Today is my birthday, and I got two great comics-related books as presents (with considerable hint-dropping). The first was The Tintin Companion, which shows panels from the Tintin comics alongside the photos that Herge used as his original sources. As he redrew many of the comics when they were printed in color, it’s also interesting to see how his style evolved. At thirty bucks, this book is a serious bargain and well worth the price for anyone who loves Tintin.
I have a special affection for Tintin not only because I read the comics as a kid but also because I lived in Geneva, which was one of Herge’s haunts. He stayed in the Hotel Cornavin, opposite the train station, and one of his books (The Calculus Affair, if memory serves) includes some beautiful renderings of Geneva. When we were there the hotel had some of Herge’s doodles on hotel stationery in the windows, and there was an almost-life-size Tintin dummy in the foyer. (The Swiss are funny because they can seem so stuffy, but they have this great sense of humor. Can you imagine a giant Archie doll in the foyer of any American hotel? No, I didn’t think so.) Anyway, when my older daughter was six months old she bore a striking resemblance to this effigy, and I have the side-by-side photos to prove it. This will prove excellent blackmail material in about three years, when she starts dating. (“Be home by 11, or I’m showing him the Tintin photos!!”)
The other book was The Walking Man, by Jiro Taniguchi. I’ve been wanting to read this ever since I heard Ed and Jarred discuss it on MangaCast, and I’m glad I was able to find it. (It was at my local Borders, but shelved with graphic novels, not manga.) At $16.99 it’s a little more expensive than your standard book but it’s so beautiful it’s worth it. There’s no plot, just a guy walking around Tokyo, looking at things. Really looking. The landscapes are beautifully rendered, mostly with detailed line work. It’s like a meditation in manga form, and because it’s divided into short chapters, I’m reading it a little at a time.
One weird thing about this book, though, is that it’s printed left to right. I’m so accustomed to reading unflipped manga now that even though I was turning the pages correctly, I was reading the panels in the wrong order; it took a few minutes to reorient myself. It was kind of funny to read Mitch’s comments on Tezuka’s Buddha after that, but I’m happy to say that Fanfare didn’t do any violence to the book when they flipped it.