· Posted: 9 Nov 2017 12:43
It's an old thread, but possibly worth reviving, as I just noticed a curious progression through the first three books in black and white, and thought it worth noting.
Tintin starts Soviets with a mouth: it may be rudimentary, but there is usually at least a little dot, or line to show where it is; even when it might be expected to be obscured by the angle of his head, or the position of something in front of it, there is usually an indication of it.
This continues right up until about the sequence in snow where he fights the Cossack, at which point (to my eye), the mouth starts to get shown less and less.
Then we reach the frame after Snowy digs through to rescue Tintin, and, with a cry of "Free! Thanks to Snowy... He dug a way through from outside" [first frame on p.106 of the standard edition], Tintin's mouth disappears, not to appear for the rest of the story.
He holds a finger to where his mouth would be to tell Snowy to be quiet on p.111, and on p.120 manages to drink when toasted (mistakenly) as the "hero of the South Pole to North Pole flight" on his stop in Berlin (there is just the suggestion of the corner of his lips where the glass makes contact), but that seems to be about it.
The following frame (p.121) in Berlin is debatable, as it shows a streak where his mouth might be, but it is actually the tail of the swooping lines encircling his head to show that he has become tipsy with the alcoholic drink.
For the entirety of the black and white Tintin in the Congo he is without a mouth, save for the faintest suggestion of one in the first frame of the seventh page (the B&W facsimile is, unfortunately, printed without page numbers) where he talks to Snowy ("What happened to you?"). The full-page colour plates in the Casterman/ Last Gasp version do give Tintin a mouth, and the cover inset of him in the Model T Ford also has a mouth, but these are later additions.
Tintin in America makes an equally "mouthless" start. Not until the conversation between Tintin and Snowy following the attack on the dummies by the gangsters on (what I think is) the twenty-seventh page ("Well Snowy?... Wasn't I right...", etc.) does the suggestion of a mouth appear.
After a few more pages of mouthlessness, he gets his cowboy outfit, and seemingly a new mouth, as from the moment he is kicked through the wall of the stable at the livery, his mouth returns, and is there, by-and-large, after that.
I'm not proposing that this is entirely rigidly followed, especially when, due to the state of the artwork, it can be hard to tell what is truly intended.
As evidence of this, if you can cast an eye over various versions of the books, you will see that (especially in early re-editions, such as the Casterman Archives Hergé Volume 1 from 1973, which seems to have been produced from less than perfect artwork, possibly copies of the newspapers the strip first was printed in) there are several (many?) instances of Tintin having apparently lost an eye (sometimes two), or a bit of his nose, along the way, which might be restored in another version taken from a more faithful reproduction or original art.
What's more interesting to me is that I think I would probably (subconsciously at least) have thought that the mouthless, Bécassine-like, Tintin was the standard version for at least those first three books, and that the mouth appeared later, as Hergé refined the art style of the series.
It shows that it pays to pay attention when it comes to Pays des Soviets, I suppose!