This article focuses on the two Hergé albums which recount the story of Haddock's ancestor, the Chevalier de Hadoque. The author postulates that the narrative device of the search for a lost object also operates at the level of individual panels, offering the reader the fantasy of burrowing into their two-dimensional surface. He proceeds to do a reading of the 'crypt' sequences from these albums, attending to details which seem insignificant in terms of the plot, but which, he argues, amount to a series of key visual motifs. They may symbolise deeper narrative structures, such as the entry into dangerous and forbidden places, or offer a poetic evocation of the aspiration of a silent, static medium towards sound and movement. Above all, they set up a dense network of relationships which resonate through the albums for the greater pleasure of the readers who become attuned to their subtle harmonics.
Our starting point is the idea that Hergé sets up a series of reciprocal links between two of his albums, Les 7 Boules de cristal and Le Temple du Soleil. Over and above simple narrative succession, these two albums fit together like two wings of a diptych across which visual, semiotic and even symbolic elements echo each other. In order to appreciate these fully, the diptych has to be considered from the perspective of a 'rereading', in other words from a standpoint that enables a particular panel or situation to be regarded as a flash forward or flashback. The tracking of this back-and-forth motion seeks to reveal the artistic profundity of Hergé's narrative, where anticipations of later elements or reminders of earlier ones either serve to intensify the dramatic build-up, or, conversely, work to parodic effect (through a distancing impression of 'déjà vu'). These echoes have cumulative effects that contribute to the overall 'intelligence' of the work. Hence our title: 'Figurations and Prefigurations in Hergé's Work, or from Les 7 Boules de cristal to Le Temple du Soleil and Back Again'.
‘Scenariographics’ is defined as the deployment of the (non-specific) codes of the medium by individual comics artists in order to achieve effects that are specific to their work and therefore difficult to transpose to any other medium. L’Étoile mystérieuse, is used as a case study: a close reading of Hergé’s comic demonstrates how the artist creates a complex semiological web, drawing upon the resources of comics syntax and layout, onomatopoeia and emanata, visual metaphor, infra-narrative elements and intertextual motifs, blurring boundaries between dream life (more often nightmares) and wakefulness, realism and the fantastic. Moreover, through the coexistence and transposition of different levels of reality, including the everyday, the supernatural and the psychic, Hergé creates meanings that have political resonance in an album produced for a collaborationist newspaper.
Hervé (Baru) Barulea, Bart Beaty, Annabelle Cone, Pierre Fresnault-Deruelle and Richard Scully
Notes on contributors
Bart Beaty, Armelle Blin-Rolland, Rod Cooke, Pierre Fresnault-Deruelle, Thierry Groensteen, Benoît Peeters, Annick Pellegrin, Lawrence R. Schehr, Greice Schneider and Raphaël Taylor
Notes on Contributors to Volume 3