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ADVENTURES OF HERGÉ's Tintin-inspired art has "panache of its own": Booklist

Updated February 28, 2012



Booklist Review: The Adventures of Herge.

By Gordon Flagg
Booklist Onliine
Jan. 1, 2012

The Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi—better known by his pen name, Hergé—is celebrated worldwide for his creation of the comics character Tintin. He has been the subject of numerous biographies, but this one is presumably the first done in the comics format. The necessarily simplified account of Hergé’s eventful life chronicles his youthful exploits as a scout patrol leader, which would inform his later work; his hiring by a Catholic newspaper where Tintin debuted in 1929 and swiftly became an international sensation; his postwar imprisonment as a collaborator for having worked for a Nazi-sanctioned publication; his troubled marriage and his affair with a colorist in his studio; and his debilitating psychological and health problems. Illustrator Barthélémy uses a variation of the French-Belgian ligne claire (clear line) style popularized by Hergé; while not as meticulous or graceful as that of its subject, his looser approach has a panache of its own. Steven Spielberg’s recent Tintin movie—an earlier attempt by the director to buy the film rights is recounted in this book—may heighten interest in the character’s creator.



 
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The Adventures of Herge




  THE ADVENTURES OF HERGE on io9

Updated January 12, 2012


November 15, 2011
Cyriaque Lamar

Finally, Drawn & Quarterly brings us Jose-Louis Bocquet and Jean-Luc Fromental's The Adventures of Herg, a cartoon biography of Tintin's famed creator.
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HERGE on Slate Magazine

Updated January 10, 2012


November 17, 2011
David Haglund

Steven Spielbergs The Adventures of Tintin will hit American screens next month. (The film is already showing in many other countries.) Based on the work of beloved Belgian cartoonist Herg (whose given name was Georges Remi), its a movie Spielberg has wanted to make since the early 1980s, after his first Indiana Jones film was compared by a French critic to the Tintin series. Herg admired Spielberg as well, and the two planned to meet to discuss a possible film in 1983but Herg, 75 at the time, died before they could.

Thats one of many episodes recounted in the newly translated The Adventures of Herg, a life of the cartoonist written and illustrated in a style not unlike his own, out this month from Drawn & Quarterly. Hergs own life was itself full of incident. Most dramatically, he was arrested four times in the aftermath of World War II: During the occupation of Belgium, he published his Tintin comics in a paper controlled by occupying forces, and so was considered a collaborator. (He has also been accused of anti-Semitism and racism.)

The first of the excerpted chapters below depicts one such arrest. The second depicts the chaotic work of adapting a Tintin comic for the screenin 1960, with live actors. In the final chapter, Herg prepares for the meeting with Spielberg that never happened.

The English translation is by Helge Dascher. Enjoy. -- David Haglund
 
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Jose-Louis Bocquet, Jean-Luc Fromental & Stanislas Barthelemy

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The Adventures of Herge




  THE DEATH-RAY and HERGE on the SF Chronicle's holiday gift guide

Updated January 10, 2012


November 20, 2011
John McMurtrie

The Death Ray, by Daniel Clowes (Drawn and Quarterly; 48 pages; $19.95). The Oakland cartoonist's latest work - a coming-of-age tale - is both poignant and mordantly funny.

The Adventures of Herg, by Jos-Louis Bocquet and Jean-Luc Fromental; illustrated by Stanislas Barthlmy (Drawn & Quarterly; 66 pages; $19.95).

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Daniel Clowes
Jose-Louis Bocquet, Jean-Luc Fromental & Stanislas Barthelemy

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The Adventures of Herge




Philadelphia Inquirer calls HERGE "charming stuff"

Updated January 10, 2012


November 23, 2011
Steven Rea

But another great way into the world of Tintin is The Adventures of Herg (Drawn & Quarterly, $19.95), a biographical comic about Georges Remi, aka Herg, written and illustrated in the clean lines and multi-panel style of the Tintin books themselves. The work of French novelist Jose-Louis Bocquet, graphic novelist Jean-Luc Fromental and artist Stanislas Barthelemy, the book follows its protagonist from his boyhood in Brussels and his very first box of crayons, to his school years and adventures as a Boy Scout, then into the 1930s, when his strips in the childrens newspaper XXe Siecle took off, then through World War II, when some believed Herg to be a Nazi sympathizer, and onto the professional successes and personal tumult of the post-war years. Chang Chong-Jen, the Chinese art student who became a lifelong friend and key influence of Hergs is here, but so, too, surprisingly, is Andy Warhol, who met up with Herg at an art gallery appearance in 1977. Cool and concise, witty and affectionate, The Adventures of Herg is charming stuff.

