Tintin in the Unconscious

May 24th, 2007 | Uncategorized

tintin dream

As if the home movies weren’t enough, now I’m going to start in with my dreams. Last night I dreamed I met Hergé! Only he was just a boy…in fact, he was Tintin. He was signing books, doing drawings in each one. I watched him in astonishment. His hand would move maniacally, almost involuntarily, across the page and in a few seconds, there it was–a perfect, highly detailed drawing.

It was awe-inspiring and depressing at the same time because it was clear to me that this was a kind of superhuman power I did not possess and never would.

I might have forgotten all about the dream, but then at breakfast I opened the latest New Yorker and there’s a big illustrated piece in it about Tintin! Apparently Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson are going to make three Tintin movies.

Why do they have to make movies of everything?

52 Responses to “Tintin in the Unconscious”

  1. Lynne says:

    This may be a weird thought, but I love it when you draw yourself in varying styles.

  2. Ginjoint says:

    Have they called you yet, to star?

  3. Anonymous says:

    My friends daughter use to look at the Tintin books when she did not yet know how to read. She was pointin at the picture of Tintin saying Mom and the pictures of Captain Haddock saying Daddy. This went on page after page

  4. Lori in NYC says:

    I agree, Lynne. This drawing and the last are amazing.

  5. --MC says:

    We were talking about how a live-action Tintin is going to suck. Snowy. They get a real dog. Dollars to donuts the dog will not talk. If they try to show him talking, it’ll look stupid, and if they just show him reacting with his thoughts in voiceover it’ll look stupid, so the dog will probably not talk. And you lose one of the elements that make the Tintin stories so great: Snowy’s droll little asides, like a doggie Noel Coward.

  6. mobathome says:

    You draw graphic stories. They make movies.
    Why do they have to make movies of anything?
    It’s how they have come to know who they are.

  7. joecab says:

    Because they want some guarantee of cashflow, and a built-in fan base is it.

    You do realize that now I REALLY want to see you do a DTWOF strip ala Herge.

  8. little gator says:

    There’s a fairly wellknown(though I forget its name) Tintin themed restaurant in Montreal, for those that get there.

    Did you know Snowy is officially a solid white wirehair fox terrier? I don’t know if they exists in real life, but the breed standard disallows them as show dogs. So he might be th only one.

    I heart Captain Haddock.

  9. Lea says:

    wow! it’s in color….

  10. Josiah says:

    MC, as I understand it the Spielberg/Jackson Tintin movies won’t be live action. They’ll be CG, but “3-D CG” using motion capture, like they did with Gollum in Lord of the Rings (that is, there will be actors making the movements, who are then altered to resemble the characters). The closest precedent is apparently Robert Zemeckis’ (not quite successful) attempt to transfer Chris Van Allsberg’s art to the screen in The Polar Express, but I’m told that there have been technological advances since that. Later this year we’ll see — Zemeckis is using the same technology to make Beowulf to a screenplay by Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary, and Gaiman said that they’ve “solved the thing with the eyes”, whatever that means. Beowulf should be interesting — the casting of Angelina Jolie as Grendel’s mother demonstrates a pleasant sense of humor, at least.

    Apparently the idea for Tintin is to create a CG environment that resembles Herge’s drawings. I’m not sure how you can have ligne claire in a computer-generated world, but it’ll be interesting to see the attempt. That said, I do hope that they keep Snowy’s wry asides in some form.

  11. shadocat says:

    It’s all about the money.

    Isn’t it ALWAYS?

  12. louise says:

    It looks like the Simpsons movie is going to be like that. They utilize 3-D models for flat-colored characters with 2-D outlines.

    About maddeningly talented artists… [coughAlison coughBechdelcough] I’m trying to draw a comic. I redraw each facial expression something like six times. I’m going at a rate of about a panel a day in the time that I have, when I’m not at work. So while I’m at work, I’m going back and googling some comic artists that I like to see ‘who I want to be influenced by’ which is ridiculous because I’ll be happy if my drawings look like they’re ‘influenced’ by the visible world. Today I was just reading that almost every month in the 1980s, Hayao Miyazaki drew 16-20 pages of his manga Nausicaa (post-apocalyptic mold jungle, floating airships and hot environmentalist soft butch warrior princess cuteness), all by himself without the usual team that most manga artists or Lynn Johnston have. This makes me foam at the mouth. I think to have that kind of skill it’s probably the same as learning a language. If you have someone instructing you from the time you’re a small kid, you’ll be fluent. The later you fully mobilize as an artist, the more thought and struggle you’ll have to put into everything you do.

