Tuesday, May 23, 2017

License Request: Tintin Director's Cut

Tintin is one of the most beloved comics read worldwide, it's material present in a surprisingly scant 24 albums (and one movie special) that has delighted audiences of all ages, long past the long-obsolete technological and political ramifications that these period-specific quests took place in.
An instance in Cigars of the Pharaoh where Tintin is cornered
by the elaborate security system of the Masked Cigar Cult.
And yet, there still remains a surprising amount of unreleased material that has long remained out of the casual audience's purview or knowledge.  Pure Tintinologists are aware of these, but for the most part, this deleted stuff is fascinating.  (Sadly, the Black & White reprints uses substandard translation that doesn't match the originals)  The brief forays into casual racism notwithstanding, the main bulk of left out pages comes from condensing the sheer amount of published material into more easily packaged format of a 62-page album.  (Which I've alluded to in detail in my definitive essay, Mathematical Equivalence of Comics)
In the original Tintin in the Congo, Tintin put a stick of dynamite
inside the Rhinoceros' hide, causing his intended prey to explode to pieces.
That forced limitation for European-style storytelling has encouraged tighter storytelling, but also limited the amount of length a typical interesting subject could provide.  (Gag-based albums are further restricted to anywhere between 44-62 pages) Not unlike the forced publication of weekly serials (6 pages for 2000 AD, 16 pages of Shonen Jump, and 22 pages for the typical American comic)  Independent publishers have relaxed this series of limitations somewhat, and allowed for the addition of more pages wherever necessary.

For the most part, most of the pages left out in a Tintin book can be considered superfluous, and filler boilerplate stuff intended to drag out the scene a little longer, and give the drawer some time to figure out how his spunky hero was going to get out of this little fix.

But in terms of sheer amount of available material, the bulk of unpublished stuff goes to Prisoners of the Sun.
Here, the Visionary sees that Captain Haddock has not only a bottle of Whisky
in his coat pocket, but also a box full of Monocles.
Not unlike most comic serials, The Seven Crystal Balls started off by first being published as a daily strip in Le Soir.  And then, WWII happened, which forced Hergé to put his planned arc on hold, and his story wouldn't be continued until two years later, leaving the fate of further Tintin adventures and the mystery of the epileptic/catatonic explorers and Calculus' kidnapping unknown.  Fortunately, after the War, Hergé was pardoned for suspicion of collaborating with the enemy, which was absurd, since his stories were more anti-fascist than anything.  Incidentally, I find the reduced minimalist panel below to be funnier than the enlarged splash panel version.

That forced hiatus may have proven to be a blessing in disguise, since it gave the author time to do some proper research (which greatly benefited his stories since The Blue Lotus) and go into further detail about The Incas, which would be described in footnotes to the side or below the page, taking up valuable space.

The tiny print is probably the main reason that this particular segment of Tintin hasn't been reprinted in English.  The amount of trivia would only be of interest to subscribers of National Geographic.  And people who'd actually go to the trouble of reading those passages would skim over them once, then forgo those to focus solely on the main story, which'd be more interesting.

In terms of pacing and amount of slapstick mixed with adventurous comic storytelling, only Floyd Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse comes close.  I've speculated that if the Disney cartoonist had managed to reprint his stories in a more conventional and consistent format, he would be far better remembered today.  Indeed, when you look through his strips, there's a fair amount of annoying repetition that some clever editing could solve.

Here, we see an instance of the titular character getting annoyed by a persistent Black Cat that keeps getting attracted to him, no matter how much he tries to shoo him (her?) away.

Some of the panels add a little extra something that's missing in the final presentation.  In the above instance, Tintin is already halfway out the door before he hears Calculus' voice.  The additional panel gives some breathing space that's sorely needed.  Likewise, in the page below, Tintin confronts the Incan who was once General Alcazar's partner.  Since Tintin never met the man, and only saw him from a distance, it makes more sense that he doesn't know who he is at first sight.

