10:23 Challenge 1984 Aesthetics Alastair Reynolds Alban Berg Albert Uderzo Alexander Nehamas Antikythera Arrugas Art Asterios Polyp Asterix Babylon 5 Bernd and Hilla Becher Bible Bill Viola Brad DeLong Bruce Sterling Buddhism Carl Sagan Center for Inquiry Charles and Ray Eames Charles Burns Charles Yu Cheryl Morgan Chris Mooney Chris Ware Círculo Escéptico Clarkesworld Comics Committee for Skeptical Inquiry Cristóbal Vila Cyberpunk Dan Nadel Darick Robertson Dario Robleto Darryl Cunningham David Mazzucchelli David O'Reilly Dmitri Shostakovich Ed Docx Einstein on the Beach Engaget Eric Brown Errol Morris Etérea Studios Fantasy Fractals Frank Stockton Frankenstein Free Will Gary Wolfe Greece Hans Rosling Harry Frankfurt Hergé Hiraki Sawa Hiroshi Sugimoto Humor Ian Bertram Iliad Jaq Chartier Jason Yungbluth Jennifer Bartlett John Baldessari John Martz John Scalzi John Sculley Jorge Luis Borges Jose Pérez Joseph Lambert Joyce Carol Oates Jules Feiffer Julia Galef Justin Whitaker Karl Stevens Kasimir Malevich Ken Dahl Komar & Melamid Language Lord of the Rings Luis Alfonso Gámez Macintosh Marcel Duchamp Margaret Atwood Mary Shelley Massimo Pigliucci Math Maurizio Cattelan Michael Benson MoCCA Modern Times Museums Nancy Fulda Nancy Kress Neil Gaiman Neil Tyson NK Jemisin NYRSF Optical Illusion Orson Scott Card Paco Roca Pascal Girard Paul Hornschemeier Paul Kurtz Pepo Pérez Phil Moriarty Philip Glass Philosophy physics Plato Podcast Post-modernism Quay Brothers Rage Comics Ray Bradbury Realism Religion Rene Goscinny Richard Dawkins Richard Feynman Robert Rauschenberg Robert Wilson Roger Ebert Sam Sykes Samuel R. Delany Science Science Fiction Sean Carroll Secular Buddhist Association Shaun Tan Sixty Simbols Skepticism SMBC Star Wars Statistics Steampunk Steve Jobs Steven Pinker subBlue Tara Donovan Tatiana Plakhova The New Yorker Theodore Sturgeon Tim Minchin Timothy Callahan Tintin Tom Gauld Tomas Saraceno Transmetropolitan Ursula K. Le Guin Video Vija Celmins Warren Ellis Watchmen Wikileaks Will Eisner William Gibson Wine Writing X'ed Out XKCD

Entries in Hergé (1)

Thursday
Jan202011

X'ed Out: Tintin for Adults?

Charles Burns's new SFnal graphic novel X'ed Out is an unabashed paean to Hergé's Adventures of Tintin; the cover refers to Tintin's Shooting Star, and there are visual quotes and cues to other Tintin volumes on practically every page. The drawing style is reminiscent of woodcut or Hergé's limpid ligne claire as well.

There are significant differences, though. Perhaps most critically, Burns's pacing is deliberate, lacking the strong narrative drive one finds in Hergé. Pages don't end with cliffhangers, and there are a lot of quiet or empty frames that Burns uses to shade atmosphere or psychology in ways Hergé probably could not have afforded to do. There are also more adult themes, blood and nudity -- even young women -- that one would never expect to find in Tintin. This is clearly not intended to be a children's book, though it celebrates them.

The story, of a man named Doug who seems to have lost his memory in some kind of accident, pulls you in at the beginning. An intriguing vignette of a story involving Doug and two of his girlfriends makes up its heart, bookended by dreamlike sequences in a SFnal world filled with strange aliens.

As to its length: this is perhaps the book's greatest flaw. It appears to have been designed to look on the shelf like Tintin in more than its cover art. The book's size and page length also resembles Tintin. However the story develops slowly and confusedly enough that one is left feeling a bit abandoned at its end. This is less the first book of a series than the first chapter of a book, and that's a problem. While beautifully drawn and presented, and clearly promising, it's a work of dream and atmosphere that gives little hint as to what it will become. One is left less with a feeling of narrative drive at its end, less with a need to pick up the next volume, than with a feeling of confusion and uncertainty as to what this all is and where it's going.

Is it a book about Doug's relationships and his odd dreamworld? Or is something deeper going on? Then there are other threads that are barely suggestions, such as Doug's odd relationship with his parents. It's a book thick with suggestion and lacking in clear resolve. One expects further volumes will clarify and deepen. Given that the back cover promises this as "the first volume of an epic masterpiece" that we are looking at something more than a two or three book series. If so, any review this early in the game may well miss forest for trees.