Oct 27, 2008

CineBook – Thorgal #1-3 | 2008

Distributor in India: West Land | Price: INR 350 | Two-Volume Books | Color | Pages: 96 | Size: B5 | Laminated/HardCover

Well, I got behind on my comics reading, and couldn't complete Black & Mortimer series quite in time for a positive review before the long weekend.  Nevertheless, not to disappoint those visiting souls, I took up another great series for review, Thorgal from Cinebook.

Comics stalwarts would remember the Conan the Barbarian (or Conan the Cimmerian, as he is known also) from the Golden Age of American Comics.  We won't be overestimating, if we say that Conan series, single-handedly laid a platform for the sword-and-sorcery fantasy, and later revolutionized its form in a Comics base starting from 1970.  There were even a couple of Hollywood attempts to take the success, to the Silver Screen, an initiative propelled by the presence of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the lead role.  The popularity of Conan is bestowed by the fact that, there are still die-hard fans around the world for this hard-hitting Cimmerian, even when the world revolves around the Sci-Fi fantasy.

Thorgal 1: Child of the Stars
ISBN: 978-1-905460-23-6

Thorgal 01 c1
Thorgal 1: Aaricia (Vol.2)
Published: 2007

Thorgal 01 ic

There were numerous attempts made to cash-in on the popularity generated by Conan in the Comics format, by many writers and authors, but none were as successful as the Conan was.  But, little is known that in the same period, there was another Comics character from the famed Franco-Belgian genre, which was able to match upto to the popularity and adventures of Conan, and our topic of discussion, Thorgal.

Thorgal is a Belgian comic book series created with the blockbuster combination of writer Jean Van Hamme and the Polish graphic artist Grzegorz Rosiński.  Writer Jean Van Hamme is well-known to Southern Indian Fans, as he is the creator of the successful XIII franchise.  A series which is in plans to be published as a Collectors Item from Prakash Publishers,  who own the famous Tamil language Lion and Muthu Comics, being released in South India.

Jean Van Hamme

Jean Van Hamme

It originally started appearing in the TinTin Magazine, but was moved to hardcover volumes starting from 1980.  Since then the popularity of the series has prompted them to be translated into all the major languages in Europe. 

Thorgal series left no stone untouched, with its storylines uniting many legends into one, ranging from Norse Mythology, Atlantean Fantasy, and to an extent Science Fiction too.


Grzegorz Rosiński

Van Hamme is known for is intriguing plots, in his other works.  And that is shown in the way he has put Thorgal's origin and his hurdles growing-up.

Shankar's comment in the blog reminded me that I forgot to mention how the strange name Thorgal Aegirsson.  As per the plot (revealed in the Cinebook 1st album) he was named so by his adopted father, Leif Haraldson, as "Thor-gal Aegirs-son"; after Thor, the Norse God of Thunder (a prominant Marvel Comic Hero too), and Aegir, the ruler of the sea; because he considered Thorgal to be a gift from the Gods.

The punch-line of Thorgal Series 'The Gods Have Put a Man to the Test', is good enough to understand that he is different from his much famous compatriot, Conan. Unlike Conan, He is a guy who despises of wars, fist-fights, kingdom, or supremacy, and wants to settle down as a day-to-day family man, fueled by his unmatched love towards Aaricia.  The story quitely follows their adventures with us being reminded on this underlying family values, which Thorgal rates highly over any other.  The Artwork of Rosinski, is incredible, which adds all the more value to the Hamme's plot.  Have a look at the cover arts, as a testament to the fact. 

The successful combination, has so far published 29 Albums of Thorgal, with the last one in 2006.  So far, the entire volume put together has sold more than 13 million copies worldwide in all languages put to-gether.

Thorgal 2: The Three Elders of Aran
ISBN: 978-1-905460-31-1
Thorgal 02 c1
Thorgal 2: The Black Galley (Vol.2)
Published: 2007
Thorgal 02 ic

Coming back to the topic, Cinebook have brought this much acclaimed French series, to India in their English versions.  There are 3 Editions with this batch, with each one being a Two Volume Editions, which effectively means that they are 6 in total.  The way these volumes are bound are different from their original publication, as the Thorgal 1, in this series, actually encompasses the original volumes: 7:L'enfant des étoiles and 8:Alinoë;, released in 1984 and 1985 respectively.  The chief patron of Cinebook, Olivier Cadic, explains in an interview with CBO, that he purposefully suggested the change to the creators, as he felt that those individual albums, which briefs the childhood days of Thorgal and Aaricia, would serve as a good way to open up a series anew.

