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The Black Island: Is that Blake & Mortimer's Olrik?

mct16
Member
#1 · Posted: 14 Sep 2019 19:58 · Edited by: mct16
A friend recently told me about how Tintin confronted the villain Olrik, the sworn enemy of Blake & Mortimer, created by Herge's collaborator E. P. Jacobs. At first I dismissed this assumption, but he pointed out some good reasons for it:

Some of the early scenes in "Black Island" include a crook with a moustache who accompanies the bearded gang leader. In the original edition published in B&W in the 1930s, this crook is shown simply wearing a hat, black scarf, trousers and overcoat. Later, on the island itself, he wears a pair of coveralls. This is also the case in the colour edition of 1943.

His little moustache and sharp nose already makes him very Olrik-like (long before the character was created) but it is made more distinguished in the colour edition of 1965 when he is given some notable extra items: a cigarette holder and a bow tie, much like Olrik has in scenes in "Pyramid", "Atlantis" and "Meteors". He even wears the bow tie in the scenes on the island.

Looks like Herge paid homage to Jacobs in more ways than the mummification in "Cigars".
snowybella
Member
#2 · Posted: 15 Sep 2019 00:33
I always find it interesting when one character appears in the others' series!

Is there also a possibility that Olrik was inspired by Orlick in Great Expectations? I, unlike most of the other active members, do not any of the Blake & Mortimer books, so I unfortunately cannot provide any comparisons apart from that of the name and villain-ness!
jock123
Moderator
#3 · Posted: 16 Sep 2019 11:00 · Edited by: jock123
As E.P. Jacobs maintained that he based his depiction of Olrik on himself, it's probably nothing more than coincidence in the early version of Black Island, as all references I can find are that Hergé and Jacobs did not meet until 1943.
Now, according to Benoît Peeters's Hergé Son of Tintin, Jacques Van Melkebeke knew Jacobs from the time they were both children, and it might be possible to make an assumption that even if Hergé and Jacobs hadn't precisely "met", that Hergé had seen Jacobs in passing when in the company of Van Melkebeke.
But as Hergé and Van Melkebeke apparently didn't meet until June 1940. So not only was the figure in Black Island created before Olrik, he was also outside of the known dates for Hergé encountering Olrik's model.

But Brussels is a small city, Hergé moved in artistic circles, and Jacobs was by all accounts an arresting figure, given his Hercule Poirot-like attention to the precision of his appearance; if Hergé could base two characters on Auguste Piccard, just from having seen him around the city, there's nothing to say that he couldn't have seen and remembered Jacobs from some other encounter.
mct16
Member
#4 · Posted: 16 Sep 2019 12:38
I'm not suggesting that the crook in the 1937 or 1943 editions is based on Jacobs or was the inspiration for Olrik. In those depictions he appears to be based on the stereotypical well-dressed con-man or spiv - handsome, small moustache, a David Niven-like gentlemanly appearance which covers a shady character.

What I am thinking is that when Herge had to redraw the story in the 1960s, he thought something like: "If I gave this character a cigarette holder and bow-tie then he would look like Olrik. That might please Edgar."

When "Land of Black Gold" was published in "Tintin magazine" in 1948, Tintin is shown exploring the underground network under Muller's villa. He compares it to the secret base in "Swordfish" which was being published in the same magazine at about the same time. (In the book he compares it to the Maginot line.)
jock123
Moderator
#5 · Posted: 17 Sep 2019 10:42
mct16:
I'm not suggesting that the crook in the 1937 or 1943 editions is based on Jacobs or was the inspiration for Olrik.

Ah, I see - I don't think that's clear from the above, but I take your point.

mct16:
"If I gave this character a cigarette holder and bow-tie then he would look like Olrik. That might please Edgar."

Well, I'd have to say that that seems an unnecessary extra step: Olrik was Jacobs, as depicted by Jacobs; giving the character a bow-tie and cigarette holder makes him look like Jacobs, not Olrik, if a cameo was what was intended.

It's a thought, I suppose - whether by Hergé or Bob DeMoor, who might actually have made the choice, and was not above inserting his own cameo into Black Island; Hergé and Jacobs had been on better terms since the mid-fifties, following their falling out in the forties (hence the Jacobs cameo in Cigars, which he helped revise).

mct16:
in 1948, Tintin is shown exploring the underground network under Muller's villa. He compares it to the secret base in "Swordfish" which was being published in the same magazine at about the same time.

I'm not sure I see where this thought is going, to be honest. That was the time period in which the relationship had turned frosty, so I would think that the Swordfish mention was merely to give in-magazine cross promotion, as a wink to the readers (in the same vein as covers showing the various strip characters celebrating Christmas, etc.), rather than any real indication of a nod to Jacobs, per se.
mct16
Member
#6 · Posted: 17 Sep 2019 23:04
jock123:
I'm not sure I see where this thought [mention of "Swordfish in "Black Gold"] is going, to be honest.

I included this as what I saw as another example of Herge complimenting Jacob's work - showing that he appreciated it and giving an homage. The way the crook is given an Olrik-like appearance in the third edition of "Black Island" could have been another such homage.

jock123:
their falling out in the forties (hence the Jacobs cameo in Cigars, which he helped revise).

Are you saying that Herge included the mummified body of Jacobs as some sort of attack? That it was his way of offending someone with whom he was on bad terms?

I always imagined that as some kind of dark but friendly humour. Jacobs was not above using such humour himself - look at the way he used his likeness for a ruthless villain like Olrik.
jock123
Moderator
#7 · Posted: 18 Sep 2019 17:53
mct16:
The way the crook is given an Olrik-like appearance in the third edition of "Black Island" could have been another such homage.

This is side-stepping my main point - that to describe the character as looking like Olrik is to miss the fact that Olrik looked like Jacobs; therefor, it's unnecessary to look beyond Jacobs for the source of the cameo, if indeed that was what was intended.

I haven't disputed that it's entirely possible that by the sixties, Hergé and Jacobs were on good enough terms with each other that Hergé (or Bob DeMoor) made this baddie look like Jacobs. The Swordfish shout-out might have been an hommage, but that doesn't strengthen the case for something happening decades later, given what we know about the ups-and-downs of their relationship.

mct16:
Are you saying that Herge included the mummified body of Jacobs as some sort of attack?

No, and to be honest, I think you have to strain to get anywhere near that from what I wrote.
I said that they were on a better footing by the time that that cameo in Cigars was made, so obviously that suggests greater, not lesser, cordiality between the two. So construing that it suggests an "attack" or "his way of offending someone" is the antithesis of my remark.
mct16
Member
#8 · Posted: 20 Sep 2019 18:40 · Edited by: mct16
Sorry, I misunderstood your point - a bit like when you assumed that I was saying that the crook of the 1930s was based on Jacobs. Looks like we're even :)

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