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4.3 out of 5 stars24
4.3 out of 5 stars
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Tintin's earliest adventures are often rather underrated in favour of the more sophisticated plotting and artwork of the mid-period high-points, but Cigars of the Pharaoh certainly stands up better than much of the latter-day Tintin (Flight 714, Picaros) and in some ways there's a purity and innocence here that is unmatched in any other Tintin adventure.

What some see as a weakness - the episodic nature dictated by the original 1932 serialisation and tendency of the story to lose sight of the main plot - actually works to its advantage, the story accumulating one fantastic incident after another. Some are of the knockabout slapstick humour variety - the Thompsons make a fine first appearance here in a running theme where they are trying to arrest Tintin and inadvertently saving him from worse situations - while others are highly imaginative and thrilling, particularly to the younger reader.

Here in The Cigars of the Pharaoh, while going on a cruise across the globe with just Snowy as a companion (too early yet for the introduction of Haddock, Calculus et al), Tintin is arrested for drug smuggling, is trapped in an ancient Egyptian tomb, is abandoned at sea in a custom-built coffin, is attacked by sharks, conscripted into an Arabian army, faces a firing squad (not for the last time) for spying and is buried alive - and that's not even all the incidents in just the first half of the book! But it's more than just an aimless grand adventure in exotic locations that were the theme of earlier Tintin books. Here Hergé introduces a mystery and an investigative element to Tintin's character, tying all the escapades together rather well through the visual element of the secret symbol that keeps recurring wherever Tintin goes.

Originally serialised in 1932, Cigars of the Pharaoh was completely redrawn and coloured for album publication in 1955 with the assistance of Hergé's studio, and the results are outstanding, giving this book a considerably more smooth and professional look than the adventures around it (Tintin in America, The Blue Lotus). A globe-spanning adventure, the seas, deserts, jungles and rocky North African landscapes are magnificently rendered, as pure an example of the brilliance of Hergé's clear-line work as you'll find anywhere.

And then there's the cover. A minor consideration maybe, but for those of a certain generation who grew up with these Tintin adventures, there's something truly iconic in all the Tintin covers and this is one of the most stylish and most memorable. The theme of ancient Egyptian curses all the rage in the years after the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamen, with thrilling mystical elements that Hergé would successfully draw from again in another of the best Tintin adventures, The Seven Crystal Balls. The themes and the use of locations may be better paced and more balanced in individual Tintin adventures, but Cigars of the Pharaoh delightfully has everything in the one story.
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on 7 August 2015
“Cigars of the Pharaoh” was one of my favorite Tintin adventures as a kid. It has suspense, a complex plot, magical elements and bizarre humor in the form of two insane men, one of them an Egyptologist.. As a kid, I actually assumed that “Egyptologist” was a joke, too! LOL. The story revolves around the brave reporter Tintin who exposes an international opium smuggling operation which uses an ancient Egyptian tomb as a storage facility. The criminals are organized as a secret brotherhood, spouting occult symbols and Klan-like outfits. One of the members is a fakir with paranormal powers!

Rereading the story lately, I admit that it didn't move me as much as it used to. I also noticed a couple of strange anachronisms: yes, they are deliberate additions of Hergé to later editions of “Cigars”. The comic features an in-universe gag: a scene where Sheikh Patrash Pasha shows Tintin a comic album…featuring Tintin himself! In earlier versions of the story, it was “Tintin in America” or “Tintin in the Congo”, but in later editions, it was changed to “Destination Moon”.

Tintinologists may be interested to know that the hilariously incompetent detectives Thomson & Thompson make their first appearance in this story, and so does the arch-villain with the inimitable name Roberto Rastapopoulos. People studying “tropes” will note that all menial laborers in Arabia are Black Africans – indeed, slavery still existed in Saudi Arabia when the comic was produced.

Overall, however, I no longer consider this such a good read as I once did, but for ol' times sake, I give it three stars.
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on 1 July 2014
First published in Le Petit Vingtième between 8/12 1932 and 8/2 1934. The book appeared in 1934 . Redrawn in 1955. It was first published in English in 1971.

A colourful and detailed adventure , Tintin and his dog Snowy meet up with an eccentric Egyptologist on a cruise , taking Tintin on a danger-filled adventure from Egypt to Arabia to India , in a hunt for whoever is behind the mystery of the Cigars of the Pharaoh , he is framed for heroin possesion , caught up in an Arabian war and sentenced to be executed , lost in the desert , locked up in a mental assylum in India , before being led to an international ring of drug trafficers. It is amazing the amount of detail Herge worked into these adventure comics.

Many of us grew up on them and love them for the nostalgia value.
I loved the animation in the underground Pharaoh's tomb, and the incredible dream sequence there.
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on 2 June 2012
I learned from reading other reviews that this is one of the earlier TinTin books, a stitch-up and redrawing of earlier weekly comic strips. I could tell the origin in a weekly strip when reading the book because the plot meanders. It's a little like some of the Roger Moore era Bond films: the plot goes off on tangents but it's so enjoyable to watch that it doesn't seem to matter.

Then there are the frequent cliffhangers from which TinTin (and the plot) escape through convenient coincidences and flat-out nonsense, such as using a fat man's stomach as a trampoline to jump over a high wall. You get that in later TinTins too, but it's more in evidence here.

There's so much to point out that is less than perfect but the most important thing is that I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of Cigars of the Pharaohs.

If you wanted to try your first TinTin, I'd try a little later in the series, perhaps Ottakar's Sceptre or The Calculus Affair... or maybe not, because while some of the later books had more of a sense of being *crafted*, Cigars of the Pharaohs gains from a sense of wild enthusiasm.
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on 19 February 2007
As has already been noted by several ealier reviewers, Cigars Of The Pharoah really is not worthy of so many of Herge's other books.

Indeed, the story is a very confusing and untidy affair, with the action shifting abruptly from one part of the globe to a completely different one within the space of a couple of pictures. The plot lines behave in a similar fashion, and previously unknown individuals and organisations enter the story without explanation and little apparent relevance. And it ends in an ambiguous and unsatisfying way. (I'm very interested to see what an earlier reviewer said about this book originating as a strip cartoon).

This is a great shame, as it has (IMO) one of the most attractive covers and lots of other wonderful artwork. In fact, its because of the artwork that I've given it 3 stars rather than 2. (Pity there wasn't more of the GREAT Egyptian scenery - I reckon Herge missed a trick there).

Nevertheless, for any real Tintin fan, there are still things to enjoy in this book, and a proper collection wouldn't be complete without it.
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on 7 December 2011
This is one cartoon character which doesn't need any review. Every single story is a favourite of mine and I wish they would turn each of that into a motion picture. An excellent addition to my Tintin collection.
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on 30 July 2011
great read as my boy loves these books. book was priced well and turned up early in the post, well done
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on 9 August 2015
Re-discovering Tintin with the kids.... they are now tintin fanatics and demanding that we read more of the stories whenever possible. We ripped through this story in a few bedtime reading sessions and the kids were fixated. I found myself continuing to read after they'd drifted off to sleep.
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on 14 March 2014
A great book which was bought as a gift and was very well received by the intended audience. To say "over the moon" is an understatement.
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on 8 February 2014
My 9 yo son has always liked Tin Tin books but after our trip to Belgium just cant stop reading them)
This one is one of his favourite!
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