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Jo, Zette & Jocko: The Secret Ray

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#1 · Posted: 13 Aug 2004 00:00
I've never even heard of The Secret Ray; what is it?

Moderator Note: We're stumped as to how you knew to ask about it, if you haven't heard of it... You must be having visions, like Blessed Lightning! ;-)
The Well Impressed Tintinologist Team
Harrock n roll
#2 · Posted: 13 Aug 2004 00:03
The Secret Ray (Le Rayon Du Mystère in French) is the English name for a two-part story from 1952, the episodes seperately known as, Le Manitoba Ne Repond Plus, and L'Eruption Du Karamako.
I've had the French editions since the 80's but I recently bought the English version which was published in by Sundancer back in '94 in one volume.

I don't know if they were ever released as seperate volumes in English, but I love those covers to the French editions.

In these books Jo, Zette and Jocko get kidnapped by modern-day pirates, almost get eaten by cannibals and have some underwater adventures - not Hergé's greatest work, but good fun all the same!
#3 · Posted: 9 Sep 2004 04:00
I bought this omnibus from the Tintin Shop two years ago - I don't think its ever been published in two volumes in English.
The story is based on science fiction and is very entertaining, if a little fantasical and dated.
Modern-day pirates are using a kind of ray that halts engines and communication devices, plus an anesthætic gas, to stop steamers in the mid-Atlantic, and then rob the passengers and steal all the valuable goods, making away on a submarine.
Jo and Zette are introduced in this adventure when they go out to sea without permission on a row-boat and are then picked up by the pirates and imprisoned.
The head of this gang is an unnamed mad scientist (probably Hergé's most clichéd stereotype character).
J,Z&J eventually escape, are recaptured, and then outwit the pirates in the end, with the help of the US Navy.
The story moves well, and the basic premise is clever-spiced up by plenty of action!
It's weakened though, by the villain - a bald, bearded, sunglass-wearing scientist, who uses the stolen money to fund his experiments. One is to create a robot, running on drained brainpower from a human - which fate almost befalls Jo.
However, the story is easy and entertaining to follow, and the pirates' lair, and underground network of tunnels, as well as the technology in the book, is very interesting.
The story was serialized from 1935 to 1937 in black & white, and then put into color and published as two books in 1952.
The English edition includes a commentary by Benoît Peeters.
#4 · Posted: 14 Sep 2004 14:02
Hello, I happened to drop by the London Tintin shop during lunch-time and there was 1 copy of The Secret Ray inside! I unfortunately didn't check the publishing year to see if there is a new print run though.
#5 · Posted: 14 Sep 2004 16:03
This would be the first I'd heard of a new release for the book.

Did the book have a light blue border around it? Was it definitely in English?

#6 · Posted: 14 Sep 2004 16:19
It was definately in English, filed along with the other J,Z&J books, and was the version with the blue border, not the usual Hergé style layout.
Harrock n roll
#7 · Posted: 14 Sep 2004 19:59
I also saw The Secret Ray last week in the Tintin Shop.
It was the 1994 Sundancer edition priced at £15. They had one on the shelf which was the display copy, but I suspect there are more in their 'secret stash' cupboards.
#8 · Posted: 15 Sep 2004 10:19
Maybe I'll pick up a copy at lunch, if there are any left. I wonder whether they'll republish it in the usual format in the future...
Seems strange to have it in such a format - does the series not sell very well?
#9 · Posted: 15 Sep 2004 10:34
I wonder whether they'll republish it in the usual format in the future

I have suggested here that the problem might be similar to Congo - the depiction of the islanders is rather obnoxious, both pictorially, and in terms of how they are made to act and react (it may have been thought to be okay by some back in the day, but is definitely problematic now); perhaps Methuen saw it as a problem best avoided, and the Sundancer edition served as a generally limited collector's edition, which was available through specialist outlets, satisfying the demand for an English-language version.

Just a guess, but I think it fits the evidence quite well.
#10 · Posted: 15 Sep 2004 14:29
Well I bought a copy and there are several still behind the counter. The introduction at the front with the magazine covers is a very nice addition. Given that the edition is obviously a collectors' edition it is nice to see some though having gone into it. At least now I understand the significance of the robot and tanks that appear on the inside covers of the other books (always confused me as a child).
I wonder if ThermoZéro will ever see the light of day (sorry, that's really for the ThermoZéro thread)?

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