The Crab with the Golden Claws

by David Dedrick on May 20, 2015

Totally Tintin

We promised change last week and here we have it: the end of Hergé’s pre-war period and the end of political satire. In The Crab with the Golden Claws the political gives way to the personal and the fantastical as Hergé fights to create in occupied Brussels. Most importantly: Haddock!


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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Dylan May 20, 2015 at 8:54 pm

Hey guys, thank you for using the correct pronunciation of Lieutenant! I’m only up to page 43 in the podcast so far but enjoying it thoroughly. Re-reading this one before the episode dropped I was struck by the splash pages too, but I don’t remember ever having noticed them before. Getting the perspective of someone how understands artwork better than I do is opening my eyes to new things in books I’ve read countless times. Thank you for that too.
You missed one panel that I have always loved, though – the centre panel in the top line on page 38. It’s just a perfect encapsulation of a sequence of movements in a single panel; you see one figure lying flat, the next getting up, the next starting to run, and so on. From left to right, it looks like a stop-motion shot of a single person getting up and fleeing.
Thanks for the shout-out in the Cigars episode too; you made my day.


David Dedrick May 25, 2015 at 9:03 am

Thank you for mentioning that, Dylan. It was in my show notes, but got trampled during the episode. I will talk more it when I finally get around to doing more show notes. One of these days!


Colin Upton June 1, 2015 at 12:26 am

Very interested in hearing about the politics of Belgium at the time. Wasn’t Herge friends with one of the leading Rexists?

Before I heard this broadcast it hadn’t occurred to me what a liability Haddock was to Tintin! Tintin must’ve been a saint to put up with him. I suppose Haddock’s drunken rampage at the end made up for some of it! Was he always supposed to be an Englishman? I always assumed he became English in translation.

The camel riding troops were no doubt part of the Saharian Faction Mobile, French camel mounted colonial troops raised in 1901 from tribes of North Africa (who were more likely to be Berber than Arab) with French officers. When Herge drew this episode French Morocco I believe was “safely” in the hands of Vichy France.

The bicycle has a long and surprisingly persistent history as a military technology. After the invention of the bicycle the United States and European countries experimented with bikes, by the 1900’s many European armies took advantage of the extensive road networks of the continent, forming bicycle battalions to give light infantry formations more mobility. Some even had machine guns mounted on the handle bars. Of course there was no place for bikes in the trench warfare of world war one. Still, Canadian troops landed on D-day carrying folding bicycles on their backs (it appears they were soon dumped), the swift Japanese conquest of Malaysia in World War 2 was made in part on bikes and famously the Vietmanese used cargo carrying bikes on the Ho Chi Mien trail to supply guerillas in the South.

The baggy Zouave pants for women are copied from the pants worn by French Colonial Zouave regiments, made up of European colonialists in Algeria. They in turn had copied their uniforms from the dress of the Algerian Zouaoua tribe. The French Zouaves popularised the style around the world until by the mid-19th centaury it had been adopted by regiments from Poland to the United States, Brazil and The Papal Sates.


Andrew July 15, 2015 at 1:45 pm

I was fascinated by the whole introduction. This is why this podcast is so amazing – now I look forward to the ‘preamble’ almost as much as to the discussion of the ‘business’.


Colin Upton June 1, 2015 at 11:42 pm

I think this was the first Tintin I ever read… so the cover must’ve been good for something!


Andrew July 15, 2015 at 1:48 pm

I just did a quick search of the covers and without thinking too much about it would say that ‘Calculus Affair’ is the worst. Crab suffers from being a more boring version of the ‘Black Gold’ cover.

Prisoner of the Sun looks quite bland, and Flight 714 (is that even a real Tintin? Don’t remember that being in my local libraries!) is also quite meh.


Catherine W September 28, 2016 at 6:46 am

Another great podcast, lots of interesting “context” once again. David is most definitely the king of context! Great to hear you mention Harold Lloyd. I am a big fan of Keaton myself, but I would definitely listen to a podcast on Harold Lloyd. Ever considered it?


Pablo March 4, 2017 at 9:30 am

I’m really enjoying this podcast! I was Dave in the Beatles’ one, but I’m now Ian in this: I’m reading Tintin for the first time as I listen to the episodes 🙂 It’s being a great ride, thank you both.

I just wanted to share something I’ve found that I think Dave is going to LOVE (if you haven’t found it already). I was intrigued about the difference about the one page configuration versus the daily strip one, and couldn’t believe there wasn’t clear information about it in this day and age. As Dave mentioned in this episode he couldn’t find it, it makes me start researching… without luck! But as I was about to throw the towel, I found a treasure:

I hope you all find it as fascinating as I do! Not only has reproductions of the pages and the strips as they appeared in the paper in the case of this album, but it has lots of other albums too (

Again, thanks for all the hours of enjoyment you provide!


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