Tintin Forums

Tintin Forums / Official Tintin books /

Seven Crystal Balls: Original newspaper strip ending?

Page  Page 1 of 2:  1  2  Next » 

#1 · Posted: 28 Sep 2005 10:45
I was in Belgium at the weekend and picked up a really interesting edition of the original magazine strips of Prisoners of the Sun (in French of course), nicely presented in a slipcase. There are lots of differences from the album version, including extra sequences and a different starting point, towards the end of what is now The Seven Crystal Balls, with Tintin visiting Haddock who is still ruminating Calculus' kidnapping. I have a few questions I was hoping someone here might be able to answer:

1. How did Seven Crystal Balls originally end?
2. Are there any more editions like this, and are there more cut-sequences from other Tintin books?
3. Are there any plans to bring out an English translation?
#2 · Posted: 28 Sep 2005 12:20
If I remember rightly, he bumped into General Alcazar while readng a newspaper. After receiving his tip-off he went to Peru. The visit to Marlinspike was added later.
#3 · Posted: 28 Mar 2018 20:19 · Edited by: jock123
As I have just been making some notes on the differences between the versions, which covers the question stuart raised at the start of this thread, all those years ago, I thought I might as well fill in a few blanks on the subject - albeit a little tardily - and try and address what went on "between" the adventures (you'll soon see why I have to use inverted commas)!

Firstly, it must be remembered that the story we now think of as two separate-but-joined books actually had quite a bumpy genesis, and the lines between them are not easily drawn.

The strip started out on the 16th December 1943 in the Le Soir newspaper, where it ran three or four frames at a time for about three-quarters of the next year, until September the 5th

The album version's finale finally diverges from the newspaper's version on page 48; when Haddock and Tintin finish their investigations, and decide to take their information to the police, it is the end of the 149th strip in the paper, on Thursday 30th August 1944.
But when the newspaper strip moves on to "The following morning" (strip 150, 31/08/1944), it isn't to a relaxed Tintin sitting having tea, boiled egg and toast and croissants at his breakfast table in Labrador Road, while reading the morning paper (as the book shows us), it is to a slightly agitated Tintin, walking briskly in a city street, reading the same article he finds when at home in the book.

So caught up in his reading aloud to Snowy from La Depeche is our boy reporter, that he fails to notice an oncoming figure, equally caught up in reading the paper (although given that we can see the mast-head on the page coming towards us, it's a nice detail that the other person is reading the back page, possibly the sports results?). Snowy's attention being directed elsewhere, it's inevitable that the two readers slam into each other in the last frame.

Strip 151 (01/09/1944) reveals that Tintin has literally bumped into General Alcazar, who tells Tintin that, far from doing well, he has lost his job at the musical and is unable to continue the act as Chiquito has left him without warning - other, he reports, than that Chiquito had told him on the boat over to Europe, that he would one day disappear, and that when he did, Alcazar was not to try and find him.
He also reveals that his erstwhile partner in show-business was in fact one of the last descendants of the King of the Inca people (we do get this information in the book, but more on that anon).

In Strip 152 (02/09/1944), Tintin makes the connection between Chiquito and the "thin man" the gendarmes had seen in the car they believed had been used to kidnap Calculus.
He then questions Alcazar, who identifies the driver from the description given as being Fernando Ramirez, a Peruvian exporter of guano (used in agriculture as a fertilizer), who "often came to see Chiquito". Armed with this knowledge, Tintin takes Alcazar to see the police.

And it is at this point the black-and-white episodes of the story end, at least as far as the newspaper reading public were concerned.

The liberation of Brussels by the Allies swiftly brought down the curtain on the "stolen" Le Soir, and with it much of Hergé's luck ran out.
He was rendered unfit to hold a job, and investigated as a possible German collaborator by the authorities, for having worked for a German sanctioned institution. This state of affairs wouldn't be resolved for another couple of years, and even after that it cast a shadow over him: the post-occupation Le Soir washed its hands of him, and would not even mention his name in their pages until at least the end of the Nineteen Sixties.

We will get to Hergé's return to grace, and Tintin returning to finish his adventure, in just a moment.

Back at the newspaper version, even if the readers would not see any more of the story, we do now know what would have happened for at least the next few days, as the archives hold at least another four consecutive strips (153-156), which never ran in the paper.

These cover much of the same ground as the events of pages 50-51, and the start of page 54, albeit in a far more compact fashion.

I'll momentarily double-back, to point out a major divergence between the book and the newspaper versions, to say that the sequence of the Thom(p)sons ringing Tinin, and his then visiting the hospital are completely absent in the newspaper version, although found in the book.

Likewise, Tintin didn't then go to Marlinspike on the following day - that particular incident first appeared in the Tintin magazine.

Because now we have yet another thread to follow.

With the help of Raymond Leblanc, who, having been an active member of the Belgian Resistance with a distinguished war record, was able to provide the support needed, Hergé's status was normalized again, and he could return to work, this time for Leblanc's newly established Le Lombard publishing house, which presented the Belgian public with a new, colour comic magazine, under the Tintin banner.