Thorgal 3: Beyond the Shadows
ISBN: 978-1-905460-45-8
Thorgal 03 c1
Thorgal 3: The Fall of Brek Zarith (Vol.2)
Published: 2007

Thorgal 03 ic

Likewise, Thorgal 2: encompasses Original Albums 3:Les Trois Vieillards du pays d'Aran (1981) and 4:La Galère Noire (1982); while Thorgal 3: consists of the Original Albums 5:Au-delà des Ombres and 6:La chute de Brek Zarith.  The Original Albums 1 & 2, which introduces us to the characters and location, have been left out from this venture, as Olivier feels that the Origins of Thorgal & Aaricia, are enough to fill-up the introduction rounds.

As to the present, Van Hamme has disowned himself from the Thorgal series.  But Rosinski has teamed up with Yves Sente (whom we will be discussing again when we review the Black & Mortimer series), to continue the Thorgal Saga.  So far they have released two editions, with this new team-up:

  • Album 30: Moi, Jolan - (I, Jolan) (2007) and
  • Album 31: Le bouclier de Thor - (The Shield of Thor) (2008)

in which the plot now hovers around Jolan, the son of Thorgal.  The new series  has so far garnered mixed reactions for the purists and followers of the Thorgal series. I am not going to provide a judgement on them, unless we have them on our hands.

Overall, I liked Thorgal series, as that introduced us to a world different from what we have witnessed in the sword-fighting medieval age described by other stories.  I always felt that no series could match-up to the Conan saga, but now I have been proven wrong

The next album of Thorgal, The Archers, is currently out on print from Cinebook in UK, but it is yet to reach India.  Cinebook have also announced two more two-volume-editions of Thorgal for 2009, showing their intention to continue with this successful series.

As a Bonus to this post, here are the back-covers of these 3 set Thorgal series, which has a small snippet about the supposed storyline, and a sneak preview of next title in the series.

Thorgal 01 c2Thorgal 02 c2Thorgal 03 c2












And before we wrap-up, for all the visitors from India and those of Indian Origin from other countries, wish you all a Happy Diwali.  For the others, its famously called as the "Festival of Lights", and for all proper reasons. Refer to the Wiki link to know more.

அன்பிற்கினிய தமிழ் வாசகர்களுக்கு, இனிய தீபாவளி நல்வாழ்த்துகள். இந்த பண்டிகையில் உங்கள் வீடுகளில் மகிழ்ச்சி பொங்கட்டும்; உங்களுடைய நெடு நாள் ஆசைகள் நிறைவேறட்டும்.

सब जनो को दिवाली के सुभ अवसर पर, मेरी आर्थिक सुब्काम्नाये |

Flash-Back: RANI COMICS - Tamil - #313 - 1 July 1997

Contrary to the popular opinion that Thorgal series was never printed in India before, I was just alerted by comikers, that it had indeed been printed in India as an one shot, by the erstwhile Comics publication Rani Comics (ராணி காமிக்ஸ்).  Luckily, I had a copy of this edition in my collection and this late-update is to compare it with the original version, released now by CineBook.

For the starters, Rani Comics was one of the famous Tamil Comics magazines in South India, from the house of Daily Thanthi (தின தந்தி).  It had a huge fan-following and had a marathon release for more than 3 decades. 

Though it revolutionized the art of Comics publishing in Tamil Language along with the fellow Super Heavyweights Muthu Comics & Lion Comics, many true comic lovers despised their strategy of editing the core artwork, and spoiling the plot, especially the post-Ramajayam period, as Editor of Rani Comics. Read more about them in our Rani Comics debut post here.

Rani Comics #313 Veera Siruvan
(வீர சிறுவன்) : Courageous Boy
Rani 313 Cover

This one-shot was released in July 1997 as Rani Comics #313, titled Veera Siruvan (வீர சிறுவன்) , which is an edited version of the Thorgal Album 1: Child of the Stars, listed in the main section.  The coverart is also inspired by the same Album.  And surprisingly he retains his original name, although eventually killing it by referring him as Thoragaal (தொரகால்).

The story revolves around the childhood of Thorgal, where he agrees to help the Dwarfs in their challenge with the Serpent King, to locate the Jewel made from a Metal that Doesn't Exist.  Due to Thorgal's secret origin of being a descendant from an alien race from the stars, he does carry an ornament from his ancestors which satisfies the Serpent Kings description.  Thorgal decides to travel to the Dwarf land accompanied by the Dwarf messenger, to gift his ornament and successfully evades the hurdle to claim his destiny.