 
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The Adventures of Herge




  HERGE on AV Club's December list

Updated January 10, 2012


December 5, 2011
Noel Murray

Another Eurocomics hero, Tintin creator Georges Prosper Remi (a.k.a. Herg) becomes the star of his own highly Tintin-esque album, The Adventures Of Herg (D&Q), co-written by Jose-Louis Bocquet and Jean-Luc Fromental, and drawn by Stanislas Barthlmy. Skimming through the high points of Remis lifeincluding his tumultuous romantic affairs and his attempts to keep creating Tintin stories during the Nazi occupation of BelgiumThe Adventures Of Herg captures the flavor of mid-20th-century Europe as well as its subjects own work does, and it tries to imbue Remis business deals and political squabbles with the same sense of danger as what Hergs iconic boy reporter faced. The book is a shade too breezy and sketchy, but its lovely to look at, and it does acknowledge the complications of an artist who didnt always make the right choices, either publicly or privately.
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Jose-Louis Bocquet, Jean-Luc Fromental & Stanislas Barthelemy

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HERGE on the Globe and Mail

Updated January 10, 2012


December 17, 2011
Jeet Heer

Hergs legacy is more visual than narrative. Its no accident that the best biography of Herg is a graphic novel that borrows from his art. The Adventures of Herg, by Jose-Louis Bocquet and Jean-Luc Fromental, illustrated by Stanislas Barthelemy, pays Herg the honest tribute of stylistic thievery. Its drawn in the Herg manner (circa 1934) and covers the main points of his career while locating constant overlaps between the life and the art. While the casual reader can use it to get the main outlines of Hergs life, the hard-core Tintin fanatic will be more interested in the innumerable allusions to the series woven into the story and images.
 
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Jose-Louis Bocquet, Jean-Luc Fromental & Stanislas Barthelemy

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The Adventures of Herge




  Newcity Film praises ADVENTURES OF HERGE's "effortless charm"

Updated January 10, 2012


December 20, 2011


Steven Spielberg and Peter Jacksons animated motion-capture 3D The Adventures Of Tintin (known on its October release in Europe as The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn), from several of Hergs graphic novels, may perplex the unacquainted and confound the devout. (It did not go over as a treat in Blighty.) It made me thirstier than a Haddock. I feel winded even reaching toward my notes. While the intention may have been to explore whats possible in live action, in a new vocabulary of unattractive animation at the kind of headlong pace that would match today what Raiders of the Lost Ark accomplished in 1982, the end result is more winded than winding, a dispirited ragbag of faux-naivet and unlikeable, weird-looking, strange-moving characters. A small curiosity comes from the fact that its dueling antagonists resemble the films co-producers: the bibulous Captain Haddock resembles a portly Peter Jackson and virtually every other adult male character bears the beard, intent gaze and gently quizzical smile of Spielberg himself. Tintin, unlike on the page, is quickly a bore and Snowy? Poor Snowy, fulcrum of second-class slapstick. While Tintins father Herg reputedly staked Spielberg as the only filmmaker who ought to bring his creation to the screen, the end result seems nothing less than unnecessary.

Drawn & Quarterly just released a more intriguing and appropriately modest curiosity, The Adventures of Herg, by Jose-Louis Bocquet, Jean-Luc Fromental and drawn by Stanislas Barthlmy, a biographical comic in the style of the Belgian writer-illustrator born as Georges Prosper Remi. Whats the difference? Scale. Wit. Charm. Effortless charm.

The screenplay is credited to Steven Moffat (Doctor Who), Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) and Joe Cornish (Attack the Block). TAOTs motion-capture performers include Andy Serkis, Jamie Bell, Simon Pegg, Daniel Craig, Toby Jones, Nick Frost and Gad Elmaleh. 107m. (Ray Pride)
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THE ADVENTURES OF HERGE reviewed on Slate

