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Tintin and Alph-Art (The Adventures of…

Tintin and Alph-Art (The Adventures of Tintin: Original Classic)

by Hergé

Series: Tintin (24)

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391541,642 (3.39)2



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I must admit it. I actually bought this book (on line) by mistake. I thought I was getting the book about the art of Herve, the artist writer of the Tintin series. I have long enjoyed the Tintin stories since my son was introduced to them by some Dutch friends in Spain. (Yes, it does sound a bit convoluted). Anyway, the book duly arrived in the mail and it took me some time to realise that what I had purchased was an work in progress by Herge. But that was quite fascinating in itself for it clearly shows the way that Herge approached the task of putting a Tintin book together. The story is well developed, compact and action filled. Some of the comic strips are the merest of outlines..though still with the unmistakable visage of Tintin . And some are reasonably finished to the pencil stage. In terms of what I was originally looking for...it is not in the same league but it is fascinating in its own right to be able to see the creative process.
The publishers have, very thoughtfully, supplied a printed version of the story in English which makes it all much easier to follow, I hadn't realised to what extent, the English versions of his series have been anglicised to make it easier for English readers. This version hasn't done that. Would I recommend it. Well yes, if this is the sort of thing one was looking for. But, I'm afraid, I will have to keep looking for a good version of The Art of Herge:....Creator of Tintin. ( )
  booktsunami | Mar 21, 2019 |
My Review:
(from the Tintin Books group.

(Part 1: the authorised version)

"Tintin and Alph-Art" remains on the edge of the "Tintin" ouevre for good reason: it was never finished, and published only as rough sketches with translated dialogue beside them. (Herge's estate chose not to complete the work, as part of a larger understanding from Herge that he didn't want his studio to carry on the series after his death.) In some ways, this is a pity. For while the acknowledged final album, [b:Tintin and the Picaros|146160|Tintin and the Picaros (The Adventures of Tintin)|Hergé|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1172178212s/146160.jpg|2257502], fittingly caps Tintin's travelogues - with disturbingly real consequences, and deconstruction of existing characters - "Alph-Art" proves a fitting end to the story of Tintin himself.

"Alph-Art" takes many of the existing tropes of Herge's repertoire to new heights. The opening dream sequence is pitch-perfect, and Herge's interest in farce is taken to new - and well-mannered - heights when Haddock, admiring his new art purchase, is accosted within moments by Tintin, Calculus, the Thompsons, Nestor and Wagg. (Oddly, Wagg seems to come to Marlinspike solely for his part in this comic bit...)

The central mystery is simple enough: avoiding Castafiore, Haddock ducks into an art gallery where he finds himself taken with 'Alph-Art' in which letters of the alphabet are moulded in various materials. However, this new interest propels the Captain and Tintin toward the mysterious deaths of several art experts. It's genuinely fascinating, and reminiscent of '60s/'70s mystery television, more than it is of the adventure serials that characterise the earlier works.

The second half of the mystery involves a mystic, Endaddine Akass, who has charmed both the beautiful young art gallery assistant, and La Castafiore herself. This mysterious man reminds Tintin of someone, but he can't quite tell who. The scenes at Akass' ritual are genuinely unnerving, and it's clear that Tintin has met his match in this seemingly placid villain.

As the two cases begin to wind together, Haddock and Tintin find themselves travelling to an island of Naples, where Akass' friends have gathered - among them are many characters who have populated earlier works in the series. (Even more so than "Picaros", there is a distinct sense of a final recap here) It is only when Tintin puts the pieces together - that Akass is flooding the art market with fakes while raising his own profile with the help of the 'Alph-Art' movement - that the boy reporter is caught, and led to his likely death...

The official release of "Alph-Art" is a beautiful volume, doing the best they can with Herge's pencil rough sketches of the story. There's a lot to learn here, seeing how the latter pages - much rougher than the earlier ones - still are clearly numbered, and it seems likely that this is roughly the pattern the first two-thirds of the work would've taken. (It fits the usual Tintin album profile, with one-third devoted over to the mystery, the second to a chase sequence, and then the third to the denouement.)

While the story itself is nothing breathtaking, the more 'mature' choice of setting is most satisfying for those of us who grew up with Tintin, and are now grown-up ourselves. Beyond this, Herge's style still seems to be maturing: Haddock is still off alcohol after the events of the previous story, for instance. Most interestingly, for me, there are several strong female characters - a first for a "Tintin" album. Beyond La Castafiore, there are the two art gallery staff members - one of whom is crucial to the case, and a young, beautiful woman for once. Then Castafiore's friend Angelina, although she appears rarely, maeks quite an impact. (One wonders, though, if Herge would've amended the line where Tintin calls the elder secretary a "shrew"?)

As for whether Akass is Rastopopoulous: well, in the original draft sketches (shown at the end of this volume), he clearly is. And quite frankly, this odd-looking villain has to be in disguise, and no one else would use such a James Bond villain mindset in his crimes. The rediscovered pages are very interesting, as they show - however briefly - the way Herge's mind worked as he developed the plot for a story, and mention an original idea for the plot in which Haddock completely loses all trace of himself as he becomes an art yuppie - only to be saved when Calculus develops a pill to restore him to alcoholism!

