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Adult Books 4 Teens
Inside Adult Books 4 Teens

A Most Suitable Design

from graphic novel guest blogger, Francisca Goldsmith:

The biography of Tintin’s creator under review below is not, although sharing a similar title, to be confused with the 2008 coffee table style presentation of the artist and his characters. Instead, this translation of a somewhat older French study serves as a contemplative vehicle as well as an informative one.  It helps to know the rudiments of Georges Remi’s life: his devotion to scouting, his predicament as one who earned his living as a writer in Occupied Belgium, his concern that no one but Spielberg produce a Tintin movie and that it be live action.  But readers who don’t know these details will have their curiosity sufficiently piqued by passages here to investigate—as would Hergé’s intrepid boy reporter with a quiff.

What makes this book a rare find is how it mirrors the subject’s own best known work without either mocking or aping it.  From the front cover, showing Hergé and an associate meeting in front of a gloomy mansion, we are faced with echoes of the man’s work and his time.  In this cover illustration, Hergé is not only holding fast to a portfolio, but—in keeping with the times, which were the mid-1940’s—smoking a cigarette.  This alone should serve as a clue that the book isn’t for contemporary children.

At 64 pages of sequential art panels, the book is sized to the same specifications Hergé placed on his Tintin novels. Perspectives, crowd scenes, dream sequences, even dogs have their places in the telling of his life’s work, just as he employed each of these to detail the stories he told.  Teens who loved, or may still love, Tintin will discover that this approach sparks an interest in them in what embedded details each of his own stories included.  In short, this is a meta-Tintin almost as much as it is a solid work about Tintin’s creator and keeper.

BOCQUET, José Louis & Jean-Luck Fromenthal. The Adventures of Hergé. tr. from French  by Helge Dascher.  illus. by Stanislas Barthélémy. 64p. Drawn & Quarterly. 2011. Tr $19.95. ISBN 978-1-77046-058-1. LC number unavailable.  The Adventures of Herge

Adult/High School–This homage to the complex life of Tintin’s Belgian creator is an excellent overview of both Georges Remi’s comics style and how politics and his social life were necessary aspects of Tintin’s development and promotion. In chapters that examine key moments between 1914 and Remi’s death in 1983, readers see Remi’s development from youth to artist; from husband to faithful flirt; and in friendships with fellow artists, publishers, and the priest who helped him get Tintin into print. Readers also have a direct view into the effects of his continuing to publish during the Nazi era, how that affected him and culture in the aftermath of World War II, and promotional activities for the very first “Tintin” stories on the moving screen. The creators of this biography are faithful to showing Remi’s personality flaws in a context that is both respectful and insightful. This is truly the story of Remi the man, not of Tintin—although readers see where a number of inspirations for storylines and characters appeared in his life. The “index” provides brief essays on many of the individuals who shaped Remi’s life and legacy, further bolstering the panels in which they are referenced in the text.–Francisca Goldsmith, Infopeople Project, CA

Angela Carstensen About Angela Carstensen

Angela Carstensen is Head Librarian and an Upper School Librarian at Convent of the Sacred Heart in New York City. Angela served on the Alex Awards committee for four years, chairing the 2008 committee, and chaired the first YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adult committee in 2009. Recently, she edited Outstanding Books for the College Bound: Titles and Programs for a New Generation (ALA Editions, 2011). Contact her via Twitter @AngeReads.