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55 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Only for the real Tintin fanatics
This book is an amazing source of information for the real Tintin fanatics. For those of us who love Tintin, but aren't really up there with the fanatic Tintin worshipers, it's a bit too much.

To start with, note that "Tintin - The Complete Companion" is the English version of a book that, as far as I can determine, was published simultaneously in both English...
Published on 2 Jun 2006 by Rennie Petersen

versus
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars pretty pictures, poor text
This is certainly an attractive volume with plentiful beautifully reproduced examples of artwork from the Tintin books along with a certain amount of preparatory drawings, reference photos and such. Clearly Farr had access to the Herge estate's archive and their approval for the book in a way that Harry Thompson's leaner, and in many ways superior, volume covering similar...
Published on 15 Aug 2007 by D. Shelton


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55 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Only for the real Tintin fanatics, 2 Jun 2006
By 
Rennie Petersen (Copenhagen, Denmark) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This book is an amazing source of information for the real Tintin fanatics. For those of us who love Tintin, but aren't really up there with the fanatic Tintin worshipers, it's a bit too much.

To start with, note that "Tintin - The Complete Companion" is the English version of a book that, as far as I can determine, was published simultaneously in both English and French ("Tintin, le rÍve et la réalité: L'histoire de la création des aventures de Tintin"). Michael Farr is bilingual and I'm guessing (although I don't know for sure) that the two versions are somewhat different. The English version, which I'm reviewing, is primarily focused on discussing the English editions of the Tintin books.

Following a 2-page Introduction the remainder of this book consists of 21 very detailed chapters, each of which discusses a single Tintin adventure. As three of the Tintin adventures are published as a pair of books this implies that all 24 of the Tintin books, from "Tintin in the Land of the Soviets" to "Tintin and Alph-Art" (the final unfinished adventure), are covered.

The amount of detail is incredible. Each chapter averages 10 pages, and although there are a lot of pictures and photographs from the Tintin books and other sources, there is also a lot of text.

The following material is present, and often very detailed:

- A synopsis of each story.

- Information about the historical background for each story, for example the Japan-China war, the build-up to WW II, WW II itself (a period of Tintin escapist stories), the Cold War, etc.

- Detailed discussions (sometimes excessively long-winded) about the characters and explanations of how many of them become members of "the Tintin family", reappearing regularly or occasionally in later adventures.

- Discussions of where Hergé found inspiration for stories, characters, locations, machines and other items that made their way into the drawings. There are often pictures from Hergé's files shown side-by-side with the resulting drawings. (The cover of this book is a masterful merging of a drawing from a Tintin book and the photograph that Hergé used as inspiration for the drawing.)

- Some of the Tintin adventures were revised and produced in new versions. For example, most of the stories that were originally in black and white were re-released in color, and sometimes revised once more later. The various versions of each story are compared to see what was changed.

- Although the English version of this book is primarily focused on the English versions of the Tintin books, there are many discussions of what was changed from the original French versions to the English translated versions.

- An analysis of Hergé's development as an artist and storyteller, from fairly primitive drawings and political naivety to sure artistic style and worldly understanding and finally political cynicism.

- Information about how Hergé's life was influenced by his work with Tintin. For example, Hergé was charged with being a collaborator after WW II because he had continued to produce Tintin during the war, and he had medical problems from the stress that accompanied his success.

- Similarly, there is information about how the Tintin stories were influenced by and reflected Hergé's private life: the down-beat "Tintin in Tibet" created while Hergé was depressed and getting divorced, and the hilarious "The Castafiore Emerald" created after his divorce and reflecting his happiness with a new love.

- Hergé's habit of putting himself and his friends into the stories.

- Occasional mistakes made by Hergé are uncovered.

The book ends with a comprehensive index.

If you set out to read this book then you should have a complete collection of the Tintin books in English at hand. And be warned: You will end up spending many, many days before you finally put this book aside. That's because you'll pick up a Tintin adventure to check up on something Michael Farr says about it, and end up reading the whole Tintin book before you return to "Tintin - The Complete Companion".

Even if you have all of the Tintin books on hand, you may still find yourself feeling overwhelmed when Michael Farr begins to compare the various versions of the adventures. Unless you're a die-hard Tintin fanatic you probably don't have the old black and white versions of the early stories in your possession.

I'm giving this book five stars, and it really does deserve it for the incredible amount of detail. But at the same time I'll warn once again that this is a book that is really intended for Tintin fanatics. For more down-to-earth Tintin fans such as myself it is over-kill. I would personally have preferred that Mr. Farr had written a shorter book that only touched on the highlights of his research.

Incidentally, Michael Farr participates in a wonderful little video called "Tintin et moi" ("Tintin and me"). Unfortunately, this video is not readily available, but you may be able to find it on an Internet auction site. Highly recommended. (Not to be confused with the book of the same name.)

