Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Murder by High Tide

Beginning with the raucous Pieds Nickeles comic strip created in 1908 by the French cartoonist Louis Forton, French-language comics have brought laughter and thrills to millions upon millions of kids for just over a century now.

La bande dessinee, as they call it, found its uncontested master in 1929 when a young Belgian cartoonist named Georges Remi, inspired by Alain St.-Ogan's popular Zig et Puce comic strip (itself in turn inspired by 1920s American comic strips), produced the first installments of Tintin for Le Petit XXe. Thanks to the oddly-coiffed young reporter and his dog Snowy, the man who signed his work Herge became, within a decade, the most popular cartoonist in Europe (and has remained so ever since).

The 25 years after World War II, from 1945 to 1970, were a true golden age for Franco-Belgian comics, published in hugely popular weekly magazines as Spirou, Tintin and Pilote. Standout cartoonists included Andre Franquin (Spirou, Gaston Lagaffe), Fred (Philemon), Jean Giraud (Blueberry), E.P. Jacobs (Blake and Mortimer), Raymond Macherot (Chlorophylle and Sibylline), Jacques Martin (Alix), Jean-Claude Mezieres (Vale'rian), Morris (Lucky Luke), Peyo (The Smurfs), Maurice Tillieux (Gil Jourdan), Will (Tif et Tondu), and Herge'e only true rival, the Rene Goscinny/Albert Uderzo team behind the monster hit Asterix. And while that golden age is now a receding dot in our rear-view mirror, to this day marvellous new work continuous to be created and released by cartoonists young and old.

Many of these great comics have been released in English-language editions by such publishers as NBM, Cinebook, and Little Brown -- but others remain elusive, buried treasures to the American public. Team Fantagraphics here has brought out one finest picks and shovels to unearth some of our favorites.

Murder by High Tide" is a never-before-translated classic from the Golden Age of Franco-Belgian comics. Imagine the beautifully crisp images of Hergé (Tintin) put in service of a series of wise-cracking, fast-paced detective stories — punctuated with scenes of spectacular vehicular mayhem readers will soon see why 50 years later Gil Jourdan is still considered a masterpiece in Europe.
Maurice Tillieux (1921 – 1978)
(Belgian writer and comic artist)
Gil Jourdan is a nattily-dressed but tough-as-nails private eye, seconded by his trusty ex-burglar assistant Crackerjack and his eccentric friend Inspector Crouton (as well as the invaluable Miss Midge). In this story Gil and his associates are hired to investigate the suspicious disappearance (death?) of an antiques dealer, while in “Leap of Faith” they get involved in trying to protect an attorney from Joe the Needle, a mysteriously escaped convict with apparent super human powers who has sworn vengeance.

Read the 1st part of that fantastic detective comics here...

Murder by High Tide 
Murder by High Tide 

*** Other Gil Jourdan story: Catch As Catch Can

Saturday, September 27, 2014

বিক্রমাদিত্য ও বেতালের কাহিনী (চাঁদমামা)

"বিক্রম আউর বেতাল, বিক্রম আউর বেতাল..." - শুনলেই মনে পড়ে যায় আশির দশকের মাঝামাঝির সেই দিনগুলো, যখন দূরদর্শন-এর(TV) ন্যাশনাল চ্যানেলে দেখা যেতো 'বিক্রমাদিত্য ও বেতালের' একটি করে এপিসোড, প্রতি সপ্তাহে নতুন নতুন গল্প। হিন্দীতে হলেও সেই কাহিনীগুলো দেখতে, কেন জানি না, কখনোই খারাপ লাগতো না। অথচ ভালো করে ভেবে দেখলে
সেই টিভি সিরিয়ালের মধ্যে কিন্তু অনেক গলদ ছিলো। অভিনেতাদের সীমাবদ্ধতা ছাড়াও, সংলাপ সঞ্চয়ন, নির্দেশনা, কাহিনীর বিশ্বাসযোগ্যতা, গ্রাফিক্স, ব্যাকগ্রাউন্ড মিউজিক, আউটডোর অ্যারেন্জমেন্ট, পোশাক, ইত্যাদি অনেক কিছুর মধ্যেই নানান খুঁত ভরা ছিলো, কিন্তু তা স্বত্তেও সেই দিনগুলোতে 'বেতালের' একটাও এপিসোড কোনো কারণ ছাড়াই মিস করেছি বলে মনে পড়ে না ! হতে পারে সেই সময়ে ভালো সিরিয়ালের প্রতুলতা ছিল অনেক কম, বা হয়তো টিভি-র দর্শকদের সংখ্যার সাথে সাথে, তাদের চাহিদাও ছিল অনেক কম।     

