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The Books > #17: Explorers on the Moon

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message 1: by Sammy (last edited Nov 01, 2010 08:03PM) (new)

Sammy (thecardigankid) | 72 comments Mod
The world's first voyage to the moon - on a Syldavian rocket carrying Tintin, Calculus, Snowy, Haddock, Thomson, Thompson and engineer Frank Wolff - has taken off from Earth. But every stage of the journey is fraught with peril: from Haddock's unpreparedness and the Thom[p]son's recurring condition, to stowaways and Bordurian spies. The rocket will make it to the moon, but the status of Syldavia's claim, and the lives of those on board, are in considerable danger.

Continuing his story published as Destination Moon, Hergé continued to consult a wealth of experts to bring scientific realism to Explorers on the Moon. Although it would still be a few years until manned space flight began, Herge made sure to use up-to-date science of the time. There are, of course, some inaccuracies - a few from the time and others that have since been realised - but many other elements, including the movement of humans on the moon, were true to life. Incidentally, Tintin and co find water under the surface of the moon - something which modern-day scientists are frantically searching for, after finding a fair amount of clues.

"Explorers on the Moon" was published uninterrupted over 14 months in "Tintin" Magazine, ending on December 29, 1953. It was released in album form the following year. Herge, who had suffered a near-mental breakdown whilst drawing the first half of the serial, now had a team working for him, and was able to further refine his practices. After "Explorers on the Moon", he was able to redraw Cigars of the Pharaoh in colour, meaning that all of the official "Tintin" works (excluding The Adventures of Tintin in the Land of the Soviets, which he wanted forgotten) had now been released as colour albums. Herge could now focus on the future, and - as offers began to pour in to film the albums as French movies - Herge could look to the wider world and further expand his influence.

"Explorers on the Moon" was published in English by Methuen in 1959. Along with its first half, the album has been adapted numerous times. First in 1959 for a Belgian TV film ("Explorers on the Moon") and that same year it was one of the albums produced as a series of five-minute TV episodes by Belvision. Subsequently it was adapted for the first "Tintin" video game - 1989's "Tintin on the Moon". In 1992, it was made into both a half-hour radio play (for the BBC series), and a two-episode animated story for the TV series. Elements from the story were also used in the 2001 computer game, "Destination Adventure".

Links:

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

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

24 Days of Tintin:
http://tintinblog.com/2009/12/07/24-d...


message 2: by Merry (new)

Merry | 34 comments Locations visited or mentioned in "Explorers on the Moon":

* Syldavia
* Outer Space
* Earth's Moon

(This is, of course, Tintin's only journey outside Earth's atmosphere. It is also the first time that Belgium has not been featured at all in an album. It is the last time that we visit Syldavia in the albums, although it was seen again in "Tintin in the Lake of Sharks" - the unofficial album based on the film not penned by Herge.)


message 3: by Sammy (new)

Sammy (thecardigankid) | 72 comments Mod
A review:

Destination Moon was an engrossing read, but at times Herge's interest in the science overwhelmed the story. "Explorers on the Moon" doesn't make that same mistake: there are almost no false notes here. This is a suspenseful, emotional, hilarious and engaging story.

For a start, the plot moves along at a nice pace. After takeoff, there are both comic and serious misadventures on board the rocket, and then we arrive at the moon and several more events take place. Things never get the time to lag, as they do in many Tintin albums that precede this one. As the adventure reaches its climax, the stakes are higher than they have ever been before, and this is reflected in Tintin's seriousness. For the story to work, we have to be aware of the life-or-death situation inherent in space travel, and Herge doesn't let us forget it.

Yet comedy is far from lost because of this: the Thompsons have never been grander - their decision to dance a ballet on the moon is beautiful, even more so their immediate concern that they might be seen. Haddock trimming the ever-growing beards of the stricken Thompsons is also a laugh-out-loud moment, thanks to Herge's clever cutting between frames. Amidst all this, there is a level of emotional sincerity previously unheard of in the albums. I still adore the fact that Haddock gets drunk so often, AND sometimes as an emotional crutch. I can't imagine modern American comics doing this - at least not the ones intended partially for children. And as surely the only Tintin work with a suicide involved, this is much more mature and sombre stuff, although well tempered by the comedy and majestic scenes of scientific discovery.

All this is without even mentioning Cuthbert Calculus, a marvelous character who has never been better used. Equipped with an ear trumpet for (moderate) hearing improvement, he is articulate, intelligent and practical - if sometimes too much so. On Haddock drifting away from the rocket, Calculus just sighs and admits that they will have to notify Earth of another celestial body.

Herge's knowledge, of course, still comes through but for whatever reason it is more agreeable here than in the previous album. Perhaps this is because kids at the time would've just been so eager to learn everything about the moon and space travel, or just because even to those of us sixty years later, walking on the moon is as astounding a concept as it has ever been. Moreso than any other Tintin work - in an already gobsmacking oeuvre - "Explorers on the Moon" is magical. Between the startlingly beautiful full-page shots of the rocket en route to the moon (in which we see Herge working with a far less varied palette) and the gleeful excitement of the crew, this work reflects a mature and emotional Herge in all his glory.

Incidentally, to finish on a low note, if there is one misstep it is the overkill of cliffhangers in the final few pages. I know that he needed to make the requisite number of pages, and of course returning to earth was - and still is - a perilous business. But after so many pages of intrigue and emotion, it feels a little false to spend four or five pages with consecutive cliffhangers . But a minor point in a major success.


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