The Crab with the Golden Claws
|The Crab with the Golden Claws
(Le Crabe aux pinces d'or)
Cover of the English edition
|Series||The Adventures of Tintin|
|Published in||Le Soir Jeunesse|
|Date(s) of publication||17 October 1940 – 18 October 1941|
|Preceded by||King Ottokar's Sceptre (1939)|
|Followed by||The Shooting Star (1942)|
The Crab with the Golden Claws (French: Le Crabe aux pinces d'or) is the ninth volume of The Adventures of Tintin, the comics series by Belgian cartoonist Hergé. Tintin follows a gang of opium smugglers to Morocco.
Hergé's Franco-Belgian comic was first serialized in black and white in Le Soir Jeunesse, children's supplement to Belgium's leading newspaper Le Soir, from 17 October 1940 to 18 October 1941, then published into a volume later that year. Two years later, in 1943, it was redrawn into a new colour version. The book is notable for its introduction of main character Captain Haddock.
Tintin is informed by Thomson and Thompson of a case involving the ramblings of a drunken man, later killed, found with a scrap of paper from what appears to be a tin of crab-meat with the word Karaboudjan scrawled on it. His subsequent investigation and the kidnapping near his apartment of a Japanese man interested in giving a letter to him leads Tintin to a ship called Karaboudjan, where he is abducted by a syndicate of criminals who have been hiding opium in the crab tins. Tintin escapes from his locked room after Snowy chews through his bonds and Tintin knocks out a man sent to bring him food. He leaves him bound and gagged in the room. Tintin encounters Captain Haddock, an alcoholic sea captain, who is manipulated by his first mate, Allan, and is unaware of his crew's criminal activities. Tintin hides in the locker under the bed and defeats Jumbo, the sailor left in the cabin, as Tintin is thought by Allan to have climbed out of the porthole back into the store-room. He blows open the door, then finding it empty goes back to the Captain's room, where he finds Jumbo tied to a chair and gagged. Escaping the ship in a lifeboat in an attempt to reach Spain after sending a radio message to the Police about the cargo, they are attacked by a seaplane. They hijack the plane and tie up the pilots, but a storm and Haddock's drunken behaviour causes them to crash-land in the Sahara, where the crew escapes.
After trekking across the desert and nearly dying of dehydration, Tintin and Haddock are rescued and taken to a French outpost, where they hear on the radio the storm apparently sunk the Karaboudjan. They travel to a Moroccan port, and along the way are attacked by Tuareg tribesmen, defending themselves with French MAS-36 rifles. At the port, Captain is kidnapped by members of his old crew after he sees the disguised Karaboudjan. Tintin meets Thomson and Thompson who got his message and went to the port, they find the crab tins are being sold by the wealthy merchant Omar Ben Salaad, who Tintin tells Thomson and Thompson to discreetly investigate. Tintin tracks down the gang and saves the Captain, but they both become intoxicated by the fumes from wine barrels breached in a shootout with the villains. Haddock ends up chasing a gang-member from the cellar to an entrance behind a book-case in Salaad's house. Upon sobering up, Tintin discovers the necklace with the Crab with the Golden Claws on the now-subdued owner of the wine cellar, Omar Ben Salaad, and realizes that he is the leader of the drug cartel. After Tintin captures Allan, who has stolen a boat to try escaping, the gang is put behind bars. The Japanese is freed when the Police arrest the ship-members, and reveals he is a Policeman, and was trying to warn Tintin of the group he was up against. The sailor drowned at the beginning was about to bring him opium, but was eliminated by the gang.
The Crab with the Golden Claws was first published in serial comic strip form in 1941.
The story was written after Hergé had been forced to abandon his previous story, Land of Black Gold, also set in the desert, when Nazi Germany took over Belgium. After the invasion, publication of Le Petit Vingtième, the children's newspaper supplement that had published his previous Tintin adventures, was stopped and Hergé had to look for another means of publication. In addition, Land of Black Gold featured controversial political matter, depicting the conflicts between Jews, Arabs and the British troops in the British Mandate of Palestine. Hergé was asked by the newspaper Le Soir to create a weekly supplement, similar to that of Le Petit Vingtième, called Le Soir Jeunesse, and he began work on a new story about the less controversial subject of drug smuggling.
