I reread The Black Island today after more than two decades. I used to own all the Tintin comics when I was a kid. I lost all of them to school mates who borrowed but never returned them. I have spent many a childhood night in bed cursing and plotting revenge against those careless school mates.
It's still very entertaining, upto its neck in action with goats and magpies and gorillas and planes. Snowy gets drunk on whiskey. Boisterous and superstitious Scottish characters. Great illustrations of idyllic Scottish villages and countrysides with pubs and the great outdoors. But something was missing. Tintin's relentless quest for justice was boring. He is a bit of a prick. He hardly has any friends. Only Snowy. Herge is no Graham Greene. And he is crap at drawing beer mugs. The smaller illustrations were better than the ones with larger canvases.
Anyway, I guess I'm searching too deep for meaning in a comic book that is supposed to entertain. And it was pretty entertaining and hilarious and imaginative.
Tintin stumbles upon a ship model at the market and decides to buy it for Captain Haddock. But there are people out to buy the model from him, whatever the cost. The sub-plot involves a pick pocket who turns out to be a klepto.
The Secret of the Unicorn must rank as one of the best Tintin comics. Certainly in the top 5. The sequence were Captain Haddock narrates his ancestors history (which includes the encounter with the pirates) while consuming many gallons of rum is outrageously funny. I remember laughing out loud as a kid when I read that part. I suspect Herge conceived it while under the influence.
Herge is an expert at drawing action scenes. The action scenes at Marlinspike, the abode of the villains were very imaginative, containing many interesting set pieces. Facial expressions of the characters deserve special mention. Some of the Thompson's face expressions were priceless. Like in The Black Island, the illustrations of the country side with the deserted roads are nice to look at.
Even enjoyed the racist ones.
🇺🇸 Liberty â¢ E Pluribus Unum â¢ In God We Trust 🇺🇸
BY THE WHISKERS OF KURVI-TASCH!
The Calculus Affair is upto its neck in action. It is set mostly in Captain Haddock's mansion Marlinspike, Geneva and two imaginary Balkan countries - Borduria and Syldavia.
Professor Calculus discovers a weapon which can destroy cities with sound waves. Two competing Balkan nations try to kidnap him with the hope of extracting the secrets of the weapon. Tintin and Captain Haddock are hot in pursuit to save their friend from the spooks and the sadistic Generals. An irritating insurance salesman provides the laughs.
One of the best bits in the comic is at the house of a scientist where a thirsty Captain Haddock looks longingly at a bottle of rare wine while the scientist and Tintin ignore him while they discuss Calculus' disappearance. The expressions on his face are priceless.
Its good fun. It is an out and out action comic with lots of laughs. I prefer the Tintin comics with him and Snowy or him and Captain Haddock solving the case. This one had too many characters and mindless action.
Released in 1956, I wonder how much this comic might have influenced big budget Hollywood action films. I'm sure many Hollywood producers might have borrowed Herge's idea to set comics in beautiful foreign locales, presenting the cultures of those countries as exotica.