I attended this discussion which had a packed house and a very informative and interesting one it was. Slides were used on a big screen in order to illustrate some of the points raised in the panellists' comments.
Michael Farr opened with a brief outline of how Tintin's appeal has lasted through the decades and generations. After Herge's death in 1983, many, including his collaborator Bob de Moore, expected Tintin to die out in the next few years since there were to be no new albums and how, against those expectations, Tintin is still a best-selling, multi-million industry with countless books detailing his history and discussing the issues raised in his stories.
Michael then went on to explain why he had been asked to provide a new translation for the digital books
, rather than the original version by Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper and Michael Turner. He explained that because of the constraints of the speech bubbles and other restrictions (such as references to God which were not always acceptable at the time), the original translators had to make their text shorter and it did not always match the original French. With digitization it is possible to come up with a font size that will fit a lot more text into the speech bubbles and be closer to the original.
Michael also explained that with digitization it is possible to see a lot more in a scene than on the printed page. As an example he showed us panel 1 of page 57 of "Tintin in America" which features a meeting of a roomful of gangsters. By using close-ups on an iPad it is possible to see how much trouble Herge went to to give detailed looks on the faces of these thugs. (I'd originally thought that the panel was supposed to be a reflection of us the audience :)
Yves Févvier then went on to explain how Tintin's books are becoming available online in various languages, including Chinese and Japanese, through iPlayer, Google Play and other sources and how audio dramatisations were being made for the visually impaired. Such dramatisations have already been made in French and I think he mentioned that there are talks ongoing with the BBC for an English version.
He also showed how 3-D printing is taking over from clay modelling in order to make models of Tintin, his friends, cars etc. They would like to make this available online but there are many technical, legal and financial issues that have to be dealt with.
Yves even gave an account of the influence of film on Tintin, such as panel 4, page 10 of "America" when Tintin makes his way from one window of his hotel room to another, seen from above at a very dramatic angle! There was also an account of the various film adaptations, from a stop-motion version of "Crab" made in the 1940s to Spielberg's movie.
Paul Gravett had copies of some of Herge's sketches and commented on how he would make rough outlines and draw pictures while considering a plot. He once drew a picture of Tintin wearing a kilt but then crossed it out because it had already been done.
Our own Jock123 gave an outline of Tintinologist.org and how it has brought together so many people from around the world to share a common interest and discuss aspects of the characters, plot points, life of Herge etc. As an example, he raised a thread which a mother had posted when her little boy asked where Muller got the stick
he uses to knock out Tintin and Snowy in "Black Gold".
He stated that another member of the forum was in the audience and asked if there were any others. When I raised my hand he said that the "money was in the post"! That was in front of a roomful of witnesses, remember! :)
After the discussion had ended, the audience was asked if they had any questions and I took the opportunity: When Tintin's stories were published in newspapers and magazines they included many scenes which were not included in the subsequent book publications. I asked Yves Févvier if there were any plans to publish these original versions in digital form. He explained that they had considered publishing the original black-and-white versions of the 1930s but in the end decided to make panel-by-panel comparisons between the B&W and colour versions instead. He indicated that the deleted scenes might be made available as a similar extra in the future but not the entire story as published. My question was enough for Jock123 to guess who I was - Heavens knows I've raised the subject enough times on this forum :)
The evening was an opportunity for me to personally thank Michael Farr for his "Tintin the Complete Companion" which had opened my eyes to how there was so much more to the books than I had originally thought. I told him how I had always enjoyed Tintin but had never realised how much research Herge had put into it and how it had reflected contemporary issues, such as "Ottokar's Sceptre" which was based on Germany's annexation of Austria in 1938. Michael was good enough to compliment me on my question to Yves Févvier.
Jock123 and I got to meet and, as he put it, "put a face to the name". He even introduced me to Harrock n roll, another moderator, with whom I had a pleasant chat about stage and screen adaptations, including a stage play of the "Black Island"
which I was unaware of.
All in all, a very pleasant and informative evening. I'm glad I went.