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Hi there. We’re calling this page the “Blog”, but it’s really just an assortment of posts that aren’t the podcast.. Still, there’s lots of fun video links posts to read and watch, and some other great surprises.

Show Notes – Cigars of the Pharaoh

by David Dedrick on April 21, 2015

On this week’s show notes, we’re going to take a look at Cigars of the Pharaoh, strangely, the last black and white Tintin book converted to colour. For whatever reason, Hergé didn’t get around to updating the book until 1955 – almost ten years after the other books had been transferred to the now familiar 62-page colour album format. Perhaps in light of his later, more heavily researched books, the knockabout style of Cigars no longer appealed to him; perhaps his heavy workload prevented him tackling a book he knew he would have to entirely redraw; or perhaps the restless period between the shutting down of the collaborationist Le Soir and the launch of Le Journal de Tintin ended before he’d had time to take on this last book.

At any rate, Hergé took advantage of the re-formatting of Cigars to entirely redraw the strip – cutting down the 124 page black and white version to the 62 page colour format inevitably meant that there would be some alterations to the story – although not as many as you might expect due to the number of panels on an average colour Tintin page (around fourteen) compared to the older black and white pages, which contained around six panels per page.

One of the most significant changes to the story takes place during Tintin’s discovery of the secret tunnel. In the black and white version, Tintin is confronted by a nest of cobras and then almost drops through a trapdoor into a pit of crocodiles.

The-Cigars-of-the-Pharaoh_Cobras_Spread

Just as he always sought to simplify his drawings, Hergé also sought to simplify his stories for maximum effect. All this was cut out of the colour version – probably due to issues of space, but also because it is a fake climax before the real high tension scene of Tintin’s possible unmasking at the meeting of the hooded secret society. So rather than let these little incidents detract from the final confrontation, Hergé cut out the scenes entirely. I mean, the crocodile incident is just a throwaway two panels – hardly worth a mention.

Less explicable is the change of maps between the different colour editions:

Map-Spread

Besides some different cropping of the image, the maps of the 1955 version and the 1987 version are virtually the same. The map in the 1970 version was altered for no good reason at all. Even if, as has been suggested, the Suez Crisis of 1956 shut down the canal for a brief period, the 1970 version was a full fourteen years after this incident! Furthermore, the dialogue remains the same in the 1970 version. So Tintin is telling Snowy that they are going to be travelling to Bombay (Mumbai), Colombo, the capital city of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai, but the map shows a tour of the Mediterranean with stops in Port Said, Piraeus, Istanbul, Naples, Marseille, and Gibraltar and others.

Meanwhile, in the English version from 1987, although map has been returned to its mostly original form, the dialogue had been changed to match the altered 1970s map! Whoops!

Modern-Map

Sometimes Hergé had difficulty with the space-time continuum and his revisions could almost result in charcters from Tintin’s future meeting him in the past. Like the Thompsons standing on the platform of the train station in Tintin inthe Congo – at least two years before they would even meet Tintin in Cigars.

In the final revision of Cigars of the Pharaoh (from 1970), there is the real head scratcher of a scene when Tintin is invited into the tent of Patrash Pasha, who is a big fan of Tintin, and shown one of his books.

The-Cigars-of-the-Pharoah_Covers

In the 1934 black and white version, Tintin is shown Tintin in America, which is fine. It is an adventure that happened just before Cigars. In the 1955 version, Tintin is shown Tintin in the Congo – once again, an adventure that took place before his current adventure. In the 1970 version, however, they have crazily made the book Destination Moon – an adventure from the future with people he doesn’t even know yet! I hope he didn’t look inside. It would probably drive him crazier than a dose of rajaijah juice!

The final variation between the various versions of Cigars is more of a mental lapse than an intentional revision. In the 1955 version of the book, there is a scene at the maharajah’s palace after Snowy was rescued by the Thompsons. However, in the 1955 version, Snowy is shown with Tintin at the palace, although he was still with the Thompsons. This was easily corrected in the 1970 version.

Mysterious-Snowy

Finally, let me leave you with an assortment of Le Petit Vingtième covers from the run of Cigars of the Pharaoh. You can imagine how evocative these covers were every week as Tintin fans ached to know what was happening to their hero:

COTP_PV-Covers

See you next time!

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