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Le Sceptre d'Ottokar (Les aventures de Tintin) (French) Hardcover – 3 Jul 1998
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bande dessinée en français
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In comparison to Herge's later, more deliberate works, this one throws Tintin about like a cork on the ocean, with every page having at least four incredible escapes from danger or death. Some of them are nearly impossible to believe (Tintin survives being dropped out of an airplane?), but on the other hand they make "Scepter" more enjoyable and more authentic to the golden age of rip-roaring comic serials. If you're just starting to buy Tintin, put this at the top of the list.
I can't be wholly objective about Tintin. I've been reading the books since I was in elementary school, following Tintin's amazing adventures from the Middle East to the Moon. The boy reporter is great for kids, but he's also entertaining for adults.
- This is a reworking of the original artwork, done by Herge himself post World War II. This is evident in the more mature, vibrant, and polished artwork. To understand more about this, look up Tintin and Herge in Wikipedia. In short, Herge did the strips that form this book before World War II in an earlier, more primitive style that reflects their original appearance in newspapers. He re-did many of these early strips later on. I, for one, believe that the later result is better, although you ought to try to find one of the earlier books to see what I mean.
- You won't get a true feeling for Tintin if you read "him" in translation. French is full of idioms and connotations that don't survive translation, and even then, Tintin is a Belge, not a Francais! Worst of all, the "English" translations are British English that use idioms and language that Americans won't recognize. I really believe that Tintin is worth learning French for.
"Le Sceptre d'Ottokar" was produced by Hergé in 1939 and the more you know about Europe on the eve of the Second World War, the more you are likely to see lurking behind the characters and actions of this Tintin adventure. However, it is hard to tell if Hergé is trying to make any sort of a point; certainly during the war it was clear Tintin lived in a different world, so I am loathe to see anything beyond a compelling narrative. This is an actual mystery, where clues need to be solved and mysterious developments need to be explained. On top of all that throw in the ongoing perilous situations that our hero and his faithful terrier find themselves in time and time again in these early adventures. Oh, and there is also Tintin's first meeting with Bianca Castafiore, which is not exactly something I am inclined to celebrate, but that is just me. A very solid offering from Hergé.