Comics | Calling Tintin a “Catholic hero,” the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano took strong exception to the decision by U.K. publisher Egmont to sell the controversial Tintin in the Congo with a protective band around it — or, as the paper says, “wrapped up like a pornographic magazine and consigned to the adults-only section” of bookstores because of its portrayal of racial stereotypes. If you’re going to do that, the editorial argues, why not ban Boy Scouts, which were founded by notorious eugenicist Anthony Baden-Powell? “But then, he was English,” the paper snidely concludes. [Agence France-Presse]
Digital | ComiXology confirmed Tuesday that the Comics by Comixology app will be available for Amazon’s Kindle Fire when it goes on sale next week. ComiXology CEO David Steinberger said the company is prepared for the smaller screen size the Fire has, compared to the iPad: “Ah, well we’re lucky there, because our Guided View reading technology was designed first for a very small device — the iPhone — long before tablets became the norm. A great comics reading experience is one of the core reasons we’re so successful, and it translates great to all devices, from small to large. The Comics by comiXology reading experience is the same on all platforms, so it’s going to be very familiar to our fans. You can toggle in and out of Guided View with a simple double-tap. The Fire has a great screen, and for those pages that have lettering a little too hard to read, Guided View is a fun way to get in there and see the details.” [Chicago Sun Times]
Publishing | IDW’s Chief Operating Officer Greg Goldstein attributes a bump in the company’s September sales to several factors, including DC’s big relaunch: “The reality is the DC New 52 brought some people into comic book stores that hadn’t been in comic stores for a while, and we had the opportunity to sell them some of our books as well as the other books that are available to them. But clearly, people who had not been focused on comics came out of the woodwork a bit.” It didn’t hurt that IDW had its own launches of properties familiar to those outside of comics, including the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, an ongoing Star Trek series and the Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes crossover. [ICv2]
Legal | A Belgian judicial adviser has recommended that the nation’s courts reject a four-year-old bid by a Congolese student to have Herge’s 1931 Tintin in the Congo banned, or at least restricted, because of its racist depictions. The recommendation is being viewed as a major setback for the case, as the opinion of the Procureur du Roi (Senior Crown prosecutor) is requested and typically followed by the court. [The Guardian]
The indispensable Dan Hipp has created a series of fake Tintin covers mashing the classic character together with movies like Alien, Star Wars, and Tron. And this isn’t even the coolest thing on his blog.
On any given week, reading Ben Towle’s Twitter feed or Oyster War Tumblr or his blog, I tend to take away some perspective of substance. And that’s what prompted me to do this email interview with him. Rather than explain what ground we tried to cover, I prefer to jump right into the interview, after thanking Towle for his time and thoughts. This interview was conducted prior to Towle’s Amelia Earhart: This Broad Ocean being nominated in the Eisner Best Publication for Kids category.
Tim O’Shea: When you started on Oyster War, did you expect that “publishers [would not]… be beating down my door to publish this weird, not-all-ages mashup of 20s newspaper comic strips and obscure (at least in the U.S.) French graphic novels“? Or has that been an unexpected, disappointing surprise?
Ben Towle: As far as my statement about publishers goes, I should clarify: no big publishing house is beating down my door to give me a publishing deal with a decent advance. And no, this doesn’t surprise me at all.
I guess I’ve gotten a reputation as a naysayer as a result, but I’ve always been quite dubious of the (in my opinion, very Pollyanna-ish) claim that the graphic novel as a literary/art form has “arrived.” I think if you look at what GNs for adults have gotten deals from big publishers, they’re almost exclusively very specific genres—usually memoir with some sort of an angle (historical, grave illness, identity politics, etc.)—-and that’s not the sort of thing I’m personally interested in doing comics about.
That said, I’m optimistic that once Oyster War gets to the point that it’s, say, 75% complete I’ll be able to shop it around to a specialty graphic novels publisher and find it a home. It would be nice if we got to the point that there’s a sizable enough audience for adult general fiction graphic novels to sustain the “living from advance to advance” model that successful prose authors can pull off, but until then, I’ll just continue to do what I’ve been doing: produce the work that I love doing and which I truly believe in, and hope to find some success with those projects on the back end.
In his latest post at The Comics Journal, Frank Santoro engages in a little bit of compositional analysis, explaining how an artist determines where the eye will fall, and what are the static and dynamic areas of the page, using a page from a Tintin comic, King Otokar’s Sceptre, to demonstrate the ideas in action. In this case, the components of the drawn comic line up so neatly with Santoro’s diagram that it’s hard to believe Herge wasn’t doing it deliberately.
I’m usually suspicious of after-the-fact dissections, because it’s easy to look at a completed work and see things the artist may not have put in deliberately. But Santoro says that Herge was probably aware of the technique, but that for some artists it just comes naturally, like playing music by ear. And just as the artist may use it unconsciously, the reader probably isn’t aware of it, observing only that some pages are more attractive or compelling than others. It’s useful to be reminded that such swift impressions are often born of painstaking planning. Sometimes you have to work hard to make it look easy.
