Nick Gazin's Comic Book Love-In #45

By Nick Gazin

Dear Everyone,

I didn't make a best of list for 2011 because I don't believe in lists. But if you care about lists, here's a list of ten good comics that came out in 2011. Feel free to say that VICE said that you made their top ten comics list of 2011 if you're on this list. Actually, you can say that you were on VICE's top ten comics list even if you didn't make the cut.

VICE'S TOP TEN COMICS OF 2011
#1 The Manara Library Vol. 1 by Milo Manara with Hugo Pratt, published by Dark Horse
#2 The Incal by Moebius and Alejandro Jodorowsky published by Humanoids
#3 Popeye Vol. 5: Wha's A Jeep by E.C. Segar published by Fantagraphics
#4 Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes by Carl Barks published by Fantagraphics
#5 The Blobby Boys #1 by Alex Schubert published by Team Fortress
#6 Kramer's Ergot 9 Edited by Sammy Harkham, published by PictureBox Prison Pit Book 3
#7 Gangsta Rap Posse #2 by Benjamin Marra, published by Traditional Comics
#8 Black Mass #5 and #6 by Patrick Kyle
#9 Thickness #1 and #2 edited by Ryan Sands and Michael Deforge
#10 Paying For It by Chester Brown published by Drawn & Quarterly

ALSO GOOD
#1 Pandora's Eyes by Milo Manara and Vincenzo Cerami, published by Humanoids
#2 Lizz Hickey's various mini comics
#3 All of Fantagrahics reprint books especially Pogo, Peanuts, and Prince Valiant
#4 Big Questions by Anders Nilsen published by Drawn & Quarterly

In other news I saw the new Tintin movie and it was some total dogshit but not in the way I thought it was going to be.  

THE FUCKING TIN TIN MOVIE

The movie opens with a corny cell shaded credit sequence that is supposed to remind people of Tin Tin's comicky origins. The credits don't look like Tin Tin comics though, they look like the opening credits to Catch Me If You Can. I groaned during the credits when an animated comic book sound effect appeared on screen in time with someone getting hit. The use of comic book sound effects in film was original in the 60s when the Batman TV show used them and Serge Gainsbourg sang about them. Ever since then they've been a lazy way of trying to express "comic book" in a non-comics medium.

The opening credits are littered with references to the twenty-four Tin Tin comics. There are a few occasions in the beginning of the movie where they go overboard. The biggest one is our introduction to CGI Tin Tin. A CGI version of Tin Tin's creator, Hergé, draws Tin Tin's portrait at a bazaar. As he shows the familiar face of drawn Tin Tin to CGI Tin Tin, Hergé asks, "Well, what do you think?" What they really seemed to be asking was, "Are you buying this as Tin Tin?" It was a real yucky moment. CGI Tin Tin turns towards us and shows us his weird humanish face and says he likes it, while we get to compare the hyper simple, friendly line drawing and this complicated computer man/boy/thing. It was a bad idea because it's impossible not to look at the two Tin Tins next to each other and immediately prefer the two dimensional one. I wasn't bothered by the look of the CGI as much as some people I know. The problem with making Tin Tin human is that you have to decide how old he is. In two dimensions Tin Tin's face is this perfect, boyish face that usually looks quizzical. Hergé has said that Tin Tin is 14 or 15 or 17. But parents and school are never brought up. Instead of making him a man or a boy, Tin Tin's face closely resembles a space alien with wide set eyes.

So we meet CGI Tin Tin and go on this adventure that seems like it's longer than it actually is. The movie smooshes together the stories from the Crab With the Golden Claws, which is the story of how Tin Tin met his best friend Captain Haddock and The Secret of the Unicorn, which is about a treasure hunt. Tin Tin buys a model boat that some shady characters seem to want very badly. They try to steal it. It turns out that directions to a sunken treasure are hidden in the boat. Tin Tin is shanghaied and kept in a cage on a steamer. He escapes and meets Captain Haddock, his alcoholic friend/surrogate dad. In the comic the boat scenes take up nine pages. We spend so much time on that fucking boat in the movie that it feels like we've moved in permanently. Together they escape in a rowboat, almost drown, and then steal a plane. They take the plane to a place in the Middle East and have some big action sequences. Eventually they get all of the parts of the treasure map. Then the movie ends with Tin Tin and Haddock finding the location of the treasure and saying "Are you thirsty for adventure?" The audience I saw it with was completely silent throughout the entire film so I figured that the sequel they were trying to tease wasn't going to happen. Somehow this movie's a hit, so the next movie that combines the plots of Red Rackham's Treasure and some other book is doubtlessly going into production.

Steven Spielberg first heard about Tin Tin when he was doing press for Indiana Jones and a reporter noted the similarities between Indiana Jones and the Tin Tin comics. It seems like maybe Spielberg decided to make Tin Tin so that he could tell Indiana Jones stories without George Lucas's mediocre hand fouling up his work. This becomes hyper evident in a scene that is original to the film where Tin Tin and Haddock are in a crazy motorcycle/sidecar action sequence like the one in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. He can't just make a movie that's LIKE Indiana Jones, he's actually ripping off his own material. Comparing CGI Tin Tin to Indiana Jones is as disappointing as comparing to CGI Tin Tin to regular Tin Tin.

Another issue is that while both Tin Tin and Indiana Jones show the main characters getting the shit knocked out of them, Tin Tin never gets worn down. By the end of any Indiana Jones movie his clothes are torn up and he's cut and bruised. There's even that scene in Raiders where he's on the plane and gets Marion to smooch him by pointing out the parts of his body that don't hurt. The punches have impact and consequences. Tin Tin gets concussions like it's his job, is lost at sea, survives a plane crash, gets lost in the desert, but at no point does he or Haddock look any worse than if they'd just walked out their front door. They stay pretty clean in the comics but again, different rules apply here since this isn't a comic and doesn't look like a comic.

In the Indiana Jones movies there's always a strong emotional core to the central character and the treasure he's trying to find is coupled with him fixing some hole in his life. In Raiders he redeems himself with Marion and finds love while also searching for a treasure. In the second movie George Lucas is working out his divorce rage so it's a little more self-indulgent. In Lost Crusade he mends his relationship with his estranged father. There's never a satisfying explanation as to why Tin Tin is doing what he's doing or who he is. He's a reporter, so he's supposedly going on this crazy adventure to write an article but that's not a strong enough motivation. In the movie Tin Tin is tireless, fearless, always optimistic, completely moral, and a strong fighter. He has zero weaknesses or flaws. At one point towards the end he doubts himself for half a second, but it's totally inauthentic. The Tin Tin in this movie is a blank character and he's kind of blank in the comics too, but it's acceptable there. Why? Because when his face is made of three lines and three dots, it's easier for us to project our own personalities onto him. If you give the character a human face, instead of the audience saying,"That's me," they're more likely to say, "Who's this asshole and what's his problem?"

THE OTHER TIN TIN MOVIES
This is actually the sixth time that Tin Tin's been made into a movie. The earlier films are all on YouTube. For a much more charming take on Tin Tin, take a look at this French black and white stop motion film adaptation of the Crab With The Golden Claws from 1947.

Here's the second live action movie, The Blue Oranges.

The fourth Tin Tin movie was an animated feature based on the Temple of the Sun.

The fifth was another animated film, this time from an original script that was later turned into a comic. Most Tin Tin fans don't really acknowledge that book as part of the series though.

And finally here we are at our modern Tin Tin. This clip shows Peter Jackson dressed as Captain Haddock, which is pretty rad. The rest, not so much.

See You Next Week,
Nicholas

Previously – Comic Book Love-In 44

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