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Land of black-gold (The Adventures of Tintin)

4.7 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Unknown Binding: 62 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (1975)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00072MIY2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"Land of Black Gold" was the first Adventure of Tintin I ever read, so, of course, it has a special place in my heart. It seems that all around the world cars (or lighters) using petrol are exploding. In a storyline eerily prescient of what would happen decades later with the rise of OPEC, the world is on the brink of an oil crisis. In the Middle East the evil Sheik Bab El Ehr tries to overthrow Sheik Ben Kalish Ezab, so Tintin heads to the Middle East to save the day. Throwing a monkey wrench into the proceedings, in addition to the omnipresent evil agents and hapless Thompson brothers, is Abdullah, son of Sheik ben Kalish Ezab, who pulls a constant string of practical jokes on everybody in sight (Historical Note: This is where the Thompsons first develop their habit of becoming extremely hairy at inopportune moments).
I always think of Tintin as constituting "realistic absurdity," which reflects the way our hero plunges on despite the lunacy around him, which exists mainly in the characters rather than the situation. This delicate balance seems to be reflected even in Herge's artwork, where his "clear-line" style combines iconic characters with unusually realistic backgrounds, appeals to me. I also admire his remarkable restraint with Snowy, who "talks" less than any other "talking" dog in comic book history. These are truly timeless tales.
More Historical Notes: "Tintin in the Land of Black Gold" (the 9th Tintin Adventure) was the episode in progress in "Le Vingtieme Siecle" when German troops invaded Belgium on May 10, 1940. Herge suspended the story for eight years and actually began another adventure, "The Crab with the Golden Claws," in the interim, which was published in "Le Soir," one of the few newspapers authorized during the German occupation.
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Format: Hardcover
The appearance of Thompson and Thomson in a Tintin adventure is more often than not an annoyance, their bungling of investigations and malapropisms having a very limited scope for comedy - a little of them goes a long way. Strangely however, when they have a larger role to play in a Tintin adventure, as here in The Land of Black Gold and later in the Mission to the Moon books, they can be surprisingly entertaining.

It's the Thompsons who - quite literally - drive Land of Black Gold forward, discovering in a rather explosive manner that there is something untoward going on with the nation's oil supplies. It's evidently not instigated by the auto-repair company that they initially set their suspicions on, but rather stems from a dispute between two Arab sheiks in Khemikhal. They set off to investigate, boarding the ship where Tintin, suspecting those on board the ship to be involved in the affair, has also managed to find himself a job as a radio operator.

The Land of Black Gold has probably the most troubled history of any Tintin adventure, but little of that shows in the final version. Started in 1939, abandoned in 1940 at the start of the war and not restarted until 1948, Hergé had in the meantime created several other Tintin adventures and adopted the new full-colour 62-page format that is now the familiar layout. Captain Haddock had also first appeared in those interim stories and only appears at the rewritten start and end of this adventure to explain his absence. Even then, the 1949 collection was significantly revised in 1969 to update the changed political climate in the Arab states, removing offensive and controversial references to Palestine and the Jews.
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Format: Album Verified Purchase
I loved Tintin as a young girl, and have introduced these books to my 6 year old son - who loves them too. He reads them on his own, as well as being read to.
This seemed to me to be one of the better ones. Previous stories we have read can tend to go around in circles, as Tintin escapes from one capture to another without much else going on in the plot. This one had plot progression, and more variety in the 'sticky situations'.
Best of all, my son laughed and laughed at the daft antics of the The Thomson Twins, who feature a lot in this one (Captain Haddock only appears at the end), as well as the visual comedy of Snowy.
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Format: Album
This is the “canonical” version of the Tintin adventure “Land of Black Gold”, in which the brave young reporter and his somewhat goofier friends find themselves in the middle of a struggle for control over Mideast oil. The plot is set in the fictional Arab emirate of Khemed, where the emir is threatened by rebels on the payroll of a competing oil company. Sabotage of the world's oil supplies in the midst of rising tensions between the great powers give the story a realistic feel…or could have, if it hadn't been for all the confusing and slapstick-type elements.

In addition to all the usual annoying characters, Hergé introduces the spoiled and naughty little child Abdullah, the emir's son, whose physical countenance is based on a photo of a four-year old King Faisal II of Iraq! Abdullah pretty much destroys the whole story, unless the “humor” aspect is what you mostly cherish of “The Adventures of Tintin”. A funny detail lost in translation is that the names of the Arab characters are parodies of the Belgian working class dialect Marols. Had no idea, promise.

Apparently, “The Land of Black Gold” exists in several different versions, one of which is set in British Palestine and features the Irgun as the main protagonist! In 1971, Hergé decided (perhaps wisely?) to depoliticize the story, placing it in the non-existent Khemed Emirate instead.

Not a good story, despite the colorful transformation of the Thompson Twins into something closely resembling early 70's rock stars, and I will therefore only give it two stars.
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