Another bonus from getting bonus panels, (some of which are slightly out of sequence from the final product), we get more amusing shenanigans from the Thompsons.

Another instance that was missing - Captain Haddock talking to a stranger in a poncho who only responds a monosyllabic "No sé..." before revealing himself to be Tintin himself.  In that context, the open mouth and grim expression makes more sense.

There are plenty of other instances of deletes scenes, such as encountering a skull post before entering the border to Incan lands, Captain Haddock chewing cocoa leaves to counteract poison in his system, and Captain Haddock finding Gold in the caves that he has to leave behind in order to fit through the tunnels.

Even though the majority of the text is familiar to the source material, it'd be nice to have a more complete version.  The only instance that a serious effort was made to transcribe the Sunday Comic version was in the long-out-of-print The Making of Tintin-In the World of the Inca, which I've seen the cover of on the back of some volume previews, but never the inside.  From what little I've seen, it's mostly documentary stuff instead of actual comic pages.  The only other instance that Tintin was made more interesting was when someone wrote some stuff inside the pages, which were intentionally amusing.

All images taken from this book:

Friday, May 19, 2017

A Year in Orbit

Sorry for the lack of updates lately.  I've been preoccupied with other stuff, such as getting replacement computer stuff to ease back into my comfort zone (most of the devices I'd been using for years wasn't compatible)  For some reason, Keyboards are notoriously difficult to find cheap.  When sold as a set with a computer, they're reasonably priced, but all on their own, they're little more than novelty controllers.  Now, it wasn't just finding the prospect of a single keyboard that irked me, but finding the RIGHT keyboard suited to my tastes.

The other reason is that in addition to going on garage sales, I've been delving into Newspaper comic archives, copying as much old material that's not available elsewhere in the short time frame I'm allowed.  Because these personal projects are so laborous & time-consuming, I often wonder if sharing my finds is somewhat of a cheat.  However, since no one else seems to be doing this kind of stuff, (and I want to tame my rampant memories) I might as well go ahead and do it.

Here then, is the remainder of the Orbit strips for the last of 1985, with a few running onto the next year.

After the events of last time, causing a diplomatic incident on a Musical planet, this batch of strips is fairly tame in comparison.  They can't all be Nautical Space Disasters.  This is the equivalent of having filler in the comic's page.

Of course, this sense of calm doesn't last very long.

Yup, it's another series of out-of sequence Christmastime comics.  At this rate, by the time Xmas rolls around, I won't have ANY comics about the holidays left.

And with the perfunctory stress of timing up comics to be lined up with the days they're assigned to appear over and done with, all that's left is to open up the presents.

I mentioned some years ago that the art of speedlines and movement in Newspaper comics was something of a dying art.  How often do you see circular speed lines that traverse a whole panel these days?

And in closing, we get our first instance of product shilling via Newspaper.  Given the hurdles of mailing submissions, you'd have to wonder how any kid would be enthusiastic enough to fill out these forms with their claustrophobic borders.  Advertising via the airwaves (Buy your Ovaltine!) was even riskier, since you couldn't see the products they were hawking.  Frankly, I'm amazed that there were children out there who were enthusiastic enough to sign up in the first place.  I'm guessing they must've had help from their parents who were helpful (willingly or unwillingly) to do the ordeous task of filling in the labels for the kiddies themselves.

Maybe if Bruce Hammond had opted for an Orbit doll, he might've had more success.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Happy Mother's Birthday!

It's one year after my sister's had her baby, and things have progressed pretty much as you'd expect.  The little grub has been pretty much helpless, relying on her parents for substance, waking and sleeping at all hours, constantly pooping, and stubbornly refusing to comply with simple orders.  Progress is gradually being made, but it's taking an inordinable amount of time getting there.
The problem with Organic Computers is that they take SO LONG to upload information and updates.
Still, her parents have somehow managed to keep their sense of good humour about, which is a sheer necessity in keeping their sanity intact.  And when certain incidents such as getting caught in the rain while taking the toddler out for a stroll in the carriage, I come up with relevant comics that perfectly capture the essence of what they're going through.

