It hardly seems like a year since the first time
I did this... I'm sure I've missed out on some things, as ever, so feel free to fill in the gaps.
In the Tintinverse, as in the world at large, 2005 was a year of both sad and disappointing lows but some worthwhile (and often surprising) highs. The year of 2004 was an exceptional one, and it was hopeful at best to predict that Tintin would receive the kind of exposure that he did for the 75th anniversary. Nonetheless January started promisingly, with the announcement that Tintin would be the subject of the Young Vic theatre company’s Christmas show: always a highly-anticipated production in theatre circles. Across the Channel the news was less good: in March the “Made in Belgium” exhibition in Brussels was prevented by Moulinsart from having a Tintin exhibit. The resulting media furore, lasting several weeks, led to the Chateau issuing an unprecedented statement claiming to have acted in Tintin’s best interests. The organisers of the exhibition, Moulinsart claimed, wanted to represent Hergé’s work with the interpretations of other artists, which they found unacceptable. This provoked a fierce denial and counter-claim, and the matter was never fully resolved, much to the annoyance of those Belgians celebrating the 175th anniversary of their independence who regard Tintin with some pride.
Meanwhile for English-speakers, there was reason to celebrate. In May came the suggestion (first made public at the World of Tintin exhibition a year before) that the English version of Tintin in the Congo
was at last due to be released in its colour format on September 5th. Finally, the complete series of modern versions was to be made available. Amid the sentiments of “it’s about time” came debate abut how Egmont would handle the unfortunately outdated elements of the story that might cause offence. While we waited for the day of release Egmont published the Tintin and Snowy: album 1
, an activity book for youngsters that was a significant improvement on the Tintin Games Book
from many years previously. There is no indication yet as to whether there will be further books in this series (as suggested by the album 1
In July Moulinsart made amends for the ‘Made in Belgium’ debacle by mounting a highly-successful Tintin festival in Brussels. Events included booksellers’ markets, a rare public screening of the 1947 film Le Crabe aux Pinces d’Or
, and a costume ball. There are plans to turn the festival into a regular event, providing another excuse for frequent trips to Brussels. As long as the organisers can continue to make the festival fresh and new every year, it will surely be worth repeated visits.
Back in the UK, the September 5th release date for Tintin in the Congo
came and went, with the Tintin Shop confirming a week later that all books in the first print run had been damaged. This however didn’t stop a few pristine copies turning up on eBay in Belgium. In the event the delay was not serious, and the book finally reached the open market during the first week of October. Though Neil Hyslop’s handwritten script is missed, it was a worthy translation with enough wit and licence to distinguish it from the literal version in the black-and-white edition. Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper and Michael Turner’s labour of love in translating the Tintin series can now finally be said to be complete.
It is gratifying to know that Harry Thompson would have been able to see the series completed only weeks before his untimely death from cancer on November 7th, at the age of just 45. He achieved an immense amount in his short life and his exposure as a Tintinologist would have been much greater if not for the other huge demands on him as a successful entertainment producer. His 1991 book, Tintin: Hergé and his creation
, had only one print run (in hardback and paperback) yet is required reading for all Tintin fans and is, despite its limitations, arguably the closest to a definitive English work. Harry Thompson is missed by many who enjoyed his work, but Tintinologists owe him a special debt for the contribution he made to the knowledge of our subject.
Despite this, the year has ended on an unexpected high thanks to the success of the Young Vic’s production, currently playing at the London Barbican until January 21st. Due to technical difficulties the original opening preview of November 29th was postponed for two days, but these appear to have been ironed out and the play has received unanimously positive reviews in the press. A visit (especially with young children) is thoroughly recommended, as is the first volume in Casterman’s Dossier Tintin
series, devoted to The Black Island
. Original indications were that this would be a boxset, but instead it is a beautifully-produced work allowing easy comparison between the three versions of the story, together with rare excerpts and publicity material from the original serialisation in Le Petit Vingtième
As for what 2006 may bring: the English translation of the black-and-white version of Cigars of the Pharaoh
is eighteen months overdue from its initial publication date (July 2004), and now postponed until March. Will this be the year it sees release? And if Steven Spielberg’s Tintin project is on course for release in 2007, production details and even shooting itself may begin to emerge during the coming year.
Merry Christmas everyone!