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"Vater und Sohn": Was Hergé influenced by E.O. Plauen?

#1 · Posted: 5 Aug 2010 13:05
I wonder how many of you have read Vater und Sohn, the famous German graphic novel by E.O.Blauen. I am reading it now, and surpringly I found some similiarities with the Tintin series. Since the publishing date is from 1934 to 1937, I think Hergé may be influenced by it.
Here are some evidences:
1. The "joke cigarette" invented by Abudullah in Land of Black Gold was depicted in Vater und Sohn, which is made by the son.
2. In one story in Vater und Sohn, the father beats the son when he loses a chess game. It can be associated with General Alcazar.
3. In Tintin the Thom(p)sons's hats are forced down onto their heads on several occasions, which can also be found twice in Vater und Sohn.
#2 · Posted: 5 Aug 2010 17:25
It's possible, but I think Herge was probably more influenced by the slapstick humor depicted in the early films of Charlie Chaplin and others.
#3 · Posted: 5 Aug 2010 18:22 · Edited by: Balthazar
I'm ashamed to say I wasn't acquainted with E.O Blauen's work before reading your post, Thompsonandthomson, so many thanks for directing me towards it. I found quite a lot of examples of his strips online, including this Lambiek entry: http://lambiek.net/artists/p/plauen_eo.htm (which includes the chess strip you mention) and also this Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erich_Ohser
A brave man and a sad end.

I don't know if Hergé was directly influenced by Blauen, or indeed if Blauen was influenced by Hergé. I don't recall anything I've read about Hergé mentioning Blauen, but that's not to say there isn't one (Hergé certainly borrowed ideas and elements from all sorts of sources), nor that such a link isn't covered in some of the many French-language books about Hergé that I've never read.

But maybe the similarities arise from both cartoonists being influenced by the same sort of silent comedy films that Hagen mentions. I wonder if the gags you mention - trick cigarettes, explosive chess players, jammed hats - can be traced to any particular old film routines both men might have seen.

Or, of course maybe both were simply imagining similar jokes from things from real life. Trick cigarettes would have been a common joke-shop item back then, and we've all known adult who take it badly when they lose at board games. (You should see my mother-in-law when she loses at Scrabble!)

Anyway, I shall continue to check out more of Bauen/Ohser's work. Thanks again.
#4 · Posted: 7 Aug 2010 11:48 · Edited by: jock123
I'd have to agree with Balthazar - I think you are are just seeing stock jokes and gags played out in the works of both artists - I wouldn't put it down to infleunce, exactly.

My uncle had at least one of the Vater und Sohn collections (I think to call them a graphic novel is perhaps a bit of a misnomer, as they don't actually tell a continuous narrative, they just collect gag strips in book form, like Peanuts or Garfield books), which I remember looking at as a small child; I think even then I thought of them being like the Little King by Otto Soglow (which doesn't mean that I was an ultra-sophisticated child - my uncle also had a book of New Yorker magazine cartoons). Both use stylized rounded characters, and both tell their stories wordlessly.

This pantomime strip form seems to be something that may have died out, although they used to be more common. Charles Addams used to throw in the odd wordless sequence of pictures - probably the best known of these is one of a small boy playing with a chemistry set who transforms himself into a monster and back without his parents knowing. Our local paper in Scotland used to run Little Sport by John Henry Rouson, a strip which apart from signs and such was wordless and dialogue free. My dad also had books (which I now have) of Max cartoons, by the Swiss artist Giovanetti, which are the most deftly executed slapstick pantomime adventures of a giant guinea pig that you will ever see...

In the event, I am more interested in why you put it round the way you did - Hergé being influenced, rather than being the influence. By 1934 Hergé would have been a quite long established cartoonist (first as an amateur in things like scouting magazines, then as a professional), and the success of Tintin well established;

One final remark - isn't it Plauen, with a "p", as in psychologist...? ;-)
#5 · Posted: 8 Aug 2010 12:17
I am sorry that I was in a hurry when posting that message, and made some grammar and spelling mistakes:)
It is a fact that my "evidences" are not very strong. But somehow this idea cannot get out of my mind. Maybe it is because that there are several similarities, and the publishing date is close. Besides, the two cartoonists are both so famous that they may have heard each other's work...
As for the question by jock123: the several points I pointed out are all depicted earlier in Vater und Sohn than in Tintin.

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