The most tattered and loved books in the library of my elementary school were a mid-century series of Belgian graphic novels following the adventures of Tintin, a young reporter and adventurer. During the course of more than 20 volumes, Tintin sailed the seas, battled cannibals and pirates, exposed art thieves, hobnobbed with royalty, chased meteors and even went to the moon.
It is entirely possible that I was the only one checking those books out and they were so tattered because of how many times I read them. Mentioning Tintin, even to comics afficianados, will often get me a blank stare or a "gezundheit," in response.
But in Europe, Tintin is everywhere. Tintin is as omnipresent on merchandise as Mickey Mouse and as revered a heroic literary character as Spider-Man. The Economist theorized that this is because Tintin is a character who must be viewed through a post-war lens to truly understand, something Europeans can do easily and Americans must work for. In their mind, this made director Steven Spielberg's decision to shoot a Tintin feature based on the story, The Secret of the Unicorn—Tintin and his perpetually drunken companion, Captain Haddock, go in search of a lost treasure—something of a gamble.
Spielberg's decision to brave the uncanny valley and shoot the film as motion-capture animation like the twin disasters, The Polar Express and Beowulf, upped the ante. Those two films were lampooned for their dead-eyed performances.
The first trailer for Spielberg's film was released today. It's not short on action, but face shots are a bit underplayed, meaning it remains to be seen how much effect the animation will have on the final product.
Still, this childhood super-fan remains hopeful. If there's anyone who can pull it off, it's Spielberg.