The Valley of the Cobras by Hergé; trans. Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper & Michael Turner (Casterman, 1957) In this final book of the series, Hergé at last strikes the right balance, giving free reign to slapstick antics while more or less side-lining Jo and Zette (though still depicting them as adventurous mini Tintins; Jocko serves as a surrogate Snowy).
Tintin: The Castafiore Emerald
Tintin: The Castafiore Emerald by Hergé, trans. Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper & Michael Turner (Methuen, 1963) A truly delightful instalment. Hergé casts aside Tintin’s usual action-adventuring in favour of a manor house mystery full of playful misdirection. Even while humour and slapstick abound, he gives his fans a knowing wink (note the front cover) and subverts their expectations.
Tintin: The Black Island
Tintin: The Black Island by Hergé (Methuen, 1966); trans. Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper & Michael Turner The Boy’s Own adventuring kicks in on page one and doesn’t let up. Typical of the early volumes, Tintin tangles repeatedly with armed crooks and survives only through incredible luck and bravery, albeit that Hergé also pens a joyous outpouring of slapstick.
The Seven Crystal Balls
The Seven Crystal Balls by Hergé (Casterman, 1948); trans. Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper & Michael Turner (Methuen, 1962) Working during the German occupation of Belgium, Hergé steered clear of political commentary and showcased instead his developing mastery of action adventure, leavened here with an abundance of slapstick (and not a little Fortean mysticism). Part one of a classic two-story arc.
The Mystery of the Missing Wallets
The Adventures of Tintin: The Mystery of the Missing Wallets by Kirsten Mayer (Random House, 2011) This early reader picture book is by no means terrible, yet the text and story are not as simple as one might expect and the pictures (still shots from the film) cannot hope to match Hergé’s art for character, colour and energy.
Tintin in Tibet
Tintin in Tibet by Hergé; trans. Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper & Michael Turner (Methuen, 1962) A straightforward travel adventure with a touch of mysticism and, unusually for Tintin, no antagonist (and no guns!). Although Hergé plays with reader expectations and includes plenty of slapstick, this volume carries a bleakness that appears reflective of his own inner turmoil.
Tintin and the Picaros
Tintin and the Picaros by Hergé (Methuen, 1976) The most mature of Hergé’s Tintin adventures, Picaros is a neatly plotted political commentary on South American despotism, serious in tone and light on improbable escapades. Hergé remains committed to background detail but cuts back (perhaps too far) on the physical comedy.
The Adventures of Tintin
The Adventures of Tintin dir. Steven Spielberg (2011) Hergé’s comic strips bubble with background detail and distilled moments of pure comedy and adventure. Of necessity, Spielberg’s film adaptation mixes and dilutes Hergé’s work. Though doing limited justice to the source material, it does capture much of the spirit of Tintin.
Tintin: Red Rackham’s Treasure
Tintin: Red Rackham’s Treasure by Hergé (Le Soir, 1943); trans. Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper & Michael Turner (Methuen, 1959) A Tintin adventure with no villain! Hergé plays on readers’ expectations of peril but casts aside the usual death-defying storylines, netting instead a string of uncommonly dégagé Caribbean escapades. Red Rackham’s Treasure, though undemanding, gleams yet with well-plotted, vivaciously rendered humour. Exemplary. …
Tintin: The Calculus Affair
Tintin: The Calculus Affair by Hergé (Methuen, 1960) The first quarter is mystery but the remainder of The Calculus Affair sees a return to the improbable, death-defying adventuring of the earlier Tintin serials, thankfully with an intensity and mastery of physical humour sufficient to make this album an easy page-turner.