Now, as is the tradition with Rani Comics, we get to see a lot of twists from the original storyline.  While briefing all them would be a big ask, I will try to keep it short with few prime examples.  To start with due to the size of Rani Comics (half the original), the one page artwork in the original, is actually briefed in 2 or 3 pages in the Rani Comics version, and the Original segregation of Child of Stars into three chapters is missing in the Rani Comics edition.  The story starts without a prologue about Vikings finding Thorgal as an infant.  Instead it is featured as a small snippet into the story when its framed as being told by Thorgal to the Dwarf Messenger.  This could be accepted by the fact that Tamil Comics is still new to a level, with the concept of Epilogue or Prologue may be a little hard to understand by one and all.

And as with the tradition of all Black & White prints, we get to lose the incredible artwork of Rosinski.  See an example from the scene where Dwarf Messenger talks to Thorgal in a Dark Night, with a camp fire.  While the original artwork shows that Thorgal is in picture, the Rani Comics version has completely made him a ghost in the dark.  A little effort from the local artist could have made it look better.  Take your own judgement below.

Original: Dwarf & Thorgal in Conversation
Thorgal 01 pg19
Rani Comics Adaptation of the same panels
Rani 313 pg17

The next up is close to the end of Chapter two, where the Serpent claims that he won the challenge, and is shocked to see the Messenger returning with the jewel.  Elsewhere, Thorgal dies in the battle with the Snake like monster.  But, in the Rani Comics adaptation, the Dwarf Lord himself briefs to the Serpent that the Jewel is here, and it is his portrayed as if that the Serpent in anger kills Thorgal, who actually hasn't reached the location yet (battling with the monster still on the way).  To top it all, in the Rani Comics, the immediate next panel after Thorgals death, is shown as the Dwarves celebrating their victory, while they just portrayed Thorgal being killed by the Serpent, and then they suddenly come to the realisation of him being missing.  Confusion to the core.  Have a look for yourself.

Original: Serpent being briefed on Stone discovery
Thorgal 01 pg30
Corresponding Rani Comics Panels - p56
Rani 313 pg56
Rani Comics - p57
Rani 313 pg57
Rani Comics - p58
Rani 313 pg58

But to top it all, Editor packs a surprise at the end.  In the Original, when Thorgal gets wounded by the Snake like monster, the Dwarf Messenger, sheds tears on his friends death.  But Goddess Frigg brings Thorgal back to life, and briefs that the tears which was shed on him would eventually be his biggest gift, as Tears of Love.  When Thorgal wakes up in his world, he is briefed by his friends that during his absence, one of the tribal leaders was blessed with a baby girl, who surprisingly had pearls in the shape of tears in her both clenched hands by birth.  Symbolic representation, that that is the gift to Thorgal from the Goddess for his courage, a girl who would later become his love for life, Aaricia.

But, we are into a great twist in the storyline, in typical Indian style, here the girl is indeed portrayed as the baby sister of Thorgal himself.  Oops, what a way to end a One shot story.  Editor A.M.Saami at work again.

Original: The Climax of Chapter 2
Thorgal 01 p32
Respective Panels in Rani Comics - p60
Rani 313 pg60
Rani Comics - p61
Rani 313 pg61

Since, this was indeed considered as one shot by Rani Comics Editor, he left out the 3rd Chapter of the Album where Thorgal travels to the sacred mountain to eventually meet his Grandfather, and comes to know of his origin.  Rani Comics adaptation, simply ends with Chapter two.

The idea of this comparison, is not to show Rani Comics under poor light, but only to create the awareness that how a good story could be spoilt in the hands of a wrong authorities. There may be people, who would still justify that Rani Comics was aimed at children, hence it was simplified for common understanding.  I don't buy in that concept, because that cannot be used as a yardstick for chopping of a storyline from its originality and changing it as per the wish of the editor.  They are quite a few publishers who buy-in this concept in India, the notable of them are Prakash Publishers from South India, publishers of the fabled Lion and Muthu Comics.

I hope you enjoyed this post, and as always, please do leave your comments in the section below.

15 ComiComments:

Hi Rafiq- I have posted ;-)
Where do you get Thorgal comics in India.