Updated January 4, 2012


Decemner 22, 2011
Sam Adams

The Adventures of Herg, a comic-book biography written by Jos-Louis Boucquet and Jean-Luc Fromental and illustrated by Stanislas Barthlmy, is episodic by design, compressing Remis life into a scant 62 pages. But the progression of discontiguous two-page segments aptly mirrors the style of the Tintin books, whose plots were often devised week by week, with each lower right-hand panel stranding the heroes in some predicament or other. A handful of expository passages notwithstanding, its hard to imagine following the books story without a significant familiarity with Remis life. A coy smile between Remi's wife, Germaine, and his editor, Wallez, is confined to a single panel, implying that she might have held her husband's employer in higher regard than Remi himselfa notion Peeters, in his more detailed account, pinpoints as an early sign of their marriage's weaknesses.
Barthlmy wisely evokes Remis style without attempting to copy it, but hes close enough that its almost jarring when women work their way into the narrative. These are not the pillowy caricatures of the Tintin books themselves, but sexualized adult women: Hergs wife, his mistresses, and the objects of various unrequited affections. The Adventures of Herg is by no means a comprehensive portrait, but by telling Remis story in an approximation of his style, the book evokes an unspoken fusion between its subject and his work, implying resonances that Peeters struggles to consign to black-and-white type.
Both books attempt to craft a continuous narrative out of the life of a man who resolutely resisted analysis, by himself and by others. As the strain of producing the Tintin strip, as well as other assorted other projects, took its toll on him, Remi suffered an array of psychosomatic symptoms, including outbreaks of eczema and boils, and was plagued by recurring nightmares of whiteness. (Evidently there was nothing more terrifying than a blank page.) Remi seems to have retained an unhealthy distance from his own life, disappearing into his work until the work itself became the problem. In many respects, it seems as if the most interesting parts of Remi, and certainly those he was most willing to share with the public, went into his art, leaving little for his chroniclers to pick over.
One can almost imagine slipping the pages of The Adventures of Herg between the Tintin albums themselves, filling in blanks and bridging gaps. Somewhere between this episodic but evocative comic-book bio and Tintins own adventures lies the story of Georges Remi, hidden in the white expanses that separate one panel from the next.
 
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The Adventures of Herge




  HARK! and ADVENTURES OF HERGE are (still) NY Times bestsellers!

Updated January 3, 2012


December 11, 2011

8 HARK! A VAGRANT, by Kate Beaton. (Drawn & Quarterly, $19.95.) This collection of work by the web sensation includes comic strips about famous authors, their characters, and political and historical figures, along with previously unpublished content. (9 weeks)

9 THE ADVENTURES OF HERGE, by Jos-Louis Bocquet and others. (Drawn & Quarterly, $19.95.) This biographical comic is about the man behind Tintin. (1 week)


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The Adventures of Herge




Politics and Prose likes PAYING FOR IT, HARK!, ADVENTURES OF HERGE for 2011

Updated January 3, 2012


Chosen by Adam, Frans, Hannah and Andras

Chester Browns Paying For It is shocking, exhibitionist and gratuitous, which makes this book a strangely thoughtful and well developed genesis of a man who not only justifies his use of prostitutes but also argues for the rights and privileges of prostitutes. As R. Crumb explains in his introduction, Chester Brown is a strange man. He seems almost devoid of normal human emotion, but has somehow found a whole new way at looking at love and sexual desire. This volume has a lengthy appendices and notes section, where Brown goes on at length about certain arguments for and against prostitution. His drawing style is simple, but attractive, and leaves the reader with a feeling of witnessing something clinical in a strange, uncolored and unbiased way.

Part rollicking history lesson, part fan-fiction, Kate Beatons Hark! A Vagrant takes the hilarious comics from her popular website and puts them into print with her own witty annotations. This book is like if Sunday morning comics from the 1980s and school house rock had a love child, which in turn had a love child with the offspring of the Dont Know Much About History and A Bit of Fry and Laurie series. Often, Beatons book is just silly and
thats the way she likes it. Other times, the comics are surprisingly enlightening. Beaton has the answers to all your questions: Does Canadian history actually matter? Sort of. How many Watsons has Sherlock fandom created? Well, theres Gay Watson, Stupid Watson, and Lady-Killer Watson...Vagrants art is as playful as its wit and the
book itself has an appealing layout, with series compiled together in theme. Whether youre a lit nerd, history buff, comic fan, or just plain nerd, youll get a thrill out of Vagrant and leave feeling like the author is your new best, better educated friend.

Georges Prosper Remi, otherwise known as Herge, creator of Tintin, gets his very own adventure! Sure
its not as exciting as one of his Tintin adventures...but still, the famous cartoonist led a life worth reading about, especially if youve ever
enjoyed one of his many comics. This perfectly succinct biography, done in the clear line style by three of Frances lead cartoonists, is carefully researched, and fully indexed with a list of mini-bios of all the characters that made up Herges life. Reading this will make you want to re-read all those Tintin albums you havent touched since you were young!

