The Crab with the Golden Claws

Backstory Key Characters

First edition album (Belgium) published in 1941.

Tintin and Snowy have stumbled upon a police investigation underway in Brussels, revolving around the mystery of a drowned man. Tintin sets off on a new adventure in which he travels to the exotic country of Morocco, hot on the trail of a gang of opium smugglers. This adventure is the backdrop for the first meeting between Tintin and Captain Haddock, an irascible sailor who remains by Tintin’s side for the rest of the reporter’s adventures.

When we first meet Haddock, the captain is in a bad way: he’s an alcoholic and a virtual prisoner of the ship’s mate, Allan. But Tintin takes the captain under his wing and the long process of rehabilitation begins.

The Crab With the Golden ClawsReaders of this adventure and all subsequent adventures featuring Captain Haddock are treated to an unusual education. The captain has an extraordinary vocabulary of academic insults, including “troglodytes,” “iconoclasts” and “ectoplasms.” Despite his volatile nature, Captain Haddock quickly proves to be a faithful friend to Tintin.

Thomson and Thompson make an appearance in this story, but — needless to say — they fail to solve any crime by themselves, and prove to be easily duped. It’s up to Tintin and Haddock to stop the opium smugglers!


On May 10, 1940, the German invasion of Belgium put an end to Le Petit Vingtième, and the publication of Tintin was put on hold. In order to continue publishing his tales and avoid censorship, Hergé set them in exotic lands, far from the tragedies of war. Stories about expeditions to the Sahara were popular during the 1930s, so Hergé sent Tintin to Morocco and surrounded him with camels, elephants, a cranky Captain Haddock and, of course, menacing criminals.

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The Crab With the Golden Claws

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