Just the right present for a freezing Christmas!

Dossier ~ Tuesday 28th December 2010 ~ 1 commentaire
Cover of Tintin magazine 1958 issue 51

This Tintin report will warm the cockles of your heart. Get ready to explore the unpublished pages of Tintin and the Thermozéro, the Tintin adventure that never quite made it off the drawing table. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the team at tintin.com!

An unpublished album

The year is 1960; Hergé has just completed Tintin in Tibet. The author is looking for a new adventure on which to launch his little reporter. There are plenty of other projects on the go: a new play (there had already been two plays put on in the theatre by this time, in 1940 and 1941) with actor Olivier Hussenot, and more cartoons to follow the first television series introduced by Larry Harmon. Hergé has even just sent the entire collection of Tintin books to Jackie Kennedy, whose husband, John, has been fulfilling his responsibilities as President of the United States since 1 January. Yet despite everything else that is happening, Hergé is suffering from writer's block. With Tintin in Tibet, Hergé had shown that it was possible to write a gripping story without using traditional themes and Rastapopoulos-type characters; even the Thom(p)sons were nowhere to be seen! Unable to come up with anything definitive for the next adventure, Hergé turned to his colleague Michel Greg for ideas.

Who was Michel Greg?

Greg (real name Michel Régnier) was one of the most prolific writers during the golden age of Franco-Belgian comic strips. Greg was born in Ixelles (a district in Brussels), on 5 May 1931, and died on 25 October 1999. He was only 16 years old when his first series of drawings appeared in a daily newspaper published in Liége, the town in which he lived at the time. Meeting famous comic strip author Franquin, in 1949, would make a huge impression on the young Greg. Under a variety of pennames (including Michel Denys, Miky and Louis-Albert), Greg made a name for himself in publications such as Héroïc-Albums, Spirou and Tintin. The young writer assisted Franquin with the series Modeste et Pompon, and then later with the adventures of Spirou et Fantasio (working on stories such as Le Prisonnier du Bouddha and Z comme Zorglub). Greg's most famous creation remains Achille Talon, created in 1964. The self-satisfied monologues issuing from the mouth of this character brought laughter and happiness to readers of Pilote magazine. From 1965 to 1973 Greg was chief editor of Tintin magazine, and worked closely with Hergé over a period of years. Greg also supervised the creation of the Belvision Tintin cartoons. Belvision was the animated cartoon department of Editions du Lombard, the publisher of Tintin magazine.

Sketched plates for Tintin and the Thermozéro
Sketched plates for Tintin and the Thermozéro
Sketched plates for Tintin and the Thermozéro
Tintin magazine 1960 issue 50
1959 greetings card
1961 puzzle-card in 6 pieces

What is a Thermozéro?

It all began in an issue of Marie-France magazine published in 1957. Journalist Philippe Labro wrote about the mysterious case of an American family that had suffered radiation poisoning after ingesting some strange tablets. What had actually happened was that these hapless US citizens had unwittingly become guinea pigs of the US army. When the scandal hit the papers everything possible was done to sweep it under the carpet. The experiments continued, but the new guinea pegs were now criminals in jail. Some of the victims of these illegal and dangerous treatments ended up dead! Hergé was struck by this story. In his notes the author made the following points: 'A bottle (or other object) containing a lethal substance (radioactive tablets' See Marie-France) has accidentally been picked up by someone. Tintin follows the person in question and catches up with them at the moment when the substance begins to take effect.' Yet Hergé was snowed under with work and didn't have the time to take the idea any further. He entrusted the new adventure to Greg. A chemical compound named Zero Heater replaced the radioactive pills; Hergé preferred to give a French ring to the English-sounding substance, renaming it Thermozéro.

Why was there no Tintin and the Thermozéro?

Greg drafted a 15-page résumé: it was pure adventure! The little reporter was set to travel through Italy, Switzerland and Germany, with the whole affair being wrapped up in Berlin. It should be remembered that in 1960, Germany was still divided into two countries: West Germany (the Federal Republic of Germany  -  FRG) and East Germany (the German Democratic Republic  -  GDR). Berlin was situated in the middle of the GDR, but was administered by four countries: the United States, the Soviet Union, France and Great Britain. The future capital of Germany was full of spies and adventurers of one kind or another! As exciting as Greg's storyline appeared, Hergé was not happy with it. He felt cornered by the options available within the proposed adventure, and felt like his imagination was too limited by the narrative. Perhaps it was at this moment that Hergé realised the essence of the phrase he would later use to describe his work: 'Tintin, that's me'. Maybe the whole experience served to convince him that nobody else would be able to continue his work. Although 8 pages were sketched out, it was at this time that Hergé began taking notes for the storyline that would become The Castafiore Emerald.

8 historic pages!

This Christmas we are happy to give you the 8 sketched pages that would have become the adventure Tintin and the Thermozéro. As a bonus, you can also feast your eyes upon a few Tintin magazine covers that were created specially for Christmas. But it doesn't end there! You can also discover a few greetings cards and a great puzzle. Happy Christmas!

Vos contributions (1) Contribuer
frodobagginsMonday 8th August 2011 à 04:15
someone should use the drafts and add more to make a complete Tintin and Thermozero. Same with Tintin and Alpha-art
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