কিন্তু সে যাই-ই হোক, রামানন্দ সাগরের নির্দেশনায় সেই টিভি সিরিয়াল যথেষ্ঠ পপুলার হয়েছিলো। বেশ কিছুকাল পরে এই সিরিয়ালের সব গল্পকটিই ডিভিডি হিসাবে বার হয়ে যায় - তার দামও ছিলো  সাধারণ মানুষের সাধ্যের মধ্যেই। কয়েকবছর আগে দেশে গিয়ে বেতালের সেই ডিভিডি কিনে ফেলি - ভেবেছিলাম ইচ্ছামতো বাড়িতে বসে বেতালের সেই গল্পগুলি আবার আয়েশ করে দেখবো। 

কিন্তু এবারে নতুন করে "বিক্রমাদিত্য ও বেতাল" দেখতে গিয়ে অনুভব করলাম যে কয়েকটি এপিসোড দেখার পরই আর তেমন দেখতে ভালো লাগছে না ! হয়তো সেই কৈশোরের অল্পেতেই মুগ্ধ হবার ক্ষমতা ঈশ্বর কেড়ে নিয়েছেন, হয়তো বা বয়সের সাথে সাথে আমার এক্সপেক্টাশনের লেভেলও ইতিমধ্যে অনেক, অনেক বেড়ে গেছে। কিছুটা মন খারাপ নিয়েই তাই খুঁজে বার করলাম পুরানো দিনের সেই "চাঁদমামা"-তে প্রকাশিত হওয়া বেতালের কাহিনীগুলো। 

কিছুটা বিস্ময়ের সাথেই লক্ষ্য করলাম যে সেই গল্পগুলো পড়তে কিন্তু বেশ ভালোই লাগছে ! একেই কি বলে 'পুরাতন প্রেম' ? না কি সেই গল্পগুলোকে সত্যি সত্যিই সময়ের গন্ডিতে বেঁধে ফেলা যায় না ?

এই পোস্টে চাঁদমামায় প্রকাশিত হওয়া সেই "বেতালের কাহিনী"-র বেশ কয়েকটি একসাথে একত্রে  আপলোড করা হলো। এই সবকটি ঘটনাই কল্পিত,  কে লিখেছিলেন তা জানা নেই - কিন্তু তাহলেও এই কাহিনীরগুলির আবেদন কিন্তু আজও সেই একই রকম আছে।  

বিক্রমাদিত্য ও বেতাল 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Micky Mouse and the World To Come

Micky Mouse has seen a glimpse of a terrifying possible future, and now only he can stop it from coming true. Micky, Minnie, and their friend from the future "Eega Beeva" take an amazing journey into the future - a globe-spinning adventure filled with giant robots, mysterious organizations and high-flying hijinks! But will they be in time to stop a villain that rhymes?

World to Come begins with a band of scientifically advanced explorers discovering Base 3, a long forgotten outpost of super secret technological development. This one, they declare with amazement, hasn't been abandoned. In fact, a pair of elderly engineers runs out to greet them, elated that their endurance and fortitude over the past 30 years has paid off - their work hasn't been forgotten. Unfortunately, it becomes clear, quite quickly, that this band of explorers isn't what it seems to be. Trouble is afoot.

Casty, stage name of Andrea Castellan, was born in 1967 and started making comics in 1977. He wrote (and drew) his first Disney stories when he was only 10 years old, on his school books. Then he handed them out to his fellow students. His friends were enthusiastic - every week they were waiting for a brand new story, just like it was a real weekly Mickey Mouse magazine ("Topolino" in Italy). 
Andrea "Casty" Castellan,
(Author & Illustrator)

Professionally, he started writing comics in 1993 for "Cattivik", a monthly comic book for kids, which is very popular in Italy. His first story was published in 1994 and, so far, he has written (and sometimes drawn) about 200 stories for Cattivik. In 1999, he started writing for another famous Italian character, "Lupo Alberto", and in September 2002 he finally started working for Disney Italia.

When he came to Disney, he found his new colleagues were not very enthusiastic about writing Mickey Mouse stories and almost all of them preferred writing Duck stories. He thought that was a pity - Mickey was so lovable! He had in his mind those wonderful stories by Romano Scarpa and Floyd Gottfredson. To him, that was the "real" Mickey; always ready to get into adventures, with that sort of naive sense of wonder that was actually lost, in recent years, when he was turned in that sort of know-it-all detective. So, He started writing stories for Mickey Mouse. The editors really liked his stories and his colleagues liked them too. 

