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Alph-Art: Reviews and Opinions

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UK Correspondent
#21 · Posted: 14 Oct 2004 16:47
As has already been mentioned, Hergé's power by this stage meant that he could, in effect, do whatever he liked with regard to producing a book.

Looking at samples of the original artwork, it's possible to see that the story flows better than if it had been entirely written out beforehand as a script. The drawings merge into one another, and the story progresses more smoothly than if he was working to a set script.

He was able to try out new ideas in a more "hands-on" approach than writing it all down.

With regard to the bonus material in Alph-Art, none of it is typed, but handwritten (which incidentally results at one point in a mis-transcribed piece of text; "bateau que" ("boat which") is in the caption box, but the handwriting says "bateau grec", or "Greek boat").

For someone who ran their own studios and had pretty much invented the European strip cartoon, the idea of having to offer a finished script to an editor was never an option. Hergé was his own boss, and he called the shots.
#22 · Posted: 15 Oct 2004 13:29
The original Alph-Art (since I dont have it), how far has the story been depicted? Is it till the wax has actually been poured over Tintin or it has sketches of Akass telling Tintin that he is going to pour wax? Cos I am curious to make out a way how Tintin would save himself. I dont like the Rodier version where Haddock saves him. I think Tintin is pretty smart to save himself or as usual its Snowy who saves the day!
#23 · Posted: 15 Oct 2004 17:08
My copy is back in Vancouver, but if I recall correctly, the last line is Akass's henchman waking up Tintin, telling him "it's time for you to be turned into a Césare."
John Sewell
#24 · Posted: 1 Nov 2004 02:59
One aspect of 'Alph-Art' that I feel is under-used is the idea of Akass' cult, outside the character of Martine. Sadly, we never really find out what his rich and famous followers are getting up to in Ischia, outside of having cocktail parties whilst they think their master is away ;)

Given that, at the time of writing, there was a lot of stuff in the press about cults like the Moonies brainwashing their followers and making them give all their money and worldly goods to the leaders, maybe that could have been another Akass scam to go alongside the art forgery? How about a scene where Tintin, having somehow escaped from his hideous fate, discovers that his friends have been brainwashed (either by Akass' charisma alone, or by some form of hypnotism), and finds himself up against them, as well as the more obvious baddies?
#25 · Posted: 14 Nov 2004 07:10
I get the impression that was intended to be the final adventure. I mean one whereby Tintin might get killed off to be enshrined forever as fitting end. Herge felt uncomfortable others might continue his creation and possibly, sought to find a satisfactory conclusion to the series. Would Tintin retire? die? be killed? etc.

The last story, "Tintin and the Picaros" did bring back alot of old familiar characters and included alot of changes that seemed out-of-character for the key characters - something passed onto this uncompleted one.

I wished that his close assistant and colloborator Michael Turner(?) would be able to finish it and release the book as a finale tribute to Herge.
#26 · Posted: 17 Nov 2004 21:05
I dont think Herge would have got Tintin killed but maybe he gets disabled as the wax gets poured over his legs and he then marries Martine and leads a normal life. But I very much doubt we will ever know :/
UK Correspondent
#27 · Posted: 21 Nov 2004 00:44
I don't think that Tintin was going to die at the end of this book - admittedly, the point the current edition finishes on is very suggestive of his death, but it was an early draft, and there was a long way to go until a finished book. Hergé admitted he was playing with his characters and slowly dismantling their universe toward the end, but to kill the main character would have caused outrage - Picaros had been slated by the critics, but to kill Tintin at the end of this one would have been unthinkable.

However, I do think that this would have been "it" - the final adventure of Tintin, and whether Hergé wanted to conclude the series without leaving the ending open will probably never be known. The book could well have been left at the point it is at to stop anyone finishing it for him, but that doesn't mean he wouldn't have wanted an open-ended situation on page 62.

I think the cult idea should have been drawn in more, and perhaps was going to be - and Martine had some part to play in the story yet, I'm sure.
#28 · Posted: 4 Apr 2005 20:16
By the end of the book Tintin et moi by Numa Sadoul (1975), when asked about how much time he would still need to complete Alph-Art, Hergé just laughed and answered "24 years, maybe..."
As by then he would have been over 90, it might be that this 24th album was not so important to him, and that actually he never really intended to finish it, imho...
#29 · Posted: 5 Apr 2005 10:26
[Post edited by Admin to include this interesting (but off-topic) note from Jyrki21: well, [George Lucas] actually did have to submit [a script] in 1974 for what turned out to be all three original movies, but I suppose that was before he was the big kid on the block. ;) (And no, I'm not a big Star Wars fan, but this comes up in a Canadian copyright case where a guy claims to have invented Ewoks...!)

Sorry - I realise that the original post was a bit sweeping: I know that George Lucas obviously had to have something in hand in 1977, because he was touting a product around. By the time of the new series, he was "sole prop.", and he could make it up on the spur of the moment. As to his having all three movies scripted, well that is another matter...
And I think it was the late H. Beam Piper, or his estate, which sued for the plagiarism of the Little Fuzzy series for the Ewoks. I think he should in fairness - if not in law - have won: I can't imagine the series could now be dramatised without folks going "Hey! He ripped off the Ewoks!", which is so unfair!! But enough of this off-topic digression!!]

actually he never really intended to finish it, imho...
I think you have hit the nail on the head; I think he used it as something to do - he could hang out at the studio, talk to Bob, see his artist friends, and keep an eye on business - but I don't feel it was really more than that. It allowed him to say that he was working on something when asked...
John Sewell
#30 · Posted: 5 Apr 2005 13:44
One thing which intrigues me about it is the timescale concerned - I've no idea how long a period of time is represented by what we were left with! Did the notes and sketches build up over years of work, or was it the work of a few months of renewed activity? Are the "new" sketches in the most recent reprint contemporary with the 42 pages which make up the bulk of the story, or do they date from some time before (or even after)? One thing which is missing, IMO, from the published version is a timeline, which would let us put all these different parts and ideas into context.

I'm with Jock and yamilah too on the question of whether or not Herge intended what he left us to be the basis of a finished book. The impression I get is that he was still fishing around for suitable plot threads and hooks to hang a story on. It's noticable that the "unmasking" sketch of Rastapopolus has a question mark next to it, showing that even he thought it might have been too obvious, and the notes seem to include a lot of questions to himself about the direction it might have taken.

Hammering out the 42 pages may have been an attempt to get some of these ideas into a plot as quickly as possible - as it progresses, the artwork becomes more stylised and sketchy, so perhaps he was rushing towards the climax and conclusion, which, unfortunately only existed in his head. With that in place, Herge would at least have had a framework to build on at his leisure, excising and adding various ideas as he fine-tuned it. Stuff from the notes like the Captain falling in with a suspect arty crowd and (unwittingly) growing dope at Marlinspike might seem unlikely, but it could have been developed (Tintin back to his early role of drug-buster, or perhaps framed and pursued by the Thompson Twins again!)

As it is, the story as it stands is essentially an early (first?) draft, and that it hangs together as well as it does, even in that state, is a testament to Herge's skill. There are a few clumsy bits and inconsistancies (eg, why don't the henchmen finish Tintin off after knocking him out at the factory? The Captain makes a vague comment about Snowy alerting him, but even so, that would have given them plenty of time to do the deed!). Even the title itself, viewed with hindsight, has little relevence - Alph-Art has no real part to play other than drawing the Captain in. When I first read it, I was expecting it to be used as part of some secret code or something! Even the notorious inescapable cliffhanger ending for Tintin may have been severely altered, or even taken out completely!

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