a review by Nalini Haynes
As a bit of a collector of books, and art books in particular, this book is a proud addition to my shelf. Don’t judge a book by its cover – why not, especially if it’s an art book? In the case of the Art of the Adventures of Tintin, the cover is inspiring. A hardcover in landscape proportions, with a dark background contrasting with the moon silhouetting Tintin and Snowy, beneath which the title glows. The pages feel like satin as I explore the contents.
Tintin was first developed by Herge, the pen-name for Tintin’s writer and illustrator, in the 1920s and 1930s although Herge spent most of his life working on Tintin in one form or another. Herge was accredited with developing the Ligne Claire (clear line) style of drawing. All of the Tintin comics use this clear, even style of line work filled in with fairly even colour. The new Adventures of Tintin movie remembers the old story and style but modernises it for the twenty-first century by creating a 3D Tintin movie.
3D is all the rage at the moment, which is something I’m not wildly excited about. I loved Avatar for its visuals but I’ve discovered that movies that claim to be 3D and claim to be using the same technology as Avatar vary significantly in their quality. Sometimes I think 3D is just a gimmick to get people in the door or following the fashion without using the medium effectively or, worse still, without having a good story and characters to present to the audience. For some people, Tintin is a precious childhood memory profaned by conversion into a 3D format. Others are overjoyed to see Tintin ‘growing’ with them and being introduced to a new generation. I haven’t seen the new Tintin movie yet: I find it difficult to justify going to the cinema when a trip to the cinema for two people to see one movie costs more than the DVD or Blu-ray. Therefore I can’t comment on the movie or the transformation into 3D, only on the book.
The Forewords are laid out well, with colourful caricatures of the various authors of the pages. Although the text is rather small, it’s not intense to look at the page with plenty of white space surrounded by well-designed graphics. A brief introduction to Herge, the creator of Tintin follows before an explanation of how the movie was a collaboration of three well-known screenwriters, Stephen Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, who blended elements of three original Tintin stories.
Original art is shown as Guise explains how the original artwork was used as a basis for the 3D movie. Two-dimensional ligne claire landscapes and vehicles were converted into three dimensional artwork; the initially featured underwater scene is particularly impressive and pretty in a painterly CGI style. The following two sections are about the characters, how performance capture technology was used, and the scenery.
I’ve found a lot of art books about movies tend to either choose lesser images for inclusion in their books or the quality of the stills is lacking: the image is a bit blurred. This is the case, for example, in the Lord of the Rings photo books I’ve collected. Not so with Tintin, however, as the images are clear and the scenery shots are gorgeous; images vary in size, including lots of large one or two page images. Some of these images I’d love to hang on the wall.
The Art of the Adventures of Tintin is an impressive coffee table book, eminently suitable to decorate your coffee table open or closed, to flick through while you’re enjoying a coffee or for your guests to browse while you’re making the coffee. It is also a proud addition to my collection of art books.
While this might read like an advert, the only payment I’ve received is a copy of the book. And I’m not sharing. 😛
Originally published in Dark Matter 7.