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Captain Haddock was introduced in The Crab with the Golden Claws. Until Haddock's introduction, supporting characters would only recur irregularly, and mainly in the background, used more to build continuity than serve as protagonists. Hergé, however, realised Haddock's potential as a foil to Tintin, and established the character as a permanent addition to the cast.
Haddock was first introduced as the rum-loving captain of the Karaboudjan, a merchant vessel used — without Haddock's knowledge — by his first mate Allan Thompson for smuggling drugs inside crab tins. Because of his alcoholism and temperamental nature, he is characterized as weak and unstable, at times posing as great a hazard to Tintin as the villains of the piece. He is also short-tempered, given to emotional and expletive-ridden outbursts, and capable of infuriating behaviour; at one point in the album he even attacks Tintin when, traversing the Moroccan desert, Haddock has the sun-induced delusion that Tintin is a bottle of champagne and tries desperately to pull his head off. However, Haddock is a sincere figure in need of reform, and by the end of the adventure Tintin has gained a loyal companion, albeit one still given to uttering the occasional "expletive".
Hergé also allowed himself more artistic expression through Haddock's features than with Tintin's. Michael Farr, author of Tintin: The Complete Companion, notes: "Whereas Hergé kept Tintin's facial expressions to a bare minimum ... Haddock's could be contorted with emotion." Farr goes on to write that "In Haddock, Hergé had come up with his most inspired character since creating Tintin" and sales of the volume in which Haddock was introduced indicated the character was well received. After a fairly serious role in The Shooting Star, where he is shown to have become the President of the Society of Sober Sailors, replete with a cabin full of rum, Haddock takes a more central role in the next adventure, split over two books, The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham's Treasure — indeed, his family history drives the plot. Upon locating the treasure, the newly wealthy Haddock retires.
Hergé built the adventure around Haddock, furnishing the character with an ancestral home, Marlinspike Hall, or "Moulinsart" in the original French. Harry Thompson, author of Tintin: Hergé and his creation, writes that the introduction of this large and luxurious country house was "to provide a suitable ancestral home for Tintin and himself to move into." To achieve this in terms of the plot, Hergé also details Haddock's ancestry, something Thompson regards as distinctive: "Haddock is the only regular character whose relatives turn up in the Tintin stories at all (if one discountsJolyon Wagg and his dreadful family)."
By the time of their last completed and published adventure, Tintin and the Picaros, Haddock had become such an important figure that he dominates much of the first half of the story. He is especially notable in The Red Sea Sharks, where his skillful captaining of the ship he and Tintin seize from Rastapopoulos allows them to survive until they are rescued.
In the 2011 film The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, Haddock is initially portrayed as a drunk, who is always in search of alcohol. Tintin endeavours to cure the captain of his alcoholism, but eventually discovers that it is an essential component of his character.
There was a real 20th-century ship's master bearing this unlikely but appropriate surname: Captain Herbert Haddock had been the skipper of the famous White Star Line's passenger vessel Olympic. He had also been temporarily at the helm of Olympic's even more famous sister ship,Titanic, before Titanic was officially handed over to White Star for her doomed 1912 maiden voyage with passengers.
The fictional Haddock remained without a first name until the last completed story, Tintin and the Picaros (1976), when the name Archibald was suggested. As Haddock's role grew, Hergé expanded his character, basing him upon aspects of friends, with his characteristic temper somewhat inspired by Tintin colourist E.P. Jacobs and his bluffness drawn from Bob de Moor. Bianca Castafiore often changed his name around but at the same time keeping the same sounds in it. She did this in the book The Castafiore Emerald. Harry Thompson has commented on how Hergé utilised the character to inject humour into the plot, notably "where Haddock plays the fool to smooth over a lengthy explanation."
At the time of Captain Haddock's introduction to the series in 1940, the character's manners presented a problem to Hergé. As a sailor, Haddock would need to have a very colourful vocabulary, but Hergé could not use any swear words as the series was aimed at children. The solution reportedly came when Hergé recalled how around 1933, shortly after the Four-Power Pact had come into being, he had overheard a market trader use the word "four-power pact" as an insult. Struck by this use of an "irrelevant insult", Hergé hit upon the solution of the Captain using strange or esoteric words that were not actually offensive, but which he would project with great anger, as if they were very strong curse words. These words ranged across a variety of subject areas, often relating to specific terms within scientific fields of study. This behaviour would in later years become one of Haddock's defining characteristics.
The idea took form quickly; the first appearance of the Haddockian argot occurred in The Crab with the Golden Claws when the Captain storms towards a party of Berber raiders yelling expressions like "jellyfish", "troglodyte" and "ectoplasm". This use of colourful insults proved successful and was a mainstay in future books. Consequently, Hergé actively started collecting difficult or dirty-sounding words for use in Haddock's outbursts, and on occasion even searched dictionaries to come up with inspiration.
On one occasion, this scheme appeared to backfire. In one particularly angry state, Hergé had the captain yell the "curse word" pneumothorax (a medical emergency caused by the collapse of the lung within the chest). One week after the scene appeared in Tintin Magazine, Hergé received a letter allegedly from a father whose boy was a great fan of Tintin and also a heavy tuberculosis sufferer who had experienced a collapsed lung. According to the letter, the boy was devastated that his favourite comic made fun of his own condition. Hergé wrote an apology and removed the word from the comic. Afterwards, the letter was discovered to be fake, written and planted by Hergé's friend and collaborator Jacques Van Melkebeke.
In addition to his many insults, the most famous of Haddock's expressions relate to any of a number of permutations of two phrases: "Billions of bilious blue blistering barnacles!" ("Mille millions de mille milliards de mille sabords!") and "Ten thousand thundering typhoons!" ("Tonnerre deBrest!"). Haddock uses these two expressions to such an extent that Abdullah actually addresses him as "Blistering Barnacles" ("Mille sabords" in the original version). It is to be noted that the word barnacle, although related to the maritime vocabulary, doesn't have anything to do with the original word "sabord", meaning gun port —a term which, admittedly, is more appropriate to the living aboard an 18th century sailing ship.
Émile Brami, biographer of Louis-Ferdinand Céline, claimed in a 2004 interview with the French book magazine Lire that Hergé took his inspiration from Céline's antisemitic pamphlet Bagatelles pour un massacre (1937) to create some of Haddock's expressions, as some of them ("aztec," "coconut," "iconoclast," "platypus") appeared explicitly in Céline's book.
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