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Blake & Mortimer: What is the series about?

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tintinspartan
Member
#1 · Posted: 10 May 2007 11:08
Well, I am intrigued by what I've seen about the Blake & Mortimer series. Can anyone give me a review or synosis of it, please?
Borschtisov
Member
#2 · Posted: 10 May 2007 11:34
Here. Check out this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blake_and_Mortimer
All the info you should need on Blake & Mortimer.

And just let me say that Blake & Mortimer really is a great series. To me it comes in 2nd after Tintin. Sure he uses a lot more dialog than he needs to, but I wouldn't let that put you off. I only have two books myself: "The Time Trap" and "Atlantis Mystery"; but I have the recent DVD boxset of the television series.

Really a great series!
Ranko
Member
#3 · Posted: 10 May 2007 17:12
I'm afraid I'm a B&M newbie also.

I'm assuming they're readily available in the UK?
Amazon, Waterstones, Smiths?

Where does one start?
(Sorry, I forgot to search. Just kick me in the direction of relevant threads if any)

Cheers,
Ranko
jock123
Moderator
#4 · Posted: 10 May 2007 23:04 · Edited by: jock123
Ranko
I'm afraid I'm a B&M newbie also. I'm assuming they're readily available in the UK?
No, they are (a) hard to find, and (b) few of the series have actually been translated into English anyway. However, there is an effort on at the moment by Paul Gravett to get the books into print in English, and The Yellow “M” is back in print in English. As you suggest a search of the forums will find several threads which reference the series…

The art in the books is of a high quality, but Jacobs wasn’t as good at the stories as Hergé; I think the real marvel is that Jacobs did the vast majority of the work by himself, often at night after he’d worked for Hergé during the day!

I also have to warn that the TV series makes far more changes to the books adapted than the Tintin series did - not necessarily for the worse, as the books can be a bit leaden - so don’t automatically expect them to be the same. For example, the villains in the book version of the Swordfish saga are an Oriental horde of stereotypes straight from a Fu Manchu story; they are completely erased from the animated version…
Balthazar
Moderator
#5 · Posted: 11 May 2007 10:36 · Edited by: Balthazar
If you don't mind ploughing through French, Ranko, you can order them all from Amazon.fr. My French isn't good at all, but I find I can work out what's going on, helped of course by the pictures. I've got some of them in English too, which I bought the last time someone tried publishing English editions, in the late eighties, I think.

The Yellow M (Le Marque Jaune) is the best of them, in my opinion (beautiful, atmospheric drawings of 1950s London and a great "creeping menace" type of story), so it's not surprising the publishers of new English editions have started with that one, even though it's actually book 6 in the series. (This will make the chronology of the series' storyline a bit confusing for readers as they bring out more, but never mind.) I see that the same publishers are also releasing the two-part Grand Pyramid adventure in English soon, which is welcome, as I neglected to buy those ones in English back in the eighties and have only stumbled through them French.

The adventures written and drawn more recently by other writer and artist teams are also good - they tend to pastiche Jacobs' style from his golden Yellow M era - and I think the Blake and Mortimer series underwent a great revival of interest and sales in France when these started coming out in the 1990s.

Jacobs' worst habit is putting an explanatory text box at the top of nearly every frame, which merely tells you what the picture is showing you anyway. This can make for a rather stilted read, and it's hard to understand how someone who'd worked so closely with Hergé on the Tintin books for several years could have thought all this explanatory text was necessary.

But overall, they're very good, and it's great to see The Yellow M out again in an English edition. I'd definitely recommend buying it.
Ranko
Member
#6 · Posted: 11 May 2007 12:18
jock and Balthazar.

Thank you both very much for the info. My French is bad, bordering on appalling but I shall nontheless be scouring amazon.fr this afternoon to see if I can alleviate my wallet of some of it's burden :-)
tintinspartan
Member
#7 · Posted: 11 May 2007 15:19
What type of genre is this series?
Balthazar
Moderator
#8 · Posted: 11 May 2007 16:10
The genre could probably best be described as realistically drawn adventure stories with some fantasy and sci-fi elements - more so than in Tintin. And there's much less comedy than in Tintin, and they're maybe emotionally colder.

