Colocs en stock

Colocs en stockSynopsis: When he hears that the Emir Ben Kalish has been deposed by rebels, Tintin is quickly on his way to Khemed to help his old friend. But behind the scenes is that ruthless international gangster and slave trader, the so-called Marquis di Gorgonzola. The Marquis will stop at nothing to protect his sinister interests. Tintin, Snowy and Captain Haddock may escape from the danger of the desert, but far deadlier perils await them in the Red Sea.

‘Colocs en stock’ is the Québécois adaptation of ‘Coke en stock’
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Colocs en stock, by Hergé and Yves Laberge 8.0

‘Colocs en stock’ is the Québécois translation of the original Tintin adventure ‘Coke en Stock’. It’s quite literally the same story: the panels are exactly the same, even down to the colours, and the word balloons are also precisely as the originals were. The only difference is the text, which was adapted for French-Canadian slang, in the same way that ‘The Red Sea Sharks’ is the Anglophone adaptation.

There are two angles from which to discuss this book: 1) as a stand-alone effort, 2) in comparison with the original.

1) As a stand-alone publication, it works quite well. It may not be Tintin’s greatest adventure, but it’s a fun one and it flows real well; at no point are there any dragging points, whether it be action or dialogue-wise. The art is terrific, as we all know, and it feels complete. The translation itself is hilarious to anyone who knows Québec jargon somewhat: it morphs all of the characters from polite Belgian French to a more casual, modern language – which is entirely suitable for Haddock, but which sounds amusingly odd from Tintin.

2) In comparison with the original work, ‘Colocs en stock’ seems to fail on some counts. While Yves Laberge had fun replacing old school European references with more common Québec ones, as when Tintin and Haddock visit the Château Frontenac instead of the Excelsior Hotel , but I found that some of the choices that Laberge made weren’t exactly right for the characters or context. I found myself distracted when I decided to compare them side-by-side because of what I considered to be frequent lapsus.

The translation, overall, is decent enough, but I found a few anomalies along the way, such as the spelling of some of the slang changing from one bubble to the next. Furthermore, there were instances of diminutives that were missing in action, thereby making the flow all wrong; someone unfamiliar with Québécois slang would likely wonder what was being said due to these omissions. This is nothing that a good editor shouldn’t have caught upon proof-reading but, for some reason, these errors slipped through the cracks.

I was also surprised by the formal approach when the characters talk to each other, using “vous” instead of the more casual “tu”. While this may fly between strangers (and even then!), it simply wouldn’t work between friends such as Tintin and Haddock – at least, not in Québec. This choice seems very odd to me: not only is it not in keeping with the spirit of this edition, it completely throws the flow of some of the expressions (especially when Haddock gets upset – he would likely never use a formal address in those contexts).

Something that I wished Laberge had spent more time on would be to insert a variety of different accents. The thing is, not everyone speaks the same, even within a same region – just check your own neighbourhood for proof.  The problem is that Laberge gave all the characters the same accent, or tone. Unless they were non-white, that is – then he mixed things up especially awkwardly.  At the very least, it would have been nice to see Tintin speak differently from Haddock, given their wildly different background. But alas.

Lastly, I found that, while there were many brilliant choices of expressions injected in this version, there is a number of common ones that never saw the day at any given moment, such as “Ayoye”, “Tabarnouche”, “Tabar-“, “Cimonaque”, “Ciboire” and others. Some of these are used so regularly that I wonder how they were overlooked by Laberge – it seems like strange oversights to me, given that the point is to make Tintin sound Québécois. And if no one at any point in the book says “Mes aïeux!”, then it’s not really reflective of Québécois culture, is it?

Still, despite its flaws, I found ‘Colocs en stock’ to be a delightful read. It’s quite possible that it’s receiving extra points for the novelty and that it won’t have the same effect for everyone – especially those who aren’t especially familiar with La Belle Province. And, although I would welcome a revision of the text, a revised edition if you will, I think that it’s kind of cool that someone took the time to put this together – and that Casterman agreed to publish it. It’s an oddity (it’s the only one in the whole series that was translated as such), but it’s a memorable and enjoyable one.

2 responses to “Colocs en stock

  1. So true what you are saying about some of the more basic expressions not being there, I had noticed the same thing. But still a fun read and always a peasure to see my European French friends trying to read it 🙂

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