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.

Tintin : Book 3

Tintin in America is the third 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.

In Tintin in America (1932), Tintin confirms his reputation as a righter of wrongs. He faces Al Capone and his gang as well as all sorts of other villains. Hergé shows his generous vision of the world as he offers a very well documented depiction of the sad plight of the Native Americans. Tintin’s fame extends beyond the Atlantic Ocean, so, when he arrives in Chicago in the middle of Prohibition, all the gangsters in the city have gathered to make sure that he gets the most uncomfortable reception. Tintin will need to use all his determination and intelligence to survive! Tintin in America is the highest-selling Tintin title of all time. It is the clear winner ahead of Tintin in the Congo and Explorers on the Moon.

Some Interesting Trivia

Tintin in America is one of the nine stories that were first published in black and white. From the ten years between 1932 and 1942, eleven editions of the book were produced. It is also the last story which was published under the Le Petit “Vingtième” label. During this period, more than 150,000 black and white Tintin books were printed, bound, distributed and sold. The book was also reworked in 1945, when Hergé began reformatting his black and white stories to create colour versions. In the new version, which appeared in 1946, many improvements were made to the illustrations.

For the background to Tintin in America, Hergé was influenced by lectures he attended and also particularly by Georges Duhamel’s book Scènes de la vie future (1930), which was openly and vehemently critical against the American lifestyle, sweeping modernisation, Taylorism, assembly line manufacturing and mass-marketing.

To accurately portray life in the USA at the time the story is set, Hergé also turned to Le Crapouillot magazine, which had published a special edition devoted to the United States.

Al Capone is the only real-life character in Tintin’s adventures to have been drawn into the story under his real name. In fact, Al Capone’s name had already been mentioned in Tintin in the Congo, as the head of an international diamond smuggling ring.

“Nowhere does Hergé’s art give such a strong impression of being directly influenced by the cinema than in the pages of Tintin in America”

Hergé made use of diverse techniques to mimic camera effects, as a way of developing the “final edit” frame by frame.

Next book in the series : Cigars of the Pharaoh.