Book Reviews, Graphic Novels, YA

The dumb racism of Tintin — Tintin in the Congo and Tintin in America (1930 – 1932)

Tintin in the Congo (1930 – 1931)

Even the best Tintin stories are, to me, speeding towards irrelevance. Hergé’s writing is confusing — despite being geared primarily towards children, his plots are propelled forward by excessive expository dialogue describing everything happening in the artwork, with overly-political plotlines and a vocabulary far beyond the target grade level. I liked following the art when I was a youngster, but most of the stories bored me and still bore me.

Tintin in the Congo is as ridiculous as its reputation. After his earliest exploits in the Soviet Union circa 1929, Tintin lands on Africa’s shores to unanimous acclaim from every 1930s racist caricature imaginable. His adventures there follow the attitude of this uncomfortable encounter:

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Book Reviews, Graphic Novels, YA

A Sandman spin-off to avoid: Dead Boy Detectives (2014 – 2015)

a limited series of 12 issues
plotted with artist Mark Buckingham

These detectives really need to be put to rest. Ed Brubaker’s one-shot, “the Secret of Immortality,” let readers know that two prepubescent ghost detectives didn’t provide a lot of material to entertain Vertigo’s target audience. Nor did Jill Thompson’s manga-style run with the characters. Neil Gaiman’s original the Sandman series provided an interesting set-up for the characters, but every time they’re dug up, they’re stripped of all characteristics except their English accents and crammed into crummy stories written, somewhat confusingly, for ‘mature audiences.’

The characters and the stories are geared towards the YA market, but then the occasional nudity and gore — blatantly adult content — likely contributed to this series’ low sales and fast cancellation. This short-lived series, about two dead 12-year-old boys who solve supernatural mysteries with a young girl named Crystal and two halves of a philosopher ghost-cat, ends up feeling as scatterbrained as the setup sounds.

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Book Reviews, Graphic Novels, YA

Mike Carey’s Spellbinders: Signs and Wonders (2005)

Mike Carey is an excellent writer — easily one of the most talented names in the comics industry. He’s most lauded for his dense, philosophical work in the Lucifer series (a spin-off of Neil Gaiman’s the Sandman that’s woefully underappreciated next to its source material) and the more recent the Unwritten, both of which deal heavily with the nature / meaning / impact of storytelling (and arguably put his peers-in-reputation to shame).

Unfortunately, he’s also not afraid to knowingly write dreck for a paycheck. His the Sandman Presents: Petrefax miniseries — another Sandman spin-off — , Faker, his early superhero work: There’s little room in-between. He’s either at the top of his form, or writing lifeless cliches, where every word just follows a checklist of bad writing tropes.

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