As You May Or May Not Know

Tango versus Tango: Weighing two different Clarín editions

Posted on: August 17, 2010

I

A few years ago, Argentine newspaper Clarín published Biblioteca Clarín de la historieta, a collection that made fundamental episodes of classic comic books available at a fair price. The range of the selection was as diverse as Patoruzú or X-Men,  but Clarín published them all in a format that wasn’t proportional to almost none of them. In the local comic book circles (¿the historieta circles?), the Biblioteca gained a reputation of grotesque, the panels on its pages always alternating the subsized with the augmented.

A few months ago, Clarín published a much more beautiful Biblioteca Corto Maltés. (I’m not sure that’s what they called it, but let’s roll with it.) These adventures of the sailor Corto Maltese appeared in colour, elegantly sized, with synergy between all the elements; some of them never before published in Spanish. It was sad to read Ballad of the Salt Sea again to realize it could fit perfectly: after all, both

collections had the same page size. Yet everything worked perfectly on the second one, and horribly on the first. Now I haven’t measured the actual page size in numbers (sorry), but as far as internal layering goes, the other adventure from the first collection. Tango: Y todo a media luz, is composed of up to six panels per page, in three rows of two. It was one of the few comics that fit the page well the first time around.

6 panels is not the the standard for vertical pages. It's a classic on horizontals, though: think Mafalda.

To recap, Tango should appear exactly the same on the Biblioteca Clarín de la historieta and the Biblioteca Corto Maltés. That’s theory; in practice, let’s take a look at the final page on each.

Colour page has four panels; Black & White has five. Colour cuts from the graveyard scene to the car dialogue; B&W has one more panel between those two, in which Corto stares with sadness. Second-to-last panel in the Colour is a dialogue; B&W copypastes part of the river landscape from the final panel. Somehow the boat is closer to the edge of the page in one of the editions than in the other. This caption, recounting the changes, is almost as extense as the picture it refers to.

Colour edition is 104 pages long. Black & White, 108. Same page size. Same panel layout. Now I didn’t take the time to perform a thorough assesment of all the changes that explains how did Colour manage to eat up four full pages, but I di

d find the point of divergence:

panels 2 and 3: temporal paradox!

Corto leaves his friend Fosforito and returns to the house where he’s staying in Buenos Aires. Here’s when it becomes hard to decide which of the editions works best, from a narrative standpoint. As pretty as Colour is, we find out that it’s robbing us: two full thirds of a long panel disappear, in which Corto silently walks the streets of Buenos Aires by night. B&W gives us the full panel, but… this is insane: it switches panel 3 with panel 2. So Corto arrives earlier to the house he’s going to, but then he spends some time looking for it…

(I remember reading the comic for the first time, on the B&W, and wondering: why is Pratt so interested in showing there’s a store called “Gomería El parche honrado”?)

I’ll finish this entry wondering what could have been the original format in which Pratt thought his comic. That long horizontal panel could have never been number 2 on a 2-by-3 layout. I’m also leaving a few more snippets:

Everything starts so nicely… (You know what those bottle-shaped white sticks are? Billiard ball’s table has them. Pool doesn’t.)

Rythm problems, I: in Colour, Esmeralda close ups give way to a quiet contemplation. In B&W, door frame appears aligned with the gutter, creating an internal pseudo-gutter and splitting the panel in half.

Rythm Problems, II: In a minute. First let me tell you about one of the greatest fictional deaths ever. It goes like this: ESCUDERO: "But we are friends..." O'MALLEY: "No, we aren't!" BANG. ...As much as I love the Colour edition, I bet Pratt's plan wasn't for Escudero's death to be the one panel on the page that is not part of the ball scene...

(Example layouts made with Boxen, a program that apparently isn’t in the Internet anymore, but luckily you can still download it from the Internet Wayback Machine.)

*

II

Mistery sort-of revealed: I managed to put my hands on a Spain Tango edition,  from the Corto Maltés magazine I think. I’m not sure that’s the original format, but we can’t know whether there is actually an ‘original format’ either: I’ve remembered something someone taught me once. Pratt layered his comics in a way that enabled him to sell them to two different countries. In one of them, the comics appeared in a 2-by-3 layer (like Clarín’s); in the other, 3-by-4. What I find fascinating, what would deserve a separate article, is that it is usual to resell a vertical comic book split in half, as long as it is horizontally split in half, making it a horizontal comic book with twice the number of pages. But Pratt makes them both vertical. This, my friends, is close to magic.

Though I have my doubts about whether Tango was supposed to be applied this same trick or not.

Hypotetical comic book published on three different hypotetical countries: as one big page, as two horizontal pages, and as two vertical ones. As it turns out, there's enough magic for three countries. But as it can be seen on Esmeralda's 'big-page' example up there, the trick isn't always appliable to Tango. (The panel of 'silent contemplation on the porch' cannot be cut.)

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2 Responses to "Tango versus Tango: Weighing two different Clarín editions"

I AM Regis.

Now I am confused.

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  • Emmanuel Rios Pacheco: 4 años después. Si jajaja soy de la plata, ya estoy entrando en tu blog. Saludos!
  • santiveron: :D thanks a lot emmanuel! you certainly made my day. by the way, have you checked my blog in spanish? asociacioneslicitas.wordpress.com porque supon
  • Emmanuel Rios Pacheco: I haven't seen that book in ages! You brought back some very pleasent memories, neither Marcos nor I thought that story will made it into the book, ba

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