Thursday, March 11, 2021
Friday, March 05, 2021
First, in "Moonbase 3" Rhys Williams and I have scrutinised recently discovered studio floor plans for 1967 story The Moonbase, focused on the ingenious way designer Colin Shaw maximised limited space. The CGI recreations of the studio set-up for episode 3 are by clever Gav Rymill. I also got some insight into the kind of person Colin Shaw was from his friend and colleague (and my old boss) John Ainsworth. Thanks to researcher Richard Bignell for alerting me to the discovery of the floor plans and helping my poor old brain make some kind of sense of them.
Secondly, "Sufficient Data" is a new regular column by me (and, from next issue, Steve O'Brien) illustrated by Ben Morris and exploring numbers and concepts in Doctor Who in what we hope will be a fun and surprising way. This issue we're all about the number 13. Steve, Ben and I previously worked together on the book Whographica, which is still available in bookshops.
Thursday, March 04, 2021
"As the first Tintin adventure since Cigars of the Pharaoh [serialised 1932-34] to have kept unequivocally clear of politics, it posed no problem for the Nazi censor. However, years after the war when the question of its distribution in the United States arose, it fell foul of American censors who objected to Haddock's alcoholism and the presence of blacks--mixing races was deemed unsuitable in children's books." (p. 96)In responding to this, as Farr says, Herge replaced a black gang member with one of "arab appearance" (sic), though the original dialogue remained, Haddock still referring to him as a "negro". Farr is good at detailing Herge's own developing consciousness and regret about the racism in his books, and provides some nuanced and fascinating context, but it doesn't really excuse things to say that other people were worse. My sense is there's a fan's instinctive response here, defending a text so cherished from childhood rather than acknowledging inherent problems.
"The character of Red Rackham [the pirate] came to Herge from a page of Dimanche-Illustre of November 27, 1938, which told the steamy story of the English "femmes pirates" (women pirates) Marie Read (born 1680) and Anne Bonny, and their compatriot Jean Rackam (sic), pirate captain and scourge of the merchant marine and the high seas. Rackam flew a Jolly Roger depicting a skeleton brandishing a cutlass in one hand, a bottle of rum in the other, striking terror in the hearts of his victims."According to Maurice Keroul's torrid tales, Bonny, despite being Rackam's mistress, falls dangerously and hopelessly in love with Read who had joined the pirate band in the guise of a man. Read in turn is attracted to Rackam. Before the complicated triangular relationship resolves itself, the pirates are finally cornered, outnumbered, defeated and captured. They are all sentenced to hang. However, Marie Read has her sentence commuted to life imprisonment. On November 20, 1720, Rackam and Bonny are strung up on the yard-arm of their ship in Port Royal, Jamaica. A few days later Read commits suicide." (pp. 108-9)