நண்பர்கள் யாவரிற்கும் இனிய தீபாவளி வாழ்த்துக்கள்

மிகவும் அமைதியாக,சத்தமில்லாது தமிழ் காமிக்ஸ் ரசிகர்களிற்க்கு பிரபல்யமான உலக காமிக்ஸ் வரிசையை அறிமுகப்படுத்தி கொண்டிருக்கிறார் ரஃபிக்.நன்றிகள் பராட்டுக்கள்.

31 வருடங்கள். ஆம் முதல் தார்கல் ஆல்பம் 1977லியே வெளிவந்துவிட்டது
இவ்வளவு காலமாக அது தொடார்ந்து வெளிவருவதற்கு காரணமான ரசிகர்களின் ஆதரவை என்னவென்பது.

2வருடங்களின் முன் sacrifice ஆல்பம் வெளிவந்தபோது அதற்க்கான விளம்பரம் திரையரங்குகளில் திரையிடப்பட்டது. கதையின் முடிவும் ரசிகர்களின் கணிசமானோரை திருப்திபடுத்த தவறியது.

சில மாதங்களின் முன் ஜஸ்பேர்க் காமிக்ஸ் வளைத்தள முகப்பில் உங்களை குறி வைத்துக்கொண்டு ஓர் வில்லாளி இருந்தாரே அவர் தார்கல் தான்.முத்து காமிக்ஸில் கதை வெளியானால் இவரிற்கு என்ன பெயரிட்டிருப்பார்கள்.

முதல் 3ஆல்பங்களின் வாசிப்பின் பின் கதையில் தூக்கலாகவிருந்த மாந்தீரிகம் என்னை களைப்படையச்செய்ததால் இத்தொடரை நான் வாசித்து முடிக்கவில்லை.

ரஃபிக் mangaக்களையும் தமிழ் ரசிகர்களிற்கு நீங்கள் அறிமுகப்படுத்தலாமே.


THORGAL= இடிக் கடவுள்
AEGIRSON=கடல் அரக்கர்களின் கடவுள்

உற்சாகத்துடன் தொடருங்கள் ரஃபிக்

Dear Rafiq,

What a Co-Incidence? You Really Won't believe that Thorgal was there in the list of Posts that we thought of Posting before Diwali in Tamil Comics Ulagam Blog (Albeit, in a Different Manner from what you have done here). Diwali Work Load took their toll on Yours Truly & moreover, My Noble Allies Dr Sathish & Avadi Venkateshwaran have gone to their respective Home Towns for Diwali Celebrations.

Hence the delay in the Post. Wonderful post on the series. With So MANY details on the series, you made it tough for the readers to resist from not buying it. Kindly do buy these series which are still available in Landmark chennai.

Any way, Yours truly will be doing a post on Thorgal only in the middle of november 2008 as there are lots of postings that are pending, Including Muthu No 310 which i have received and will be posting tomorrow only.

Happy Reading & Have Fun.

King Viswa.

Nice review.Makes me really look towards buying the series ASAP

Vishal: Finally you have made your presence in the blog. Thanks for that. Thorgal and all other Cinebook releases I have detailed in this blog is distributed by WestLand, which is owned by Landmark Bookstore. So you could grab these copies in any Landmark store in Mumbai itself.

ஷங்கர் விஸ்வலிங்கம்: உங்களுடைய பாராட்டுகளுக்கு நன்றி. இப்படிப்பட்ட கருத்துகளே என்னை மேலும் எழுத ஆர்வமுடன் இருக்க செய்கிறது. உங்கள் நம்பிக்கையை வருவம் பதிவுகளிலும் காப்பாறுவேன் என்று நம்புகிறேன்.

தோர்கள் பற்றி சினிமா தியேட்டரில் விளம்பரம் செய்ய பட்டது எனக்கு ஒரு செய்தியே. புதிய கூட்டணியுடன் செல்லும் அதன் பயணம், சில காலம் சென்றால் மட்டுமே வாசகர்களிடம் நல்ல அபிப்ரபாயத்தை உண்டு பண்ண முடியும்.

Manga கதைகள் இன்று வரை என்ன பெரிய அளவில் லயித்து போக செய்தது இல்லை. அதன் ஓவிய முறை, மற்றும் கதை சொல்லும் பாங்கு, ஒன்றும் பெரிய அளவில் இல்லை என்பதே தற்போதைய என்னுட கருத்து.

Viswa: Thanks for the return visit. I know how hard you would have been pressed with all the programs jamming the television channels during the extended weekends. But, good to see you still manage to keep us abreast with your latest posts.

It is a surprise really, that you also thought about Thorgal as your next post topic. Never knew that Thorgal was also printed in Tamil medium. Eager to see your post on the same.

