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The Adventures of Tintin: The Castafiore Emerald (Review)

To celebrate the release of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn in the United States later this month, I’ll be taking a look at some of nineties animated television show. Check back daily!

Note: This is our review of the animated episode, check out our review of the book here.

The Castafiore Emeraldis certainly a strange title to adapt for an animated television series. Essentially an excuse for Hergé to play with the assorted tropes and clichés he had established for the series, the story is a mystery that refuses to conform to what Tintin and the audience might expect it to, with each and every avenue of exploration turning into a dead end. As such, it allows Hergé to explore the more personal interactions of his supporting cast (like Haddock and Calculus), while having a bit of fun with his lead character – the boyish reporter. While it makes for an interesting book, I’m not convinced that it could ever really work as an animated episode.

Faithful to the letter...

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The Adventures of Tintin: Land of Black Gold (Review)

To celebrate the release of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn in the United States later this month, I’ll be taking a look at some of the nineties animated television show. Check back daily!

Note: This is our review of the animated episode, check out our review of the book here.

Land of Black Gold feels like a rather conscious throwback to the earlier adventures in the series, stories like King Ottokar’s Sceptre or The Black Island or Cigars of the Pharaoh, dealing with relatively grounded political concepts and economic realities, rather than hidden treasure or lost civilisation or trips to the moon itself. Of course, there’s a very good reason – Land of Black Goldwas started before the outbreak of the Second World War, and Hergé put it on hold to write about more abstract and less political concerns. That’s why Haddock only appears in this episode five minutes from the end, because he hadn’t been created when the original story was told. I don’t dislike the adventure, but it does feel rather strange, situated where it is in the Tintin canon.

Petrol was always an explosive topic...

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The Adventures of Tintin: The Seven Crystal Balls (Review)

To celebrate the release of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn in the United States later this month, I’ll be taking a look at some of nineties animated television show. Check back daily!

Note: This is our review of the animated episode, check out our review of the book here.

I’ve always had a soft spot for The Seven Crystal Balls and Prisoners of the Sun. When I was younger, originally watching the show and reading the books, they were my favourite adventure, along with Cigars of the Pharaoh. Perhaps it was the exotic nature of the adventure, with Tintin setting off to far-off ports, or the fascinating occult and unexplained elements. I found it somewhat fascinating the Spielberg chose to make The Secret of the Unicornas his first film, since he makes the case that Tintin is a hero who shares a lot with Indiana Jones. I’d make the case that this adventure here is the one that most perfectly captures the strange occult vibe that Lucas and Spielberg tried to recreate with their whip-weilding explorer.

Not quite the boy scout he used to be...

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Is Captain Haddock the Ultimate Hero of Hergé’s Tintin?

I think it’s safe to agree that Captain Archibald Haddock was the breakout character of Hergé’s The Adventures of Tintin. Introduced in The Crab With the Golden Claws, one of three adventures to form the basis of Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, Haddock has rarely been absent from the series in the time that followed. Indeed, Hergé even went back and wrote him into the end of a story (The Land of Black Gold) that he began before Haddock was even created. Haddock’s appeal seems to be incredible, with the blue-turtleneck-wearing sea-captain almost as iconic as Tintin and Snowy. Returning to the series for the first time in years, as the release of the new movie approaches, I couldn’t help but wonder if Haddock was the real hero of the series.

He'll never desert Tintin...

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Tintin: Flight 714 (Review)

In the lead-up to the release of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, I’m going to be taking a look at Hergé’s celebrated comic book character, from his humble beginnings through to the incomplete post-modern finale. I hope you enjoy the ride.

Flight 714 is an interesting Tintin book, if only because it’s the most conventional Tintin story we’ve had in quite some time, while also being one of the oddest books in the franchise. There have been comparisons made between Hergé’s penultimate completed entry in The Adventures of Tintin and the television show Lost, which should give you some inkling of just how strange things get during this particular trip. And, given Tintin’s been to the surface of the moon, things get quite strange.

Don't sweat the landing...

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Tintin: Destination Moon (Review)

In the lead-up to the release of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, I’m going to be taking a look at Hergé’s celebrated comic book character, from his humble beginnings through to the incomplete post-modern finale. I hope you enjoy the ride.

Destination Moon is an interesting entry in the Tintin canon, in that it really feels like Hergé’s relaxing just a bit. Since around about The Broken Ear (or even Tintin in America), most of Hergé’s stories have been relatively plot-driven, with a central mystery and a story built around solving that mystery. Destination Moon, on the other hand, is an adventure that feels far more episodic in nature, with Hergé taking a central plot (the race to land a man on a moon) and then building a variety of small adventures around it, from attempts to hijack a test rocket through to Professor Calculus’ amnesia and beyond. The story is somewhat leisurely plotted, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The author is clearly enjoying having a little bit more narrative freedom than he’s used to, and also having a great deal of fun taking a fantastical core concept and demonstrating how much research he’s put in.

It's out of this world...

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Tintin: Land of Black Gold (Review)

In the lead-up to the release of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, I’m going to be taking a look at Hergé’s celebrated comic book character, from his humble beginnings through to the incomplete post-modern finale. I hope you enjoy the ride.

Land of Black Gold is certainly an interesting Tintin story. It was begun during the Second World War, but suspended while Hergé’s paper, Le Soir, was investigated under suspicion of collaboration. Following the war, the author returned to complete the work, updating the adventure to remove some of the more obvious political elements, and to retroactively insert some of the more modern characters into the tale (Captain Haddock has a small role, and Cuthbert Calculus appears only via letter). However, despite all this interesting shuffling around, and the fact the story was begun in one political climate and finished in another, it’s surprising how relevent Hergé’s exploration of Middle Eastern politics remains.

Thompson and Thomson get their just deserts, eh?

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Tintin: The Shooting Star (Review)

In the lead-up to the release of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, I’m going to be taking a look at Hergé’s celebrated comic book character, from his humble beginnings through to the incomplete post-modern finale. I hope you enjoy the ride.

It’s very strange to return to material you read as a child. Occasionally – as when reading King Ottokar’s Sceptre – you find a lot more than you remember. However, reading The Shooting Star, I was quite surprised to find the more surrealist elements I so strongly recalled – foreshadowed by the giant mushroom on the cover and the not-so giant spider on the telescope – were pretty much confined to the last ten pages of the adventure. Reading it again, I was incredibly impressed with the atmospheric opening scenes and the wonderful race to the fallen meteorite, both elements downplayed in my memory to giant apples and exploding mushrooms. It’s things like this that make me glad I decided to revisit the series for the occasion.

Tintin scopes out the observatory...

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