The Crab With the Golden Claws appeared for the first time on 17 October 1940, and every week Hergé published two full pages. But the supplement disappeared again after 3 September 1941, due to paper shortage during World War II, when only 98 pages had appeared. The interruption continued until 23 September 1941, when Hergé and Tintin got a daily strip in Le Soir. It continued for 24 days until the story was finished on 18 October. This meant a major change in the method of working of Hergé, with a daily instead of a weekly publication, and a consequent rethinking of the layout of the comic and the rhythm of the storytelling. This version was republished as an album in 1941.
The strip was completely reedited and colourized for publication as an album in 1943. The appearance of four whole-page panels at arbitrary places throughout the album is the result of the original black & white album not having enough material to fit the required 62 page format of the colour albums.
In the 1960s, the book was published in America with a number of changes. In the original, the sailor Tintin leaves bound and gagged in Captain Haddock's cabin, and the man who beats Haddock in the cellar, are black Africans. These were changed in the 1960s to a white sailor and an Arab due to objections by American publishers of having blacks and whites mixing together. However, Haddock still refers to the man who beat him as a "Negro" in the English version. Also at the request of the Americans, scenes of Haddock drinking directly from the bottles of whiskey on the lifeboat and the plane were taken out.
In an interview, Hergé sarcastically stated that these moves were "justified" because "Everyone knows that Americans never drink whiskey(!)" and "that there are no blacks in America(!)".
Stop motion animated film, 1947
The Crab with the Golden Claws was adapted into a stop motion-animated feature film of the same name in 1947, produced by Wilfried Bouchery for Films Claude Misonne. It was the first ever film adaptation of Tintin and reproduces the story of the original comic almost exactly. It was first shown at the ABC Cinema on 11 January 1947 for a group of invited guests. It was screened publicly only once, on 21 December of that year, before Bouchery declared bankruptcy and fled to Argentina. All of the equipment was seized and a copy of the film is currently stored at Belgium's Cinémathèque Royale..
Motion capture film, 2011
A motion capture film titled The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by Peter Jackson was released in the US on 21 December 2011. The film was released in Europe at the end of October 2011. Parts of the story are taken from The Crab with the Golden Claws including the meeting and first adventures of Tintin and Captain Haddock, the Karaboudjan, the flight to Bagghar and the crab cans. The main plot including drug-smuggling is gone.
A video-game tie-in to the movie has been announced at E3, 6 June with an unknown game release date.
Belvision animation, 1957
In 1957, the animation company Belvision produced a string of colour adaptations based upon Hergé's original comics, adapting eight of the Adventures into a series of daily five-minute episodes. The Crab with the Golden Claws was the fifth such story to be adapted, being directed by Ray Goossens and written by Michel Greg, himself a well known comic book writer and illustrator who in later years would become editor-in-chief of the Journal De Tintin.
Ellipse/Nelvana animation, 1991
In 1991, a second animated series based upon The Adventures of Tintin was produced, this time as a collaboration between the French studio Ellipse and the Canadian animation company Nelvana. Adapting 21 of the stories into a series of episodes, each 42 minutes long, The Crab with the Golden Claws was the seventh story to be produced into the series, with the story spanning two episodes. Directed by Stéphane Bernasconi, the series has been praised for being "generally faithful", with compositions having been actually directly taken from the panels in the original comic book.
- Tintin: The Complete Companion by Michael Farr, John Murray publishers, 2001
- Tintin Crosses The Atlantic: The Golden Press Affair by Chris Owens at www.tintinologist.org
- Translation of an interview with Hergé previously available on youtube.com
- Lofficier and Lofficier 2002. pp. 87–88.
- Lofficier and Lofficier 2002. p. 90.