Nowadays, many other writers take care of Mickey, so he finally gets the chance to rest as a writer and dedicate himself to drawing.

Read that fantastic Sci-Fi adventure here....

Micky Mouse and the
World To Come (Part I)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Quick & Flupke - Catastrophe (বাংলায়)

On January 23, 1930, just over a year after Tintin's trip to the Soviet Union, two appealing rascals called Quick and Flupke made their first appearance in the pages of 'Le Petit Vingtième'. Their exploits were to continue on an almost weekly basis until 1935, and then with increasing irregularity until 1940: only six strips appeared in 1937, five in 1938, seven in 1939 and one in 1940. Three new episodes, each a page long, appeared on the cover of 'Soir-Jeunesse' during the winter of 1940-41, then Herge finally ceased drawing new cartoon strips of the pair.
While Tintin shoots off on adventures around the world, street urchins Quick and Flupke have a whale of a time creating havoc on the streets of Brussels. The exploits of the two scamps continued, however, to appear in the weekly Tintin magazine for 10 years or so, put into color by Herge's assistants. Half of the stories which had appeared before the war were republished in this way.

Unlike Tintin's adventures, these cartoon strips were not ambitious. There was no chain of development, no carefully sustained suspense, but simple jokes which developed over two pages. Each of these mini-stories occur in a part of Brussels that strongly resembles the Marolles district, and nearly always in the street.

There is a fundamental difference of structures between the two series. In Tinitn and even more in Jo and Zette, chaos is always the result of external factors and the heroes endeavor to put things back in order. However, in Quick and Flupke, they are the troublemakers themselves, trying, it seems, to cause as much as commotion as possible in a world which started off being stable.

Quick and Flupke gave shape to Herge's unruly childish fantasies just as Tintin was an expression of his youthful dreams of being an adventurous reporter.
Translated by: Kuntal
Although Quick and Flupke grew up in the back streets of the Marolles neighbourhood in the heart of Brussels, Hergé's humor is universal to the extent that children all over the world can identify with the two rapscallions. There are many other archetypal children in The Adventures of Tintin: they welcome Tintin and Snowy as the two heroes return from the Soviet Union, they are sad to see Tintin leaving at the end of his Congolese adventures, they help Tintin to discover China, they play marbles in The Seven Crystal Balls, they sell oranges in Prisoners of the Sun and they whinge unbearably if they are the children of a certain Jolyon Wagg. 
Aside from the children of maharajas or emirs, the children created by Hergé's pen are simply locals to their towns and communities, just like he was. They are generally be considered well brought up and good mannered.

In this post I made a humble attempt to translate another "Quick & Flupke" comics, "Catastrophe" in Bengali ("দুর্যোগ-বিপর্যয়"). The sense of the text got priority over its literal counter-part. Hopefully readers will find this classic humor strips quite interesting and funny, and will keep on laughing along with the hilarious adventures of two street urchins, Quick and Flupke, like the way I did.

(in Bengali)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The City of Shifting Waters

Galaxity, metropolis of the future and capital of the Terran Empire. New York, 1986, deluged with water, devastated by a cataclysm of nuclear origin. Between the two of them, Valérian and Laureline, projected into a city of perdition, controlled by gangster musicians and haunted by strange robots. The 28th Century Terran Empire, a world seemingly at peace, where space-time travel is commonplace and so is the Spatio-Temporal Agents Service, patrolling history and the universe to safeguard the Earth and the Empire. Two of the service’s greatest agents are Valerian and Laureline, spirited, brave and always at the heart of any trouble going.

In "The City of Shifting Waters" the Galaxity’s only serious criminal Xombul has escaped, stolen a spatio-temporal ship and has headed back to 1986 New York, a crucial time in the Empire’s history, the start of the forgotten era, the time of both the great cataclysm that wiped away the existing civilization and also the time where space-time travel was invented, an era that saw mankind’s greatest calamity and the technology appear that would eventually save it and allow the current Empire to exist.

The adventures of Valerian and Laureline is something of a classic French comic book (or bande dessinée) and one of the top selling titles in Darguard’s history, with it’s influence everywhere in modern science fiction. 

"The City of Shifting Waters" by Jean-Claude Mézières and Pierre Christin is not the greatest science-fiction comic book  - but it is the beginning of what is one of the most influential, entertaining and long-lasting sci-fi comic books.