    Oh and the Boston terrier’s tongue in the last DTWOF? That is not a piece of legal document. Our shih-poo’s tongue does the same thing after he walks three blocks. I understand why people would be confused by it, it’s unnerving.

  13. kate says:

    do you dream in technicolor?

  14. Aunt Soozie says:

    That’s a good dream.

    It’s so exciting when a client brings a good dream to dig into together…it’s yummilicious work for therapists …so juicy.

    “snakes, what could it mean?” reminds me of a recent conversation with a new colleague;she a seasoned therapist much my senior.

    I was telling her that a kid once brought a pet rat along to therapy…it was sitting right on her shoulder. The senior therapist told me she could not abide that, a rat in session. Then we talked about other unusual pets ie,snakes, lizards.

    I said, “I don’t like lizardy snakey things. I like soft furry things.”

    She said,”hmmmm…well, of course you do.”

    Therapists…they’re always acting like something means something else…geez…

  15. LondonBoy says:

    Louise: Why not do what Leonardo did, and study some anatomy ? That doesn’t mean your own work has to be anatomically accurate, of course: you just study it to get some idea of the forms and capabilities of the basic human framework. Once you know it you can forget it again, but it will inform your subsequent work subconsciously, and might make it more “natural-looking”.

  16. Rick says:

    I was about to rush in and grumble about how they do seem to be making everything into a movie now-a-days [with Johnny Depp in it]… but then I read Josiah’s post and thought, “Well, it might not be that bad then…” But still. I’d prefer it a great deal more if there were no Tintin movie. Even though they already made a Tintin cartoon back in the early 90s [if memory serves].

    And Louise, I tried drawing a comic too. I got three pages in before it stalled. Ugh. I keep trying to force myself back to it, just so that I can get through drawing a fourth page, loosen up, and then finish the whole thing in a much more relaxed manner. But I’m letting a huge mistake in character heights stop me.

  17. laura says:

    there was an enthusiastic review of the italian translation of fun home in the literary supplement of a major italian newspaper last week. something along the lines of masterpiece among graphic novels or best ever graphic novel. I felt happy and proud (like I contributed, other than reading and enjoying your work, but there you are), and thought that from now on, I’ll be able to have a conversation about my favorite artist, and not just rant about those wonderful comics

  18. Duncan says:

    I saw the paperback edition of Fun Home in my local independent bookstore a couple of days ago. Very nice, and festooned with lists of the awards it has won and two or three pages of praise from the reviews.

    But then…

    Alison, “Why do they have to make movies of everything?”

    and Rick, “I’d prefer it a great deal more if there were no Tintin movie.”

    Well, no one *has* to go see it. I probably won’t, if only because Spielberg is the Antichrist. (Oh, wait — I *like* the Antichrist. So Spielberg is the Christ, or the anti-Antichrist. I am the Antichrist, I am an Anarchist…)
    I haven’t seen most of the big blockbusters that everybody babbles about, because they just don’t sound interesting to me.

    I’m always a bit bemused when I see people complaining about movies that are being made, or remade; there were people who were furious that The Amityville Horror, that sublime Shakespearean/Bergmanesque work of High Art, was remade, and it would like totally *ruin* the original for them. Why? I’d ask, pointing out to them that they didn’t have to go see it, but evidently they did. (“They” don’t *have* to “make movies of everything” — they do so of their own free will, because that’s how they make money. If people didn’t flock to see the product — so they can complain how it has ruined the original? that’s an expensive way of getting your jollies) and buy it on DVD (ditto), then Hollywood would be out of business.)

    Then there’d be the complaints that Hollywood makes all these remakes because they aren’t creative and original anymore. But Hollywood has *always* turned books, plays, current events, history into product. So did the theater before Hollywood existed. Most of Shakespeare’s plays, after all, are either “histories” or stolen from other sources.


