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By A Customer
This review is from: The Broken Ear (Adventures of Tintin) (Hardcover)
In "The Broken Ear", a fetish (idol) is stolen and replaced in a museum arousing Tintin's curiousity when he notices the fetish that has been replaced is not the same as the one that was stolen (by the lack of a broken ear!). In the hunt for the original fetish Tintin travels, for the first time, to the republic of San Theodorus and it's neighbour Nuevo-Rico. In San Theodorus he experiences a volatile political system with constant rivalry between it's two leaders, General Alcazar and General Tapioca. By accident he becomes General Alcazar's trusted Colonel until the scheming of oil companies and arms dealers makes him fall from grace and puts him once again on the trail of the fetish with the broken ear.
Although first published in England in the 1975, "The Broken Ear" was created by Herge in 1935 between "The Blue Lotus" and "The Black Island" and represents a step towards increasing sophistication which was first prompted by Herge's real life friend Chang during the creation of "The Blue Lotus".
Most of the events in "The Broken Ear" have a basis in reality. The main source for inspiration appears to have been the Gran Chaco war (which Herge turns into the Gran Chapo war). In the real Gran Chaco war two oil companies set Bolivia against Paraguay in 1932. They were desperate for drilling rights on disputed territory and the war was a convenient means to an end. The companies inflamed what was an already existing dispute resulting in 100,000 dead over three years of fighting before an armistice was signed in 1935.
Herge's character, the arms dealer Basil Bazarov is most likely based on the real Basil Zaharoff who in the first world war made a fortune by selling arms to both sides. In "The Broken Ear" the character Bazarov sells equal quantities of a gun to both sides.
Although the sophistication in the story telling is on the increase I still count "The Broken Ear" as being within Herge's early period the end of which was marked by "The Black Island" which was the story after this one. Although the events are based on reality there is still a crudity in the story telling which was to disappear after this work. But the genius of Herge is already very self evident.
Tintin revisits San Theodorus again in Herge's last complete work "Tintin and the Picaro's". General Alcazar pops up again in a number of future stories though his character is more developed then in this story.