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Tintin (television)

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Khemed

I was watching an episode of Tin Tin online (Tin Tin and the Land of the Black Gold ), and this episode featured him in a fictional Arabic country, Khemed, the flag visible in the cartoon is different from the one on the site, I believe from the actual comic book.

The flag was seen flying over two different buildings, and hanging in the "Amir"'s palace.
Mohamed Hossam el Din, 20 July 2009


I assume you are referring to the 1992 Ellipse-Nelvana animation. It portrays a flag (crossed swords on a white field) that does not exist at all in the books. The foundation that oversees derivative works since Hergé's death in 1983 is very strict about not allowing any "new" work, i.e. everything (films, toys, apparel, etc.) has to be an exact and faithful representation of work by Hergé himself. I am not sure how Ellipse-Nelvana got away with such a loose adaptation.

In the chronological Tintin canon, the fictional country of Khemed first appears in "Land of Black Gold" ("Tintin au Pays de l'Or Noir," 1939) and again in "The Red Sea Sharks" ("Coke en Stock," 1956). But the chronology is deceptive. The "Black Gold" serial was repeatedly interrupted by the Second World War and not completed until 1948-50, by which time other Tintin books had been started and completed. Throughout these interrupted versions, Khemed never figures in the story. Tintin arrives by ship in Haifa during the British Mandate period in Palestine, and the region is troubled by both Jewish and Arab terrorists. Later in the story Tintin seems to drift into a fictional but unnamed Arab emirate (a composite of Jordan and a Persian Gulf emirate), which is also mentioned as being under British rule. A rebel sheikh (Bab el Ehr) is bombed by a Spitfire bearing British insignia, and the local ruler is Emir Mohammed Ben Kalish Ezab, who seems to have an oil contract with the British. No flags are ever depicted, except for a Royal Navy motorboat in the port of Haifa, which flies a plain red flag on the prow and something resembling the Red Ensign on the main mast. In "Red Sea Sharks" there is no mention of the British, and the fictional emirate is now named "Khemed." There are still no flags depicted, but the Khemed armed forces use British planes and armoured cars with insignia (white crescent and star on a red-green-red triband) from which are derived the FOTW "flag."

Now, before anybody jumps on me and says I have this all wrong, here comes the confusing part. The English translators Leslie Lonsdale Cooper and Michael Turner worked very closely with Hergé to resolve sections that would be unpalatable or incomprehensible to young anglophone audiences at the time of translation (decades after the original French). When Hergé agreed to change something, this then became part of the new French canon as well. Thus, the "Black Gold" edition that appeared in 1971 (and all language editions thereafter) contained a completely rewritten and re-illustrated mid-section that eliminated all reference to British Mandate Palestine and turned it into part of the previously unnamed emirate which had already morphed into Khemed in 1956. The only flag depicted is still the navy cutter in the port, only now it is a black anchor on white disc on a red field. The plane that bombs Bab El Ehr now sports roundels that look more like roundels than flags, a change from the 1956 version but still recognizable as the earlier Khemed.

If you look at only the chronological Tintin canon, the Khemed air force roundel seems to have evolved from a good design into a poor one. But the literary evolution of Tintin is just the opposite.

As for the crossed swords Khemed flag that appears in the Ellipse-Nelvana, we should be quite clear that Hergé had nothing to do with this, and the foundation that continues his work might not approve. Since Hergé's later work is very careful with symbols, his red-white- green insignia and the white Ellipse-Nelvana flag can be construed to portray very different Khemeds, and the latter certainly never came from Hergé's imagination. Perhaps it was inadvertent, or perhaps Ellipse-Nelvana found the red-white-green "too Islamic" (politically) for their purposes. So, from 1939 to 1992 we see in Khemed fictional iconography an interesting reflection of the times we live in.
T.F. Mills, 21 July 2009


Here are the images from the episode of Tin Tin I mentioned in a previous post.

The first one is the flag flying over the "Amir"'s palace. The second and third are a large, detailed flag hanging inside the palace. The fourth is it flying over another building.
Mohamed Hossam el Din, 22 July 2009