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Alph-Art: Reviews and Opinions

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John Sewell
#31 · 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!
Harrock n roll
#32 · Posted: 5 Apr 2005 15:28
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.

It would be interesting to know the timescale of Alph-art. Hergé was supposed to have started it in 1979 and I've read somewhere that he was still working on it right up until he died. There were long gaps in between when his health held him back or he couldn't be bothered.

It's quite possible we may have to wait until Philippe Goddin researches the Alph-art period for the Chronologie series to find out the dates of the pieces (assuming it ever gets that far).
#33 · Posted: 6 Apr 2005 02:49
No, I think he intended to finish it.
I see similarities to Emerald, Crab with the Golden Claws, and Red Sea Sharks in the plot.
It was not too hard to see where it was going, if you knew his style, but on the other hand, Hergé could have thrown a curve-ball at us.
He was older when he started Alph-Art, and it was just something for him to do, but he would have finished it, if he could have, I am sure of it.
#34 · Posted: 6 Apr 2005 12:44
http://tintin.francetv.fr/en/index.html about Tintin's name origin shows the 'last' drawing of Tintin - please click on lower right image then go to 5/8.
Is that really so in the Alph-art's English version?
Trivia Challenge Score Keeper
#35 · Posted: 6 Apr 2005 13:42
No that's a mistake - the "last drawing" is just as it is in the French version, i.e. Tintin being marched off at gunpoint.

#36 · Posted: 6 Apr 2005 13:46
Thanks edcharlesadams for correcting this funny official info.
#37 · Posted: 6 Apr 2005 15:16 · Edited by: jock123
I wonder if this was some marginal drawing on the sheet for p.42, which perhaps indicated in some way that it was literally the last drawing, rather than the last of the narrative?

I mean the alleged “first” drawing of Tintin isn’t exactly that either - it is only the first published drawing - given that the scene is from a little bit into the story, I think the early pages of the book would pre-date the advert…
#38 · Posted: 6 Apr 2005 15:26 · Edited by: Moderator
In the French Alph-art 2004 you can see this drawing page 42 indeed, which shows Herge's page #37 as far as I can remember, and you can see this 'last' drawing is just a panel among others...

jock123 wrote: the early pages of the book would pre-date the advert...

...just as the mental process of conceiving a unseen rebus-like writing via ...'avatars' (as mentioned on the 1st panel of 'Soviets', 10th of Jan 1929) would pre-date the drawing of...'Adventures' capable to 'erase' them... (please refer to the thread on this very subject...)

[Two consecutive posts merged by Moderator (marsbar). Where possible, please use the 'edit' function to update/correct your post. Thanks!]
#39 · Posted: 7 Apr 2005 09:59
..just as the mental process of conceiving a unseen rebus-like writing via ...'avatars' (as mentioned on the 1st panel of 'Soviets', 10th of Jan 1929) would pre-date the drawing of...'Adventures' capable to 'erase' them...

With respect yamilah, this paragraph means next to nothing in English!

Nor do I think that it is really relevant to the thread - I am making a point about the lack of rigour in the information given on the Tintin.com site as to when drawings were done, and extrapolating that if it can be shown that the “first” drawing isn’t really that, then neither can we be certain of the attribution for the “last” drawing made for Alph-Art. Nothing to do with avatars, rebuses unseen or otherwise, or “erasure”…
#40 · Posted: 8 Apr 2005 15:50 · Edited by: yamilah
Not totally relevant to the thread, I agree...
I just meant the 2 steps required to build a rebus (cutting a sentence into syllables, then drawing them) is reflected by the 1st Soviets' panel (introducing 'avatars'), which story-wise largely 'pre-dates' -as you sensibly mentioned- the same album's advert panel (introducing 'Adventures') published 6 days before any page of the album was...

Likewise, both these funny 'Soviets' and 'Alph-art' panels on the official site put the Tintin lover face to face once again with some 'space-time' distortion, imho...

Thanks to a recent thread (now closed) about the same subject, I've just re-read the 2004 Alph-art version, the one with the 'rediscovered pages'...

I would appreciate if someone could tell about the English rendering of p.55 (French version) 1st frame's text, top left...

This page's first frame holds more clearly delineated ones, namely paintings...

The first of these -forged- paintings contains some text by Herge, below a few small non-figurative drawings...
How does it read in the English version?

Thanks in advance

[Two consecutive posts merged by Moderator]

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