  19. Liza from pine street art works says:

    Why make a movie of Tintin? Well, apparantly Spielberg is a long time fan. He’s owned the rights since 1983. If you’re a filmmaker and you love a book, wouldn’t it be obvious that you’d want to make a film of it? Seems like a no brainer to me.

    Sure there’s money in it, as there should be, but also there’s love, challenge, art, passion and prestige.

    Can you imagine a movie of “Where The Wild Things Are?” Yup, it’s being made right now by Spike Jonze. With life sized puppets, that is, actors in puppet suits. I’m just sure it’s going to be awewome.

    I mean, who would have dreamed that “Fun Home” would become a musical? Is anyone complaining?

  20. martinaTheB says:

    LOL – when I was reading your blog yesterday I thought you were joking about the whole Spielberg-Tintin-movie thing…

    But I just saw a feature about it on German tv! And then confusion spread its ugly wings of, well, confusion, landed on my head with a big thump and started hammering questions into my innocent little mind:
    What the heck is so great about trilogies? Why do people call them triologies instead? And why do they call the Alien dvd collection a quadrilogy – shouldn’t it be called a tetralogy? And why does the whole thing aggravate me so much?
    Hmph, I might need to get rid of that nasty bird on my head …

  21. --MC says:

    “Do you dream in color? Do you dream at a-all?”
    Louise, I can relate. I’ve been drawing comics for hundreds of years now and I struggle over faces. There are disadvantages to being a self-taught artist, I’m sure there’s probably some technique I never learned, but I labor and labor to make the people’s faces consistant from page to page. I wind up going back and redrawing the first few heads, like Kurtzman with Goodman Beaver, to match the later editions of the characters.

  22. Doctor E says:

    That’s the advantage of drawing Super Heroes: Put a big logo on their chests and the faces don’t have to be distinctive!

    When I was drawing parody strips for a Legion of Super Heroes fanzine, I was told that my bad art was the funniest thing about them. I started using a thinker marker, gave up using a ruler to draw the panel borders, and re-titled the thing “Bad Art Follies!”

  23. chewy says:

    A “thinker marker”? Does that mean it conceptualizes for you?


  24. louise says:

    Rick, don’t let petty metaphysical things like character height stop you from finishing your comic!! My high school gym teacher said that the best exercise is the one that you will do. I’m angsting over the comic but I just hope to god that I do it, so I’m just sacrificing a lot of consistency and trying to make it look intentional that sometimes the characters are three heads high and sometimes eight heads high. And in some panels I’ll try to get that elbow just right, and in others it’ll look like spaghetti, but I’ll try to make it look like interesting spaghetti. Bad in a good way. Doctor E you have the right idea. Looking at the early work of so many cartoonists (I happened to see the 400th Simpsons ep, where besides tearing apart Fox and the Republican party, they replayed the very first sketch that was on the Tracy Ullman show), I understand that I’ll have no idea what my style will end up looking like. Londonboy, I definitely must study anatomy more. I’ve always wanted to take a class. I’ve had a ton of life drawing, so when there’s something in front of me I can draw that, but developing a picture in your head and then having the visual vocabulary to reproduce it easily is a different skill and studying anatomy would help build that vocabulary.
    I wish I had gone to school for animation. There’s all these young cartoonists in California where I guess there’s that animation scene and they all draw like banshees.
    MC, now I’m going to try to figure out which cartoonists have your initials… ^-^ Thank you for introducing me to Goodman Beaver.

  25. Jana C.H. says:

    Louise—Get ARTIST’S COMPLETE GUIDE TO FACIAL EXPRESSION by Gary Faigin. It is the Bible on the subject, for animation as well as drawing. I watch animated films in an entirely different way now, noting how the animators make horses, cars, and green spheres look human. The key is eyebrows. (By the way, I learned everything I know about anatomy for artists from lectures by Gary Faigin. Cool guy.)

