Monday, August 30, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Monday, August 23, 2010
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Friday, August 20, 2010
The creator of Rocambole, Ponson du Terrail, was a favorite with the caricaturists of La Lune and La Petite Press, in one picture stirring his characters into a boiling pot, perhaps this was the origin of the term “pot-boiler.”
“In these pages I have already given some interludes from a very chequered career in Paris, extending over ten years. I now purpose consulting my diary and telling my readers something about various strange characters whom I either met or heard of during the period. I cannot commence my picture gallery with a worthier type of the day than the most popular novelist who has stepped into the popular shoes of Alexander the great, and is becoming more and more adored by the lovers of sensationalism with every romance his prolific pen produces.
The Vicomte Charles Dieudonné de Ponson du Térrail is a gentleman who earns his fifty thousand francs a year, and hence is a highly respected personage, who in the great gold balance, in which everybody is weighed in Paris, stands higher than a councilor of state, who has only twenty-five thousand francs a year. Since the new Empire it has been fashionable to give any man who distinguishes himself in any way the agnomen of Napoleon; and thus Ponson du Térrail is called, and not unfairly so, the Napoleon of the Feuilletons. He has really acquired the first place in the rez de chausée of the daily papers. He rules there as an unbridled autocrat; everything is laid aside when he appears with a “to be continued,” and many thousand readers, male and female, certainly read Ponson’s Feuilleton before they turn to current events.
The great significance of the Parisian feuilletons dates from the time when the two most celebrated romance writers, Dumas and Sue, commenced the publication of their sensational and monstrous works, which day by day, kept the readers in a state of excitement, and spread through Europe in wretched translations. It was stated with amazement that Dumas was paid a hundred thousand francs for his “Monte Christo,” Sue an equal sum for his “Wandering Jew,” and even double for his “Mysteries of Paris.” Such a thing could not be comprehended, and such was the case with the romances themselves, which were nothing but a pot-pourri of impossibilities, absurd crimes, and eccentric scenes of virtue, but which pleased through their very eccentricity and impossibility, and were not merely read, but devoured.
From that period all French romances passed through the feuilleton, though not with the same success, and, only to mention one author, George Sand made her début before the public in this way, and in a few years laid the foundation of her present enormous fortune; though she wrote her first romance in a wretched garret on the Quai des Augustines. Such prospects were so tempting as to produce hundreds of imitators; but as in Paris only novelty draws so long as it is novel, the same was the case with the feuilletonists -- the wares gradually fell in price, the gold mines were exhausted, and the dream of California was unattainable by the majority. After the February revolution politics exclusively occupied heads and pens, until the coup d’etat put an end to liberty of the press and political discussions, and turned the attention of the French once again to more innocent and less dangerous literary pleasures.”
The entire Bentley’s article can be read HERE (pp. 343).
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Saturday, August 7, 2010
The first time I laid eyes on the intrepid moon-faced reporter Tintin and his sagacious dog Snowy was in elementary school about 1959 when I delighted in finding a copy of the Methuen book Red Rackham's Treasure in the school library.
Tintin et Milou first appeared in the 11th issue of Le Petit Vingtiéme, the weekly children’s supplement to the Belgian daily newspaper Le Viengtiéme Siècle on 10 January 1929. In 1951 the strip was serialized in the British comic weekly Eagle, followed by Methuen’s English-language versions of the albums, beginning with The Black Island in 1958. Translation was by Leslie-Lonsdale Cooper and Michael Turner.
‘Tintin, Milou, and European Humanism’ was written 3 October 1957 for The Listener, and is a welcome counterpoint to scurrilous attacks on Hergé on the internet and in print. Tintin and Asterix the Gaul were in trouble in England as early as October 1983, when librarians received complaints of racism and sexism in both titles. Tintin was considered the worst offender. This brought forth a letter to the Times which said “Mr. Dunn admits that the children who frequent the library would be sorry to see the books banned: on the available evidence, so would anyone with any sense or sense of humour.”
“I never met Georges Remi. I didn't miss anything,” wrote Pierre Assouline in the introduction to his recent biography, Hergé: the Man Who Created Tintin, Oxford University Press, 2011. Actually he missed quite a lot. Assouline knows or cares nothing about comics so he ignores them almost all together. His biography is like reading about a cipher. Hergé could be a banker, a baker, or a bureaucrat, rather than one of the most famous and influential comic creators who ever lived.
I would recommend another biography in English instead: Benoît Peeters Hergé, Son of Tintin, the John Hopkins University Press, 2012. Peeters knew Hergé personally, interviewed him, and does not dissasociate the man from his work. Nor does he shy away from the more contentious aspects of wartime collaboration.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Michael Hirsh and Patrick Loubert, designed by Clive Smith: The Great Canadian Comic Books. Toronto: Peter Martin Associates, 1971.
Matteo Stefanelli and Gianni Bono (Ed.): Fumetto! 150 Anni di storie italiane [150 years of Italian stories]. Rizzoli 2013.
Tim Eckhorst: Rudolph Dirks; Katzenjammer, Kids & Kauderwelsch. Deich Verlag, 2012.