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King Ottokar's Sceptre: The mystery sleeve - did others notice this?

engel sighet
#1 · Posted: 24 Sep 2016 09:52 · Edited by: Moderator
On page 7 of "King Ottokar's Sceptre" the Syldavian secret agent that rings the bell to Tintin's apartment (and then faints and falls to the floor when Tintin opens the door for him) is wearing a blue suit; however, when he rings the bell, his sleeve is black! (my 7 year old son Ben noticed this)
#2 · Posted: 24 Sep 2016 11:01
Well spotted, Ben, Boy Reporter par excellence! I'm not sure if anyone else has spotted it before, but even if they had, it's good to know that observance and attention to detail worthy of Tintin himself are still at work! I think an Order of the Golden Pelican is due for that one!
I've taken a look, and it always seems to have been like that, so it's not a printing mistake or error in the copy you have (we have found in the past that some differences creep in that way.
It also occurred to me that it *might* originally have been a cliff-hanger ending, where - because the adventure was written as a serial in many parts - the story had stopped at that frame one week, then the next week started just after.
Sometimes Hergé might change his mind, or not have decided how things were to continue, or come up with a better idea. This might have meant that someone with a black sleeve was going to arrive (one of the Detectives, perhaps).
But no! In the original black and white, the hand at the door-bell (with black cuff) is in the middle of a page, and the episode ends with the stranger falling to the floor (in a plain "white" jacket).
When the book was redone in colour, that frame was redrawn, a white shirt cuff now visible, and the jacket sleeve was still left black (if anything, there is slightly more of it on show.

It would seem that Ben has picked up on a rare lack of concentration from Hergé and his team!
#3 · Posted: 24 Sep 2016 19:15
Actually, I had noticed that myself some time ago, but always assumed that it was one of the conspirators who was ringing the doorbell.

My assumption was that that the agent, Kaviarovitch, while making his way to Tintin's door, was knocked out by an enemy who then positioned him against the door, rang the doorbell and then fled as Tintin opened it, leaving Kaviarovitch to fall down into Tintin's flat.

Taking an unconscious man away with him would have been awkward and the conspirator may have thought that leaving Kaviarovitch to be found by Tintin would serve as an extra warning to stay out of their affairs.

Anyway, good observation, Ben.
engel sighet
#4 · Posted: 24 Sep 2016 19:47
Thank you Jock 123, my son, whose nickname is Benben, was very moved by your kind note. And thank you too mct16. As for the conspirator theory - Tintin very clearly and quickly rushed outside his door to see if there is anybody out there and concludes that there is no one in sight.
#5 · Posted: 24 Sep 2016 20:44 · Edited by: Balthazar
Welcome to the forums, Engel, and, by extension, to eagle-eyed "Benben"!

I also remember noticing the sleeve difference as a child reader (though not at anything like as young an age as seven and I second jock's awarding of the OGP to your son!) Like mct16, I'd always assumed that this was a deliberate indication to the reader that the doorbell ringer was a different person, rather than it being a colouring error, and that we're meant to infer from it the chain of events just as mct16 surmises it. You're right, Engel, that this theory would mean the assailant had scarpered pretty quickly before Tintin gets to the door; but surely this would be the case even if it's meant to be Kaviarovitch ringing the doorbell, as there would still have had to have been an assailant on the landing outside the flat to render him unconscious between him ringing the doorbell and Tintin opening the door. In fact, if it happened that way, the assailant would have to be even more speedy, carrying out not only his escape after the doorbbell had been rung, but the assault as well.

(Unless, of course, we're meant to assume that Kariarovitch was assaulted some way before getting to Tintin's door and that he rang the bell with the last of his strength before collapsing. But the drawing of the hand ringing the doorbell doesn't exactly suggest this, and Tintin certainly seems to assume that there was an assailant on the landing - whom he might have spotted escaping in the street but for his problems opening the window.)

So, on balance, I'd guess the sleeve difference was deliberate, rather than accidental. But who knows for sure? The cover of King Ottokar (redrawn in collaboration with EP Jacobs when the book was being put into colour) shows Tintin wearing his blue jersey and white shirt, presumably to match what had become his "standard" outfit by the time this cover was being redrawn, in spite of the fact that throughout the book itself (which predates the jersey outfit) Tintin wears a blue shirt and tie. So clearly Hergé wasn't always that fussy about sartorial consistency!
#6 · Posted: 26 Sep 2016 12:44
When Tintin goes to open the door, he does so at an easy pace. He takes his time. That and the delay between seeing a body fall into his flat and looking out on the landing should be more than enough time for an assailant to get away.
#7 · Posted: 18 Feb 2017 02:03
I saw that! I don't know why, but it made me mad at the colourists.
#8 · Posted: 18 Feb 2017 19:32
I don't know why, but it made me mad at the colourists.

I don't know why you got mad at the colourists either, because, as mentioned above, it has always been like that, even when it was in black-and-white, so the person who is to "blame" is most likely Hergé himself...
#9 · Posted: 19 Feb 2017 06:51
Kaviarovitch, while making his way to Tintin's door, was knocked out by an enemy

Well said that man -- I have read the book for many years, and always assumed the same.

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