 
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Chester Brown
Kate Beaton
Jose-Louis Bocquet, Jean-Luc Fromental & Stanislas Barthelemy

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The Adventures of Herge




  ADVENTURES OF HERGE on The Australian

Updated January 3, 2012


December 24, 2011
Owen Heitmann

While not as adventure-filled as his hero's, Herge's life was storied and has been told several times. The Adventures of Herge differentiates itself by an interesting conceit: a biography in the format of his work. However, while 62 pages of art can tell an eventful Tintin story, it's a big ask to cover 75 years, so the book progresses via vignettes documenting key events in the author's life: an early promotional event demonstrating Tintin's popularity, Herge's later depressive periods and his affair with Fanny Vlamynck that led to divorce from his first wife, Germaine. These glimpses lend the narrative an impressionistic feel, never more so than the allegorical handling of Herge's death.

The art is also impressionistic, compared with Herge's famously meticulous realism (clothes, cars and locations were all researched and drawn from life or photographs, sometimes by assistants). Stanislas Barthelemy's style is closest to Herge's work before he developed his distinctive approach. (Modern readers are largely unaware of Herge's artistic evolution, as Tintin's early adventures were redrawn in the 1940s and 50s to ensure more consistency.)

Yet, while Barthelemy's angular noses and looser line can't be accused of aping Herge, the "grandfather of European comics" is an inescapable influence. He pioneered the use of speech balloons in Europe, and the ligne claire or clear line technique he developed casts a long shadow.

There are in any case numerous visual nods to Herge's oeuvre -- such as a theatre sequence that reflects a scene from The Seven Crystal Balls -- to the point that it sometimes becomes difficult to tell where the art of Tintin imitated Herge's life and where Jose-Louis Bocquet and Jean-Luc Fromental take liberties in their telling.

In addition to allowing intertextual references, the use of the graphic novel format differs from other Herge biographies. Details such as the mystery of Georges' father's parentage are revealed through dialogue, while the resemblance of the Remi family to characters such as opera singer Bianca Castafiore and bumbling detectives Thomson and Thompson is shown rather than told.

The most effective scene is from 1944. During the war, Herge remained in occupied Belgium, obeying Leopold III's appeal to his Belgian subjects. Lacking the Tintin-like courage to join the resistance, he notoriously continued drawing his hero at the Nazi-controlled Le Soir newspaper. Although there is no evidence that Herge was a Nazi sympathiser (and plenty of indications otherwise) he was arrested multiple times after the liberation and, having worked for a newspaper during the occupation, he was branded a collaborator and banned from employment. This situation was resolved by the intervention of Raymond Leblanc, Tintin fan and resistance hero, who was able to procure Herge a "certificate of good citizenship" that allowed him to work, and then established Tintin magazine to publish him. In The Adventures of Herge, this deliverance is intercut cinematically with scenes of a journalist with whom Herge had previously shared a cell being led to execution. It's a powerful sequence emphasising how lucky Remi was to survive.

The Adventures of Herge was first published in French in 1999; an abridged translation featured in a Drawn & Quarterly anthology in 2001. This complete version is doubtless prompted by the Tintin movie, but it offers greater rewards for dedicated fans than those purely interested by the big-screen adaptation.

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The Adventures of Herge




ADVENTURES OF HERGE on Daily XY

Updated January 3, 2012


December 21, 2011
John Anderson

Finally, just released last month, THE ADVENTURES OF HERG by Jose-Louis Bocquet, Jean-Luc Fromental and Stanislas is a graphic novel biography of Herg told in the graphic ligne claire and storytelling manner of its very subject.
 
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  ADVENTURES OF HERGE on Toronto Standard

Updated January 3, 2012


December 21, 2011
Chris Randle

1. The Adventures of Herg, by Jos-Louis Bocquet, Jean-Luc Fromental and Stanislas. Published 12 years ago in France but only released here by Drawn & Quarterly this month, the book borrows Hergs style rather than his characters to depict the cartoonist himself. There was lots of material there complicated politics, possible royal lineage, various affairs and a fascination with East Asian culture and Stanislas, a founder of the French comics collective LAssociation, draws it all nimbly.



