JF Ptak Science Books Post 2584
There are no doubt squares in the general outline of the comic book panels of Tintin--what I had in mind was a very special square that occurs in Tintin's adventures in the Soviet Union. This was the first adventure of Tintin, and appeared in a serialized form in 1929-1930. We are introduced to the young and intrepid journalist/adventurer here in glorious black and white (this would be the only one of the Tintin adventures that was never rendered in color at one time or another), being sent off to the newish (since 1922) Soviet Union. At the time it was Stalin's USSR, and things were not--shall we say--going well for the people of the Soviet Union. Tintin's creator, Georges Remi ("Herge") was working an anti-Marxist angle for his conservative publisher, and he had no difficulty in supplying story lines to fulfill that need--some of these were exaggerated overall, and some were exaggerated but proved correct over time. The adventures there were difficult, occasionally brutal, and overall not brutal enough.
Herge depicted an unpleasant Soviet Union, working out from the "stinking slum" of Moscow out to the farms that were being destroyed in the countryside. He insinuated threats of violence in voting, death by firing squads, the starving of the peasants, and much else. The deal is that by the time the strip reached its conclusion in 1930 Stalin was already underway in his loudly quiet way in instituting the Great Famine/Holodomor in the Ukraine, and by the end of this created famine--a reverse nuclear weapon of food withdrawal--something on the order of 7 million people would be starved to death by 1934. Then of course came the Great Terror of 1936-8, and the rest of it. Herge may have exaggerated some stuff in 1929/30, but few people could have imagined (even when it was happening) the scale of Stalin's great evil.
That said, I wanted really to just talk about one square in the Tintin adventure. This is where Herge goes black (Soprano's style)--he leaves an entire panel black to depict violence. Entirely black. I'm not a comic book/graphic novel guy, but I've seen my fair share of them (most <1970) and I have to say that seeing the black panel was extremely surprising. In my experience, it just didn't happen.
And what that did was call to mind other squares--notably of course Kasimir Malevich's (1878-1935) great construction, the Black Square (beginning in 1915):
Then of course there's the Cubists...but what comes next to mind re the square (and the black one at that) are the later works by Piet Mondrian. Mondrian had gone through a tremendous period of change int he decades from 1905-1935, though it seems to me that even as early as 1909 squares began to appear in the skies (and other places) in his pre-Cubist representational paintings ( as in Sea Toward Sunset, 1909, and Church in Zeeland, 1909/1910), the geometry taking hold for good by 1916. A good example is Composition with Large Red Plane, Yellow, Black, Grey and Blue, 1921:
[Image source: http://www.abstractcritical.com/article/malevich-and-mondrian/index.html This illustrates an interesting article, "Malevich and Mondrian" by David Evison.]
And so we could wind our way through the history of black squares, but we'll stop there. Oh, one more: the great squares of Oliver Byrne who in his gorgeous 1847 work replaced numbers with colors in presenting the first six books of Euclid:
[Source: http://longstreet.typepad.com/thesciencebookstore/2008/05/jf-ptak-scien-1.html I wrote a little about this in the first few months of this blog back in 2008 in "Dismantling Reality--Euclid, Mondrian, Malevich, Lobachevsky and the Appearance and Disappearance of Form Through Geometry", which I admit is a big title for a thousand-word blog, but so it goes.]