Sunday, December 31, 2006

Tintin and the Deus Ex Machina

For Christmas I got two omnibus editions of Tintin adventures. I used to love reading Tintin as a boy, enjoying the character's adventures with his dog Snowy, Captain Haddock, the Thomson/Thompson Twins and Professor Calculas. I opened the first volume with glee and started reading Tintin in America.

It's rubbish. The artwork's great, Tintin is the same as he ever was and Snowy is there too, but none of the other supporting cast are present - I'm guessing they'll be added in subsequent adventures. That's fine, that's not a problem - my difficulty is with the storytelling. It's driven by coincidence after coincidence, with Tintin needing one deus ex machina after another to save himself.

Tintin gets trapped inside an armour plated taxi? He just happens to have packed a saw and cuts his way out. Tintin gets shoved into a meat grinding machine at a sausage factory? The entire workforce decides to go on strike at that very moment and downs their tools. And there are many, many similar examples, all equally exasperating. I'm hopeful Tintin in America is an aberration and the storytelling gets better, otherwise one of my childhood joys is about to be extinguished.

Oh well, there's always the adventures of Asterix.


Ross Hendry said...

It's bad, it really is, but ...America is only the third story so Herge hadn't hit his stride by that point. Jump forward to The Blue Lotus, the moon landing two-parter or Tintin In Tibet. Michael Farr's Tintin Companion is also very good. I really must rescue my Tintin books from my parent's house.

Jez said...

I'm not big on Tintin, but I agree, Tintin is America is weak overall. Even that backgrounds, something I think Herge excelled at, are poor. Destination Moon and Explorers on the Moon are my favourites.

As a side question - did you see the programme on BBC3 about Herge a day or two back? It was absolutely fascinating. He was clearly a very complicated chap.

Simon said...

I've got some Scanlations of the very first Tintin story "Tintin in the land of the Soviets". It's really badly dated and quite poorly drawn. The character of Tintin himself is pretty much unrecognisable, in his actions and appearance.
I suppose it's a testament to Hergés genius that he upped his game so far.
It's from the Blue Lotus onwards he started taking it more seriously.