The Calculus Affair

by David Dedrick on July 22, 2015

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This week on Totally Tintin, Ian and Dave take a look at Hergé’s exciting The Calculus Affair. Secret agents, superweapons and shattering glass!


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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Les McClaine July 27, 2015 at 11:38 am

Last time I read through this one I was really struck by how good the color was on the helicopter chase sequence. It’s a fantastic shift from night to early dawn to morning all done exclusively through color, really a fantastic job. Any idea who was responsible for that?


David Dedrick July 29, 2015 at 1:44 am

Les, all the artistic choices were either made by or approved by Hergé, but the main colourist at this time was Josette Baujot,who was with the Studio from its inception in 1953 to 1979.


Dylan July 30, 2015 at 3:56 am

Looking forward to the new podcast: “Definitively Dedrick”!

Also, “I haven’t driven a tank since our moon trip”? But Tintin, that was about a month ago…

One of my favourite, this one – tightly plotted, nicely paced and fantastically detailed settings. Good episode, guys!


Steve July 31, 2015 at 11:10 am

This was the first Tintin book I read. My teacher had to stop me from constantly borrowing it from the library ( I was 11 ) . . still love this book. Fascinating to hear all the background details on the Herge studio . . did I hear you say there were 50 people working at the studio? The mind boggles to think what they were all doing. Anyway, great show as always.


colin upton July 31, 2015 at 9:22 pm

One of my favourites!
I do remember as a kid I felt the last chase scene was disappointing, just how many times can our heroes get lucky? I would try to imagine other ways they could’ve escaped.
The Bordurian weapons are drawn deliberately as generic as possible, the tank turret is unlike anything the Soviets and their satellite nations were using at the time, more resembling but not quite Western tank designs. Similarly the artillery piece (most likely a dedicated anti-tank gun, although it could be a field gun with anti-tank capabilities) has elements of German or Soviet designs.
Incidentally, Mr.Bird was one of the artillery guns crew, which is why Ian thought there was something familiar about them. After escaping France he enlisted in the Bordurian Foreign Legion to hide out as joining the French Foreign Legion was obviously not an option.


David Dedrick August 4, 2015 at 8:38 pm

The poor quality of Communist-produced goods was a pretty standard gag at the time, but I wish it had been better established before the tank sequence.


colin upton July 31, 2015 at 9:27 pm

I do like what you were saying about the covers involving the readers by showing the back of the main characters heads, seeing what they are seeing. This is also a feature of Japanese manga, making the character (and thus the reader) the emotional center of the action to the point in action sequences the character “stands still” while the background is a mass of speed lines. This is one reason why manga has such popular appeal around the world. I believe I am paraphrasing Scott McCloud (or Macleod) here…


Dylan August 3, 2015 at 4:18 am

I’m half-Swiss, and I cannot see them renumbering a room that isn’t 122 to say that it was. Unless the tourism francs we’re going to be extremely lucrative.


Thomas Callaway August 4, 2015 at 3:57 pm

Why is calculus a science reference?
Calculus is a branch of mathematics.


Ian Boothby August 4, 2015 at 6:00 pm
Thomas Callaway August 4, 2015 at 6:53 pm

That is just nonsense. You might as well argue leather shoes are ducks because they are both made up of atoms.


David Dedrick August 4, 2015 at 8:45 pm



David February 25, 2018 at 12:54 am

One of the things I particularly love about this story is the way in which night is very gradually transitioned to daylight from pages 32 to 34. It’s very subtle and unless you’re paying attention, you hardly realise that night has become day. Delightful.


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