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Tintin in the Land of the Soviets
Tintin in the Congo
Tintin in America
Cigars of the Pharaoh
The Blue Lotus
The Broken Ear
The Black Island
King Ottokar's Sceptre
The Crab with the Golden Claws
The Shooting Star
The Secret of the Unicorn
Red Rackham's Treasure
The Seven Crystal Balls
Prisoners of the Sun
Land of Black Gold
Destination Moon
Explorers on the Moon
The Calculus Affair
The Red Sea Sharks
Tintin in Tibet
The Castafiore Emerald
Flight 714 to Sydney
Tintin and the Picaros
Tintin and Alph-Art

Explorers on the Moon

Explorers on the Moon completes the prophetic scientific Tintin adventure that begins with Destination Moon. Hergé was breaking new ground by sending his star characters into space. Although travelling into space has become normal, even routine, today, at the beginning of the 1950s such an idea was still science-fiction. It is important to remember that the story was published in 1954, while Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the Moon in 1969.

Explorers on the Moon - Cover
Explorers on the Moon
Explorers on the Moon - Title page
Explorers on the Moon - Page 1
Explorers on the Moon - Page 2
Explorers on the Moon - Page 3
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In the second part of Tintin’s Moon adventure, the technical details that permeate the first part make way for a kind of space thriller. The lunar escapade is full of intrigue and surprises. Not far into the story the shocked crew of the mission discover that Thomson and Thompson have managed to hitch a ride to the Moon by accident; by the end engineer Frank Wolff is involved in a terrible twist in the tale. And there are plenty of unexpected events in between!
Throughout Explorers on the Moon Hergé dabbles in real science, giving us a taste of weightlessness in space and even going so far as to suggest that water exists under the Moon’s surface. The reader follows the characters as they control the atomic motor and thrusters to navigate the rocket through space. This last two-part adventure (after the previous two-part stories Cigars of the Pharaoh and The Blue Lotus, The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham’s Treasure, and The Seven Crystal Balls and Prisoners of the Sun, shows both what a good writer and a good artist Hergé was.

The Studios Hergé: strength in union

The creation of the Studios Hergé on 6 April 1950, allowed Hergé to delegate different kinds of work to assistants. The artist who would quickly become his right-hand man, Bob De Moor, joined the team on 6 March 1951.
Studios Hergé logo
© Hergé - Moulinsart 2021
De Moor worked on the Moon adventures, notably drawing elements of the Moon rocket, the launch pad and the Sprodj Atomic Research Centre, as well as space and Moon scenery. His contribution to the world of Tintin cannot be underestimated. You can read a bit more about De Moor in the Destination Moon article on this website.

Journey through space

Although much of the story takes place within the confines of the Moon rocket, Hergé has the talent to make the adventure as gripping as ever. He succeeds in evoking the heightened feelings of all those taking part in mankind's first mission to the Moon: the nervousness of the astronauts before launch, the conditions under which they land, the radio transmissions between the astronauts and their team on the ground, the intense emotions at the moment of stepping onto the surface of the Moon and the joy felt at that moment by those back on Earth.

Model of the rocket

© Hergé - Moulinsart 2021

Model of the lunar tank

Haddock the satellite

In Greek mythology Adonis is a mortal in love with the Greek goddess Aphrodite. Adonis is also the name of the asteroid that Captain Haddock meets on his foolhardy jaunt in space.
Explorers on the Moon - The poor Captain is in orbit
© Hergé - Moulinsart 2021
Adonis, drawn by Bob De Moor, exerts a certain gravitational force on the drunken sailor and Haddock begins to circle the space rock, effectively becoming its satellite. This was a remarkable concept to draw into a comic book, considering that the first artifical Earth-orbiting satellite was not launched until several years after the story was published.

