He often included questions to the readers at the bottom of that week's pages - and in the case of The Broken Ear these questions were kept in the b&w-version of the book - and I bet Hergé sometimes adapted ideas found among the answers from his readers in the further development of the story.
Ah, interesting - don’t think I knew that, and it might explain a lot about the haphazard nature of the plot!
as far as I've understood the story, the thief is Rodrigo Tortilla, and he's the one who is visible behind the pillar in frame 1
I must confess that I’d completely forgotten his name! However, I don’t think the assumption that it is Tortilla on the steps can be readily confirmed: Ramón is shown smoking too. Also, we have the further
confusion that along with the cigarette end Tintin discovers a scrap of grey flannel fabric; the column lurking man is in blue trousers, with not a sign of grey flannel about him. So where did that
come from? And as it turns out, does it ever
matter? I can imagine that there might have been an intention by Hergé to send Tintin to the Hotel Liberty, or for him to examine the contents of Tortilla’s cabin, and use it as a clue, but it seems to come to nothing. Another one of the unfollowed story paths…
As for the man behind the newspaper on page 7, it just have to be Alonso after all. Everything in the storyline points in that direction, and I guess Hergé just wanted to keep the tension a bit
I take on board what you say, but the fact is it can’t really be expected to raise tension if we don’t know what either the thief or Alonso look like. I agree that, in the context of the story as it stands he’s the only person that Ramón would be talking to; however, I’m still not certain that Hergé wasn’t perhaps thinking of making Tortilla into a character that we might meet elsewhere in the story, in a different guise, and who might in fact have been known to the crooks as someone else… Speculation, of course, but it might make a bit of sense out of all the strands of people we assume to be other people, or never actually see.
THAT is a possible plothole!
what we need at this stage, Mikael - further confusion… ;-)
I've always assumed that the thief (if he is ever seen) was the man in page 1, panel 5 who is staring hard at the idol
Hmmm… I take your point, but he’s drawn diffrently to the figure in the shadows, who is in a fedora, whilst the staring man is a bowler-wearer… Still, he’s as good a candidate as any really, without further information.
the idol (can we really not use the word "fetish" as in the book?)
But a fetish and an idol are two different things, and the fetish in the book is definitely a fetish if it is like it’s real-world counterpart. An idol is but a representation of a deity; a fetish is thought to have magical powers or embody the spirit being worshipped.
the radio report on the theft suggests that the thief was still hidden inside the museum at the time.
Fair point; another indicator that the bearded man, the staring man and Hergé are all still in the frame for the theft…
who could blame the poor fellow if he requested a transfer to another embassy?
I think that’s definitely a possibility, and as I said, I could see Hergé finding it funny to inflict a further heap of indignities upon him.