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Black Gold: which war is expected?

#1 · Posted: 18 Jun 2004 15:41 · Edited by: Moderator
I just got home from the library, and I borrowed two Tintin books, The Land of Black Gold and Tintin and the Alph-Art.

In The Land of Black Gold, what is the expected war that they are talking about? Is it WWII? (BTW, it's the newest version)
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#2 · Posted: 18 Jun 2004 16:58
1) In 1939 when the book was started, the war being referred to was World War II.
2) However when it was started again and finished after the war (1948), I suppose the signs of war shown in the book could have been intended to play on the fear of another war like the one that had just ended. Of course, by the time the book ends, this war is averted
3) The 1971 version depoliticises the book in terms of the British mandate in Palestine (which had existed in 1948), so really the modern version could be set more or less at any time.

In my opinion, since the essential elements of "Land of Black Gold" date from the 1939 incarnation, I've always regarded the impending war as WW2, as was intended by Hergé. However the fact that in the end this war fails to materialise means that the story can be attributed to any era between 1939 and 1971, or even later.
Harrock n roll
#3 · Posted: 19 Jun 2004 16:04
Sorry to have to correct you Ed, but there is no mention of an impending war in the 1939 version - this despite the fact that it was being produced at the time of the very real threat coming from Germany. The story was first serialized in Le Petit Vingtième from September 1939 until May 1940 and stopped short by the invaison of Belgium. (It was also serialized in Coeurs Vaillant and which includes some of the very first colour frames done for Tintin.)

I think the idea of an impending war was added later to deal with the problem of including Haddock, i.e. keep him occupied elsewhere. Maybe Hergé also added the reference to convey that war played a large part in the book's destiny. As Haddock says at the end, it's both simple and complicated...
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#4 · Posted: 19 Jun 2004 16:57
Very true Chris, and thanks for pointing that out - I should have been clearer. Despite it not being referred to explicitly, I do think that the impending WW2 has an intangible influence in the 1939-40 version - hence the presence of the German Dr. Muller as the main villain. It really does highlight just how courageous Hergé was being with this kind of material (and the satire of King Ottokar's Sceptre) in that kind of climate. Also, although the 1940 version doesn't reach the point at which this is resolved, I always thought that Hergé would have referenced the sabotage of the oil with the consequences in terms of the war.
#5 · Posted: 14 Feb 2007 17:18
Why was Captain made to move away from this episode?
#6 · Posted: 14 Feb 2007 18:26 · Edited by: Balthazar
Why was Captain made to move away from this episode?

Captain Haddock hadn't yet been created as a character when Hergé was writing and drawing the original Land of Black Gold in 1939-40. He first appears in the next story, The Crab with the Golden Claws, which Hergé started after the Nazi invasion of Belgium had caused him to him abandon Land of Black Gold. By the time Hergé resurrected Land of Black Gold in 1948, Haddock had become a regular fixture - Tintin's "co-star" you might say - so leaving him out of this adventure would have seemed odd to the post-war generation of Tintin readers. So Hergé worked Haddock into Land of Black Gold, but in a way that conveniently kept him out of the main plot, so that all the pre-war work on the adventure didn't have to be rewritten from scratch.

I've sometimes thought that an "Adventures of Haddock" album, showing what happened to Haddock between saying goodbye to Tintin when he's mobilized near the start, and turning up at Muller's underground base near the endwould have made a great extra spin-off book, had Hergé or his estate ever commissioned Bob de Moor (Hergé's right-hand man) to draw such a thing. Sadly, we'll have to just imagine it!

Regarding the original question about which war the book refers to, I think even in the era of the 1971 version, the theme of a possible impending world war over oil seems very resonant - and not entirely irrelavent now in 2007! The best of the Tintin books don't seem to become dated at all. But I agree that the sombre mood of looming war was probably inspired primarily by Hergé's feelings back in 1939, even though the war isn't specifically referred to in that first version.

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