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The Adventures of Tintin: Black Island

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Tintin, his dog Snowy, and his pals track down a gang that counterfeits money in their hide away on Scotland's Black Island!

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Reviews of The Adventures of Tintin: Black Island

Overall customer rating: 5.000
Peter G

Tintin's Ireland's adventure

by Peter G on Jun 3, 2012

'The Black Island' is a major return to form after 'The Broken Ear', and one of my very favourite Tintin adventures. Set in England and Scotland, Herge utilises a very British whimsy and deadpan surrealism to chart the the young reporter's Richard Hannay-like hunt for a shady gang of forgers and fifth columnists (the adventure was serialised in 1937) - in fact the book's tone, mixing exciting mystery and bizarre humour anticipates that quintessentially English TV series, 'The Avengers'. Much of the book's pleasure lies in Herge's threading of visual motifs to pattern the story - the spluttering airplane that begins the adventure followed by a doomed cat and mouse chase between hero and villains, leading to the Thom(p)sons comandeering a mechanic as pilot even though he doesn't know how to fly, and hilariously hijacking a prestigious aerial show; or the reappearances of striking black against the appropriately muted English colours, from hapless detectives the Thom(p)sons, to the equally hapless firemen, to the haunted Black Island itself, a craggy rock crowned by a crumbling castle (whose passages and portals will delight amateur Freudians) with ominously black birds spiralling out of it, to the berserk monster who gaurds it, to the policemen who attempt to rescue Tintin. One extraordinary conceit displays Herge's masterful method of imperceptibly furthering the plot by seemingly digressive comedy, as Snowy's forlorn attempts to eat a found bone and drink leaking whisky reveal elements of the uncanny mystery. Another subplot, involving firemen who mislay the keys to the station during an emergency, and then have to chase a magpie to retrieve them, is pure Surrealism in the style of Rene Clair or (later on) Monty Python. Other jokes rework old favourites from silent cinema. The recreation of English villages and countryside, and the pub-sodden ghost-lore of Scotland, surpasses even TV's 'Ripping Yarns', while the furniture in this 60s reworking is to die for. Fundamental to the pleasure of the Tintin adventures is Herge's intimate knowledge of the way dogs behave - their loyalty diverted by appetite; their happiness; their need for reassurance and sleep; the bad-temper when faced with giants and terror of creepy crawlies. Rereading these adventures with two girls of my own has added untold pleasure to these books.

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