Friday, January 7, 2011
Tintin goes to Tezuka
(Tintin, all rights reserved. Used for review purposes only.)
I received a set of 6 volumes of Herge's Tintin comics for Christmas this year. The books, published by Little, Brown and Co., cover 18 of the 24 original Tintin stories. They don't include the first three stories, and the set I have is missing vol. 7, with the last three. For right now, the story of most interest is Red Rackham's Treasure, in vol. 4.
Red Rackham's Treasure follows The Secret of the Unicorn. In Secret, Tintin and Captain Haddock learn about a miniature model of the ship Unicorn, which had been in the possession of Haddock's ancestor, the feared captain Red Rackham. Turns out that Red had been captured by a pirate, and had managed to defeat the villain and take his chest of gems before becoming shipwrecked. 2 years later, Red was rescued, and had given each of his three sons miniatures of the Unicorn with pieces of parchment hidden in the masts. When combined, the parchments yield a clue to the location of the chest of gems.
This brings us to Treasure, where Tintin, Haddock, Prof. Calculus and Snowy race against rivals to locate the chest. Their trip takes them to the island where Red had been stranded, and they encounter a few adventures. Unfortunately for them, the chest is actually hidden somewhere completely unrelated to this specific island.
According to the wiki entry, Treasure was serialized in the German-controlled Belgian newspaper "Le Soir" from 1943 to 1944, 3 to 4 years prior to the publication of Tezuka's Shin Takarajima (New Treasure Island). Granted, Shin-Takarajima was a retelling of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, which was first published in 1883. It could be argued that Herge was ripping off Stevenson, in which case my point gets mangled a bit. But if we compare Shin Takarajima to Red Rackham's Treasure, we can see some similarities. Both stories feature an adventurous young boy with a pet dog. Both boys have ship's captains as companions, and both are chasing after a chest of jewels. And both Herge and Tezuka had stated that they were trying for a more cinematic presentation for the pacing and camera angles.
(Tezuka's Shin Takarajima, all rights reserved. Used for review purposes only.)
The problem is that it's not all that likely that Tezuka could have seen a Belgian paper during the war, or that one of the collected volumes could have made its way to Japan following the war. According to the Japanese wiki, Tintin wasn't translated into Japanese commercially until 1968. Further, if Tezuka did have the Tintin books in front of him as study material, he'd probably have done a better job at drawing his characters (although supposedly Tezuka's mentor was responsible for degrading the art quality, and not Tezuka himself).
To me, it looks like Tezuka saw a few pages of Red Rackham's Treasure, and then tried to draw it from memory a few years later. Since he was still just starting out as an artist, it's not surprising that the art would be so primitive-looking. Regardless, it's interesting to me to compare Herge and Tezuka side by side, and see how comics from two different countries and roughly the same time period contrast with each other.
Compare Tintin and Shin Takarajima. See if there isn't a slight chance that there's a connection between the two; that Tezuka could have been influenced by Herge in some way.