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Tintin drives a Citroen

Some 10 years ago (almost to the day even), I already showed that Tintin and cars is a complicated matter that does not involve a lot of brand loyalty. Still, French car maker Citroën seems to have had a special place in the quiffed one’s heart in the 1980s. In 1985, the Belgian branch of Citroën even published a calendar, with 12 specially commissioned images featuring  all of Hergé’s heroes alongside famous Citroën models through the ages.

The rendering of the cars is spot on, but the characters seem to be little more than lifted from earlier productions. Tintin in the March image, for example, seems to be long on the cover of Coke En Stock, while the Thompsons in December look awkardly as if they just stepped out of L’Or Noir. Still, a very nice production.

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The wonders of modern photography

In 1985, clear line powerhouse Ted Benoit (who sadly passed away last year), had already published his first Ray Banana graphic novel, Berceuse électrique, and was preparing the second one, Cité Lumière, for the next year (Benoit famously said that a book every year was madness).

In between, he took an assignment from photography equipment manufacturer Kodak to create a short strip extolling the benefits of modern photography techniques for the graphics industries.

Visually speaking, Benoit is still very much a Hergé purist in this strip, finding his way in this particular, stringent style in terms of line, colour and composition. It’s still a long way off from his masterpiece, La philosophie dans la piscine. When it comes to storytelling though, this is already Benoit in full form, full of irony and communication that goes wrong. Due to the fact that he doesn’t use the modern Kodak products, our editor runs late and misses his appointment with the Kodak guy, who chats up the secretary with his boasts about said products (and more?). A real little gem.

(thanks to Ted Benoit Dessinateur for the scan)

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Close but no comic

As with anything that can garner a loyal (if not fanatic) niche following, comics-related imagery are used on any item that even remotely has a collectible value. Case in point today, cigar bands.

Often referred to (at least by me) as postal stamps’ less fortunate nephew, cigar bands originated somewhere in the 1830’s to enable some kind of branding on an otherwise quite indistinguishable product.  Pretty soon this type of ephemera turned collectable (there’s even a name for that, vitolphilia), which in turn resulted in bands being produced with the specific purpose of being collected.

The Dutch brand Murillo, for example, started releasing themed bands in the mid-1970s, and from the early 1990s  issued special, large-sized bands for collectors. Starting in 1999 they began issuing comics-themed band series almost exclusively. They were published in series of ten, featuring imagery lifted from popular (Euro) comics, such as Lucky Luke, Tintin, Suske & Wiske, De Rode Ridder or Asterix, but also Spider-Man, Donald Duck and even imagery from the comic adaptation of the Star Wars movie, The Phantom Menace.

Most of these ever went near a cigar, and Murillo itself even stopped producing cigars long before these bands were created. Aesthetically, the bands are not that impressive, with randomly cropped artwork stuck on a fairly standard band. And I’m not even going to ask about copyrights.

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The Möbius Comic

In addition to his quite remarkable autobiographical strips, John “Nohj” Cullen likes to skirt the boundaries of what is possible in short comics with his Gramfel series, if not simply how far you can take a Garfield parody without getting into trouble with the Jim Davis empire.

The 42nd Gramfel strip combines playing around with the formal constraints of the medium with the theme of dread and recurrence that often plays in Nohj’s strips. It looks like a one-page comic that pretty much ends the way it starts. With some handiwork, though, you can turn it into a Möbius strip, a paper ring that, thanks to a single twist in the paper, is basically a 3D body with only one side, thus cleverly reflecting the subject of the strip in its form.

I must admit, things like this make me quite happy.

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Robert Frank Hunter’s Little Fictions

For the artwork of their most recent album, Little Fictions, British rock band Elbow worked with illustrator and cartoonist Robert Frank Hunter. Hunter is probably best known for his colourful but subdued work for the Guardian and the New York Times, but he’s also created quite a few books with Nobrow Press, such as The New Ghost and Young Colossus and most recently, the quite mesmerising, Map Of Days.

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Better With Mobile Phones?

When you’re watching movies from the eighties or older, you often wonder how much of the drama and misunderstanding might be avoided with the technology that we have today. UK telecom provider Plusnet asked themselves the same thing, and came up with some alternative endings for classic movies, featuring mobile phones, Google Maps, Tripadvisor and other modern marvels.

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Marvel goes bazooka

One of the most peculiar uses of comics in a marketing context, is the Bazooka Joe comic. For roughly sixty years (from 1952 onwards), Topps included a short comic with its Bazooka Joe brand of bubblegum, chronicling the adventures of said Joe and his gang. The original artist, by the way, was Wesley Morse, the creative force behind many of the Tijuana Bibles, small-scale underground comics that parodied major media properties for pornographic purposes.

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