A small step for Tintin

It is the big moment for Tintin and the team: the Moon landing has been successful; the moment has come for Tintin to be the first human being to see the incredible scenery on the Moon, from its surface. The brave reporter descends solemnly down the ladder on the outside of the rocket. He puts his foot on the Moon, and takes a few steps.
Explorers on the Moon - Tintin is walking on the Moon
© Hergé - Moulinsart 2021
Tintin speaks: “For the first time certainly in the history of mankind, there is an explorer on the Moon!” Who would have guessed, reading the story in 1954, the words of Neil Armstrong 15 years later: “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.”?

Landing in the Hipparchus Crater

Professor Calculus sets the automatic pilot to land the rocket in the Hipparchus Crater. Hergé studied a lunar map and chose this spot, near the central meridian on the visible side of the Moon, as the perfect spot for the landing. The crater is named after the Greek mathematician and astronomer Hipparchus. Armstrong and his team would set down in the Sea of Tranquillity, located north of the Hipparchus Crater, in 1969.
Explorers on the Moon - Hipparchus Crater
© Hergé - Moulinsart 2021

Ice on the Moon

Tintin's discovery of ice in an underground cave was later confirmed as a real possibility. The space probe Clementine (launched in 1994) mapped the surface of the Moon with sensitive radar equipment. After two years of data analysis NASA announced the possible discovery of ice on the Moon. The radar had detected a mass that looked like a frozen lake of about 5 km in diameter.

Balls of whisky

One of Hergé’s strokes of genius was to draw Captain Haddock’s whisky form spherical shapes under the effect of weightlessness. This happens because molecules of a liquid attract one another and create a certain force on the surface (surface tension).
Explorers on the Moon - Haddock’s ball of whisky
© Hergé - Moulinsart 2021
This force works to minimize the total energy in any particular body of liquid and diminish the total surface to as small an area as possible. The smallest possible surface for any volume of material is a sphere.

Footsteps

Hergé loved to add comic elements to his stories! Thomson and Thompson come across their own footsteps in a similar gag to the tyre-track gag in Land of Black Gold; thanks to their absurd reasoning they believe that they have discovered evidence of other human beings on the Moon: “They (the tracks) cannot be made by ONE of us: there are TWO sets of footprints!” “there are TWO sets of footprints, and we are alone!” In their mind, Thomson and Thompson are one and the same person.
Explorers on the Moon - Thomson and Thompson
© Hergé - Moulinsart 2021

Helmets

Tintin and his friends wear spacesuits with transparent helmets. This was not a mistake made by Hergé; the author chose this option so that we can see the characters’ faces and expressions. In real life the visors on space helmets are coated with special filters to protect astronauts from the intense rays of the Sun.
Explorers on the Moon - tintin and Haddock in space
© Hergé - Moulinsart 2021

Wolff’s ultimate sacrifice

From the very beginning of the story the team has been aware of a problem with oxygen supplies: with the discovery of the Thom(p)sons on board the rocket, it has become apparent that there is not enough oxygen for everyone. Deep in regret over his treacherous actions later on, Frank Wolff is ready to make the ultimate sacrifice in an attempt to save his friends and assuage his guilt. When the story was first published Hergé was persuaded by the Church, against his wishes, to modify this part of the narrative to allow for the possibility of a miracle. Wolff's letter refers to the possibility that he might escape death, which dampens the suicidal tone.
Explorers on the Moon - Wolff
© Hergé - Moulinsart 2021
4 reviews
or to write a review.
doctor14
2021/07/15 09:46 AM
This book is just an absolute wonder! Tintin on the moon before the first moon landing even happened, that takes some serious skills to be able to imagine something as detailed and as complex as that! Top marks Hergé!
t0315523j
2021/06/13 15:10 PM
Explorers On The Moon
hashtin
2021/04/28 13:13 PM
Hype Zone was here, Love from Sri Lanka
josephuzelac
2020/02/06 00:38 AM
Explorers on the Moon is a jewel of Tintin. It demonstrates the serious themes that can be discussed while keeping the lighthearted comedy.
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