On the Vesuvius preamble, I wonder if that was always intended to be an optional section? Is there any indication how long it might have been intended to be?
Oh, I would say a page or two. I'll give you a more detailed summary.
The opening images are of little craters in the suburbs of Naples 'in the shadow of Vesuvius'. A guide tells the tour group about the destruction of Pompeii, including the damage from sulphurous fumes. He demonstrates how a lit cigarette causes the little craters to produce clouds of smoke. Haddock, who is not paying attention, lights his pipe, with a result that you can picture for yourself!
Then he and Tintin have a conversation about their plans for the rest of the holiday. And then we actually see two further short scenes: one of Nestor alone at Marlinspike bringing in the newspapers, which have headlines about 'a new international espionage affair'; and a scene of the Thom(p)sons receiving instructions to investigate the same affair.
Only after that do we get the scene of Tintin and Haddock driving that serves as the beginning of the later pencilled pages.
And to elaborate on my comment that the Vesuvius scene prefigures the Thermozéro
: we learn that it is designed to cause explosions in the vacuum of space and that, if used in ordinary conditions, it threatens to "inflame the molecules of oxygen in the air in a Dantean explosion".
Does the article suggest who actually applied these names in the first place, if the working title was Scénario Tintin
No, Goddin's piece doesn't explain. But I've had another look at what Jean-Marie Embs and Philippe Mellot say in the Archives Tintin
edition of Tibet
, and there are some hints there.
They say that, in 1960, Hergé remembered an article that he had kept from Marie-France
about some Americans who became 'radioactive' from exposure to 'a mysterious pill'. He then wrote this note: 'A bottle (or any other object) containing a deadly product (atomic pills? See Marie-France
) has been taken (by mistake) by someone. Tintin will pursue the fellow and will reach him at the moment when the product in question is going to begin its ravages'.
Embs and Mellot go on to say that Hergé handed over 'the development of a scenario inspired by this idea' to Greg, who rapidly produced 'a fifteen-page synopsis, untitled, that Hergé baptised Tintin et le Thermozéro
'. Now, the scenario that I have been talking about, according to Goddin's introduction, was sixteen pages in its original format. But a small discrepancy like that might easily be explained (for example, perhaps the sixteenth was just a cover page that Embs and Mellot didn't count). So we can probably infer that these are the same thing.
My best guess, then, is that Hergé himself came up with the pills idea but didn't develop it beyond the note I quoted; and when we see references to Les Pilules
, they are extrapolations from this earliest, embryonic version of the idea. Then Greg took over and changed the macguffin to the Thermozéro
, which led Hergé to name the project Tintin et le Thermozéro
. What do you think?
I would happily have had Tintin and Snowy team back in action as the focus.
Interested in this take! A weakness of Alph-Art
, I think, would have been the huge number of returning characters. I don't know if you also read Valerian
, but the finale of that series does a similar thing, and it leaves too little space for the story. On the other hand, we already have a pared-back book in Tibet
, focusing just on Tintin and Haddock. And I find it hard to imagine the later Tintin without at least Haddock. Don't you feel his absence in Black Gold
May be, but I'd still like to have the book to find out!
Well, yes! Or at least, I'd like an Alph Art
-style book. Even though some of the Thermozéro
material has already been published, it's all in such scattered and difficult-to-find places.
a deliberate move by Greg to show Hergé that he was better setting his own stories?
My sense is that, from about the time of Red Sea Sharks
, Hergé tried to avoid repeating himself. All the books after that are distinctive or experimental in some way. With Greg, in contrast, the similarity to Calculus Affair
makes me think of how his other Tintin plot, Lake of Sharks
, draws so heavily from Secret Ray
(the boy and girl standing in for Jo and Zette, the underwater tank, the underwater lair that floods at the end). So maybe just different tendencies? But I haven't read any of Greg's other work.
That was another long post. But I'm pleased you're interested in this too.