Tag Archives: Herge

Tintin and the Middle East

With all the controversy surrounding David Cameron’s visit to the arms trade fair in the Middle East, we seem to forget that the whole region was re-organised by the West post WWII. Such events not missed by a certain Belgian cartoonist going under the name of Hergé. In The Land of Black Gold, there are Spitfires with RAF roundels dropping leaflets. The artwork was redone for the UK translation and the aircraft have Arabic insignia instead (no doubt to avoid upset and offence). Despite being Anglophiles, it’s good to see that the Belgians are bold enough to call a spade a spade when necessary.

So, for historical interest, here is the original black/white artwork (circa 1940s, I believe):

Ornoirpv38

Not sure what the aircraft is, but that’s an RAF roundel.

Then the 1950 colour revision:
Ornoir19a
The ’plane is clearly a Spitfire, in desert colours, with RAF roundels.

The artwork we, in the UK (and other English speaking countries) got this revised livery (1970-71 IIRC):
Or_1
Still a Spitfire, but note the insignia. It’s definitely more “Islamic” in origin. So we’re still selling fighter planes, but it’s definitely not the RAF doing the leaflet drop.

And just to nail the whole thing down nicely, here is some earlier artwork showing the response of those on the ground to the leaflets:
Ornoir19a2
The first sentence in the first speech bubble translates as “English dogs!”

However, by the time we get the book, he’s a little less focussed on who is responsible:
Ornoir18b2
You’ll see that he’s using the word “imbecile” and also noting that it’s  waste of time because his men can’t read!
Arms dealing and gun running are a feature in Tintin stories, most of them critical about how the West is using its dominance to meddle with other, lesser countries’ affairs using arms sales as a method of control.

(Images from http://dardel.info/tintin/variantesE.html and copyright Moulinstart)