Sunday, September 16, 2012

Book #53

Tintin and the World of Herge: An Illustrated History, by BenoÎt Peeters. Hardcover.

The three years I spent in Thailand, from age 9-12, were important to me in many ways. Among the many things I learned form living in a totally different culture from the good ol' USA was how awesome Tintin was. My sixth-grade teacher was a tough guy most of the time, but when we finished our work, we were able to dive into the pile of books he had in the room. And mostly what he had for us was Tintin. I have been a fan ever since.

 This book is a nice combination of separate features: it is a brief biography of Herge, a description of his career, and an analysis of his work, both the Tintin and non-Tintin work. The development of his stories mirrored Herge's own interests, so the reader can see Herge's own interests change, from exotic foreign locales to scientific exploration to mystical experience.


George Remy was born in Belgium in 1907, and by the time his drawing were appearing in magazines in his early twenties he had taken the nom de plume Herge. His career was growing well as world war was breaking out around Europe. The impacts of the war on Herge was discussed, including a two-year ban on his work being published.

The bulk of the book is devoted to discussing and analyzing the Tintin works. Each of the 23 published stories is reviewed in 4 to 6 pages of text and art, as is the never-completed 24th story, Tintin and Aplha-Art. The stories about the revisions of the earlier Tintin works was very interesting -- how the drawings were re-worked for each revision, how coloring was introduced to the books, and even how some parts of dialogue were changed as Tintin developed a more international fan base. Many of this book's illustrations demonstrated these differences.

The illustrations are probably the strength of this book. There are literally hundreds of photos and illustrations in here, and they add a tremendous depth to the discussion of Herge and his most famous creation.

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