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Is it time for official new Tintin adventures?

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#1 · Posted: 17 May 2005 14:29
I respect Herge's request to have the Tintin tales end with him, but I think a quarter century to let his originals resonate is sufficient. Someone at Moulinsart should start to think about the development of new stories. Licensed and overseen by unintrusive yet vigilant guardians of the franchise, but nonetheless new and official. If not graphic novels, maybe prose novels. Or maybe prose novels TOO. There are many scribes out there who would do the Tintinverse justice.

Heaven knows there's precedent for shared universes based on media (STAR TREK, DOCTOR WHO, etc.) and one can argue that those were already multi-author environments ... but even literature has its share. Off the top of my head, there have been good and bad Holmes pastiches, and none have damaged the regard in which the originals are held, while some have even enhanced it. When Murphy & Sapir stopped writing THE DESTROYER, Will Murray, Jim Mullaney and now Tim Somheil carried the torch expertly, each making it his own, none violating the essential elements and tone. James Bond has been done well by John Gardner and Raymond Benson ...

... and speaking of 25 years on, has anyone been reading the new offerings from Powys Media (www.powysmedia.com). A small, new independent publisher in California, headed by a guy named Mateo Latossa, commissioning new, LICENSED novels based on SPACE: 1999 and THE PRISONER; novels continuing as official canon, by writers of a certain pedigree (he even got BABYLON 5 auteur J. Michael Strasczynski to do the foreword for the first PRISONER novel). The books are generally swell, and I mention them because there's no earthly reason for Latossa to produce them other than love. I mean, I guess he hopes he'll tap into some kind of SF fan interest that will turn a profit for his efforts, but the point is that it IS possible to pick up a long-retired torch and carry it forth with verve, authenticity and honor. (For the record, I have NO association with Powys whatsoever. I've bought the books, I've tooled around on their website. Thassit.)

And Tintin, it seems to me, is crying out to have new adventures in the new millennium, with all its new themes, issues and technological innovations to explore. At least I think so.

What think all of you ... ?
#2 · Posted: 17 May 2005 16:12
They wouldn't be as good though would they, although certain novels based on tv/film/other books can be quite good others can be really poor. While there are good Star Wars and Star Trek novels a lot of them are awful.

I can think of some truely awful ones as well such as Famous Five post Enid Blyton.

It might work, it might fail but to be honest I don't really want to see Tintin brought into the 21st century or Young Tintin so although it might be financially viable it isn't a very good idea

#3 · Posted: 17 May 2005 16:49
They wouldn't be as good though would they

How could you possibly know that?
In fact, there's ample evidence to suggest otherwise.
A few random examples out of dozens:
The C.S.I. novels of Max Allan Collins.
The I Spy and Mission: Impossible novels of Walter Wager (as "John Tiger").
The Rockford novels of Stuart Kaminsky.
The continuing Destroyer series (as cited).
The current acclaimed Spider-Man comic series as scripted by J. Michael Strasczynski.
The first Quantam Leap novels by Ashley McConnell.

The question is not whether or not it's done. The question is who does it? Do you open it up as a shared universe for aspiring writers as well as veterans (a la Star Trek? Or do you seek out one specific, uniquely qualified writer of serious pedigree (or two? One scripter, one artist?) who will be the official literary voice of the franchise (a la the cited I Spys and C.S.I.s and Rockfords and Destroyers)? The latter might be the way to go, given the need for consistency and really getting "the voice" right. But there are so many possibilities ...

I don't really want to see Tintin brought into the 21st century or Young Tintin

Certainly you're entitled to your view (though I must say, Young Tintin seems like a hat on top of a hat; younger than what? Isn't he the eternal boy reporter already?), but I don't see the rational argument against.
Hergé set each successive story in what was for him "the present day" and continued to acknowledge the changing world. Doing so in the new millennium wouldn't be a violation ... In fact, it would be squarely in keeping with tradition.
UK Correspondent
#4 · Posted: 17 May 2005 18:07
I'm not sure about this ... in comic-strip form, I would say no - Hergé's books are untouchable, so don't even try. Don't try and create anything that might be mistaken for one of Hergé's books, since then we end up with the confusing debate over what "the series" is made up of.

