This is an excellent read and a real delight for the Graphic novel lover's eye. The art work is superb and well surpasses that of the master Herge. I was amazed that the author was Jean Van Hamme had carried the baton of style of Edgar P Jacobs so well (but then Jacobs did the same for Herge's Tintin so this may not be such as surprise) The artwork moves the story along well and the writing matches it perfectly. You really feel that you are in the London of 1950. The language and descriptions are spot on. Just as I remember! (Sadly) A minor detail. (But spare me my one moment of triumph) I could only spot one Americanism. Blake and Mortimer are said to walk along the `sidewalk' not the English pavement but this is the only mistake I could find in a well drawn 1950s England and Scotland. The translator has done an excellent job, Thankyou. The story flows well and has a genuine `cinematic' flow throughout.
I read this in one sitting but will re read and reread again to savour the beautifully detailed landscape and characters. If anything the new artist supasses that of Jacobs. Praise indeed. Recommended.
This is my fourth visit to the world of Blake and Mortimer, a comic-album series which was originally a spin-off from Herge’s Adventures of Tin-Tin, but continued by subsequent creative teams. The main characters are British, and the story is set in the mid 1950s. There are continuing minor sub-plots between some volumes, and characters and events from previous adventures are often referred to (or make reappearances). This particular story is set in 1954, and is a straightforward espionage story, involving a scheme to smoke out a spy in the upper echelons of the British security services. This ties in to a foreign plot to kidnap British scientists (unlike nowadays, if you were a top scientist you couldn’t just go and work for whoever offered the best pay and conditions) and ship them off to foreign parts. Captain Blake is unmasked as a foreign spy, and goes on the run (which we readers don’t believe for a minute, but it is set up exceedingly well), while Professor Mortimer, who goes looking for him, just happens to be one of those top scientists the foreigners have got their eye on.
This is an excellent period adventure/spy story in the vein of Ian Fleming and the earlier James Bond novels, with underground submarine bases under old Scottish castles, but also fits in quite a lot of ‘real’ spy stuff from the 1950s and 1960s – people hiding in mail bags in Post office vans and the like. And despite being by one of the modern creative teams, it also gets in a lot of period detail; though I enjoyed spotting the little errors, like the modern ‘keep left’ signs, and the (possibly) wrong sort of railway carriage livery. I shall definitely be reading more of these volumes in my local libraries.
on 21 September 2013
The Francis Blake Affair, from 1996, is the first full album of Blake and Mortimer made after the death of its creator, the great
Belgican comic book artist (and occasional Herge's collaborator) Edgar P. Jacobs. Jean Van Hamme wrote the story and Ted Benoit draw it, and they both show themselves to be more than up to the task. This book has less of a sci fi ambience than other albums, concentrating on an espionage story where Blake is apparently set up as a mole by some higher up in the intelligence service. Blake decides to flee, and Mortimer is intent of proving his innocence. Being the first post Jacobs album they took the wise decision of not setting the action in the present, but rather to let the action take place in a fantastic world inspired by the fifties.
on 8 July 2012
What a great work these "new" authors (Van Hamme, Yves Sente) and illustrators (Ted Benoit, André Juillard, ao.) have given us.
We are of course dealing with some of the best writers/illustrators of today, famous for many great series such as Thorgal, Skarbek etc.) and one could maybe be afraid that this just would turn out be an opportunity to commercialise a legendary (but discontinued) album serial, but on the contrary.
This is born out the deepest respect and love for the work and all these new albums are marvellous - it is like the serial never stopped, but one thing I really like is that they have stepped into the present day in their way of presenting the stories, but still kept true to its original concept and atmosphere. I'm marvelled how they can come up with these new great stories, what an imagination.
My personal favourites in the new serial so far, is the first three albums: The Francis Blake Affair, The Voronov Plot and The Strange Encounter, but I think that all the new albums from these great writers are superb. I for one, am exited to see if they will leave out their primary, and always present villain Olrik, in some of the next coming albums, that would be a nice change. The only album, in the original serial, who didn't have Olrik in it was "The devilish Trap" (title freely translated from its French title - this album is unfortunately not translated to English), so it was actually done before.
So in short - what a truly wonderful and most welcoming idea, to continue these great classics - BRAVO!!!
Yes, this is quite true to the original. Whether the original is as good as Herge himself? Not quite - Blake and Mortimer were always a bit stilted, and the storyline is rarely as good as in Tintin. But they are still a highpoint of Belgian graphic novels, and the drawings are very 1950s - in the current one by the new writers/illustrators, as well. Good colours, too, which is such an important part of the atmosphere.
That said - It is not among the very best B&M's, the storyline is rather Biggles-like and there are no highly exotic or even extra-terrestrial or extra-temporal highpoints. But it is a good addition to a great series.