Rennie Petersen
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Farr's done well and every page has something of interest, 12 April 2002
By A Customer
I'm 33 and have been reading Tintin books since I was young enough to look at books. Farr's companion to how and where Herge drew his inspiration for the stories is the ultimate work for people such as myself – hopeless romantics. Herge drew his inspiration from a fantastically wide range of source material, however Farr generally pulls back from exploring further some of the influences on Herge. This is especially noticeable when it comes to the thorny issue of Herge's supposed (but hitherto unfounded) racism and bigotry. Farr does not deal with these issues preferring to gloss over them and sticking to a safer formula. It depends how much information the Tintin fan wants; if it's enough to simply re-live ones youth and delve a little bit deeper into the man behind the characters in the Tintin books then Farr's companion is adequate. If you require a more in-depth and fuller study of the man and his times and his creations, then this is not for you. In conclusion Farr's done a good job and every page has something of interest. It probably is a must-have for all Tintin fans.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A must-read, but with some shortcomings, 14 Jan 2002
By A Customer
This is a great book for anyone interested in learning more about the underlying history of Tintin. There are many anecdotes and explanations here that any serious reader of Tintin would want to know about. For example, there are explanations of how certain books were affected by Herge's wartime experiences and censorship; or the real-life people certain heroes and villains are based on. It is lavishly illustrated.
I have three main concerns, though. First, the book is a bit sloppily written in places (strange for an ex-Reuters journalist). There is too much quoting of sections from books in each essay, rather than using this space to analyze the books further. Surely we don't need these sections quoted to us. Second, the book is far too slim on the two-part Tintin stories such as 'Destination / Explorers on Moon': these double books are allocated as much space as single books, which seems too short. Thirdly, there is a surprising absence of real bibliographic detail for a supposed 'companion' - ie there are no lists of when each book was published, where, and the kind of details necessary for real collecting of Tintin books.
In short: a good read; but not completely useful.
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Book That Belongs On Every Fan's Shelf, 13 May 2003
By 
A. Ross (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Anyone who has a complete set of Tintin's adventures on their bookshelves should really have this beautifully produced book to sit alongside them. Leading British Tintinologist and journalist Farr spent five years researching this book in his attempt to provide context for each book in the series. The result is a work that charts not only the personal and professional life of the Belgian cartoonist, but also shows how political, social, and technological changes influenced his storytelling. Each Tintin adventure gets about 4-6 pages, and each section is beautifully laid out, with perfectly reproduced color panels, along with photos and clippings from Hergé's files to show how reality was incorporated into the books. The main theme that emerges is how Hergé insisted that the stories be grounded in reality as much possible, and how he took great pains to create a realistic world for his little hero to operate in. It should be noted that the book is aimed at those who have already read the stories, and assumes intimate familiarity with the series. That said, longtime fans will immediately want to reread each book after reading about it in this companion.
The minor downside is that Farr writes from an unabashed fan's position, and at times he's a little overenthusiastic, repeating certain information. One wishes that he'd spent less space as an apologist for Hergé's human failings and done a little more analysis of the stories. It also would have been nice to have an appendix listing all the stories, as well as their dates of serial and collected publication. These are minor quibbles however, because the book is very handsome, a great value considering the lovely printing and production. It will rekindle any Tintin fan's enthusiasm for the series and contains ample material for explaining why Tintin is timeless and so popular worldwide.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest works of children's literature?, 6 Oct 2001
By A Customer
Tintinologists, Tintinophiles and just Tintin readers alike have been waiting for this book for over five years. We have braved a series of set-back publication dates (in which the title was changed from "The Tintin Adventures: from Moscow to the Moon") and it has finally arrived courtesy of John Murray publishers. Was the wait worth it? Absolutely.
It is indeed refreshing to see an account of Hergé's great opus from a British point of view, which adds an exoticism (no irony intended) to the huge collection of Francophonic Tintin analysis through the years.
And Farr accomplishes his work admirably. You cannot doubt that every minute of five years' work is there on every page, and as such, it is worth every penny... The depth of study, research and analysis is incredible, and scarcely rivalled in any other piece of Tintin reference literature.
It is hardly possible to fault this book. By way of a caveat emptor, however, it should be pointed out that it is not really aimed towards children discovering Tintin for the first time. Much of the analysis requires a mature viewpoint and understanding, and as such it is more suitable for the seasoned Tintinologist.
The overall impression that this book will give is in confirming Hergé as one of the greatest storytellers of our age, and The Adventures of Tintin as some of the most remarkable and underrated literature ever produced, for children and adults alike.
Ed Adams
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indispensable, despite the failure of the author, 27 Oct 2011
By 
This review is from: Tintin: The Complete Companion: The Complete Guide to Tintin's World (The Adventures of Tintin) (Hardcover)
Let me put it like this: This book will make you go back and read every book again, and it will feel all different and new!

