Tintin and Alph-Art (The Adventures of Tintin)
Little, Brown Young Readers (2007)
Reviewed by Tammy Petty Conrad for Reader Views (1/08)
Tintin is a cartoon character created 79 years ago by the Belgian Georges Remi who interestingly signed his drawings by reversing his initials, which in French comes out to Hergé. This is the character’s 24th adventure in a graphic novel format. Various editions have been translated into over 65 languages. Tintin is a journalistic reporter who travels the world with his dog, Snowy, and various friends.
This final creation for the character was begun in 1978, but was not completed prior to its creator’s death in 1983. This book provides lovers of Tintin one last opportunity to share an adventure, this one in the contemporary art world involving a group of forgers. This story is a departure from the style of the other adventures and reflects Hergé’s interest in avant-garde art. Readers have access to the artist’s pencil and ink sketches and even some of his notes in French. The story is translated to English next to the sketches. They provide alternative story lines that the artist considered, but had not fully developed. Fans will appreciate the chance to glimpse at the artist’s creative process.
What is most intriguing is that we see the page where the last sketches were made. Only four frames exist and the rest of the page is blank. The story is not finished and we are left to wonder what the artist himself would have done if he had lived longer.
Captain Haddock is involved as are other characters from previous books. This time Tintin is researching the death of an art gallery owner and discovers a forgery ring. The story stops with Tintin being discovered and taken off by the bad guys. Luckily Tintin has managed to pass a note to Snowy to deliver to the Captain. Unfortunately, these are the last frames and we are left to wonder if the Captain comes to the rescue or if Tintin will make his own escape.
Collectors of the series will surely want this edition with the extra note pages. Even as a novice reader I was still interested in the stylistic format of each frame and idea of how much thought was put into the story, and indeed each frame. It was like I was peeking over the artist’s shoulder and watching as he drew, crossed out and drew again, perfecting his thoughts on paper.
Although I still couldn’t tell you what Alph-Art is, one the characters, Castafiore, speaks about it to the artist who created it, Ramo Nash: “It proves that your art, so simple and at the same time so rich, so noble and so basic, can reach the whole world. . .”.
There is a reason there will be a museum in Louvain-la-Neuve focusing on Hergé and his work. Readers from around the world will undoubtedly flock to this new venue in 2009 when it opens. I may have to think about a trip to Belgium in the near future!