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Land of Black Gold: The 1939-1940 publication

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mct16
Member
#1 · Posted: 10 Apr 2012 15:16
As some of you would know, "Land of Black Gold" had a very complicated publication history: it was first published in the "Petit Vingtieme" in 1939, but was cancelled in mid-adventure in 1940 due to the German occupation of Belgium.

A second version was published after the war, followed by a third version which removed a sub-plot involving the conflict between the Jews and Arabs in the British Mandate of Palestine.

Just in order to make things a little more complicated, I recently came across the pages as they were originally published in 1939-40 and in which the plot, mid-adventure, is a little different:

Soon after Tintin is abandoned in the desert by Bab El Ehr, the Thom(p)sons are driving in the Jeep when they fall asleep, drive into a town and crash into the mosque. They are beaten and thrown into jail.

Tintin meanwhile sees Müller and his men blowing up the pipeline and steals the clothes and horse of one of them. He then follows Müller and they have a fight among the mountain rocks where Müller knocks out both Tintin and Snowy. He's about to shoot Tintin when he notices a sand storm. Deciding to spare a bullet, Müller instead ties Tintin up with rope and dumps him in the path of the storm. This version ends with Tintin screaming for Snowy as he is buried in the sand!

This version means that Tintin will not be rescued by the Thom(p)sons from the sand storm since they are already in jail. It would have been interesting to know how Herge would have resolved this.

Any suggestions?
Colonel Jorgen
Member
#2 · Posted: 11 Apr 2012 11:32
Where did you find these pages from the original version?
mct16
Member
#3 · Posted: 11 Apr 2012 11:55
I'm afraid it's one of those cases in which the moderators don't want to know.
Balthazar
Moderator
#4 · Posted: 11 Apr 2012 23:05 · Edited by: Balthazar
mct16:
I'm afraid it's one of those cases in which the moderators don't want to know.

Or, to put it more accurately (and perhaps a little less churlishly), it's one of those cases where in order to avoid infringing copyright law, invoking legal action and having our site shut down, it's not permissible to provide a link to an unauthorised source of copyright images. Your adherence to forum rules by not doing so is much appreciated mtc16; but perhaps you could have explained this lack of a link to Colonel Jorgen without making it sound as if the problem is some sort of over-officious killjoy tendency of us moderators! We're just trying to keep the site legal and up-and-running for everyone. :-)

With that clarification made, I agree that the plot differences sound interesting, and it's shame there doesn't seem to be an authorised or published edition of this 1939-40 version easily available. But I have seen the final pre-war panels of Tintin being swallowed up by the sandstorm, which have been published in at least one book about Tintin. I wonder whether Hergé knew how he was going to have Tintin escape from the sandstorm in that version, or if he was working right up against the deadlines and hoping for inspiration!
Momber
Member
#5 · Posted: 12 Apr 2012 01:41 · Edited by: Moderator
Likewise I've read the complete Le Petit Vingtième 1939-40 series of this version of Black Gold.

I like the part where Tintin finds an old broken umbrella buried in the sand and uses two of the spokes to divine for water.
Colonel Jorgen
Member
#6 · Posted: 12 Apr 2012 12:09
@ mct16 & Balthazar:

I had an inkling that it might be a case of copyright infringement, but I wanted to check whether there really was an official release of the strips somewhere. Ah well, in a way it’s a shame I suppose that links are not allowed to be posted, but I also understand and emphasise the position the site is in, so I didn't expect any links to be provided.
mct16
Member
#7 · Posted: 12 Apr 2012 13:25
Getting back to the topic of how Tintin survived the sand storm: do you think it possible that Herge never intended it?

"Le Petit Vingtieme" stopped publication soon after the German occupation of Belgium. Herge must have known that this would be the case and that he would have to suspend "Black Gold" until some time in the future (if ever).