With the launch came a return to the story which had been running in Le Soir, but rather than rewind to the very beginning, the first episode (now under the title of Le Temple du Soliel, a.k.a. Prisoners of the Sun chose to restart with Tintin mid-adventure, inserting a scene to recap information, which means it runs a similar, but subtly different, course to the later book, and forms the overlap between the end of the first volume, and the start of the second.

But back to the unpublished newspaper strips.

Strip 153 begins the day after Alcazar and Tintin's meeting. The first panel shows the readers that a "Wanted" poster has been issued, with a 20,000 BFr reward for Chiquito and Ramirez (someone has managed to procure photos of the wanted men overnight).

The second shows an interview between a gendarme and a petrol-pump attendant who identifies the men as people he served in his garage, having seen the poster (it doesn't mention if he gets the reward money).

We then cut to Tintin calling Marlinspike, either from his flat or the police station, and Nestor answers before handing over the 'phone to Haddock.

Strip 154 has Tintin telling Haddock the developments, and revealing that the garage attendant had said the car was last seen heading for the coast, presumably intending to embark on a ship, news which sends Haddock into a slump, letting the receiver down.

Strip 155 then continues the Captain's reverie; he sits, repeating the word "embark", until, suddenly, an idea grabs him (depicted as a ship's steam whistle tooting!), and, with new resolve, he stalks off, leaving Nestor to end the call with Tintin.

This entire incident is reworked in the magazine and the book, as we - as readers - no longer see Tintin encounter Alcazar, and are not told of Chiquito's defection (until a new, later, encounter at the docks fills us in); we know of no reward poster, or the police interview.

Tintin instead visits Marlinspike. In the magazine, we actually see the journey, which is undertaken by bus, allowing Tintin to catch up on events in the paper. This provides the magazine readers with the story so far.

A walk to the hall from the nearby village followed (with an interlude of slapstick, as first Snowy has an encounter with a hedgehog, and then Tintin falls in a stream) before Tintin reaches the front garden, which is where the book once again rejoins the action.

It should also be mentioned that this new scene is clearly a call back to the similar events found at the very start of The Seven Crystal Balls, even providing Hergé with the opportunity to pay off a gag he had put in the black-and-white version, as Snowy comes a cropper in the stream first time around, Tintin on the second occasion. It's beautifully balanced, Hergé at his best, but sadly neither incident is included in the book.

Returning once more to the story...

Haddock is already visibly in a slump - literally slouching in a chair, stil clad in his dressing-gown. He's depressed about Calculus, and anxious for news which Tintin does not have.

The 'phone call, when it happens, becomes the police - rather than Tintin - calling, and the Captain is the one to get the clue of the direction taken by the beige car before Tintin does.

It is this new lead which gives him back his resolve, and leads him to stalk off without a word to either Tintin or Nestor.

Strip 155 is now missing its final frame, but undoubtedly it would have been similar to the final frame on page 51 of the book, with Captain Haddock dressed in his old sailing clothes, ready for the off.

Nothing of the book's pages 52 and 53 happened in the original strips, although its content is found in the magazine, in slightly different form, as frames were redrawn and revised for the book.

Instead, Strip 156 shows Haddock turning up in his touring car beneath the window of Tintin's flat, blaring the horn, leading Tintin to lean out, and the Captain to call him down. The last panel shows them driving into the country, at which point the strip would tie in to the rain-swept journey of page 54, also featured in the magazine.

From there on in, the book and the magazine follow each other pretty closely. The first thirteen weeks of the magazine cover the last thirteen pages of the book, with the final shot of the flying-boat used to end the book actually coming midway through the issue of the 19th of December, 1946.

The last tier of panels in that edition became the first frames of the second book, with Haddock and Tintin making their visit to the Chief of Police.

Thus the newspaper version ended considerably before the end of what we know from the book, and the magazine takes up slightly before the (revised) story line we find in the book, and places the divide between the two mid-page, rather than clearly dividing them on first publication.

I hope that this goes some way to answering the question that stuart asked, while demonstrating that it isn't the easiest question for which to find an answer.
Continued below...
#4 · Posted: 29 Mar 2018 10:45
Apologies for the consecutive posts, but I seem to have exceeded the length for one post; don't worry - we'll soon be finished...!

I hope that this goes some way to answering the question that stuart asked, while demonstrating that it isn't the easiest question for which to find an answer.

The inconclusive ending of the serialization in Le Soir, brought about by circumstance rather than design, is one thing; the fact that neither the black-and-white strips, the magazine nor the books cover exactly the same material, and when they do, not in the same way, is another.

Fortunately, for those who are interested, the early serialized strips have been compiled and re-published in handsome collections, most recently as the two-volume La Malédiction de Rascar Capac (The Curse of Rascar Capac), with annotations and commentary by the highly erudite Philippe Goddin, pointing out and comparing the ways in which each version tells the story.