It has also been an invaluable learning experience in getting used to the presence of a baby, since their very existence makes me anxious.  I'm typically nervous around the presence of children, because their actions are so wild and unpredictable.  (In large Field Trip groups, they're always romping around and yelling at the top of their lungs)  Not to mention that I'm always afraid of saying or doing something that might wind up corrupting their impressible young minds.

However, as an "Uncle Herman", I'm given some leeway to corrupt this impressible young mind with all kinds of salacious reading material that I've got lying around just asking to be read.  But first, she needs to be able to read before getting around to the underground and hardcore stuff, so I've been snatching up all kinds of children's books at nearby Bazaars, Libraries and Garage Sales, picking up loads of books that I enjoyed (and wanted to share) on the cheap.  Among my top fears for the new baby (being born Deaf & on the Autism Spectrum) was that she would wind up being Dyslexic, and unable to enjoy the wide variety of available reading material I'd selected for her enjoyment.  Fortunately, she's managed to personally choose a different book for reading time out of the stuff she's currently got on her age-appropriate bookshelf.
If I'd known that VHS Fansubs would become a rarity,
I would've copied more of them when I had the chance,
rather than let them lounge away in the relative safety of my mind.
Even though we already got a whole bunch of second-hand books from the neighbor across from us, I'm not entirely satisfied with their choices.  (Some are about Barney, and two of them have the problematic Elmo in them)  In Addition to the collection of said children's books, there were at least three boxes of unused baby toys that would seemingly appeal to their age demographic.  Ranging from puzzle shapes to flashy battery-operated machines, to colourful wooden blocks.  And of course, the thing she most liked to play with turned out to be an empty yogurt container.  (You can drum on it, roll it around, and knock it on the floor)
Shortly after I showed my sister this comic, they gave her a toilet paper tube, which she enjoyed to pieces.
Since the simplest toys seemed to be the kind of things that'd best attract her attention, I suggested using the interior of an empty DVD stand that'd been used up of its discs burning homemade teaching videos for Elderly Hard-of-Hearing students.  This was shot down on account of the pointy implement being a potential poking hazard for someone still not in full control of their physical movement.  I guess I'm not the most reliable source for entertainment purposes.
Some of the books I've found are WAY above her recommended reading level,
but I'm preparing for the future, when these books may not be readily available.
There was a brief scare when she started getting sick, and her arm swelled up to uncomfortable proportions.  She had to be admitted to the hospital, where the doctors ran all kinds of tests trying to figure out what was wrong with her.  Then, just as suddenly as the symptoms appeared, they gradually faded away, leaving only suppositions and guesses for what she was suffering from.  She was quite upset, because there was an IV tube implemented onto her swollen hand, and she couldn't suck her thumb to relieve her pressure.  She's feeling better now, but whatever it was she had has now transferred to her parents, who now have to deal with her raucous behavior while fighting off the flu themselves.
Myself, I was concerned that I bought all these books for nothing, and she'd never get the chance to enjoy them.
Yes, I'm that shallow.
To simplify the sheer amount of coincidental celebration revolving around this month, (MY birthday, the Baby's birthday, my Mother's birthday, Mother's Day AND my Sister's first Mother's Day) we've decided to simplify things by celebrating all said days into one lump sum.  (Reverse-engineering the day of conception, there must be something about the Month of August)  It especially helps in narrowing down potential gifts to give my Mother that can't simply be waved away by a cheap homemade card.  I could give her a gift certificate, if she wasn't strictly opposed to accumulating more books that she doesn't really need to reread over again.  At least there's always flowers, which she doesn't mind replanting in front of the house, even though they always wind up with a shelf life of three months.

Of course, it'd be extremely difficult to top the gift my sister gave Mom last year.  But since I can't crap out a baby out of my privates, the next best thing I can do is write my thoughts with amusing relevant comics attached.  Here's hoping it'll be good enough to stave her off for another year until I can think of something better.