However, I do like the idea of a novel, or series of novels. I'd really like to see Tintin carried into this millennium in the form of prose. It would also be nice to see a new illustration for the cover of each book, maybe by a guesting artist each time - not sure whether it should be a comic-strip illustration or a painting, but that's not too important. It might also have the advantage of opening up the world of Tintin to a wider audience, who wouldn't normally go near a comic strip, and be interested in reading the original books. I say I'm all for a Tintin novel, I think it'd be really interesting and worth trying.

However, there'll undoubtedly be a problem. If you get any old writer of prose to write a Tintin novel, then it won't come close at all to the work of Hergé. If you get an author who's also a fan, then they may well be unwilling to step into The Master's shoes.
John Sewell
#5 · Posted: 17 May 2005 19:20
It's a tricky one - there's a part of me that would love to see a "New Adventures of Tintin" series of albums, but another part which thinks that no new series, no matter how well done or by whom, could capture that elusive Herge "feel". Of course, as fans and Tintinologists, we're much more likely to be over-critical and analytical of any new series than the general readership, who would no doubt lap them up!

Given Moulinsart's position on this, I would think we're unlikely to see any new official stories any time soon, at least whilst Fanny is taking an active role in preserving her husband's legacy and last wishes. ISTR reading that Bob de Moor was keen to finish off Alph-Art after Herge's death, and in the first instance was granted permission, before a swift reverse of the decision. Was that the only crack in the "no new Tintin" stance, or have there been other near misses?

Even if there was a change in this position, I do feel that established artists and writers may have problems in staying within the rigourous guidelines that would no doubt be set. I can imagine Moulinsart keeping very close tabs on the new output, to make sure it was as Herge-like in both words and art, which would make it difficult for a writer/artist to stamp their own identity on Tintin. The result would probably be a competent pastiche of the Tintin style, but no more.

One factor which I reckon could prove significant is the upcoming movie(s). If Tintin on film turns out to be a hit, especially in the US, might the prospect of dollars dancing before their eyes lead to Moulinsart compromising their artistic integrity somewhat? I know that they seem to be having unprecedented involvement and creative powers in the movie, but you never know...
UK Correspondent
#6 · Posted: 17 May 2005 19:44
John Sewell
Was that the only crack in the "no new Tintin" stance, or have there been other near misses?

A book was published in 2003 called Drôles des Plumes, which, as far as I recall, featured eleven short stories - not comic strips - about Tintin, to coincide with the 75th anniversary of Tintin and the 70th birthday of the King of Belgium.

I've not read the book, but perhaps it's a step toward continuing The Adventures of Tintin?
#7 · Posted: 17 May 2005 20:31
How could you possibly know that?

The majority of the examples you give is the first indication, novels based on television shows which offer a lot more scope for expansion and are less associated with a single person like Herge but more of a team of writers, producers and cast. Also the examples you give are also without the same scope of Tintin who has been popular for 75 years.

Secondly for every succesful spin off there are many more failures. Have you ever read the Dune books? If not I suggest you do as they are superb, then I challenge you to read the drivel that Frank Herberts son has put out under the Dune name. Although there are many Star Wars spinoff books only a handful are deemed as being any good by fans

Thirdly who would you get to create them? The only man who I would ever say was qualified was Bob de Moor and he wasn;t allowed. Chances are you'd get some second rate hack who thinks that Tintin no longer appeals to kids and "Tintin: The Next Generation" will see our hero swigging Alcopops in a baseball cap and meeting girls in a poor attempt to appeal to the youth of today.

Thats my rant against them, I think it best just to leave well alone as although having Tintin well done is great but the chances of it being what we would like are minimal, appealing to hardcore fans has never really been profitable (just ask Russel T Davies).

Also it'll be half written by an author and half written by Moulinsart anyway so the only person who would agree to do it would be Michael Farr!

Incidently I started writing a Jo, Zette and Jocko fan fiction in novel form (cos I cannot draw more than a stickman) based during WWII but canned the project when my brother pointed out that is was too dark for a story about children.

There is also the lack of fan fiction on the net, look around and there are loads of novels by fans for all kinds of stuff from games to TV. There is nothing for Tintin except the odd fan comic

#8 · Posted: 17 May 2005 20:53
Nice reply John, and it largely contains my sentiments.