Thus, the scene of Tintin being buried in sand may have been reflecting him burying his past in the "Le Petit Vingtieme".
Harrock n roll
Moderator
#8 · Posted: 12 Apr 2012 22:28
mct16:
Getting back to the topic of how Tintin survived the sand storm: do you think it possible that Herge never intended it?

I very much doubt this. The two pages featuring the sand storm were never seen at the time because the invasion of Belgium happened a few days before they were published. There was the threat of invasion in Belgium for some months prior, but I think it impossible that Hergé could have known that it was going to occur at this very moment in time. As it was, the final cliffhanger that appeared in Le Petit Vigntième showed Müller about to shoot Tintin after Müller discovers "Ahmed's" true identity.

Incidentally, I'm not sure what make of car the Thompsons were driving, but it isn't a jeep in the 1940 version, it's some other kind of open-top land vehicle.

As to how Hergé would have resolved Tintin's predicament: perhaps the British troops that were on their way to fix the pipeline would have come across "Ahmed" and arrested him as a terrorist?

In an earlier scene where Tintin is held prisoner by Bab El Ehr he is seen secretly putting one of the leaflets dropped by the British 'plane into his pocket. I've always wondered how that would have panned out. I suspect that this version of Black Gold would have been very different; perhaps it wouldn't have featured Ben Kalish Ezab, nor Abdullah, and maybe it would have more about the British oil interests in the region with Bab El Ehr and Müller two independent protagonists. Who knows?
mct16
Member
#9 · Posted: 12 Apr 2012 23:25 · Edited by: mct16
Harrock n roll:
In an earlier scene where Tintin is held prisoner by Bab El Ehr he is seen secretly putting one of the leaflets dropped by the British 'plane into his pocket.

Well spotted, and adds to the intrigue, especially the look of conspiracy on Tintin's face, which would indicate that he has a plan in mind. How I hate unresolved cliffhangers.

Harrock n roll:
The two pages featuring the sand storm were never seen at the time because the invasion of Belgium happened a few days before they were published.

My theory was based on the presumption that Herge was expecting the paper to last another week at least.

According to Benoît Peeters, the paper was in a bad state even prior to the invasion and had issued a warning of termination to its collaborators. Herge was having trouble balancing his strip drawing and his military duties - having been called up for service - and was only discharged on the grounds of ill health on the very day that Germany invaded.

One way or the other it looks as if Tintin's days in the "Petit Vingtieme" were over.
mct16
Member
#10 · Posted: 24 May 2012 17:34
Here's something interesting. I recently met a guy who had copies of Tintin magazine from its earliest years and included the version of "Land of Black Gold" as it was published in Tintin Magazine in 1948-9.

The first half of this version is pretty much the same as it was published in the Petit Vingtième: it features the same panels, but much smaller and in colour. There is no sign of Haddock or Nestor and even no mention of an impending conflict (a sub-plot also missing from the Petit Vingtième edition).
When Tintin interviews the head of the oil company, the discussion is entirely on the economic consequences of the exploding oil, no mention of the military side.
When Tintin listens to the news on the ship and on de Figueira's radio its all about the exploding cars, no mention of an imminent war.
It's only at the end, when Tintin is debriefing Haddock and the Emir over the papers he obtained from Müller, and they and the Thom(p)sons are listening to the radio, that there is a mention of a possible conflict and that it was Müller's mission to disrupt the oil supplies.

Curiously enough, the Tintin magazine version also includes the scene of Tintin discreetly picking up a leaflet while Bab El Ehr has his back turned, but it is not referred to again in the story. And this time the Thom(p)sons meet Tintin in the sandstorm before they fall asleep, crash into the mosque and get thrown into jail.

How I hate loose ends.

On different note: in the magazine version, when exploring Müller's bunker, Tintin compares it to the secret British base which appears in the latter half of the Blake and Mortimer adventure "The Secret of the Swordfish". A rather charming remark; I can't think of many instances when Herge refers to other comics. In the book version (in French) Tintin compares it to the Maginot line, an elaborate but ultimately useless series of fortifications designed to protect France from Germany between the wars.

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