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The Books > #7: The Black Island

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message 5: by Merry (new)

Merry | 34 comments Oh Sammy, I can't disagree more!! I read this as a kid but hadn't read it in years. I really enjoy it. A lot of Hitchcock's movies, as you mentioned, are mostly chases and macguffins and so is this, but it works. I really enjoy the kilted Tintin struggling through the Scottish countryside, and I find it captivating. My heart goes out to Ranko. That's not to say it is my favourite Tintin album, but I really adore it.

message 4: by Sammy (new)

Sammy (TheRebelPrince) | 72 comments Mod
I seem to have a much more complex relationship with this album than with the previous six. As a kid, I never enjoyed "The Black Island" (and I read Tintin like every day for a while). I guess I didn't appreciate the Hitchcock feeling, and I found the climax with the gorilla "silly". (Maybe I was a pretentious child?) It didn't seem to have any of the vigour or atmosphere of the better adventures, and seemed to rely too much on Snowy being cute, for me at least.

As an adult, I can appreciate it more: the texture of the English landscape, particularly. I'm still not overly fond of this work though. It probably has more to say to British people, particularly those who grew up in the '60s and '70s, because back then you always read reviews by people saying "I never realised Tintin wasn't British!". To those of us born and raised in the post-modern world, this is one of only 24 Tintin albums, and by far not the best.

On the other hand, Tintin gets to show off his legs in a kilt, which is great fun! It's particularly nice to see someone get the better of Tintin. In this case, Ranko's owner sees Tintin (after a close shave with death) and goes crazy, saying "I've seen a ghost!". This is a typical Herge formula from the time, but this time - the villain is faking it, and gets one up on Tintin! Already, Herge is messing with the formulas he has cleverly devised, and that's why we love him.

message 3: by Merry (new)

Merry | 34 comments I haven't read this one in years so I'll have to give it a good re-reading before I hand in my thoughts.

message 2: by Merry (last edited Oct 27, 2010 03:48PM) (new)

Merry | 34 comments Places visited (and mentioned) in "The Black Island" (courtesy of Wikipedia)

* Belgium - including Brussels and Ostend

* England - including Dover

* Scotland - including Glasgow, the Hebrides, and the fictional Kiltoch

(This is Tintin's last reported trip to the United Kingdom, however it is likely he continued to pass through there when - as in previous books - he travelled from Belgium to other parts of the world.)

Also mentioned (as part of Muller's evil scheme): Czechoslovakia, Austria, Germany, France and Holland.

message 1: by Sammy (last edited Nov 01, 2010 08:02PM) (new)

Sammy (TheRebelPrince) | 72 comments Mod
Tintin is a keen-eyed journalist by any standards, but in The Black Island it doesn't take much for his suspicions to be aroused when, on spotting an unregistered plane in the woods, he is attacked and pursued. Turning the tables on his assailants, Tintin gives chase on planes and trains, automobiles and speed boats, ending up in Scotland, facing an island with a dangerous secret.

Taking "Tintin" on his seventh journey, Hergé was blessed with a loyal fanbase and chose to eschew politics (even in the lead-up to World War II) in favour of a more Hitchcock-ian type mystery. Although the first third of the album is one long chase sequence, it holds tightly together as one integrated plot rather than a series of episodes. The album also features memorable running gags for both Thompson and Thomson (whose aerial acrobatics ultimately win them a televised contest...albeit unintentionally!) and for Snowy, who has one of his most prominent outings. Tintin's loyal terrier gets drunk, pursues villains, rescues Tintin and - on more than one occasion - is more hindrance than help. Although his role as a plot-driver would diminish quickly from here on, Snowy stands out in "The Black Island".

The plot - which is part Hitchcock and part "King Kong" - plays around with horror movie tropes, and with stories of spies and criminals. The Island itself is deeply rendered, but Herge's attention to details pervades the earlier settings across Belgium and Great Britain also. Unlike most albums, "The Black Island" had three printings in book form. The first (black-and-white) edition was proceeded by a full-colour version which was truncated to 62 pages due to wartime paper shortage. Herge found he enjoyed this format, and kept it for future stories. When Methuen published further books in the 1960s, they asked Herge to update this adventure to create more accuracy in his rendering of the British Isles. With each edition, he added further and further layers on to his backgrounds and scene designs, creating a beautiful looking work, even if it isn't one of his deepest or most fondly loved.

Dr J.W. Muller makes his first appearance here, and will return to wreak havoc on the world in Land of Black Gold.

"The Black Island" was published in English midway through the Methuen translation cycle, in 1966 (the same year that its final redrawn colour edition was printed in French). The adventure has been adapted three times: In 1959, it was one of the albums produced as a series of five-minute TV episodes by Belvision. It was the premiere episode of the 1992 BBC radio series (adapted by Simon Eastwood), and subsequently was animated as a two-part adventure for the early 1990s TV series. Elements from the book also feature in the fourth Tintin computer game, "Destination Adventure" (2001).


Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Blac...

Tintinologist: http://www.tintinologist.org/guides/b...

24 Days of Tintin: http://tintinblog.com/2009/11/24/24-d...

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