Particularly interesting, to me, is his observation that it is both practical and possible to reassemble the frames found on pages 54 and 55 into the format used for the daily strip, giving us an idea of the next six days, providing us with the possibility that Strips 157-162 were also prepared by Hergé, from which we might construe that he was working about a week ahead at this time.
Mikael Uhlin
#5 · Posted: 31 Mar 2018 18:21 · Edited by: Mikael Uhlin
You may add that when the scene where Tintin meets Alcazar in the harbour (page 57 in the book) was published in the magazine, there's nothing in the dialogue that indicates that they've met rather recently in the music hall (which of course is in line with the idea that readers of the magazine weren't expected to have read the dailies 3 or 4 years before).

Instead, Tintin and Alcazar are referring to have met once in San Theodoros ("The Broken Ear"). However, since Alcazar mentions that he's been working as a knife thrower in music halls, and that his Inca partner Chiquito suddenly has left him, Tintin gets the relevant info nevertheless
#6 · Posted: 31 Mar 2018 23:34
Mikael Uhlin:
there's nothing in the dialogue that indicates that they've met rather recently in the music hall

Ah - a very good spot, and thank you for pointing it out!
I hadn't taken that in, but of course I see now that that is the reason the scene with Alcazar in the magazine is much longer in the magazine than in the book; it obviously wasn't needed in the book, when the music hall sequence was available to readers.
I found it quite difficult to juggle the many layers spliced together to fashion the two books - I am sure I must have missed other points too!
#7 · Posted: 1 Apr 2018 18:50
That point is later repeated when Tintin finds Calculus on board the "Pachacamac". In the magazine version, Tintin and Chiquito act as if the meeting at the music hall never took place: when confronted with an Indian armed with a gun, Tintin asks "Who are you?" and he replies: "Chiquito, former partner of General Alcazar."

It's curious how Herge, when the story resumed in the magazine, shifted the street scene with Alcazar to the port scene with Alcazar. He could have easily have resumed where he had left off but I suppose that he wanted to include Snowy's misadventures with the hedgehog and the cat at Marlinspike. :)

Other writers and artists would have included a flashback scene of the meeting at the music hall - just a brief panel of Tintin chatting to Alcazar and Chiquito - or taken it for granted that the readers understand that they were referring to an event that the reader had missed - even if it was 3 years prior.

It's interesting how Herge decided to forgo those options in order not to lose the pace.
#8 · Posted: 2 Apr 2018 00:28
In the magazine version, Tintin and Chiquito act as if the meeting at the music hall never took place

Well given that the magazine gives the version of narrative it does at the gang-plank meeting of Tintin and Alcazar, it would have been very strange if Tintin had gone, "Oh - you are Chiquito, and I saw your knife-throwing act at the music-hall...!", wouldn't it?, whereas the greeting that Chiquito is pretty straight forward under the circumstances.
He could have easily have resumed where he had left off

Well, yes, but as I tried to show above, he needed to find a way to re-set the adventure for new readers so that they could follow the story too; his solution is elegant and practical.
In point of fact, he is starting a new tale for everyone - whether they read the newspaper strip or not. It's differences make it so, and presumably those readers who did remember the storyline, or who had perhaps cut out and kept the previous strips, might have had questions about the ways in which it had changed.
However (and this is Hergé's stroke of genius), he still gave himself enough wiggle room to adapt the bulk of the newspaper strips he had drawn into a beginning when came time to edit them into the books, by altering them and the magazine version so that it became a coherent narrative again.
Mikael Uhlin
#9 · Posted: 2 Apr 2018 18:14
he needed to find a way to re-set the adventure for new readers so that they could follow the story too

To be honest, the easiest way would have been to restart Seven Crystal Balls in the magazine, similar to how Hergé soon afterwards dealt with the other story that was interrupted by the war, i.e. Land of the Black Gold.

Anyway, Seven Crystal Balls is my favourite Tintin book, from the front cover to the story and the drawings. I like the kind of film noir vibes it gives me, and nothing in the finished book reveals how complicated it was to produce it.
#10 · Posted: 2 Apr 2018 20:43
he needed to find a way to re-set the adventure for new readers so that they could follow the story too; his solution is elegant and practical.

I'm not so sure about the "elegant and practical". After all, so many events have taken place - from the attacks on the explorers to Calculus's kidnapping! New readers would have had to pick up the whole thread and figure out the past plot as they bought the magazine and read it over the next few weeks.

Herge does start the magazine version with Tintin reading about those events in a newspaper but I think that most new readers would have preferred a series of panels showing highlights of the events in "Crystal Balls" with a brief narration. Such a setup could have included Tintin meeting Alcazar at the music hall and later in the street, thus maintaining the chronology.

Page  Page 1 of 2:  1  2  Next » 

Please be sure to familiarize yourself with the Forum Posting Guidelines.

Disclaimer: Tintinologist.org assumes no responsibility for any content you post to the forums/web site. Staff reserve the right to remove any submitted content which they deem in breach of Tintinologist.org's Terms of Use. If you spot anything on Tintinologist.org that you think is inappropriate, please alert the moderation team. Sometimes things slip through, but we will always act swiftly to remove unauthorised material.


  Forgot your password?
Please sign in to post. New here? Sign up!