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Blake & Mortimer: What is the series about?

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#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?
#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!
#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)

#4 · Posted: 10 May 2007 23:04
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…
#5 · Posted: 11 May 2007 10:36
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.
#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 :-)
#7 · Posted: 11 May 2007 15:19
What type of genre is this series?
#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.
#9 · Posted: 8 Nov 2021 13:09
The artist has a penchant for dark, night-time scenes that continue for panel after panel.
#10 · Posted: 25 Nov 2021 22:16
The artist has a penchant for dark, night-time scenes that continue for panel after panel

Jacobs' depiction of atmospheric night scenes seems to be what fans of his work often cite as one of the best aspects of his style, with The Yellow M often ranked as his best book largely for this reason, so if this left you unimpressed, it may be that he's simply not an artist who's key style is ever going to chime with your personal tastes!
(That said, I have sometimes found that the printing in the Cinebook English editions can be a little darker than in the French originals, which, along with the slightly reduced page size, can make them a slightly murkier read. So maybe you got a particularly dark copy!)

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