    What I don’t understand about the planned animated Tintin movie is why they would WANT to make it 3D with motion capture. Tintin is a traditional 2D cartoon, with black outlines and flat colors. Why not just do it that way? If the idea is to make a Tintin movie, it should look like Tintin. I wonder if they’re doing 3D/motion capture simply because they can. After all, there’s nothing high tech about a 2D cartoon. Yet it is often artistically more appropriate than modern techniques, and remains a legitimate artform.

    I especially worry about motion capture in an all-animated film. It’s ideal for integration with live-action, but it can easily become creepy, as happened in “Polar Express”. I recommend doing a google-search on “uncanny valley” for information on that effect.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith Arthur Pinero: Where there is tea there is hope.

  26. chewy says:

    Polar Express animation is creepy is alright. I can’t watch it. I changed channels every time a commercial for it came on.

  27. shadocat says:

    “If you’re a filmmaker and you love a book, wouldn’t it be obvious that you’d want to make a film of it? Seems like a no brainer to me.”

    Liza, you’re right.I think I was trying to make some kind of point before like “Spielberg, et. al,is just trying to make a buck, just as many are…” But what’s wrong with doing that? If you’re honest, what’s wrong with making money? Or even being rich, for that matter? Just put my previous comment down to me being cranky.

  28. Anonymous says:

    But there are already classic and classy Tintin movies (available in German, at least, if not in English), and I fail to see what live-action/3D motion capture has to offer besides money for the filmmaker. I’m glad that Spielberg loves Tintin so much, but couldn’t that love extend to respecting the original medium and not trying to impose his own “vision” on the material?

  29. --MC says:

    Louise, if you find that “Goodman Beaver” collection, note that there’s one story, “Goodman Goes Playboy”, that was not reprinted in the book for legal reasons. The daredevils at the Comics Journal reprinted the story in one of their recent issues — I’ll see if I can find the number, and of course back issues are still available from the publisher.
    The sad thing is, there’s another cartoonist, more successful than I have been, who has my same name!
    Jana – I’m getting a copy of that book today!

  30. thistle says:

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with making movies of great books, necessarily. I can’t really come up with a convincing reason that there’s something wrong with making a movie of Tintin, though I’m pretty sure actually trying to watch a Tintin movie would cause me to claw my eyes out, because I’m just too attached to the books to enjoy a movie based on them.

    But I do think there’s a sense today that all good books–and some other forms of media and art–must eventually be transmuted into movie form. And I’m not entirely convinced that it’s natural, or a wholly good thing, for it to be obvious to a filmmaker like Spielberg that he should make a movie of any book that he loves. I mean, I don’t think that comic strip artists feel automatically drawn to make strips of all of the movies that they like–in fact, I don’t think artists in other genres would typically choose to base their artwork on already existing films, and I think it would be seen as odd if they did. There’s a point where it just feels like Spielberg is assuming that everything just *must* be better on the big screen, and the world is running with that assumption along with him.

  31. Doctor E says:

    Thinker Marker: That means it only draws naked guys resting their chins on their fists.

    Which is why I switched to a thicker marker.

    I recommend “How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way” by Stan Lee and John Buscema. The anatomy chapters will probably be too rudimentary for you, but there’s some good stuff in there about composition and storytelling. And it’s written by Stan Lee, so it’s chock-full of pointless alliteration and absurd hyperbole!

  32. Jana C.H. says:

    Love that alliteration and hyperbole! I learned to write silly from Stan Lee


  33. Carolsmama says:

    If our youth come out of the theater and read Tintin, then it will all be good. A film can’t be as good as the real thing.

    My 9 year old daughter has approached literacy the same way I did–via comic books. She has lots of Herge, but most of her friends have the nouveau girl-comics, like Disney’s “W.I.T.C.H.” and various shojo manga.

    Alison, any desire to draw for the young? You’ve got all of your reader’s offspring as a potential market demographic…


  34. Al, et al. says:

    From Latin conjugation and bad philosophy jokes to the fundmentals of comic art. God, I love this blog!

  35. Willendorf says:

    Alison, have you seen this? http://slog.thestranger.com/2007/05/my_life_on_the_j_list

    I know you’re not Jewish (either), but you’re in good company here.

  36. liza says:

    There is an exhibit at the Pace Wildenstein gallery in NYC about how Picasso and Braque invented Cubism by watching movies.

