Tintin : Book 4

Cigars of the Pharaoh is the fourth book in  The Adventures of Tintin series, comprisingof 24 comics created by the Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi, who wrote under the pen name Hergé. The series was one of the most popular European comics of the 20th century. Tintin is the titular protagonist of The Adventures of Tintin, the comics series by Belgian cartoonist Hergé. He is a reporter and adventurer who travels around the world with his dog Snowy. By 2007, a century after Hergé’s birth in 1907, Tintin had been published in more than 70 languages with sales of more than 200 million copies, and had been adapted for radio, television, theatre, and film. Cigars of the Pharaoh, is the fourth volume of The Adventures of Tintin, the series of comic albums by Belgian cartoonist Hergé. Commissioned by the conservative Belgian newspaper Le Vingtième Siècle for its children’s supplement Le Petit Vingtième. The story tells of young Belgian reporter Tintin and his dog Snowy, who are travelling in Egypt when they discover a pharaoh’s tomb filled with dead Egyptologists and boxes of cigars. Pursuing the mystery of these cigars, they travel across Arabia and India, and reveal the secrets of an international drug smuggling enterprise.

Following on from Tintin in America, Cigars was a commercial success, and was published in book form by Casterman shortly after its conclusion. Hergé continued The Adventures of Tintin with The Blue Lotus, the plot of which followed on from Cigars. The series itself became a defining part of the Franco-Belgian comics tradition. In 1955, it was re-drawn and coloured by Hergé and his assistants at Studios Hergé to match his distinctive ligne-claire style. Critical analysis of the story has focused on its innovation, and the Adventure introduces the recurring characters of detectives Thomson and Thompson and villain Rastapopoulos.

Some Interesting Trivia

  • The first cover for Cigars of the Pharaoh was made up of a small picture stuck onto white boards. The black and white edition was eventually published with three variations of this cover.
  • In 1942, Hergé created a cover which broke away from the ‘small picture’ format and marked the beginning of a bold new style. The first colour version was published in 1955, with a new cover.
  • The story marked a turning point in the young illustrator’s career, after which Tintin’s adventures became suffused with fantasy, mystery and suspense.
  • Hergé read novels and adventure stories, and as an author he was inspired by certain ideas that he discovered through reading. While conducting his research Hergé was inspired by the work of Jean-Francois-Désiré Capart, an Egyptologist (born in Brussels on 21 February 1877) who ‘became’ Professor Tarragon in The Seven Crystal Balls).
  • Henry de Monfreid was an infamous real-life character at the time Cigars of the Pharaoh was being written. Drug smuggler, arms dealer and pearl diver, de Monfreid was by all accounts an undesirable rogue, although he never acquired a reputation for being unpleasant or cruel.
  • The symbol of Pharaoh Kih-Oskh is the motif which links the different places  –  Egypt, the Middle East and India  –  that Tintin visits. Hergé was inspired by the symbol of the yin yang as he came up with the design of this memorable sign.

Next in the series : The Blue Lotus.

Published by Positive Living

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