Flash Fiction: Vacation

I’ve mentioned wanting to write Tintin stories before, and Chuck Wendig’s “vacation” prompt for this week finally sparked something. This is mostly an experiment with transposing the voices of the old characters onto new faces and updating the setting, while still trying to find appropriately Tintin-ish things for the characters to do. Enjoy!

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My Not-Exactly-Tintin Project Might Really Happen?

This update is totally last minute, born of a recognition that I forgot to make my usual post today.  In fact, by my clock, I’m already four minutes too late.  I did spend a goodly portion of my day traveling, but… yeah.

Fortunately, I have some awesome news to share.  Do you remember the time that I mentioned wanting to write a Tintin flowchart (way back in January)?  I just shared the underlying aim, of writing a new era’s Tintin comics, with one of my friends.  They responded by spending fifteen minutes drawing a picture of female Tintin with Snowy, striding along in her trench coat.  It looked really good.  They were really excited and want to talk with me about this project.  So now I’m really excited too.  Hell, I just busted out a big goofy smile for no particular reason.  No, not true, it’s for a very particular reason; this project is something that someone else wants to work on with me!

I’m not writing this to tell you that you should expect something soon.  I’m writing this to tell you that some day, maybe a few years from now, I’ll have another post to tell you about how awesome this thing I’m working on is, and how anxious I am about making it worth your time.  But I think that maybe, just maybe, I’ll be telling you that because I have some good old Tintin-esque glorious adventure for you to feast your eyes on.  I’m really excited about this.

Concept: A Tintin Adventure Flowchart

tintinI think I’ve mentioned my love of Tintin previously.  But I’ve just had a fabulous idea, so you’re going to hear about it again.

Some necessary background: Charles Stross wrote an excellent book, The Jennifer Morgue (part of the Atrocity Archives series, very much worth reading).  He based the story (careful, spoilers) on a combination of real world events and James Bond clichés, and did it excellently.  He did this in part by analyzing the Bond oeuvre (I suppose I should say the Fleming oeuvre, but Fleming really didn’t have that much to do with most of the movies) and creating flowcharts of Bond film opening scenes and general plots.

Yes, you read that correctly.  He watched all the Bond films with a friend and wrote up flowcharts to describe what they saw going on.  Here’s the flowchart of a Bond movie opening scene, and here’s the flowchart of a Bond film writ large.

Now, I love Tintin very much, but there are some problems with the old comics.  Consider:

20140112153933!Tintin-mainCastI’m amazed that Castafiore is even included in the cast of characters.

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Yeah, that’s objectionable.

So I’ve been thinking that I should try writing new Tintin stories.  Well, not Tintin per se, but adventure stories like Tintin’s, without the same racist depictions and with better representation all around.  And Stross’ flowcharts have inspired me.  I plan to go through and re-read a number of old Tintin stories, and try to make a Tintin adventure flowchart that I can follow when the time comes.  It might turn out that this is impossible, and Hergé simply had too many different stories, but I suspect that I could pull something useful out of all this.  What do you think?  Are you interested?

Tombs=Raided, Hearts=Won; Tomb Raider Rocks

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I don’t usually wish that I paid more for a game.  But I liked Tomb Raider so much that I almost wish I hadn’t bought it on sale.  I want the people who made it to know how much I liked it, and I want them to put as much high-quality work into making the next one as they put into making this one.  Because there’s a next one.  I mean, even if I didn’t know that Rise of the Tomb Raider is coming, I wouldn’t have any real doubts (except, I suppose, if the studios involved fell apart or lost the rights, which would be terrible).  The end of Tomb Raider left it clear that Lara is nowhere near finished with being the awesome badass which she’s become, and that makes me very happy.  Watching the announcement trailer for the new game has reduced me to a quivering pile of enthusiasm.

Why am I so happy about all this?  Tomb Raider is a brilliant game, and does things with story-telling that remind me why games are such a fascinating medium in the first place.  It’s an adventure novel with audience participation, a new entry in a genre that I love, and it evades the problematic trappings that spoil so many other adventure stories for me.

Ok, spoil is a strong word.  I love adventure stories enough to enjoy them despite their frequent problems, but being able to enjoy one that isn’t so inherently problematic is a breath of fresh air.  It doesn’t hurt that this particular story is extremely well written, with characters who feel like real people, and who share history with each other that seems fitting and unforced.  It’s a little bit like someone crossed Tintin with Indiana Jones, turned the tone dial to ‘gritty and a bit bloodthirsty,’ and then put you through the Bildungsroman of Lara Croft as she goes from untested and unconfident archaeologist to self-assured and competent survivor and adventurer, hellbent on keeping herself and her friends alive.  Wait, no, that’s almost exactly what it’s like.  It’s glorious.

Look, you don’t have to take my word for it.  You can play the game yourself.  But if you want to read more of my thoughts on the topic, including the few reservations I have, please be my guest:  Continue reading

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn

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I finally watched the “new” Tintin movie.  I’m obviously biased, given that I grew up reading the Tintin books and loved them uncritically for many years, but… I thought the movie was magnificent.  There’s something spectacularly fun about the pulp adventures of Tintin, and the movie delivers the essence of that in spades.  The story is still problematic when it comes to representation, as there’re no main characters who aren’t white males, but the movie also manages to remain faithful to its source material without engaging the more racist undertones which can be found in some of the original works.

And when I say faithful to the source material, I really do mean that it’s basically all there.  The movie is a composite (plus a little something new to serve as glue) of several Tintin stories, and there are scenes which have been pulled frame for frame from the originals.  There are even references to prominent features of unused story lines, often featured as props (like the red jeep from Land of Black Gold).  The only thing that I really missed was Snowy’s constant private cynical narration, though his stunning and dogged competence was in fine form.

As I’d expected it to be, the movie was action-packed and full of nonstop excitement, accurately recreating my memories of the stories that I’d so loved as a child.  But it was able to do things which had been impossible for the original comics, with gorgeous transitions that reinforced the hallucinatory exposition of my favorite drunk, Captain Haddock.  I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen a better realized set of scene shifts, and they were made all the more possible through the excellent CGI used for the film.  There’s just something about watching the world ripple and change, transforming a landscape of sand dunes into monstrously high seas; Haddock’s impossible descriptions of his ancestor’s exploits become all the more wonderful as they are shown through his imaginatively drunken state.

Speaking of the CGI, I have to say that they really hit the nail on the head.  They managed to keep things cartoonish enough that they felt palpably unreal, while still being realistic enough to feel believable, relatable in much the same way that the comics themselves felt when I was young.  I’m really happy with how the movie felt, and I’m glad that there’s talk of making another.

So, I liked this movie a great deal and I would happily watch it again.  It doesn’t solve all the problems of the source material, but it does a good job of avoiding the source material’s larger blunders while capitalizing on its strengths.  The characterizations felt true to form, and the alterations made to the original material never felt like they were unfaithful or detracted in any way from the originals.  If you ever liked reading Tintin, my guess is that you’d like watching this movie.  If you didn’t like reading Tintin, I really can’t help you with that (and you may or may not like this movie, who knows).

p.s. Sorry to cut this one short, I have to go facilitate a hero’s journey by pretending to be an evil dean intent on shutting down Simmons’ MA in Children’s Lit and MFA in Writing for Children.