    From a NY Times review :”For more than 20 years the New York art dealer Arne Glimcher had carried around a theory, more gut feeling than scholarly conjecture, that Picasso and Braque had been seduced by that siren song of the early cinema, and that Cubism, with its fractured surfaces and multiple perspectives, owed much more to the movies than anyone had noticed.”

    Picasso was a notorious “stealer” of ideas. And he was Picasso for crying out loud.

    Art is always about art – always borrowing, stealing, copying, morphing itself.

    A great read, the most eye opening essay I’ve seen on this subject: Jonathan Lethem, “The ecstasy of Influence”


  37. Schradi says:

    I really like your Tintin-Special-Drawing, Al! Did you all know that we here in Europe have currently a huge Hergé exhibition in honor of his 100th birthday?

  38. DeLandDeLakes says:

    Yikes- If Peter Jackson thought he was taking on a fanatical fan base with _Lord of the Rings_, just wait until he tries to adapt the most popular comic book in world history. I’d actually never read any Tintin until a friend from India lent me one of his books.

    Sometimes I dream in comic book format- with word balloons and everything!

  39. Jaibe says:

    Are you looking forwards to the movies, or are you afraid?

  40. kalani says:

    I think it’s because the majority of people simply do not read, so it’s a way of getting stories out to them.

    I fell in love with the Persepolis books and, even though Marjorie Satrapi is at the helm of making an upcoming movie version, I’m still sad about it. Like DWTOF and Fun Home, these graphic novels were perfectly animated as is — rich and beautiful and alive on the page. I’m not sure what can be gained by messing with ’em.

    As a singer who sometimes does covers, my feeling is to only mess with the original if you can add something to make it new and different and therefore worthwhile. There are very few films that can do that for a book, but who knows… film can be an art form, too.

    (please oh please, Allison, be involved and excited should you ever go that route!)

  41. DeLandDeLakes says:

    I’m not really sure what I think about a Tintin movie (I’m not a big Spielberg fan either- he should be conscripted to thirty years of community service for _A.I._), but I agree with Kalani- there are certain things about comics that don’t translate well to film, despite the fact that the two mediums are very similar in a lot of ways. (Little frames of pictures that the viewer “sutures” together in her imagination.) Like the thing about Snowy’s asides- talking animals work wonderfully in comics (or some comics, anyway,) but in movies they inevitably make me want to retch for their sacharine cuteness.
    I really, really hope the Tintin movies do not in any way resemble _The Polar Express_. The fact that hand-drawn animation is apparently going the way of the dinosaurs makes me sad.

  42. Lisa (Calico) says:

    There are some very well-done Tintin cartoons shown on TV, esp. in Canada, in both French and English. However, my favorites are the books.
    And for Alison and anyone else interested, there is still (I think) a “Tintin in Peru” exhibition at Musée de la Civilization in Québec City. I’m thinking it runs thru Jan. ’08, but should I find a nice clean link about it I’ll post it here.

  43. Lisa (Calico) says:

    Oh, and Little Gator, in response to your comment I did indeed see a little white Terrier yesterday, prancing around in a park – everyone I was with immediately said “Oh, C’est Milou!” (Milou is the original French name for Snowy, Tintin’s ever-faithful canine companion.)

  44. Duncan says:

    kalani, I’m a singer who mostly does covers; I have a repertoire of over 50 songs, only about three of which I wrote. I figure there are enough bad “original” songs in the world without adding to them, so I only write when the muse is on me. I don’t claim to “add something to make it new and different and therefore worthwhile” to the songs I sing — I just like singing ’em. The more I sing them, the more they become mine, but I don’t claim to be a great artist, and I don’t care if I am one or not. I sing because I enjoy it, and for audiences who like what I do.

    It occurred to me before in another online forum, that the question of remaking movies could be viewed by comparison with “remaking”, or reviving plays in the theater. It’s good to have people writing new plays — after all, every “classic” play was once a new one, and we have here in my city an organization which specializes in the care of feeding of playwrights. But no one as far as I know complains about the performance of plays that are not original, nor must a local company justify itself as being Grandes Artistes in order to perform Shakespeare.

