Today I made my way up thru a rainy stretch of 635 where I popped in to the Preston Rd Half-Price Books. Discovered several volumes of hardcover facsimiles of Tintin for sale so I grabbed 3 copies at $10 a throw. Sounds like a lot but these things go for $30 a piece if you can find them.
I was about 10 years old when a friend turned me on to Tintin at a local library in San Antonio. Thumbing thru the colorful repros, I am reminded of a time when I poured over every inch of these early 20th Century comic art adventures, immersed into the dated (even then) Boy’s Own-style adventure and mystery stories until they became real to me. They evoked another era which I always wished I could exist in. So I became one with the ligne!
These textured-paper and stiff-backed (Printed in China of course) English-language facsimiles seem pretty fancy to me, as I was used to the soft, well-worn paperbacks I first came across in the racks of that public library. Back then I would check them out over and over again until I finally discovered a bookstore in the mall that stocked them for the insanely expensive price of $4 a volume and I started building my own personal collection I still own to this day.
I didn’t know it at the time, but author Herge was playing around with early forms of metadata in his graphic work. Take the impressive ‘Syldavian brochure‘ inserted into the narrative of King Ottokar’s Sceptre (1947). A powerful argument for the triumph of comics over contemporary cinema. Here is an interactive artform, pulsing with action yet with the option to freeze that action indefinitely into a single frame to be studied endlessly…forever. Hasty readers could skip the brochure altogether.