Aalok: Thanks for making it for the first time to this blog. Expect to see your review comments more often on other topics too.

Hi Rafiq,
I enjoyed the article. I am also looking forward to see Thorgal in Tamil. But i believe i have already seen "Thorgal Child Of the Stars" in the Rani Comics. I bought a older copy of the Rani Comics few months back. It was about the Thorgal's childhood. That cover image reminded me of that book. I cannot recall the name of it(i am away from Home, where my comics fortune lies). But it was published somewhere around 1998's. Anyway 1000 Thanks for ur article.


Hi Vimala, Thanks for your visit and comments. What a coincidence, the same time when you posted about your recent acquisition, I had been collecting the details about the same Rani Comics edition, since coming to know about it, and have updated the content in the post about the same.

Have a look and please do leave your comments on the comparison.

ரஃபிக் அருமையான ஓப்பீடு,

தமிழில் தோர்கல் வெளியாகியிருப்பது, அது ஒரு இதழெனினும் மகிழ்ச்சியே. ஆனாலும் கதையை இவ்வாறு மாற்றுவது அது சிறுவரிற்கான காமிக்ஸ் என்றபோதிலும் தவறே,ஆனால் cinebookம் ராணி காமிக்ஸ்ஸும் நட்சத்திரங்களின் குழந்தையை முதல் புத்தகமாக வெளியிட்டது ஆச்சர்யமே

உற்சாகாத்துடன் தொடருங்கள்.

மறுபடியும் கருத்தை பதிந்ததற்கு, நண்பர் ஷங்கர் விஸ்வலிங்கம்'க்கு நன்றி.

Wow very good comparison and now i can clearly understand why after reading a rani comics (which were released in late 90's and after 2000) doesn't give the same pleasure as reading a lion/muthu. thanks

Karthikeyan: Thanks for your sudden trio of comments. I agree with you viewpoint, and I felt the same during the 90's with Rani Comics. Clearly, Editor plays a great role in making or breaking a comics legacy.

By the way, we have set up an exclusive blog for Rani Comics, http://ranicomics.blogspot.com, and that too in our language Tamil. Do visit there often and record your comments in respective topics.

The names of the 29 books published in Dutch.

01 - Zdradzona Czarodziejka.
02 - Wyspa Wsrod Lodow.
03 - Nad Jeziorem Bez Dna
04 - Czarna Galera.
05 - Ponad Kraina Cieni.
06 - Upadek Brek Zaritha.
07 - Gwiezdne Dziecko.
08 - Alinoe.
09 - Lucznicy
10 - Kraina Qa.
11 - Oczy Tanatloca.
12 - Miasto Zaginionego Boga.
13 - Miedzy Ziemia A Swiatlem.
14 - Aricia.
15 - Wladca Gor.
16 - Wilczyca.
17 - Strazniczka Kluczy.
18 - Sloneczny Miecz.
19 - Niewidzialna Forteca.
20 - Pietno Wygnancow.
21 - Korona Ogotaia.
22 - Giganci.
23 - Klatka.
24 - Arachnea.
25 - Blekitna Zaraza.
26 - Krolestwo Pod Piaskiem.
27 - Barbarzynca.
28 - Kriss de Valnor.
29 - Ofiara.

@ ERB: Thanks again for the list, and this time for Thorgal.

CineBook are going at 2 volumes a time currently (bundled into one), and have so far released 5 editions. Their selection of stories are little different from the original series, at the start (as explained in the post), but have since been very strict with the original line-up.

Do I need to add that Thorgal is one of my favorite comic series at the moment. :-)

ரஃபிக் அருமையான ஓப்பீடு,

தமிழில் தோர்கல் வெளியாகியிருப்பது, அது ஒரு இதழெனினும் மகிழ்ச்சியே. ஆனாலும் கதையை இவ்வாறு மாற்றுவது அது சிறுவரிற்கான காமிக்ஸ் என்றபோதிலும் தவறே,ஆனால் cinebookம் ராணி காமிக்ஸ்ஸும் நட்சத்திரங்களின் குழந்தையை முதல் புத்தகமாக வெளியிட்டது ஆச்சர்யமே

உற்சாகாத்துடன் தொடருங்கள்.

I saw you are using in this article on Thorgal a resized picture of Jean Van Hamme coming from the site auracan.com without any authorisation and credits. You may use the picture only if you put the mention "(c) Marc Carlot / auracan.com" with a link to the site auracan.com. Could you please modify your page with this mention ?

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