    Movies are different from theatre in that they are so much more expensive, especially the special-effects intensive productive of today’s Hollywood, so it’s less likely that someone’s going to do a different and better version of, say, E.T. than that someone will stage a revival of The Glass Menagerie. But still, I don’t know about you but I *wish* someone would “remake” The Color Purple, the film which revealed to me that Spielberg is the Antichrist, evil to the core. Maybe Julie Dash could do it. I don’t think it would hurt if a lot more remakes were being done, if we saw them as a chance to get a different look at certain material, instead of whining that our childhood favorite comics and stories, and masterpieces of World Lit or Cinema like “The Amityville Horror” were being defiled and trampled on, and we *have* to see them, we can’t just ignore them.

    I see that numerous other commenters here seem to take for granted that no Hollywood film can be ignored, that (apparently) we will all be mysteriously drawn to the multiplexes like lemmings to see Spielberg/Jackson’s Tin Tin, unless we claw out our eyes like Oedipus so we won’t have to look. I don’t get it. What really bothers me is that this mindset is basically the same as that of the Religious Right: if *anyone* in the world is doing something God (that is, I) doesn’t like, it is intolerable and must be stopped. (Along with the ever-popular attitude that anyone who disagrees with Me is disagreeing with God, and violating Our freedom of speech to express Our opinion without contradiction.)

    Needless to say, I disagree. I probably won’t go to see Tin Tin. I don’t intend to see Pirates of the Caribbean 3, Spiderman 3, or Shrek 3 either. There isn’t anything playing in the multiplexes right now that sounds interesting at all, so I’ll just stay at home, thank you very much, and reread Invasion of the Dykes to Watch Out For, and watch something interesting on my DVD player. Right now I’m reading Leslie Fiedler’s What Was Literature?, which I’d recommend — it has a lot to say about elitist attitudes to popular entertainment. And I have a three-foot stack of books I want to get to before the summer’s over. Who needs Spielberg?

  45. Duncan says:

    Oh, I loved that link to the Stranger blog. Like Dan Savage, Alison’s not Jewish either. Neither am I, but like many of the commenters on the blog to which Savage was replying, I’d like to be on that bigot’s list anyway.

    thisislikesogay.blogspot.com (that’s my blog, not the anti-Semitic one)

  46. Liza from pine street art works says:

    Duncan, you don’t have feedback on your blog, so I’ll tell you here that I loved your latest essay. Thanks for pointing the way to it.

    Since you brought up popular culture and elitist attitudes, here’s Lawrence Alloway on the subject:

    “…rejection of the mass produced arts is not, as critics think, a defence of culture but an attack on it”
    Lawrence Alloway, 1958

    I urge you (and everyone )to read the Jonathan Lethem essay I linked to above. You’ll love it.

  47. xckb13 says:

    Returning to the debate about Spielburg devouring Tintin, Rotten Tomatoes has a list up that ranks 94 of the best and worst movies adapted from comics. Their top ten seems kind of random to me (Spiderman and Spiderman 2 both made it, as did Ghost World, which I just never got), but it does feature X-Men 2 at a solid #5. Gay subtext, anyone?


  48. xckb13 says:

    Returning to the debate about Spielberg devouring Tintin, Rotten Tomatoes has a list up that ranks 94 of the best and worst movies adapted from comics. Their top ten seems kind of random to me (Spiderman and Spiderman 2 both made it, as did Ghost World, which I just never got), but it does feature X-Men 2 at a solid #5. Gay subtext, anyone?


  49. xckb13 says:

    Sorry for the double post.

  50. Germany says:

    What does that snake mean?

  51. Abapopaxy says:

    I’d prefer reading in my native language, because my knowledge of your languange is no so well. But it was interesting! Look for some my links:

  52. Triskeliae says:

    I happen to like “Tintin and the Mystery of the Golden Fleece”, a life action film from 1961. It’s not bad, considering the lack of technology back then. The story, though, is well thought up.

    However, Peter Jackson and Spielberg have 3 CGI movies in mind for Tintin, and all adaptations from Hergé’s original stories. Let’s wait and see how they turn out.

    Of course, I own all the comic books and nothing in this world will substitute the original work!!