Retailing | The struggling Borders Group, which filed for bankruptcy protection on Feb. 16, has reversed its January decision to close the distribution center in LaVergne, Tenn. The bookseller will instead shut down its warehouse in Carlisle, Penn., leaving the facility in Tennessee and another in California. [Nashville Business Journal, via ICv2.com]
Legal | A handful of publishers address what effect Tokyo’s revised ordinance further restricting the sale of sexually explicit manga to minors might have on the industry. “This ordinance could attack the creativity of genuine authors, not just attacking perverted comics,” says Pascal Lafine of Tonkam, a French publisher of manga. [The Mainichi Daily News]
Publishing | David Itzkoff profiles Marvel, tracing the company’s route from mid-1990s bankruptcy to its current place at the top of a struggling industry. [The New York Times]
Your eyes do not deceive you … it’s the return of Shelf Porn! We had a pre-holiday lull in submissions that led to several Shelf Porn-less weeks, but luckily Andrew Chapman sent in a fresh batch to feast you eyes on. He and his wife have a great collection of graphic novels, toys, a Tintin puppet and even a table made from Captain America’s shield.
We love sharing people’s shelves, but we can’t do it without you! So if you’d like to see this feature continue, please send in your Shelf Porn to firstname.lastname@example.org.
And now let’s hear from Andrew …
The resident bird-dog of all-things cool, Warren Ellis, has brought to the internet’s attention the online posting of 80s parody of Hergé’s classic TinTin, reappropriated into the then-current events of Thatcher-era Britain. Distributed in zine format then, it’s now online courtesy of Frank Lynn; click on the image for the complete pastiche strip:
I wonder what TinTin and Haddock would have to say about the current state of affairs?
Our friend Joe Keatinge spent part of his holiday season gathering images of Tintin from various artists for Neon Monster; you can see the galleries here and here. In addition, Keatinge sat down with King City creator Brandon Graham (who drew the above piece) for a conversation about the character. You can check it out here.
Legal | A Belgian court has postponed until next week a hearing in the months-long trial over whether to ban Tintin in the Congo because of its racist portrayals of native Africans. The legal battle was launched three years ago by Bienvenu Mbutu Mondondo, a Congolese man living in Belgium, who wants the book removed from the country’s bookstores, or at least sold with warning labels as it is in Britain. An anti-racism group joined Mondondo in seeking the ban. Wednesday’s scheduled hearing was postponed after one of the plaintiffs withdrew from the case; however, the article doesn’t say which one. [Expatica]
Legal | Cartoonist Rich Koslowski discovers that winning a copyright-infringement lawsuit against a company that used his artwork without permission didn’t end the matter. More than a year later, Ontario-based Geeks Galore Computer Center still hasn’t complied with the judge’s order, and continues to use Koslowski’s art in signage and advertising. [Eye on Comics]
Just last week, our own Chris Mautner provided an excellent introduction to the Tintin comics, and this week we have an interesting bit of Tintin-related news: Palle Huld, one of the possible models for Herge’s globetrotting reporter, has passed away at the age of 98. In 1928, at the age of 15, Huld won a competition sponsored by a Danish Newspaper to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Jules Verne’s birth. The prize: A trip around the world, unaccompanied, in 44 days, or about half the time it took Verne’s hero Phileas Fogg. The following year, Huld published a book about his travels, A Boy Scout Around the World, and the year after that, Herge began his series of comics about a young, red-haired explorer who favored knickers and kept getting into trouble.
While his exploits were somewhat tamer, Huld’s journey had its share of perils. The most dangerous leg was Manchuria, which was at war at the time, but he made it through unscathed. He got lost in Moscow and missed his train in Newfoundland because he was trying to impress a girl (OK, that doesn’t sound very Tintinish). It is certainly easy to imagine that press accounts of Huld’s travels, or perhaps his book, planted the seed for Tintin. Pierre Assouline, Herge’s biographer, told the New York Times that he had never heard of Huld, but Huld himself believed there was a connection.
Comics College is a monthly feature where we provide an introductory guide to some of the comics medium’s most important auteurs and offer our best educated suggestions on how to become familiar with their body of work.
Welcome and happy holidays to all our Comics College readers. Today, as a post-Thanksgiving treat to you, we’ll be talking a lengthy look at the career of one Georges Remi, better known by his pen name, Herge, and by extension, his most famous creation, the plucky boy reporter Tintin.
The title says it all: Artist Murray Groat imagines what it would be like if the master of horror was writing Tintin.
If you’ve been thinking of heading to Italy and want to stay somewhere close to the water, Villa Comics has six rooms available with a private bathroom, air conditioning, TV, minibar and a comic book theme.
Located in the Gulf of Policastro – Cilento, “the theme is ‘comics,’” their website reads, “and each room is named after a comic character. There are room in honour of: Little Nemo, Tin Tin, Spiderman, Uncle $crooge, Corto Maltese, Spirit and Dylan Dog. Each room is decorated with a colourful canvas. Whether you’re a comic fan, or not, you’ll be enthralled by the attention to detail and the way in which ‘comics’ seeks to transport its guest into the world of fantasy to which each room has been dedicated.”
The proprietor, Gianfranco Martuscelli, is a cartoonist who wanted to combine his passions for comics and tourism.
The Guardian’s Georgia Brown takes a tour of Jordan that is explicitly designed to mirror Tintin’s travels in The Red Sea Sharks:
I was jolted back to the present when our driver suddenly pulled up and started animatedly talking to a group of Bedouin riders blocking the road. I half-imagined we had stumbled into a misadventure. But this was part of our planned adventure – these were our mounts for the next two hours as we recreated Tintin’s escape over the Heisha Mountains en route to Wadi Musa. We donned our own red and white keffiyehs – a playful nod to TT – before setting off along the dusty track, leaving the highway behind.
The tour was led by noted Tintinologist Michael Farr and included a visit to the ancient city of Petra as well as some sidelights on Tintin and his creator, Hergé.