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Tintin in America: English black and white facsimile review

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edcharlesadams
Trivia Challenge Score Keeper
#1 · Posted: 20 Aug 2004 10:43
I've just received my copy of this and can give you my first thoughts of it:

The cover is not quite the same as the advance design Last Gasp put out some time ago that you can see on amazon.co.uk – it's creamy-yellow rather than white, much closer to the original, with neater writing and looks more professional in my view.

The first real surprise is before the story starts: "Translated by Michael Turner". What happened to Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper? In Chris Owens' interview they clearly talk about doing the new translations together, and at the World of Tintin Conference in May there was no mention at all of any changes to their working procedure.

For the most part the translation is based upon the modern colour version, but as far as I can tell, where the text of the black-and-white French version differs from that of the French colour version, the English text has been changed to reflect this. This has been skilfully done – compliments to the translator(s)! It is also translated more literally from the original French and not as liberally as the colour edition – obviously playing up to the idea of being an archvial edition. Tintin remains Belgian, working for "Le Petit Vingtième". Bobby Smiles (as yet unnamed) says "Dammit!" rather than the exotic "Sing Sing and Alcatraz!". Pietro the gangster has lost his Spanish accent, though Pedro Ramirez (originally Ramona) retains his. At one point, a character exclaims "Purple pineapples!". The Blackfeet are now the Big-Toes, and some of the tribe's members have different names (my personal favourite being Duck-stuck-in-the-mud).

Pleasingly, the four colour hors-texte pages of the later black-and-white Casterman editions have been included. In all, "Tintin in America" is an adventure where very few original scenes were cut out of the modern edition. The most significant is probably one where two cruel-looking Chinese men are introduced by the boss of the GSC (page 59 of the modern version). They are the ones who throw Tintin into Lake Michigan, and Snowy's fate is revealed to be having his head served up on a platter for them – "As for your mangy dog, my oriental friends can have him: they're partial to small dogs!". Of course such crude stereotyping would be unthinkable for Hergé only two years later, and this scene is interesting in being perhaps the last example of his naivete regarding other nations.

There are only a couple of minus points: one is that the text in the speech bubbles is fairly obviously produced by computer – not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but occasionally the text outgrows the space it fills and the whole effect is rather sterile. Quite a few people will miss Neil Hyslop's better flowing, flexible hand. Another is the complete absence of page numbers, which is annoying for the purpose of making references - as I'm sure Tintinologists would like to do with a historical edition such as this.

The most encouraging sight for me is saved for the back page. Tintin and Snowy smile and point upwards under the text: "In the same series", followed by the English names of the first nine adventures up to "The Crab With The Golden Claws". Let's hope they don't take too long!

Ed
jockosjungle
Member
#2 · Posted: 24 Aug 2004 11:54
Just recieved a copy of the new book also from Tintin shoP!

Have to agree with everything Ed said there, really looking forward to collecting the whole series.

A minor disapointment like with Congo, there is no writing on the book spine, not sure if that is more authentic, but perhaps some nice gold lettering would have been nice. It seems likely that each spine will be a different colour though.

Definitely heartened by the In The Same Series on the back cover as well,

Rik
jockosjungle
Member
#3 · Posted: 24 Aug 2004 19:20
Also in the colour version they hang a few fellers for that bank robbery but in the new version they hang a few black men.

Rik
edcharlesadams
Trivia Challenge Score Keeper
#4 · Posted: 25 Aug 2004 22:14
Also in the colour version they hang a few fellers for that bank robbery but in the new version they hang a few black men.

The black-and-white and colour French versions both contain the phrase "44 blacks have been lynched". Only the English colour version, for some reason, replaces "blacks" with "hoboes" - perhaps because of the American publisher's insistence on toning down certain connotations of the book which portrayed black people alongside whites. A piece of misguided righteousness that is infinitely more outrageous that the "race issue" it tries to defuse.

I'm glad the original phrase has been reinstated in the new edition because it shows Hergé's original intent in attacking the extremists who persecute minorities. How can this be the work of a racist?

Ed
jockosjungle
Member
#5 · Posted: 26 Aug 2004 09:41
I don't think the change was due to not portraying whites and blacks together but probably more to the views of people in general or indeed the translators. It could also be down to the American publishers not wanting America to be portrayed as negro lynching mobs.

Rik
edcharlesadams
Trivia Challenge Score Keeper
#6 · Posted: 26 Aug 2004 12:07 · Edited by: edcharlesadams
I'd agree that the lynching scene portays Americans unfavourably and that the publishers may have been keen to see it censored - much like Hergé himself claimed they wanted to get rid of the sequence where the natives are forced off their land and a city built in their place. I think it's allied to my earlier point in that the intent of the censors was not to show any racial tension between blacks and whites - either by not showing them co-existing, or toning down the commentary on the lynch mobs.

I'm sure that the issue was out of the translators' hands for the colour version. Michael Turner has often written about the satirical aspects of Hergé's work and has made it clear that both he and Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper fully appreciated the points Hergé was trying to put across (he usually makes reference to the final scene of "Picaros" where the Alcazar regime is shown to have made no fundamental changes, only to the uniforms of the policemen patrolling the favelas). It's more likely that their hand was forced by a greater authority.

Ed
rastapopoulos
Member
#7 · Posted: 26 Aug 2004 12:18 · Edited by: rastapopoulos
Ive recieved my Tintin in America and am well chuffed. I am also very much looking forward to collecting the lot. I got my edition from the Tintin shop in Covent Garden, and when i called them they told me they only had 10 copies left. How many were printed? I have a printing error in mine (good or bad?), one corner of one of the pages was folded and had a slight excess of paper. I could cut it off and the page would be perfect except for a slight crease but as with collecables and first editions it is a Unique feature. (I try to tell myself).
Harrock n roll
Moderator
#8 · Posted: 31 Aug 2004 11:21
Ed wrote: The first real surprise is before the story starts: “Translated by Michael Turner”. What happened to Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper? In Chris Owens’ interview they clearly talk about doing the new translations together, and at the World of Tintin Conference in May there was no mention at all of any changes to their working procedure.

I was quite suprised by that too, although Michael Turner did say to me that he had been working on Cigars by himself. Leslie L-C also mentioned that she had just returned from visiting family in NZ or OZ which could be the reason she was left out - hmmm mysterious.
jockosjungle
Member
#9 · Posted: 31 Aug 2004 12:58
Perhaps in an attempt to speed up the process, they decided to split the new editions up and do a few each

Rik
edcharlesadams
Trivia Challenge Score Keeper
#10 · Posted: 31 Aug 2004 23:16
Given that the "new" translation is so heavily based upon the colour version done by both of them, you'd think that Leslie L-C would be given a joint translation credit by default. Still, Michael Turner has done a great job.

Ed

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