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Montreal Gazette highlights GNBCC, HERGE, and BLABBER BLABBER BLABBER for 2011

Updated January 2, 2012


December 29, 2011
Ian McGillis

Is Seth the P.G. Wodehouse of cartooning? The Great Northern Brotherhood of Canadian Cartoonists (Drawn & Quarterly, 136 pages, $24.95) makes a case for the claim. Like the English comic writer who located and obsessively mined a corner of the past that was at least partly his own creation in his case, the gentlemens clubs and country houses of the Edwardian upper crust Seth has his turf, and sticks to it. He is the great visual poet of the dying small towns of southern Ontario. His newest book sees him paying tribute to the fictional titular group, some of whose members are real Seths salute to Doug Wright will give you a whole new appreciation for an artist easily taken for granted and some the products of the authors melancholy and forever backward-looking imagination. GNBCC is eloquent proof that a personal obsession can resonate by virtue of the conviction with which it is related. It moved me as few books this year have.

While it seems the jury is still out on Steven Spielbergs cinematic take on Tintin neophytes appear fine with it, devotees perhaps less so the timing couldnt be better for The Adventures of Herg, by Jose-Louis Bocquet, Jean-Luc Fromental and Stanislas Barthelemy (Drawn & Quarterly, 64 pages, $19.95), a book that adopts the visual style of the Tintin books to recount the life of their Belgian creator. The decision to echo Herg himself is a risky one, but it pays off in some effective ironic counterpoint: While his cartoon creation is off hunting yetis in Tibet, the artist is sneaking around on his wife and refusing to allow the names of any of his collaborators on the covers of his books. Newcomers to Hergs world may feel that a certain amount of background knowledge is being assumed, but the ready-made audience will ensure that this book finds plenty of happy homes.

As her Montreal appearance early this year showed, Lynda Barry inspires fervent devotion in her readers, who will no doubt line up to buy Blabber Blabber Blabber: Volume 1 of Everything (Drawn & Quarterly, 176 pages, $24.95), a gathering of her 1980s work, including the immeasurably influential Ernie Pooks Comeek.




 
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Seth
Lynda Barry
Jose-Louis Bocquet, Jean-Luc Fromental & Stanislas Barthelemy

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The Adventures of Herge




  Miami Herald reviews ADVENTURES OF HERGE

Updated December 29, 2011


December 25, 2011
Richard Pachter

The Adventures of Herg. Bocquest, Fromental and Stanislas. Drawn + Quarterly. 64 pages. $19.95. This delightful, non-whitewashed biography of the ultra-prolific Tin Tin creator was originally published in Europe (in French). Its American release is timed to coincide with the premiere of Steven Spielbergs film and is delightfully drawn in a style thats an uncanny homage to the late artist. Though many may be unfamiliar with the character, a resourceful young Everyman who encounters political and criminal adversaries and adventures throughout the world (and beyond it), the universal appeal and sheer volume of material, along with its consistent quality and rich cast of characters make it an appealing and rich expression of the medium and society. This graphic bio of the man behind the character is well worth the trip.

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THE ADVENTURES OF HERGE reviewed on Vue Weekly

Updated December 29, 2011


December 23, 2011
Brian Gibson

Chases, narrow escapes and foiled plots were commonplace in the 24 exploits of Tintin, by one of the medium's most influential artists. But the short biographical pursuit of Georges Remi, in The Adventures of Herg, while lined with some intriguing moments, is a bit of a bumpy ride. Starting off with iconic objects or motifs (the vase from The Blue Lotus, a swastika from the time of Belgium's occupation by the Nazis), episodes burst out from key years in Remi's life. There are flashes of the people who inspired the book's characters. And there are some moments of frustration and complexity when Remi leaves much artwork preparation to an assistant as he downs liquor like Captain Haddock, is haunted by his creation in a deliriously shady dream, and tries to become a serious painter.

But the short text-bios of figures in Remi's life at the end offer more fascinating hints and questions than many of the words and pictures (breezily and warmly rendered, without trying to imitate Herg) before it do. Herg's racism (sickeningly colonial in Tintin in the Congo, for instance) isn't raised but only imitated in one cartoonish look at his visit to a Native reserve in the US. Remi's near-assassination over criticism of the Japanese in The Blue Lotus becomes an opaque action-episode here. His fascist leanings under the guiding hand of his first editor are barely explored, while his tangled love-life isn't unspooled too well. Another missed opportunity is the influence of Eastern philosophythanks to his long-lost, eventually rediscovered friend Chang ("White is empty, and emptiness is precious")that comes off rather simply and isn't eerily connected to the striking white landscapes and the senses of loss and absence in Tintin in Tibet.
 
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