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Black Island: "The 39 Steps" and John Buchan connection?

#1 · Posted: 2 Apr 2004 09:15
Please excuse me if you've already received this as a posting to the group but I need some help.

A few years ago a I heard a BBC Radio 4 broadcast about Tintin which (I think) mentioned that Richard Hannay, John Buchan's hero in The 39 Steps was Hergé's inspiration for Tintin, or The Black Island was inspired by The 39 Steps.

It's just that I can't find any thing on the web or my books on Hergé and Tintin that backs up my claim. Can anyone help?
#2 · Posted: 2 Apr 2004 09:21
Sorry, I can't help you. But marsbar and myself saw the connection also of Black Island being inspired by The Thirty-Nine Steps.
I'm not sure about Richard Hannay being Hergé's inspiration for Tintin (they both have a knack for adventures and getting mixed up with gangsters though).
Paul Remi - Georges (Hergé) Remi's brother, was the main inspiration for Tintin.

By the way cool user name! :-)
Harrock n roll
#3 · Posted: 2 Apr 2004 11:02
Welcome to the forum Crispin.
As 'Rulz just pointed out, The 39 Steps (Alfred Hitchcock's 1935 film version of the book, The Thirty-Nine Steps) was definitely an inspiration for The Black Island (begun in 1937).
Of course, the plot is quite similar, with the hero Richard Hannay chasing his villains across the English countryside and into Scotland.
It should also be mentioned that not long before, in 1933, the first ever sighting was made of the Loch Ness monster and much fuss was being made of it in the media at that time.
Hergé cleverly combined these two contemporary stories - the new Loch Ness monster legend with The 39 Steps film - creating the comic book we all know and love.
#4 · Posted: 2 Apr 2004 11:54
Thanks to both Harrock and Rulz for the feedback on my query, and if any of you Tintinologists uncover any other evidence of a John Buchan connection, I will be most grateful...
...and I can perhaps stop thinking that I imagined the broadcast in the first place - it doesn't help that I can't find any trace of the Radio 4 programme I heard originally!!
#5 · Posted: 2 Apr 2004 14:11
I too noticed a similar atmosphere, not to mention geographical journey, between The Black Island and The 39 Steps.

Dare I mention that my own article on this very website alludes to it (briefly) as well..?

I love both versions of the film, and Black Island is one of my favourites.
#6 · Posted: 2 Apr 2004 14:46
Garen, nice article!

I like Black Island for Hergé's incredible attention to detail, which your article illustrates very nicely. The illustrtations even look cold and windy.

At a risk of getting way off topic there were actually three versions of The Thirty-Nine Steps. The first and IMHO the best by Hitchcock with Robert Donat; a truly awful one in the 50's starring Kenneth More, and the popular Robert Powell one from the 70's.

C'mon keep those 39 Steps connection coming in!!
#7 · Posted: 2 Apr 2004 22:43
And the 39 Steps is being remade this year (2004)!
I think they're over doing it!
Moderator Emeritus
#8 · Posted: 4 Apr 2004 12:15
Well...I started replying to the original email message, and happened to open the Tintinologist forum and see the post while I was doing it, so I figured I may as well post here instead.

As a side, note, searching for 'tintin buchan' on Google brings my Good books list up as the second result! :)

As regards the Tintin-Hannay connection (this is off the top of my head -- I can research this in more depth, as I have the necessary books): The Thirty-Nine Steps and Mr. Standfast (both Richard Hannay novels) deal with Scotland in parts, and Mr. Standfast has one part which takes place on a Scottish island (no castle, though).
Both these Hannay novels have, as the enemy, a ring of spies and secret agents working for Germany, whose leader is the 'bald man who can hood his eyes like a hawk'. Possibly the inspiration for Müller?
Like Müller, the arch-enemy is living in the UK as a country gentleman (archaeologist rather than doctor though).

The crime-ring theme of The Black Island ('They've got agents all over the world!' springs to mind) is similar in a way to that of the criminals in those two Hanny novels, although in The Black Island they're forgers (at least, that's the group Tintin busts) and in the novels they're spies.

I havn't seen the Hitchcock movie, so I'll take your (various people's) word that there are strong similarities! :)

But it's quite possible that Hergé read the Hannay books... They were immensely popular when they were first published, and quite probably were translated into French before long.
Hannay himself is definitely not at all Tintin-like (or vice-versa) except that they are both incredibly heroic -- like, they'd act similar ways in the same situation (whip up a disguise or have a punch-up with the baddies), although for different reasons.

The way Tintin is being chased by the police (the Thompsons) and the baddies is also similar to The Thirty-Nine Steps, where Hannay is on the run from both too.

But I can look it up more if anyone wants me too; it's a while since I read The Thirty-Nine Steps and I might pick up something else, if there is anything, in it. :)


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