There's something nostalgic and undeniably 'modern' about "Alph-Art" as Herge envisioned it, particularly with the many other characters he had considered bringing back. I'll give some comments on the unofficial completed version (by Canadian artist Yves Rodier) in the next post, but in some ways, this ends more fittingly than any completed album could. Tintin, our globetrotting boy reporter, is taken away to have another brush with death. We know that Tintin must surely be immortal, and so is it not perfect that we last see him facing the wrath of a recurring villain for one final time? And beyond that, he is not just being led to his death - he's being taken to be encased in a mould and sold to collectors. In short, Tintin is about to become an immortal work of art.

(Part 2: the unauthorised version)

Canadian artist Yves Rodier is among those who decided to complete this album - against the wishes of Herge's estate. Honestly? I approve. Although I waxed lyrical about how fitting Tintin's unending end is, I'd love to see this completed. Herge had not wanted the studio to go on making "Tintin" albums after his death, and I respect that. But this was already mostly completed, so I'm glad to have read Rodier's version.

Rodier's animation is lovely. Certainly, it doesn't bring quite the depth that Herge could give, but it's a great companion to the original artist and - most importantly - doesn't try to be post-modern or revisionist. Indeed, for the first 40 pages, Rodier basically copies Herge's draft intentions to the letter, adding only a few frames where an additional joke or clarification is necessary.

As we reach the final third of the work, Rodier takes things to their logical conclusion, but via some wonderful character-based detours. Rastopopolous (as all villains do in "Tintin") has gathered together a group of followers who happen to have met Tintin. After he survives his near-death experience thanks to Snowy and Haddock, Tintin must rely on his extended family to team up and protect him. (Most hilariously, Abdullah joins because if "Blistering Barnacles" goes to jail or dies, how can the boy play pranks on him?).

After a few enjoyable side-jokes - Allen is now a postman in the States, etc. - Rodier gives us what we want. Rastopopolous and Tintin have a final showdown on a rocky outcrop, watched from below by all of Tintin's closest friends. Everyone from Snowy to the Thompsons gets a moment to shine, and the final pages show us that things have ended for good: the villain is dead, and Haddock is going home, never to leave again. (Of course, this has happened before, so anything is possible...) There's even the first hint in the entire canon that Tintin may be entering a mature, heterosexual relationship - although as ever, he plays his cards close to his chest.

The only issue with the edition is that the English translation is not perfect, particularly in the post-Herge pages. Sometimes the dialogue comes across as monosyllabic and underwritten, but it's a minor concern.

I cherish all 24 albums in this series, even those whose plot or twists I don't hold in high esteem. And while I appreciate having Herge's original sketches and thoughts thanks to the authorised version, I'm glad Rodier took the time and great pains to produce this. To see the characters of "Tintin" one last time was a joy. Here's hoping that - one day - Herge's estate may incorporate this into the official canon. Rodier is never disrespectful to the original intent, and for that, we should all be grateful. ( )
  therebelprince | Oct 30, 2018 |
The story itself isn't necessarily anything out of the ordinary, but the way it was presented was very nice and it's certainly something anyone who likes Tintin should look into. ( )
  Frenzie | Feb 19, 2014 |

Another lesser-known Tintin book, this time from the exact opposite end of Hergé's career: this is the story he was working on when he died in 1983. It is a strange and convoluted tale - Captain Haddock wakes from a nightmare, goes shopping and almost accidentally buys a giant plastic letter H, a piece of a new sculpture style called 'Alph-Art' (hence the title of the book); mysteriously dead art experts and a new age cult which may be led by Rastapopoulos in disguise bring Tintin and Captain Haddock to an island near Naples, where Tintin is captured by the bad guys and told that he will be drowned in liquid plastic and put on display as a sculpture by the (fictional) artist César. He tries to send a message to Captain Haddock via Snowy, but then the guards come for him...

...and that's the end of the Adventures of Tintin; he faces the dreadful fate of being transformed into an icon for the ages.

It's fairly obvious what would have happened if Hergé had lived to finish the story - our hero will escape thanks to his friends, and it's also clear that the bad guys are planning a reunion of a lot of incidental characters from previous books, some from a very long time ago. The book already features Bianca Castafiore, Professor Calculus, Jolyon Wagg, Thomson and Thompson and the Emir of Khedad and his horrible little son Abdullah. It's also fairly clear that the book would have needed a good bit of revision - there's an inconsistency in the plot between whether the art gallery is bugged with a reel-to-reel tape recorder (which would already have been old-fashioned at the time of writing) or via a high-tech microphone hidden in Mrs Vandezande's jewel. (By coincidence, a Mr Vandezande has been the mayor of our village since the last local government reform in 1976.) but the germ of a good if not great Tintin story is already there.

We also get some of Hergé's rough drafts for ways the story might have gone: drugs conspiracies based in Amsterdam, Captain Haddock's change of personality, various options for bringing back some fairly obscure names from the past. Hergé clearly saw this as a final volume, and perhaps it's better to have it preserved in mid-thought, rather than some slightly synthetic confection of a final product; Edwin Drood and Sunset at Blandings are not bad precedents. ( )
  nwhyte | Apr 29, 2011 |
What it is missing in drawing quality, it gains in background story. ( )
  jouni | Mar 13, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316003751, Paperback)

The classic graphic novel. The unfinished final adventure of Tintin featuring Herge's black-and-white sketches. Opera singer Bianca Castafiore has a guru: Endaddine Akass is handing his advice out to everyone, but Tintin doesn't buy it-especially when he realizes that Akass might be connected to the death of the owner of an art gallery, who had been on his way to see Tintin when he died.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:44 -0400)

Reproductions of the original sketches and text of an unfinished story by Herge, with English translation and commentary.

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