Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Prisoners of the Sun - Herge

This is the Hundred-and-twenty-eighth in my one-book-at-a-time bookshelf.

The Seven Crystal Balls ended with Captain Haddock and Tintin flying to Peru in search of the unfortunate Professor Calculus. I particularly loved this book as a child, perhaps because of the stunning Peruvian drawings and the sense of being drawn into an ancient culture but also the classic solar eclipse theme, all handled beautifully.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Seven Crystal Balls - Herge

This is the Hundred-and-twenty-seventh in my one-book-at-a-time bookshelf.

Herge draws on a popular theme, misfortune to the grave robbers, combines it with a South American theme and the usual cast of characters including the newly gentrified Captain Haddock (remember the monocle?). A simple story that leads us, and Tintin, across the world.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Red Rackham's Treasure - Herge

This is the Hundred-and-twenty-sixth in my one-book-at-a-time bookshelf.

This story picks up where The Secret of the Unicorn finishes and the hunt for lost treasure is (literally) full steam ahead. As well as the detectives and Sir Francis Haddock's descendant Tintin is joined by the persistent and irrepressible Cuthbert Calculus, whose mad (or slightly eccentric) scientist provides humour but also the critical tools that enable Tintin to succeed. The surprising and upbeat conclusion rounds out the story but also provides the underpinning of the remainder of the Tintin catalogue.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Secret of the Unicorn - Herge

This is the Hundred-and-twenty-fifth in my one-book-at-a-time bookshelf.

For me the Tintin adventure really gets going with this book and its companion, Red Rackham's Treasure. The Haddock character gets a depth beyond expectation and beyond what had been glimpsed in the two previous books in which he featured. His engaging and colourful back story provides the grist for a mysterious mystery that Tintin pursues with typical tenacity, aided in the usual manner by the bumbling detectives. I'm not surprised that Spielberg chose this story line for his (in my opinion) successful translation of Tintin to the big screen. It is a ripper.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Cigars of the Pharaoh - Herge

This is the Hundred-and-twenty-fourth in my one-book-at-a-time bookshelf.

There are misunderstanding with the detectives from Scotland Yard, clues and red herrings and a trail of drug running, a mysterious eastern Fakir and a Prince. All ingredients for another adventure.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Tintin in America - Herge

This is the Hundred-and-twenty-third in my one-book-at-a-time bookshelf.

Without doubt my least favourite book in the canon. The caricatures are too over-played and the plot is repetitive and lacks engagement. However it does have the elements that define Tintin, just not so well constructed.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Blue Lotus - Herge

This is the Hundred-and-twenty-second in my one-book-at-a-time bookshelf.

Early Tintin, not as well rounded as later book and with a tendency for the plot to be a little thin.However we are introduced to Chang, a young friend who plays a pivotal role in a much loved book later in the sequence.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Shooting Star - Herge

This is the Hundred-and-twenty-first in my one-book-at-a-time bookshelf.

This has always been one of my favourite books. Tintin reunites with Captain Haddock, whose character is still developing, and Herge for the first time dabbles in science fiction. There is a lunatic predicting the end of the world and a giant spider! And very large toadstools. Excellent.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Crab with the Golden Claws - Herge

This is the Hundred-and-twentieth in my one-book-at-a-time bookshelf.

We see some familiar themes in this book, the scourge of opiates and the lure of alcohol. Tintin finds and 'saves' Captain Haddock who is to become the foil for Tintin's faultless character, a companion who's vices threaten to sink him but whose courage and faithfulness comes through in the end. There are also some great dream sequences in this book, another defining feature of Herge's work.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

King Ottokar's Sceptre - Herge

This is the Hundred-and-nineteenth in my one-book-at-a-time bookshelf.

I realised as I reflected on this adventure that Tintin is the accidental detective. He is a deliberate tourist and calculated taker of risks but he is a detective driven by other's needs and his own insatiable curiosity. His drive and success is underscored by the comic antics of the real detectives Thomson and Thompson.

The colouful, iconic cultural wallpaper of the 'mythical' Syldavia is one of the trademarks of Herge and it wasn't until I was an adult and had travelled a little that I realised Herge didn't stray far from what he saw in his own travels. 

This is one of my early favourites and is Herge at his best.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

The Black Island - Herge

This is the Hundred-and-eighteenth in my one-book-at-a-time bookshelf.

I first discovered The Adventures of Tintin at my local library at an early age. I don't exactly know when but I suspect it was before my teenage years. I notice that this story can be traced back to the 1930's but this 1960's English edition is my canonical version. 

Firstly let me admire the artwork. I could happily look just at the pictures, especially when Herge got to work on a larger canvas such as the cover art.

Secondly let me admire the characters that leap off the page.

Thirdly I should comment on the humour, all pervasive but counter balanced by the serious and compelling story line and the earnestness of our hero. 

Lastly the dialogue, which I can only assume works as well in the original French, but I suspect some credit must go to the translators Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper and Michael Turner for capturing the humour, characters and that indefinable something that is just the Tintin magic.

I've chosen to start with this story, rather than go chronologically, partly because there isn't a strict reading order and I'm sure everyone discovers Tintin in a unique way but also because I think this is the first Tintin I read. There is a scene involving Tintin, a train, Snowy, a cooked chicken and Loch Lomond whisky and I am taken back many, many years when I reread it. As I have just done. Happy.

Monday, April 07, 2014

The eloquence of story with pictures

As I return to blogging my essential books there is a series that caught my eye, The Adventures of Tintin.

I can't imagine not having these books on my bookshelf. My better half and I bought them at a time when we couldn't really afford the expense, but these are just paperbacks and really they are a necessity rather than an indulgence and we got a discount on many of them from the very nice people at Westbooks because we were librarians. I notice that they are looking a little shabby in the spine and perhaps one day a new set might be required. In the meantime it will give me great pleasure to work through them and add them to my bookshelf.