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Alph-Art: General discussion

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#21 · Posted: 27 May 2004 21:01
I bought a copy of the original Alph-Art in English last year, brand new, from the Tintin Shop, for somewhere between £20 and £25. It wasn't something they had in all the time, but I'd seen it there over the last few years on and off. The ones they had then were, by there estimation, the last of the warehouse stock.

This is, I am guessing, one of the reasons it has not been re-printed in English - they hadn't managed to sell off all the first printing in over ten years! It wouldn't surprise me if the advent of the new edition world-wide doesn't correspond to the French and/or other editions finally going out of stock.

The original English edition was an expensive item, technically complex (for example, all those booklets will have had to be inserted by hand into the cover pocket), and as it wasn't in the same format as the French edition it will have had to bear extra set-up costs etc. (the cost of making plates, setting up the presses etc., binding the books), which normally would be reasonably cheap (all the colour work on all the different language editions of the other books can be run off in huge quantity, and the overprinting of the text in black would be reasonably cheap). It wasn't really a repeatable item.

The new book is aimed at the general market - it is uniform with the other books in size and appearance, I guess it will share a similar interior, and therefore again they will be able to mass produce the content with only the substitution of English language plates to overprint the dialogue. It will thus be cheaper, and much easier to keep in print. They are basically taking it out of the collector market, and putting it into the hands of public, as Ectoplasm seems to want, but without the bother of the original version. It may be less desirable to some tastes, but at least it is there.

Just another thought: the exorbitant prices some books achieve on eBay doesn't necessarily reflect the true scarcity of the piece. In addition to buying Alph-Art, I have also seen bookshops still carrying the Sundancer Soviets and Congo (not the Last Gasp printing, the original).
So it pays to keep eyes peeled.
#22 · Posted: 27 May 2004 21:51
I saw a French version of the new book at the Tintin shop in March, and it will NOT have a similar interior - the page facsimiles that will be on the right hand side are much smaller, and at an angle, and frankly I was disappointed, as was a staff member from the Tintin shop that I talked to about it. This person didn't think much of it. The images don't fill the page and are harder to see. Well, I'm just glad it's coming out again in any form, although until I see it I won't believe that the entire English translation has been reprinted.

However I completely fail to understand why Moulinsart cannot simply place the translation/ dialogue on one side of the page, and the facsimile on the other, full size. I never understood why they couldn't do this in the original, but had to have that unwieldy booklet system which, as jock123 says, makes it more expensive. That's what I should have said really in my earlier post, that I would like to see an edition with dialogue on the left, facsimile pages full-size on the right, with no fiddly booklet, and with the facsimile pages NOT being reduced for some inexplicable reason. If you look at the reviews on Amazon.fr people are disappointed at the new edition (as much as i can understand French they seem to be).

I suspect Moulinsart want to make this edition unmissable for collectors by adding a couple of pages that weren't in the last editions, so we buy this one as well, and then eventually produce a third edition that contains absolutely everything in a deluxe format, which this new version certainly won't be. And we will buy that too. I don't mind, I'll buy anything Tintin, I just wish they'd hurry up with it!

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad they're giving us the extra material, and I'm happy to pay for it, but i think the new version as a whole is substandard. Still, I blame Egmont as well - no bookshop in my home town had it on order until I went round and banged the drum for it, although I have noticed new moon rocket book spinners appearing. The sliding launch date says something about their commitment to it too, although maybe they want it to coincide with the DVD rerelease next week (some hope that they're that coordinated!). No big launch, no publicity - contrast this with the hooplah around the reissued Asterix series. I attended the London Book Fair in March and there was a shameful lack of publicity for Alph-Art at the Egmont stand - one tiny picture in a trade catalogue that I had to find myself, no mock-up version, no posters, nothing. Maybe Moulinsart can't be bothered to cater for the English market because Egmont have so little faith in Tintin.

Anyway, Rastapopoulos - the edition I sold was a first edition in pristine condition but I was still shocked at what I got for it, although four years earlier I'd seen it going on ebay for £80. Jock123 was very lucky to get his last year for the standard price. Then again, I saw one the other week on ebay for £60, which I think is more like it.

As for my comments about alph-art, I do find it an interesting read, I was just trying to reassure people who haven't read it, and who don't have a lot of money to shell out for it, that they can live without it - it won't give them the kind of emotional charge they'll get from reading a brand new complete Tintin adventure for the first time ever, they'll get a more academic pleasure from it, like Rastapopoulos experienced. It won't change their lives or anything, it really isn't a lost masterpiece.
#23 · Posted: 28 May 2004 00:39
Very interesting views, ectoplasm - thanks.

I have the original English (booklet) Alph-Art and because I own that I don't see much point in buying the new one just for a couple of extra pages - if that's all it is.
#24 · Posted: 28 May 2004 07:16
Ectoplasm wrote:

I saw a French version of the new book at the Tintin shop in March, and it will NOT have a similar interior

I apologise if I wasn't clear in my post: I was not comparing the interior of the new English edition with the old one; I was comparing it to the other language versions of the new edition, i.e. they will all be identical in format, shape, size etc., with only the text differing (as far as I can tell). That's where the similarity lies, and where the economies of mass-production can be brought to bear. Sorry if that wasn't clear.

I would also suggest that the lack of pre-publicity for the new book at Egmont might actually be because they anticipated the possibility of delay, not due to a lack of interest. They put it in the catalogue because they knew it was in the pipeline, but weren't holding their breaths, as it were. They would be wasting valuable marketing budget to launch a campaign for a book which might not have turned up.

The translation in the new book will have been re-worked/ re-written by MT & LL-C, and nothing they said suggested that it would be truncated; I've also not got the impression that the French transcription is shorter than the previous one, so I wouldn't worry about that.
#25 · Posted: 2 Jun 2004 06:58
I saw a bunch of facsimiles in the Tintin shop a few weeks ago, in French; they were all of a similar size to the 3-in-1 volumes.

Anyone know if ours are goin to be the same size as Congo and Soviets or this smaller size?

#26 · Posted: 2 Jun 2004 17:44
I think I know what you're talking about - a series of facsimiles produced for Casterman a few years ago. No, I'm 99% certain Alph-Art will be the 'standard' size.
#27 · Posted: 9 Jul 2004 16:23
You'd think there'd be posters up and everything, "Tintin's final adventure!", etc.

Outside of Tintin fansites I haven't heard anything about this release!

Preston are ordering me one, not getting some in after I pointed it out, just one for me and I had to pay in advance

UK Correspondent
#28 · Posted: 11 Jul 2004 10:35
The Tintin Shop UK - now have the book on sale, priced at £9.99.

Apart from there, I haven't found it for sale anywhere, online or "in the real world", as it were, without having to order it through bookshops.
Egmont have excelled themselves ... a feat worthy of Last Gasp, I'd say.
Harrock n roll
#29 · Posted: 11 Jul 2004 10:49
I went to a talk given by Michael Farr at the National Maritime Museum on 10th July and I visited the exhibition again.
I was disappointed to see no Alph-Art in the Ottakar's there either...
Trivia Challenge Score Keeper
#30 · Posted: 11 Jul 2004 14:24
How was the talk? Was it similar (or the same) as the one he gave at the World of Tintin Conference on May 15th?
Back on topic now...
I have checked several bookshops including the Waterstone's in Exeter, Devon and the Ottakar's in Ashford and my home town of Tenterden, Kent - but there's still nothing in the shops and no indication of when they'll be arriving.

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