The first adventures, the Swordfish trilogy take place in a fictional World War Three, with a Churchill-like British Prime Minister leading the fightback against an evil totalitarian superpower (based in Tibet of all places!) that has destroyed all the world's great cites with missile at the start of the book. Apart from the advanced missiles and aircraft, the whole story seems to be happening in the late 1940s or early 50s (when it was written). It's all pretty far-fetched, but at the same time portrayed very realistically.

Most of the susequent adventures are set in what seems more like the world as we know it, with very realistic portrayals of real places (London, Cairo and Paris etc) being the backgrounds to stories involving some quite far-fetched science fiction elements. These stories strike the best balance, I think. Think of Sherlock Holmes and Watson, updated to a 1950s world, having Jules Verne type adventures, and you'd sort of have the idea of the genre.

Some of the other stories are less grounded in the real world and involve more far-out stuff like time travel, I think, such as The Time Trap mentioned above by Borschtisov, but I don't really know these ones.

In terms of artistic genre, Jacobs' style changed over time, but in most of his books (his middle period), he uses a clear line and flat colour style not that dissimilar to Hergé's, though there are more black shadows, and everything is drawn a with a bit more complicated detail, and his figures are less cartoony than Hergé's.

Unlike Hergé, Jacobs loved symetrical page layouts. Hergé apparently had no interest in having the frames on the page make an overall symetrical design, believing that the size of each frame and the frames' arrangement on the page should be dictated only by what best served the flow of the story. I think Hergé was right, but there's undoubtably an elegance to Jacobs' symetrical page layouts.

Hope that's more or less accurate, and helpful. Not sure where you could find these books in your part of the world, tintinspartan. Unless you can order them online, your best bet may be to hope that someone exports the new English languge editions (so far only The Yellow M, but more to come) out to bookshops in Singapore. Maybe you could persuade the shops that already stock Tintin books to order these in as well.
Bukowski
Member
#9 · Posted: 25 Oct 2021 14:26
I'm new to Blake and Mortimer and although I love the Tintin-style drawings the characters are very loquacious. Paragraph long word balloons that fill up 90% of the panels. Lots of "By Joves" and "My Dear Fellows" and "Old Boys".

Translator doesn't quite hit the mark because he has the characters repeat these phrases on virtually every page.

The broadcast announcements always start with "Hello! Hello!" rather than "Attention".

The dark panels are atmospheric, but way too dark. We miss the details.

The empire in SWORDFISH is populated by characters that are drawn as racial stereotypes. The capital is Lhasa, of all places. I've got seven of the adventures so far and will collect the whole set, but man, these books lack humour.
Bukowski
Member
#10 · Posted: 31 Oct 2021 23:50 · Edited by: Moderator
I just realized that I replied to a fourteen-year old post from 2007. It is now 2021. Not much action in this chat/gossip/speculation/fan site.

The series needs recolouring.

Moderator Warning: Hi, Bukowski. We've been patient with you, we've been polite with you, we've tried to reason with you, but there's only so much time in the day.
We're sorry that you are disappointed that there isn't enough "action" for you in this "gossip" site (even though it's plain that there's enough material to keep you reading). If it isn't to your taste, that is fair, but we like to think that as we've managed to keep the site up, active and providing information of a reasonable standard and quality for many years, that we are doing something right.
We try to keep things constructive, non-confrontational and respectful, and value the pooling of minds, outlooks and points of view, which has been so important in bringing information about the works of Hergé to English readers, much of it for the first time; it's the quality, rather than the quantity, which makes doing what we do worthwhile.
We don't claim to always get it right, we don't always make the right assumptions, and we certainly don't think it's perfect, but it has (as said above) seemed to work.
In light of the above, it is with reluctance that we issue this moderator warning: we will not accept further posts that do not contribute positively to threads, or which exhibit a disregard for fellow members of these forums. We simply don't have the time or facility to keep making requests to you, which you don't appear to read or adhere to anyway.
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