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Calculus Affair: Problems with speech bubbles?

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IvanIvanovitch
Member
#1 · Posted: 13 Mar 2010 02:27
On page 29 of the full-size version of The Calculus Affair, Tintin and Haddock are discussing the red car that just passed. In square two Haddock is speaking, but Tintin's attitude suggests that he is talking and Haddock listening. What he says also sounds much more like a Tintin observation rather than one of Haddock's: "...It was a C.D. car...Diplomatic Corps. That means from an embassy, and most probably the Bordurian Embassy..We must find out where that is. A post office directory will tell us. We'd better go back to Nyon."
Has this been previously noted?

Note: Further evidence that the above is a typo may be found on page 60, just after the tank smashes through the border station building. Haddock, grinning widely, is turned toward Calculus, who is saying "We're safe, Cuthbert!" The bubble tail is obviously switched.

Moderator Note: Combined two consecutive posts.
jock123
Moderator
#2 · Posted: 13 Mar 2010 23:31
I don't think the first example can be held up, to be honest. The postures of both characters show to me that they are both in deep conversation (if anything the mouth on Haddock is more obviously "speaking"), and although as you say it might be expected that Tintin would be given the exposition, it is nice to see that the Captain is being shown to be capable and thoughtful, and not just a patsy for slapstick for a change.

As for the second example, I certainly don't see it as evidence for a mistake elsewhere in the album, although I agree that the name is wrong, and was probably intended to read "Captain", not "Cuthbert".

Given that Hergé drew the speech balloons directly into the panels, there would be little chance of the tail being reversed by accident, so I would think that it falls to the translators or the letterer for this error. I don't know what the French edition has, but I have it in Spanish, where the Prof simply says “¡Estamos salvados…!” (“We’re saved…!”) and Tintin replies “Por fin!” (“At last!”). Anyone able to see what the French text is?
IvanIvanovitch
Member
#3 · Posted: 14 Mar 2010 09:07
I hadn't thought of that. The instance in the tank was almost surely a translation error.
However, the conversation between the two does give cause to wonder. As a visual issue there is really no evidence. Either one could be speaking candidly/listening attentively. Postures aside, then, the words themselves weren't that far from the Captain's character. Perhaps a bit formal.

jock123:
It is nice to see that the Captain is being shown to be capable and thoughtful, and not just a patsy for slapstick for a change.

Clearly Haddock is a rational, worthwhile contributor to most situations in the later books. But in context, Tintin was having one of his realizations, where he talks to himself as much as anyone as he makes connections between events and given information. It seems unlikely that the Captain would intervene, as I can't recall him ever doing so elsewhere.
Ranko
Member
#4 · Posted: 14 Mar 2010 10:13
IvanIvanovitch:
However, the conversation between the two does give cause to wonder. As a visual issue there is really no evidence. Either one could be speaking candidly/listening attentively. Postures aside, then, the words themselves weren't that far from the Captain's character

I noticed something similar in the second last frame on P47 where Tintin says, 'Be Careful! Those two ostrogoths in Geneva certainly tipped off the police here...'

Ostrogoths is certainly a word Haddock would use. It seems to be out of character for Tintin however.
Balthazar
Moderator
#5 · Posted: 14 Mar 2010 14:15
jock123:
I don't think the first example can be held up, to be honest.

It certainly can't be proved, and you may well be right, Jock, that this is simply a deliberate instance of Haddock showing a bit of brain power and leadership; but personally, I was quite persuaded by IvanIvanovitch's theory that it's meant to be Tintin speaking. Whilst both of them do indeed have open mouths, Tintin's body language in that frame looks to me as if he's the one who's most likely to be speaking - particularly his extended index finger, which, combined with his frowning brow, is a gesture Tintin often makes when expounding a realisation or theory.


jock123:
Given that Hergé drew the speech balloons directly into the panels, there would be little chance of the tail being reversed by accident

I agree that there's less chance of balloon tail mistakes in Tintin than in comics where the speech balloons are slapped on over the artwork afterwards. But penning the speech balloons may well have been a job delegated to assistants at this stage of Hergé's working life, so an error could have been made, which slipped past his notice when checking. And even if Hergé was penning his own speech balloons, it's not impossible to absent-mindedly draw a balloon tail going to the wrong character if working when tired, and stressed by the pressure of a deadline, which seems to have been the case for Hergé for much of the 1950s.


