28 October 2009

Review: The Adventures of Hergé - Creator of Tintin

Title: Porträtt av Hergé - Mannen bakom Tintin
Original title:Les adventures de Hergé - Créateur de Tintin
By: Michael Farr
Language: Swedish (French/English)
128 pages,color
ISBN: 978-91-638-6146-8 (Swedish edition)

It has been said of Tintin that he is not of an age, he is timeless. He is also a character that transcends national borders, being just as popular in countries all over the world as in Belgium, the birthplace of his creator George Remi, or Hergé as he signed his comics. Therefore it might not be so strange that one of, if not the leading Tintinologist (and the fact that such a word exists says a lot about the phenomenon that is Tintin) is not from Belgium or even from the country which has more or less claimed Tintin: France. No he's from Great Britain! Granted, Michael Farr is bilingual, and writes his books in both English and French simultaneously, but he is still a "Rosbif"... But maybe that´s why he has been given audience with Hergés widow and has to date written no less than four authorised books about Tintin and Hergé.

The Adventures of Hergé - Creator of Tintin is the fourth of Farr's books and the third to be published in Swedish in about as many years, and considering that these are almost the only books about comics published in Sweden during that same period, this says quite a lot about our relationship with Tintin. Anyway, these books are all meticulously researched and beautifully written. It is also quite obvious that Farr has a plan. After the more general first book, Tintin, 60 years Of Adventure, he has produced one book scrutinising each of the classical albums: Tintin The Complete Companion, one book delving into the characters of the series: Tintin And Co. and now one book about the creator, Hergé: The Adventures Of Hergé, Creator Of Tintin.

Almost one meters length in my bookshelf for books about certain comics and creators is occupied by books about Tintin and Hergé and one would assume that this might be enough. But I must admit that reading Farr's book was both educational and entertaining. It is not a traditional, chronological biography, but divided into chapters based on certain key elements in Hergé's life. It is also richly illustrated with many as yet unpublished sketches and drawings by Hergé, making it a breeze to read.

The book is available in many languages by now. The Swedish edition has the advantage of being translated by the most well-known Tintinologist in Sweden, Björn Wahlberg, who has added a large number of insightful translators remarks, which ads valuable information.

All in all, this book is an authorised biography, and as such it does not delve too much into the darker parts of Hergés life, his infidelities, his association with the Germans during the occupation of Belgium, his depressions, but it is well written and interesting and a treasure trove of information.

News: Arabic comics exhibition

Andraes Qassim, who has curated the exhibition on Arabic children's comics right now on display at Malmö City Library, has added all the images to his blog. So, for those of you who can't make it to the physical exhibition: go have a look!

I can also divulge that a lengthy article on the subject, written by Andreas, will be printed in a forthcoming issue of Bild & Bubbla.

News: Five exhibitions at Malmö City Library

I promised earlier that I would give you a complete round-up of all the exhibitions currently shown at the City Library of Malmö. Well, here they are. Seen above is the exhibition Världsserier (World comics), curated by yours truly. This I have reported about earlier, but now it is displayed in all its glory. It consists of really big printouts, each one presenting a comics artist from a different country with an image and a short text, and the sixteen huge pints together form a wall of images creating a brand new feel to the comics section of the library.

Just opposite, on the balcony outside of the comics section, is Svenska mangatecknare (Swedish mangaka), an exhibition showcasing Swedish artists working in a style inspired by the Asian comics culture, a phenomenon which is spreading like wildfire also in Sweden. Each artist is presented through a single color image, beautifully printed on structured canvas, with a short biographical note below.

Walking downstairs to the ground floor, the third exhibition, Fucking Vittula, can be seen on one of the walls in the café. It consists of mounted pages from the book with the same name, which is a comics reportage by Anders Annikas about the small towns Vittula and Åmål, which both enjoyed a period of "celebrity status" because of the tremendous successes of the book Populärmusik från Vittula and the movie Fucking Åmål respectively.

Walking towards the children's section of the library, you will find the fourth exhibition, Arabiska barnserier (Arabic children's comics) displayed on a number of stands, spread out all the way into the children's section. This exhibitions consists of full pages of a number of famous Arabic children's comics, with short annotations, both in Swedish and Arabic.

Finally, the fifth exhibition is inside the children's area of the library, where the results of a number of workshops where groups of kindergarten kids collectively wrote scripts to eight panel comic, which were then drawn on the spot by comics artist Lovisa Witt during 90 minutes sessions. The results are just as weird and wonderful as can be expected.

Well that's it. Now I'll just have to get around to reporting on the other 18 comics exhibitions currently displayed in Malmö...