wallet, and Titntin tries to return it to him), but leads to intrigue. Lots of returning characters. It was surprised to see a reference to rock and roll, but we are up to 1956-58 now. I don't think I would have been as forgiving to a rescued pilot who had just made a strafing run at me on the open sea, but Skut turned out to be a pretty good guy. This story features (among many other things) Muslim negroes, a even-handed portrayal I thought, being tricked into slavery.What can you tell me about it from behind the scenes?

I know I've read it, but I don't remember anything off the top of my head. I'll have to look it up

Jeff of Earth-J said:

RED SEA SHARKS: I read only this one Tintin story over the weekend. (I think now that I'm getting toward the end I'm slowing down to make it last.) It's another one of those stories with a very pedestrian beginning (General Alcazar reappears out of the blue, loses his wallet, and Titntin tries to return it to him), but leads to intrigue. Lots of returning characters. It was surprised to see a reference to rock and roll, but we are up to 1956-58 now. I don't think I would have been as forgiving to a rescued pilot who had just made a strafing run at me on the open sea, but Skut turned out to be a pretty good guy. This story features (among many other things) Muslim negroes, a even-handed portrayal I thought, being tricked into slavery.What can you tell me about it from behind the scenes?

I've done a quick check  - apparently, Herge did his best to make for his depiction of Africans in Congo, but still was criticized as racist, which he found depressing.

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