Flight 714

by David Dedrick on August 19, 2015

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This week on Totally Tintin, Ian and Dave discuss Flight 714 (to Sydney) – the Tintin book where things go coo-coo bananas: ESP, aliens and pink cowboy shirts??? Dave has some real objections to this book. Listen and find out why.

Flight-714

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Will August 19, 2015 at 9:06 am

Dave. We call U.F.Os U.F.Os in England. Not ufos. Just sayin.

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David Dedrick August 22, 2015 at 4:09 pm

To which I say:

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Layne August 21, 2015 at 7:54 pm

Well, this *was* one of my more fondly-remembered albums. Thanks, guys.

Still, there’s a lot to enjoy – the plot is interesting, Carreidas is fun, and the Chariots of the Gods? concept (Kirby’s inspiration for The Eternals, too) is always enjoyable if we ignore the racistness of the concept. Only the execution is so, so botched – our heroes are ridiculously passive, Haddock and Calculus are shoehorned into a Thomson and Thompson smashed hat bit, and the art is so wonky and at times grotesque. There were several jarring close-ups in The Castafiore Emerald, but they weren’t too incongruous in the context of that story. Here they stick out like sore, poorly drawn thumbs. The heavy line weight(?) of the close-ups does not go with the elegant aesthetic we’re used to. Spalding reminds me of a Don Martin character too, but I’m not sure if that is a plus or a minus.

I don’t share Dave’s dislike for the extraterrestrials – is a flying saucer so much more unbelievable than an Incan-voodoo curse? It just should have been handled better – like pretty much everything else in the book. I do love Calculus’ temper – remember in Destination Moon he lifted and hung that burly military fellow on the coathook, so the physicality isn’t too far out of left field, but otherwise, he totally gets the shit end of the stick in this adventure.

I thought I’d get a few No-Prizes with the fates of the villains and source of Calculus’ cobalt rod (Kanrokitoff sports his antennae all the way through the adventure, so the rod must have just been sitting around in that cave for millenia before Calculus popped it into his pocket), but you guys foiled me at the last minute. However, after Tintin & Co. go through the astronaut head sculpture/secret door, Tintin is instructed by Kanrokitoff to bolt it so I don’t think the dastards would have been able to use the eye to unlatch it.

Brilliant cover, though.

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David Dedrick August 25, 2015 at 9:42 am

Well, goddammit. I replied to this a couple of days ago, but my reply didn’t go through. Here it is – one more time for posterity!

For whatever reason, the condescending idea that the “brown” people of the past could not possibly have been smart enough to build a pyramid, figure out a calendar system (which, by the way, everyone, is completely arbitrary) or erect stone heads has always rubbed me the wrong way. Hergé espousing these ideas in Flight 714 bugged me when I was a young, liberal-minded teenager.

Voodoo or other magical occurrences as described by people who have experienced them seem as believable to me as the stories of alien encounters that were once so popular. I have no problem with using either in a story. My objection to the aliens in Flight 714 is their role as “deus ex machina” – arbitrary plot devices that “magically” save Tintin and company from a pickle rather than relying on Tintin’s smarts or initiative combined with his usual blind luck to solve the problem. I don’t have to find telekinetic abilities any more believable than UFOs or voodoo dolls to know that Mik Kanrokitoff’s character introduces a lot of “tell” rather than “do”, which really bogs down the last third of the book, despite the fine volcano excitement.

Sorry if we spoiled the book for you Layne. Reading them chronologically has really highlighted the weaknesses of some of the later books – including the cover of Flight 714, which I still like a lot if I can overlook the poor drawing of the characters.

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Layne August 27, 2015 at 7:42 pm

No need to apologize, tongue was firmly in cheek! Flight 714 and Picaros are frustrating books, and the drop in quality after Castafiore Emerald – which shares/introduces their subversive spirit and some artistic tics, but manages to be successful and satisfying – is really magnified by reading the comics chronologically on a weekly basis. It feels like such a steep and rapid decline (‘What the hell is this “meh” comic, he was sublime two weeks ago!’), I had to remind myself that the two original books following Castafiore Emerald – Not counting the revised Black Island – came out over a 13 year period, which was plenty of time for Herge & Co. to become plenty disengaged from the characters and story, as well as maybe getting a little rusty, art-wise. It’s amazing when you consider in the 13 years *before* Emerald they produced Destination Moon, Explorers on the Moon, Calculus Affair, Red Sea Sharks, and Tibet. I guess it also illustrates just how done Herge was with Tintin by that point.

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colin upton August 22, 2015 at 8:31 pm

Not one of my favourites, it almost feels like after “Emerald” Herge just gave the publishers what they wanted, the old villains-criminal-conspiracy adventure with guns and whatnot but making the bad guys laughable to annoy the editors. Be careful what you wish for. I was into the whole Chariots of the Gods thing when I was a kid, only later did I discover in German there’s a genre of “fictionalised documentary” where you’re allowed to make shit up. Now if you watch the History channel the Ancient Assyrian gods are aliens, so is Merlin, Jesus, Mother Theresa and probably Napoleon and Billy the Kid for all I know. I was gunning for a no prize at the end but you saved yourselves, I can imagine the bad guys getting probed.
Spauldings hat seems too be some form of severe fedora.
World War one started in August, 1914… geez, I thought everyone knew that…

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colin upton August 22, 2015 at 8:32 pm

Slacks, I’m just warning you now Ian, slacks…

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colin upton August 22, 2015 at 8:34 pm

“Common or garden” is an English phrase for something ordinary.

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colin upton August 22, 2015 at 8:36 pm

I think the difference between a flying boat and a floatplane is that the body of a flying boat actually sits in the water, like a boat, while a floatplane is raised above the surface of the water on it’s floats. Is that what you were wondering?

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Andrew August 23, 2015 at 1:53 pm

Enjoyed the episode – listened to it on a flight. Or since the flight was from London to Tokyo, I listened to half the episode on a flight.

Just joshing – great show as always (the ‘mistakes’ seemed apropros to the book).

When the aliens rolled along I rolled my eyes. But Layne (above) has a point. Maybe in the ‘questions’ podcast you could discuss this: Is Flight 714 to Tintin what Crystal Skull is to Indiana Jones? Because everyone who hated that movie focused on the aliens, forgetting that the first one supposes God lives in a box and only kills Nazis who look at him.

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Ian Boothby August 23, 2015 at 3:12 pm

God also kills people that drink out of the wrong cup. Also the Hindu goddess Kali will mess you up if you look at her sideways.

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Layne August 27, 2015 at 7:48 pm

Now picturing God as the office scold who’s sick of someone always stealing their mug from the coffee area, despite it being clearly marked as his:
“I’m sorry about this Louise, but as you know, I am a vengeful god. And I did send a memo out about this yesterday.”
[Smites Louise From Finance]

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colin upton August 24, 2015 at 6:32 pm

I wonder if introducing aliens into your comic is the French equivalent to “jumping the shark”… it happened in the last Asterix book which was just awful.

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Ian Boothby August 25, 2015 at 2:29 am

That would mean The Flintstones went downhill when it introduced The Great Gazoo.

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Chris May 20, 2017 at 4:38 am

For all its flaws, I found this one of the more enjoyable stories. It’s well paced, the blend of adventure and slapstick works, and I was happy to go along with the whole alien thing.

There’s one lovely scene you didn’t mention: when Snowy is reunited with Tintin in the cooler, he tries to say his name, ‘Nnn, Nnn’. I’m pretty sure this is the only time that happens, and it was such a sweet touch it made me warm to the whole book.

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