Cigars of the Pharaoh is one of Tintin’s earliest adventures. He and Snowy are on a cruise to Egypt when they happen to meet Professor Sophocles Sarcophagus (the first of Tintin’s absent-minded professors) and join his expedition. But they become embroiled in a complicated scheme involving a fakir, cigars marked with an unusual brand, and Rajijah, the poison of madness. Most significantly, Tintin meets the detectives Thompson and Thomson as well as the movie mogul Rastapopolous. While Cigars of the Pharaoh is a self-contained story, some of the mysteries are resolved in The Blue Lotus. Herge wrote Cigars in 1932 then revised it in 1955, which is why the art has the more polished look of later stories as well as the anachronistic glimpse of a copy ofDestination: Moon.
The Cigars of the Pharaoh:
Tintin theme in Symphonic Orchestra:
Plot: Tintin and his dog Snowy are on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean Sea when they meet Dr Sarcophagus, an Egyptologist who owns a papyrus that he believes will lead him to the undiscovered tomb of the Pharaoh Kih-Oskh (a pun on kiosk, a stand for the sale of petty merchandises such as newspapers, magazines, cigarettes, beverages and/or street foods). He invites Tintin to accompany him. Tintin also has an unpleasant encounter with Roberto Rastapopoulos, a wealthy businessman.
Later on the cruise, Tintin first meets Thomson and Thompson, who accuse him of smuggling opium and cocaine they have found in his cabin. Locked in the hold of the ship, Tintin craftily escapes and meets Sarcophagus in Port Said, Egypt.
Tintin and Sarcophagus set off and discover the tomb of Kih-Oskh. On a nearby sand dune, Tintin finds a cigar bearing the symbol of Kih-Oskh: a circle with a wavy line through it and two dots on it, rather like a yin-yang symbol. But when he returns to the tomb, Sarcophagus has disappeared.
Entering the tomb, Tintin and Snowy are startled several times by doors closing behind them. They come to a room where rows of Egyptologists are mummified. At the end of the row are empty sarcophagi with notices to indicate that they are intended for Tintin, Snowy (and Sarcophagus too in the later edition). Following items of Sarcophagus’ clothing which have been left lying about, Tintin enters another room where opium vapor puts him to sleep.
That night drug smugglers embark some sarcophagi aboard a ship but they are later cast overboard. The sarcophagi contain Tintin and Snowy who therefore escape mummification. They are rescued from a gigantic wave by the crew of a sailing ship. On it they meet Senhor Oliviera de Figueira, a Portuguese salesman who travels the Middle East selling to local Arabs. He persuades Tintin to buy a top hat, ski equipment, a bow tie, an alarm clock, suspenders, a parrot, a water tin, a wooden golf club, a doghouse on wheels, and a lead for Snowy, and the overloaded Tintin walks away saying “Just as well I didn’t fall for his patter; you can end up with all sorts of useless stuff if you’re not careful”.
Tintin then sets out across the desert and is captured by the men of Sheik Patrash Pasha. He hates Westerners but is then delighted to discover that his captive is Tintin, whose exploits he has read of for years, and even shows one of the Tintin books that he has read (the exact book is different depending on the version, but it is always the most recent to have been published; in the first black and white strip, it is Tintin in the Congo; in the second it is Tintin in America; and in the colour version, it is Destination Moon).
Resuming his journey Tintin sees a woman being beaten by two men and rushes to her aid. The woman turns out to be an actress filming a movie that Rastapopoulos is making. The director is furious but Rastapopoulos is much calmer. He and Tintin apologize to each other over the incidents on the cruise ship and the filming and become friends.