I've recently read Greg's original scenario of Tintin et le Thermozéro
, which was published in 2003 in issue 36 of the magazine Les Amis de Hergé
at pages 19–30. The scenario has been mentioned before in this thread (in a post back in 2012). But I haven't seen it discussed in detail on this forum. So I thought I would share a few observations.
1. The magazine includes an introduction by Philippe Goddin, in which he dispels a number of errors that are often made about the project. These include the mistaken belief that Greg put forward two distinct variants of the scenario, Les Pilules
and Le Thermozéro
. Goddin traces that error back to a mix-up that occurred when Benoît Peeters spoke to Greg in the 1980s.
2. The scenario did, however, go through at least two successive drafts. The first is the one I am discussing here, which Goddin describes as 'the original scenario, the true one'. The second is a draft that was published in a rare volume by Rombaldi in 1988 and inaccurately attributed to Greg. This, writes Goddin, "is just the fair copy of a manuscript by Jacques Martin, presumably developed in the course of multiple exchanges with Hergé'. I have not read this second draft. If anyone else has, then I'd be interested in hearing about the differences.
3. In Greg's original scenario, the item that drives the plot is initially referred to by the English term Zero-Heater
. The French term Thermozéro
is given as an alternative and used subsequently. Neither term is in the title, which is simply Scénario Tintin
. I understand from elsewhere that it was Hergé himself who came up with the title Tintin et le Thermozéro
4. The scenario begins with Tintin and Haddock visiting Mount Vesuvius as tourists. My guess is that the volcanic environment is supposed to prefigure the effects of the Thermozéro
. Still, this prelude seems superfluous to me; the plot does not really start until they are driving home and a car crash occurs. Hergée must have thought the same, because his later pencilled pages skip the prelude and begin with Tintin and Haddock driving. (These pencilled pages are much more widely accessible, so perhaps many of you are familiar with them. For example, I have a copy in the Archives Tintin
edition of Tibet
published in 2010.)
5. The regular cast are largely absent. Calculus appears only briefly, in the very last scene; the Thom(p)sons have only a slightly bigger role; and characters like Wagg and Castafiore do not appear at all. Even Haddock is absent for almost the entire second half of the scenario, which begins to feel like one of Tintin's solo adventures.
This, too, may have changed later in the development of the project: in the first of Hergé's pencilled pages, Calculus is asleep in the back of the car; and, in the last couple of those pages, Wagg shows up and Castafiore is heard (predictably!) on the radio.
6. The most prominent of the new characters are two Americans, called Major Fullscotch and Douglas D Thinnose: a Francophone's idea of humorous English-derived surnames!
7. The similarities to the Calculus Affair
are so obvious that I am surprised that Greg didn't do more to make the story distinctive. Tintin and various spies pursue each other around Europe looking for a dangerous item that we discover, though not until the last scene, to be an invention by Calculus. Much of the scenario takes place in Switzerland. The item is left behind at a hotel (compare the lost umbrella in Calculus Affair
). One of Tintin's friends is kidnapped, in this case Haddock rather than Calculus. And ultimately the runaround turns out to have been a waste of time, because a critical ingredient of the Thermozéro
never left Marlinspike (compare the revelation at the end of Calculus Affair
that the microfilm never left Marlinspike).
8. There is one interesting difference. When Tintin is drawn into political intrigues, they usually involve fictional countries rather than real ones (with the notable exceptions of Soviets
, Blue Lotus
, and the early versions of Black Gold
). But here the climax takes place in the very real Berlin at the height of the Cold War. It has the air of a John le Carré or Ian Fleming story. A raincoat and a briefcase play key roles. The villains are from the ISSA (the International Spies & Saboteurs Association
- yes, its name is given in English), a group of spies who operate independently of both Cold War blocs, just like SPECTRE in the James Bond books.
9. Some of you will know that, after abandoning Tintin et le ThermozÃ©ro
, Hergé asked Bob De Moor to adapt it into a Jo, Zette, & Jocko
adventure (see this other thread
). That must have been a thorough rewrite; I find it hard to imagine those characters in a Cold War spy setting.
10. In my opinion, Hergé was right to abandon this project. It did not promise to add anything novel to his work. And instead we got the much more interesting Castafiore Emerald
My apologies for the length of this post! I hope the content justifies it.