That's how good it is. We have all read the books over and over and know how nothing compares to the excitement of the first time we read each, but reading The Complete Companion will bring you as close to that excitement as possible. Six to eight pages are dedicated to each of Tintin albums, narrating the background, history of editions, changes and updates, and the relevancy of each album to what was going on in Herge's life and in the world during the time of making each edition of a specific book. You will see photos from Herge's archives that inspired plates, real people who inspired characters in the albums, and know some mind bugling events that took place during the making.

For example, we get told that The Seven Crystal Balls came to a halt by the end of WW2 while Herge was being prosecuted, then we will learn that after the resumption of the work he decided to insert a plate of Tintin's return to Marlinespike hall to symbolise his own triumph and return to what he does. We are told which drawing in that book was the last he drew in Nazi occupied Belgium before the halt, and when you read it again and move on the the next plate hundreds of thoughts will cross your head now you know what happened between the times of drawing those two consecutive plates.

There are hundreds of stories of major updates and minor ones that you never knew of, and the historical, political, and racial motives behind each of the changes. But that said, the author, Michael Farr, comes across as a major hack who tries to attribute to himself much more than he really did. Careful reading with a good knowledge of the subject would show that Michael actually "assembled" the book rather than created it. He had access to Herge's archives and files, and he put one piece next to the other, quoting Herge and other previously published sources about Tintin and his creator for all of the useful text in the book. When the author tries to add his own touch, it's just one paragraph after another of tedious and boring ramblings that makes you want to skip to something that he copied from the other sources. For example in The Prisoners of The Sun he keeps reproducing entire conversations from the book over and over, then he gives the reader a small break before he starts copying speech balloons from the book again and again.

Despite the author's obnoxious and redundant contributions, the assembled material is still a wealth of knowledge and a joy to read that the 5 stars rating of this magnificent book are still unaffected. Click the "order now" button and you won't regret. I promise!
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars pretty pictures, poor text, 15 Aug 2007
By 
D. Shelton "Dave Shelton" (Cambridge, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is certainly an attractive volume with plentiful beautifully reproduced examples of artwork from the Tintin books along with a certain amount of preparatory drawings, reference photos and such. Clearly Farr had access to the Herge estate's archive and their approval for the book in a way that Harry Thompson's leaner, and in many ways superior, volume covering similar ground did not. A shame then that Farr squanders this opportunity and spends so much time regurgitating the plot and dialogue of the stories - with which, surely, any reader of this volume must be well acquainted already. There are some fairly interesting snippets regarding the real life inspirations for the stories and the changes made in the transition from serialised strip to book editions or through translation to English but, blimey, most of it is just turgid, unedifying and almost entirely uncritical (possibly necessarily so to gain access to the jealously guarded archive).

It's not a worthless book by any means, just a missed opportunity, and if you were to buy it at all you'd want to have run out of actual Tintin volumes to collect first.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars First Port of Call for a deepening interest in Tintin, 15 Nov 2002
By 
Sordel (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
As befits a book about Tintin, this is a handsome and lavishly illustrated volume that deals in chronological order with all the Herge volumes from The Land of the Soviets to the uncompleted Alph-art. Farr's main preoccupations are the contemporary events that inspired Herge, together with the visual sources for individual frames and changes from the black & white originals as they were remade into colour. As a result, the visual element is very well handled, but we don't learn much about Herge himself.
Ardent tintinologists will complain that the text - only about five pages per adventure - is too brief. Also, it's a shame that Farr deals only with the original adventures and not the Tintin industry that followed. The lack of a bibliography gives the reader nowhere to go at the end of the book.
Nevertheless, what this book does it does very well, and if the term "complete" is misleading, it does indeed provide a very welcome companion to the series.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Complete guide to the world of TinTin, 7 Oct 2001
By 
Martin Ian Paul "MartinP" (West Lothian, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Whether or not you are a TinTin-o-phile, this book will interest you. It takes each of the TinTin stories and provides a rich and detailed background into the inspiration of each, and the lengths to which Herge went to ensure accuracy in his story and pictures. From the first crudely drawn adventure, through to the never-completed last one, the book is packed with pictures, stories and gems unearthed from the vast collection of memorabilia held in the Herge archives. But It!
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars INSIGHTFUL!!, 2 Nov 2001
By A Customer
If you glance over a Tintin book, chances are that you will merely say 'Oh what a nice story'. However Michael Farr, demonstrates in this great book, that Herge used real life events in his fantastic stories.
Farr shows us that in his books, Herge was trying to make us think about something more than a childrens story, for example in his first book, Tintin in the land of the Soviets, Farr tells us that he was making a point about the Soviets (I won't tell you what he says, in case you by this book). Farr also includes intial drawings and storyboards for the Tintin books and this combined with Farrs insightful detail makes this book a worthwhile purchase.
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