Pelaphus, you give a lot of examples of series etc. which have come from multiple hands, but then in a large number of cases you are using examples of series which never were written by just one hand in the first place (Star Trek, Mission: Impossible, Doctor Who), and so never had a true authorial voice, unlike Tintin, which was the product of one person (in as much as Hergé had total control of the entire process, including the assistance given by others in the studio).

And much as I have been a follower of tie-in TV novels - The Man From U.N.C.L.E. series of books was a particular favourite of mine - I don't think many (any?) actually stand up as being good books, books with literary merit beyond their intrinsic ability to fill an hour or two to the same extent that their TV counterpart might have done. Had they actually been good books, they would have stayed in print, and gained currency, and been studied widely; as it is, with few exceptions (sporadic reprints of the James Blish Star Trek adaptaions and his novel Spock Must Die, for example), none has endured as an artistic œuvre in its own right, recognized as being of outsatnding merit, as Hergé's Tintin has.
Tintin is already established as a series of very good books - why risk polluting that?

Even James Bond didn't become established until Ian Fleming started to adhere to the blue-print which was beaten out in collaboration with Kevin McClory and others for the original script of what later became Thunderball, so it wasn't so hard for others to follow that template.

I also have a pang about the lack of creative vision in doing a Tintin instead of an artist creating their own series; if they had the ability of a true Hergé, isn't that what they should do?

Tintin is art and literature in a singular form, and I think it could never be the same with someone else. One would never suggest that someone knock out a few "Bach" cantatas, just because ol' J.S.B. stopped producing a few years back; it would always be either a pastiche, or a composer worth their salt would be doing their own thing.

You talk about "uniquely qualified" writers: that's the problem - the only truly uniquely qualified writer died.
Anyone else isn't unique, becuse they would be filtering Hergé's creation...

Hergé was also under no illusion that there might not be artists/ authors better than him, that a book by other hands might in fact out-shine one by him; however, the product would not be imbued with what he brought to the table, so would not be true Tintin.

So it's a nice dream, but I have to side with the "let-it-lie" school of thought. It honours Hergé to leave things as they are...
Harrock n roll
#9 · Posted: 18 May 2005 17:05
Interesting posts guys, I think it's just about all been said and very eloquently.

But, I'll just add me tu'pence worth...

I think it's likely that many of the aspects of the adventures which we take for granted would be too controversial by today's politically correct standards and regarded as racial stereotyping/inappropriate for children, etc. (The Captain most probably wouldn't be allowed his pipe let alone the odd glass of whisky - even Lucky Luke was forced to give up the baccy in his later adventures and the roll-up permanently grafted to his bottom lip was substituted for a blade of grass). I wonder whether - given the sensitivity today over certain *issues* - the new Tintin we'd be given would end up sanitised and sterile to the point of being meaningless. Would a new adventure contain the same biting satire, indeed would it even be able to?
John Sewell
#10 · Posted: 18 May 2005 17:48
Harrock n roll:
I think it's likely that many of the aspects of the adventures which we take for granted would be too controversial by today's politically correct standards and regarded as racial stereotyping/inappropriate for children, etc.

That's a very valid point, especially in today's paranoid atmosphere. A good example would be Land Of Black Gold. In its mk 2, 1948 version, it featured Arab and Jewish freedom fighters / terrorists (depending on your viewpoint) and the occupying British forces, all part of the then-current Middle East political climate.

If it were being pitched nowadays, Herge would probably have Tintin dodging Iraqi dissidents and US soldiers alike, and whatever focus group at the publishers vets these things would probably take a dim view at any form of political comment: "Sorry Georges, but we can't offend the Muslims / Americans / Christian Fundamentalists etc... can you take these bits out?"

From beginning to end, Herge had a habit of using Tintin to make points, from the naive flag-waving of the first two stories right through to the cynical "meet the new boss, same as the old boss" ending of Picaros (another one that he might have trouble with now; "That would cost us the whole South American market... can't you show some new homes being built instead, or something?")

Apart from the WWII period (and the occupying nazis missed the references in King Ottokar's Sceptre, despite them being less than subtle, banning America and Black Island instead for having Tintin consort with the enemy!), Herge was lucky enough to have the freedom to include what he wanted in the adventures, and despite all the talk of "freedom" nowadays from certain quarters, I really think that he wouldn't get away with a lot of it if he was trying to get his point across now.

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