Pierre Christin was born at Saint-Mandé in 1938. After graduating from the Sorbonne, Christin pursued graduate studies in political science at SciencesPo and became a professor of French literature at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City. His first comics story, Le Rhum du Punch, illustrated by his childhood friend Jean-Claude Mézières, was published in 1966 in Pilote magazine. Christin returned to France the following year to join the faculty of the University of Bordeaux. That year he again collaborated with Mézières to create the science-fiction series Valérian and Laureline for Pilote. The first episode was Les Mauvais Rêves (Bad Dreams).

"The City of Shifting Waters" is the first full-length adventure of Valerian and Laureline, agents of Galaxity, roaming the endless infinities of the universe. Published originally in the late ’60s, it would be followed by another 20 in the next 40 years. Cinebook has started the ball rolling. 

Read that fantastic Sci-Fi comics here....

City of Shifting 
Waters (Xtnd)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Land of Black Gold - The Revisions

Many of the Tintin books, beginning with "The Black Island", were subject to a number of changes. But in the whole history of the strip cartoon, no book has gone through more ups and downs than "Land of Black Gold". It went through three versions, each very different from the other!

The first version (1939):
The first version began to appear in 1939, in Le Petit Vingetieme where it took over from King Ottokar's Sceptre
The first (1939) version
The context of war, which gives the opening of the book a mood of foreboding, was to bring it to an abrupt halt. The Le Petit Vingetieme ceased to be published on May 8th, 1940 and with it Land of Black Gold, which was abandoned at the bottom of page 56 of the original black & white version (or page 26 of the later color version).

The second version (1949):
After an interval of eight years the story was finally resumed, this time in "Tintin Magazine". In September 1948, having concluded Prisoners of the Sun, he returned to the pages of Land of Black Gold and decided to complete them. Before being able to pursue the rest of the story, he had to carry through some recasting of already completed pages. The years which had passed had brought new elements into The Adventures of Tintin:  Haddock, Calculas and the Marlinspike Hall, to name the most important, had meanwhile appeared in the series. 
The second (1949) version
(The British Royal Navy sailors 
are in their usual blue dress)
The reader of 1948 would have found the story hard to understand if these were not taken into account. So Herge had to integrate the new elements into the old story, or at least explain their absence. This explains the Captain's mobilization on page 3 of the story and his sudden reappearance on page 54. So in a bizarre way Haddock slips into an adventure where he would not originally have appeared.

The third version (1969):
The third version of the story was made in the late 1960s at the request of Herge's British publisher Methuen, who had already instigated the revised version of "The Black Island". Here the main concern was to eliminate those elements which were considered too dated -- the portrayal of Jews and Arabs battling the British, or each other, in British mandated Palestine in the late 1940s. The book could not appear in Britain in its original version where it showed the struggle of Jewish underground organisations. For the young English reader who is in the process of discovering Tintin, the allusions in Land of Black Gold would have been missed and so they disappeared from the new version: the conflict became one between the Emir Ben Kalish Ezab and his rival who tries to usurp his emirate and become Caliph in his place.

The third (1969) version
The British Royal Navy sailors
replaced by
Arab military police)
The simplifying of the content was accompanied by a freshening up of the book. Uniforms were updated and Bob de Moor went to Antwerp to make sketches of an oil tanker that dated from the 1940s and which was to be the model for the "Speedol Star".

Apart from its various transformations, Land of Black Gold also saw the return of Dr Muller, whom readers had not come across since The Black Island and who appears here under the alias of Professor Smith. The role of Thomson twins was also enhanced and they both fall victim to one of the strangest illness known to modern medicine.

But it is the invention of the Emir Ben Kalish Ezab and his delinquent son Abdullah which is the most striking innovation in the story.
Captain & Abdullah
Herge could not resist their later reappearance --- to the consternation of Nestor the butler and Captain Haddock.

SOURCE: "TINTIN and the World of Herge" (by Benoit Peeters).

Saturday, September 6, 2014

গ্রেট পিরামিডের রহস্যজাল - ব্লেক ও মর্টিমার

Edgar Jacobs created the Blake & Mortimer series in 1946. In the six decades since their creation, all of the books have remained constantly in print. They are considered classics in the Franco-Belgian comic book tradition. In Europe, these stories are held with the same high esteem as Tintin, Lucky Luke, Asterix and Alix. Unfortunately, with the exception of Tintin and Asterix, the Franco-Belgian tradition has never caught on in the English speaking world.

The English publisher Cinebook decided to issue a line of English language translations of classic European comic books. "The Yellow M" is their first Blake & Mortimer release. This is the first Blake & Mortimer story that I have ever read and it is easily understood why this series is such a classic. The series was produced in the "clear line" (Ligne Claire) style of illustration. The quality of the draftmanship is very high. However, what makes the story first rate is the strong story line. It is cinematic in style and there is a film noire feel to the story. 

