a review by Nalini Haynes
Tintin is a reporter who travels the world with his terrier Snowy, who is part hero and part comical sidekick. Captain Haddock is an alcoholic ship’s captain with good intentions. Thompson and Thompson are identical twins who are world-famous detectives although probably due to ‘assisting’ Tintin more than on their own merit; they’re a slap-stick comedy duo.
The Adventures of Tintin is a TV series in three seasons that started in 1991. The TV series is based on a much-loved classic series of 23 comic books written and illustrated by Belgian Georges Prosper Remi who took the pen name Herge in 1927. Herge pioneered the Ligne Claire style of illustration where all the lines are clear and uniform in appearance. This gives a flat aspect to the drawing. Although a number of the Tintin stories were originally black and white – the original release was in newspapers in the 1920s – they were released in colour during Herge’s lifetime. For example, Blue Lotus was rereleased in colour in 1946, although still based on the original newspaper drawings previously released between 1934 and 1935. The lines and colouring in the comic books and TV series alike retains Herge’s straightforward style, bold lines and strong colour without using tone for depth.
Herge’s illustration style is so distinctive, classical and of sentimental value to so many, it’s a disappointment that the remastering of this collection was not handled with more care. There are portions where it looks like there is dirt on the screen and other portions where the recolouring has been done so badly it looks as though Tintin has dirty streaks or paint is running on his face. The first time Captain Haddock is introduced, both his beard and his sweater look like they’re covered in dandruff or lint. Most of the remastering is adequate to good, but there are numerous portions scattered throughout, that need more care. My guess is the remastering was rushed to take advantage of an expected increase in sales coming from the release of the movie.
The stories themselves are well-researched, satirising the politics of the era in which the stories are set. Issues touched upon or historical events satirised include refugees and the Japanese invasion of Manchuria. There are numerous changes in the stories from the comic books to the TV series; these changes include removing much of the violence and significantly toning down alcohol, especially Captain Haddock’s alcoholism; sadly this loses some of the humour. Snowy talks in the comic books although people don’t understand him; Snowy makes observations or acts as narrator, but this is lost in the TV series.
The Adventures of Tintin is a classic series that holds a significant place not only in 20th century literature and art history but in the hearts of millions of people. I remember reading the comic books in primary school, and although I prefer the comic books to this day, the cartoon series is well worth watching. Toned down for a G rated audience, this is a series that can be ‘just entertainment’ for the family or can be used as a launching pad for teaching history to the next generation. Hopefully the next ‘remastering’ will be done with more care for the work and less of a focus on deadlines.
I would like to acknowlege Wikipedia as the source for background research; what I couldn’t pull from memory, I sourced from Wikipedia.
Originally posted in Dark Matter issue 7