It would be interesting to see Hergé's pencil rough for the page, to see whether it's Tintin or Haddock who is given the speech balloon there. (Mind, it would be great to see the pencil roughs for the whole book, and indeed all the books, out of more general artistic interest and pleasure than for just checking this rather specific matter. But that's going off topic!)
cigee
Member
#6 · Posted: 14 Mar 2010 17:45
IvanIvanovitch:
but Tintin's attitude suggests that he is talking and Haddock listening. What he says also sounds much more like a Tintin observation rather than one of Haddock's

In the original French, on page 28, Haddock is turned towards the back of the car, and shouts at them that just because they have a CD plate, they think they can do anything (or words to that effect). Tintin is turned away, does not see the plate, and is not really paying attention to Haddock. I think this is a case of Haddock making the connections.

jock123:
I don't know what the French edition has

The French editions says, "Sauvés, Tryphon!", so yes, the tail of the ballon is wrong, as Archibald, and not Tryphon/Cuthbert is speaking.
Harrock n roll
Moderator
#7 · Posted: 14 Mar 2010 18:39
For me it just feels wrong. In all of the frames leading up to this Tintin is shown doing the talking, with Haddock listening. And it's not just the body language of the frame, it's that it seems out of character for Haddock to take charge. Most of the time Tintin is the one who decides what they are going to do, whether they are going to go somewhere, or go back to somewhere. There are actually very few exceptions in the books. Haddock is usually the sounding board for Tintin's reasoning (it used to be Snowy in the earlier adventures).

I hate to say it, but Haddock usually is just a patsy for slapstick, or a bystander while Tintin works out the case.

Isn't it funny how a small speech bubble error can stand out? It proves how well defined the characters are.
jock123
Moderator
#8 · Posted: 19 Sep 2018 23:19 · Edited by: jock123
Sorry to exhume this old thread, but I recntly came across a further pertinent detail which may be of interest to some.

It would appear that we may, in discussing frame 2 on page 29, have been missing the wood for the trees, because - while we may not have been able to say for certain if the Captain's exposition would or should have been delivered by Tintin - there was an incorrectly directed speech bubble tail on that page!

Having been able to check the page against the original Tintin magazine version, the dialogue in frame 2 was as it is in the book; however just two frames later, frame 4 originally showed Haddock as the speaker, outlining the plan for the trip to Rolle.

This was clearly an error, as the speaker actually refers to the Captain by name in the course of the dialogue, and it was an error that was corrected.

Sure enough, in the book version, the tail has been moved to the position it is in now, clearly making Tintin the speaker.

I would also posit therefore, that had the dialogue in frame 2 been incorrectly given to Haddock it would have been noticed and corrected in the same editing which corrected frame 4.

This to me is indicative that the tail in frame 2 is indeed correctly placed, and Haddock (for once) is allowed to use the skills which no doubt raised him to the rank of Captain!
Shivam302001
Member
#9 · Posted: 20 Sep 2018 05:55
jock123
As happy as I would be if your argument turns out to be correct, I fail to see your point. Since frame 4 of page 29 seems to have been corrected, is it not probable that the editors would have missed it for being less obvious? After all, there have been more obvious errors which have remained unchanged in the Tintin canon.

Anyway, even if you see from the story's aspect, on page 28 last frame the Captain observes that it is a foreign embassy car (one point to him?). In the next page, frame 4 it seems to be Tintin who speculates it is a Bordurian one because:
-Tintin would not
have made that posture if he was not trying to make a point
-Tintin's posture would never be like that if he would have been listening to solid reasoning and is in agreement with it
-the same could not be said of the Captain
who on the other hand seems to be listening attentively

As for seeing Captain in the role which earned him his title, look no further than Tintin in Tibet.
jock123
Moderator
#10 · Posted: 20 Sep 2018 09:23
Shivam302001:
is it not probable that the editors would have missed it for being less obvious?

No - that would be unusual, in my experience of working in editorial and publications for over thirty years; once you spot an error, you tend to look for the ones round about it.

This thread is postulated on the assumption that there is an error to be found - that there hasn't been a change made is good evidence upon which to say that there isn't a mistake to find. Occam's Razor is our friend here!

There's nothing in the arguments for the speaker in frame 2 being Tintin which makes it essential to be so, and - as on balance - the probability of a speech balloon tail being correct is almost 100%, and those that are wrong only a tiny fraction of a percent, it's far easier to argue that Haddock is the speaker, Tintin is the one listening, and the frame is as it should be.

The context, given the preceding frames, and his attitude back that up to me (I don't see Tintin doing anything more than listening to Haddock, who is drawn as if speaking; I don't think his attitude is expressly someone in full flow, so I don't agree with you on the way the figures are drawn being any sort of clue to an error.

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