Tintin is undoubtedly great, however the best Blake and Mortimer stories are as good as the best Tintin stories. And "The Yellow Mark" is definitely one of the best Blake and Mortimer stories of them all and even of all stories ever. Edgar P. Jacobs is the one who gave us much of the greatness in 'Tintin' adventures. He use to work for Hergé and much of the great work in 'Tintin' was due to E. P. Jacobs. 

The Best 3 Blake & Mortmer Adventures
"The Secret of the Swordfish" (in 3 parts) is one of the best war comics ever. It was available in English in the late eighties, and includes top racist action: Mortimer invents a super fighter plane, just in time for the evil Japanese to declare war on the entire world. "The Mystery of the Great Pyramid" is second best. It's probably the most Tintin-like of the Blake and Mortimer books, with lots of non-thrill-powered historical detail about the old Egyptian civilization. 

~ ~ ~ *** ~ ~ ~ 
In this post I tried with my humble knowledge to  translate one of the best B&M adventures,"The Mystery of the Great Pyramid" in Bengali. Due to my limited knowledge in Egyptian history & civilization, readers "may" find me to pronounce certain characters/places in this story slight differently. Unlike Tintin and many other popular comics, these B&M comics contain lot of speech-balloons on every single page, thus readers need to use enough zoom to read the pages in Bengali fonts. 

Over the past nine months I've kept on translating almost 55 pages of this great story. Let's see how readers like it, and how much succeed I was in this effort...

Download Links

1. First Part - 34 Pages (uploaded in 2014)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Quick & Flupke - Pranks and Jokes (বাংলায়)

Although best known for the Adventures of Tintin, in the 30's Hergé also wrote a series of 310 short comic strips known as "Quick et Flupke" about two street urchins in Brussels. "Quick" was the name of a friend of Herge; "Flup" in Flemish is the diminutive for Philip and "ke" means little so Flupke means "little Philip." The two boys unintentionally cause trouble, often aggrivating their parents, neighbors, shopkeepers, and the police.

The Quick & Flupke strips (called "gags" in Europe) were published in black and white on the pages of "Le Petit Vingtième", a weekly youth supplement to the conservative Catholic newspaper, "Le Vingtième Siècle". The supplement, which included two pages of Tintin and two of Quick & Flupke, appeared every Thursday starting in January 1930 and continuing until May 1940, when the Germans invaded Belgium.

5 out of 11  Q&F comics in English...
From time to time, the Quick & Flupke strips were gathered together in books, 5 in total of 88 to 96 pages each. The first two books were published by the Editions du Petit Vingtième while the last three and all the subsequent books were published by the Casterman publishing house. Volume 1 (1930) was reprinted as a replica book in 2011. Some of the strips were also republished in the 50's in Tintin magazine, conceived by Raymond Leblanc, this time colored by Studios Hergé.

Hergé eventually abandoned Quick & Flupke in order to spend more time on The Adventures of Tintin, his more famous series. Over the years, most of the strips were colored by Studios Hergé and published in two series of books, both titled Les Exploits de Quick et Flupke by the Casterman publishing house. Series 1 (serie) was 10 books of 30 pages each published between 1949 and 1961. This series plus an additional volume 11 was reprinted in the mid to late 60's with solid color covers without background stars. Series 2 (recueil) was 6 volumes of 62 pages each published from 1975 to 1982. 
Translated by Kuntal

In January 2008, Euro Books India (a subsidiary of Egmont, UK) released English translations in softcover form of all 11 titles that were originally written by Hergé. Currently, these are available only in India, although Egmont planned to gradually release them in the UK. Two of them (#4, Under Full Sail, and #12, Fasten Your Seat Belts), were released in 2009. Interestingly, these translations by David Radzinowicz are different from the India English translations, which are not attributed to any specific person. More books were to have been released in the UK in 2010-11, but none were. 
~ ~ ~ *** ~ ~ ~ 
In this post I have translated and uploaded one of the "Quick & Flupke" comics, "Pranks & Jokes" in Bengali ("ঠাট্টা আর তামাশা"). In this book, in most of the conversations I have tried to convey the sense of the text, instead of following the 'literal translation'.  Hopefully readers will find this classic humor strips quite interesting and funny, and will keep on laughing along with the hilarious adventures of two street urchins, Quick and Flupke, like the way I did.

Pranks & Jokes
(in Bengali)