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The Black Island: where did Tintin start this adventure?

#1 · Posted: 24 May 2004 11:28
By email, sent us by Paul Durdin.
01-Apr-2000 00:59, Paul Durdin wrote:

The Black Island (1990: Casterman - English)

... does Tintin start this adventure in France, Belgium, or England?
If it's France or Belgium, why is the unregistered plane there?
If it was going to Müller's it must have been from somewhere in Europe, not the Black Island.
And if he starts in England, why does he have to cross the English Channel to get to Eastdown?
When Puschov is talking to the other villain at the train station (p.2, last two frames), the sign behind them seems to be wiped out.
Was this because the sign was in French?
Same goes for the sign in frame 5 on p.3.
Tintin also leaves his briefcase on this train.
#2 · Posted: 24 May 2004 22:10
I've now got Black Island open on my knee, and I am trying to decipher the meaning of the 'phone call. Given that, according to the English translations, Tintin, Marlinspike and the gang are located in England, we usually have to assume that when we see Tintin out and about he is in the UK.

However,Thompson, who has the 'phone, begins, "Hello? ...Yes...¦ Interpol? ...Yes sir", Which I take to mean, that he has been asked "Are you the Interpol agent?", and he has said yes.

The exchange continues, "From Scotland Yard? Eastdown? Last night?"; this suggests that the officer on the 'phone has said that they have had a message from Scotland Yard, in regard to Eastdown.

After Thompson tells the person on the 'phone that T&T will leave at once, Thomson is seen telling Tintin, "We're going back to England".

So, contrary to my assertion earlier, Tintin's ferry trip is not improbable: he is in fact abroad at the start to the story, not in England.
T&T are acting on attachment to Interpol, from Scotland Yard, explaining their presence in what we could assume to be Belgium, but may possibly be Germany (the plaque on the side of the boat-train bears the legend "Köln - Bruxelles - London").
What a pity there wasn't room for a caption on page one, which might have made this all a little clearer!
Trivia Challenge Score Keeper
#3 · Posted: 24 May 2004 22:19
A good analysis, jock123! I agree entirely.
I suppose for the British reader (or those who have come to believe that Tintin is based in England), it isn't too difficult to assume that Tintin is on the continent (perhaps on holiday?) at the start of "The Black Island". Interestingly, the earlier versions of the book (1937 and 1943) included as the first frame a newspaper cutting saying that Tintin was indeed on holiday, in a similar way that "The Blue Lotus" does, for instance. If this had been retained in the modern version, perhaps the translators would have added an explanation that Tintin was on holiday in Europe, maybe even in Belgium?
Belgium Correspondent
#4 · Posted: 24 May 2004 22:29
Let me add a few comments:
1) Marlinspike doesn't exist yet when The Black Island is published
2) Tintin (and T&T) are living in Brussels and I don't see any reason for them to be in Germany.
#5 · Posted: 26 May 2004 07:32
Interestingly, the earlier versions of the book (1937 and 1943) included as the first frame a newspaper cutting saying that Tintin was indeed on holiday

That clipping would have made the whole thing so much easier, and it was probably just a throw away idea in the original! Funny that the book which cried out for it (the revised for English language version) lost it!

Let me add a few comments

Hi, Chevet! I was meaning in terms of the UK continuity, those things are in England, not Belgium. The translators relocated the stories, as well as the language.

Therefore in the British books, they are written as if Tintin and Co. don't live in Brussels.
When addresses are translated into English, Labrador Road, where Tintin lives, is said to be in London.

Also, Marlinspike does exist when Black Island is published, because they bought it at the end of Red Rackham, which was already out (in Britain, that is. It may happen differently in the continuity of L'Îsle Noire).

The Thom(p)sons going back to England shows us Tintin is taking a continental holiday, away from the UK; it might mean he was in fact in Wales, Scotland or Eire, but the notice on the train says otherwise.

There is no reason to assume that he isn't in Germany, as that is where the train says it is coming from, and there is no indication where he gets on.
He could - on the evidence - be on holiday in either Germany or Belgium. From what's shown in the book, there is no way to tell.

I was playing the game of identifying what facts can be derived from the text and illustrations, seeing how they fit against the way the translators have presented the story, and finding a way to explain the situation.
#6 · Posted: 26 May 2004 12:32
When Paul's question was raised in our email list (the old, old list hosted in Denmark), Garen made a response.

08-Apr-2000 19:21, Garen Ewing wrote:

The Black Island adventure definitely starts in Belgium. In the 1937 book Tintin boards a train going from 'Bruxelles to Londres' (Brussells - London) via Ostende and Couvres. In the colour edition of the book, the train is going from Koln (in Germany), via Bruxelles (where Tintin boards it) and then to London. His little adventure escaping from the Thomson Twins on the train is in France. He then races for the ferry to take him across the channel to England.
#7 · Posted: 5 Jun 2004 03:30
For the bits that *are* set in Britain, Hergé's light green locomotives don't look very British, nor do some of the steepled house roofs!
#8 · Posted: 5 Jun 2004 11:14
This "going back to England" must be something just in the English version, to imply Tintin and the Thompsons are abroad on holiday.

Yeah, it must be. I have the Swedish version, and they only say that they are going to England, not back to England.

#9 · Posted: 7 Jun 2004 08:53
Hergé's light green locomotives don't look very British

In the version of The Black Island that was updated for the UK, Hergé sent a researcher to take photos and make sketches, so the book was more up to date and appealing to his British audience.

The colour of the locomotives is actually correct, as this was the standard colour for the majority of British Railways locos at this time.

Interestingly, a few weeks ago I purchased The Complete Companion from the Tintin shop and whilst reading through the section on The Black Island I noticed that Michael Farr has made a slight error himself.

When Tintin arrives in England he gets into a taxi which is chased and overtaken by Ivan & Cº in a red Jaguar. The Companion states that this is "unmistakably a Jaguar XJ6", when it is in fact a Jaguar Mark 10 (or 420g), a much larger car which was available at the same time as the XJ6.

Car nuts, eh?!
#10 · Posted: 14 Apr 2009 03:37
This is one of my favorite stories, and I always found it confusing.

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