Land of Black Gold

Backstory Key Characters

First edition album (Belgium) published in 1950.

The story of Land of Black Gold begins with an ominous atmosphere: war is looming in Europe and, in fact, the entire world. The conflict is fueled by concerns over oil supplies. Various companies are in conflict over the right to supply oil, and the tension is rising between the Arab states that hold reserves of this precious liquid.

Saboteurs have added a mystery chemical to petrol supplies, rendering cars, airplanes and military vehicles (and thus the military) useless. Tintin sets off for the Middle East. There, he hopes to unmask those responsible for the plot. The leader turns out to be none other than Doctor Müller (see The Black Island).

It is in Land of Black Gold that readers first make the acquaintance of Emir Ben Kalish Ezab and his infernal son, Abdullah. A real little pest, Abdullah returns to Tintin’s universe in The Red Sea Sharks. As if Tintin doesn’t have enough to deal with, Thomson and Thompson fall victim to a strange illness…

Land of Black Gold

Backstory

Though its early pages were published in Le Petit Vingtième, this episode was suspended at the start of World War II. When it finally appeared in 1948, it was in the colorized pages of the new Tintin magazine.

Hergé drew on articles and books by the journalist Antoine Zischka for background on the Middle East oil crisis. His character of Emir Ben Kalish Ezab was based on Zischka’s description of the Saudi Arabian monarch Ibn Saud, who had given the American company Standard Oil authorization to exploit the country’s resources.

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Land of Black Gold


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