Joe Alterio's blog on illustration, comix, design, animation, and other bouts of total awesomeness.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Tintin in the Land of Hollywood
The raiding of the temple happened slowly at first. A few keen-eyed grave-robbers here or there: a Philip K. Dick jewel, a Jules Verne bauble. Occasionally done right, more often done terribly, those of us In The Know could shake our heads and scoff, comforted in the knowledge that the true sources lay hidden, wellsprings that continued to delight those that cared to look for them. Then, the onslaught came, starting, oh, I'd say right around here.
I can't fault Hollywood for grave-robbing: I love movies. I went to film school, for chrissakes. And for every unmitigated disaster of a movie adaptaion of comic books or other imaginative stories, there's also some incredibly successful ones that make you love everything about it so much more. Unfortunately, Hollywood has a nasty tendency to recognize the brilliance if imaginative works, and then trying to substitute imagination for special effects. It takes a light touch , and an adding to the artistic effort, not just a rote copying with CGI, to make something like this work. And when it does work, when the creators do care enough to invest their own love and interests into it, it doesn't matter that the special thing you had to yourself now has a huge audience. So what if the douchebag in the next cubicle knows who Harvey Pekar is now: it was a great flick.
But this impending Tintin behemoth on the horizon makes me more nervous than anything that's ever been announced. Unless you've been living under a rock for the past week, you prolly know that Steven Spielberg has tapped Peter Jackson to finally head up the rights he decided to exercise, that of the long-awaited Tintin movies, a 3 picture deal that either has phenomenon or debacle written all over it. And my jittering excitment is tempered by a fear, that seems to harken back to my teen angst days as much as my art snobbery of Herge's mastery.
Here's the rub:
I am a rabid Tintin fan, ever since a very young boy,when I found a battered copy of The Calculus Affair at a book sale at the local branch of my town's library (and I still have it!). Anthony Lane has a rather pedestrian article in last week's New Yorker about Tintin that really doesn't illuminate anyone that has vaguely paid attention to the life and work of Herge. The long and the short of the piece explains away most of Remi's life as an effort to make up for some of his more racist carictures and collaboration with the Nazis by ennacting the indefatiguable wunderkind reporter as a kind of soul scrubbing boy scout, righting wrongs with an innocence Remi lost long ago in 1938. And I just call bullshit on the whole thing. Not just Lane's article, which, while a bit vanilla, is more or less quite accurate with the facts. I call bullshit on the whole Deconstructing Tintin thing.
There are some wonderful books taking apart the books, the characters, the man, the life, the times. Even some incredible comics that do the same. But the thing is, it's just too close for me. It takes the fun out of it. It's like taking a picture of a long lost relative out and going on a four hour lecture about why light turns silver halide into images the eye can see. I guess I can see it's informative: but it doesn't make me appeciate the person in the picture anymore or less. And this is just the beginning.
Within 2 years, Tintin will be on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, and Rolling Stone, that scumbag lead singer from Coldplay will wear a Haddock teeshirt onstage during shows, and Paris Hilton will name her new dog Snowy. And the Tintin that I know and love, the Tintin that is mine and rests on my bookshelves, the books whose spines contain crumbs of crackers eaten over them long ago, the Tintin who prompts puzzled looks when I wear him around, but that gets a look of knowing recognition by 1 out of 50 Americans, that smile that spreads across their face, that wink and nod I get...that Tintin will be gone, and I'll be left to pick up the pieces.
-> As a less curmudgony aside, (finally) check out the Seoul pix here! Woohoo!