Traces of "The Adventures of Tintin: Red Rackham's Treasure" in Alien?


The cover of "The Adventures of Tintin: Red Rackham's Treasure"

a) Plot elements from Dan O'Bannon's Alien mirroring Tintin
After making the connection between Prometheus and elements of Tintin stories, on the 27th April  2017, I looked to the point in the "The Adventures of Tintin: Red Rackham's Treasure" story first published in 1944, where near the end the globe with the lid that popped off with the aid of a spring, revealing the treasure within and I thought about the facehugger popping out of the egg in Alien.

Looking again at this, I thought about how the shipwreck, the fragments of documents leading the adventurers elsewhere followed by discovery of the globe in the cellar of Captain Haddock's family estate mirrored O'Bannon's early script where the derelict ship is found, with a triangle scratched into the dashboard leading to the discovery of a pyramid left behind by an ancient civilisation with the urn like spores in a birth temple down below.

Also, earlier in the Tintin story, there's the discovery on an island and an idol representing Captain Haddock's ancestor Sir Francis Haddock, which they take back to the ship the Sirius, and this mirrored the discovery of the alien pilot's skeleton and the fact that they bring it back to the spaceship known as The Snark. In Alien, the idea was to bring it back as evidence of extra-terrestrial life, and in Tintin, the idea was to bring it back to display.

At the end of Alien, the alien monster turns up in the "lifeboat" named the Snark 2, and in the Tintin story, Professor Calculus turns up sleeping in a lifeboat as a stowaway.

But if Shusett and O'Bannon appeared to borrow ideas from the comic book, one can say it was done very liberally as if they half thought about elements of the story and rearranged them once they worked out that something comes out of an egg.

One can look at Clifford Simak's Junkyard first published later in 1953 which is something that O'Bannon admitted to thinking about has the idea of a mysterious derelict spaceship which leads to the discovery of a tower with a mysterious melon shaped or eggshaped organism down in the bottom but the organism doesn't seem to open up like an egg and what it contains appears to be memories and there is no clue inside telling people to be aware of something else, although there are worrying signs of the crew of another ship from another civilisation some time before leaving with haste

b) The old shipwreck beneath the ocean becomes the derelict ship
In the Tintin story,  the explorers soon discover the shipwreck of the Unicorn at the bottom of the ocean.

Tintin walks along the ocean floor in his deep sea diving suit.

Dan O'Bannon describes the explorers in his Alien script as looking "like deep-sea divers at the bottom of a murky ocean".

The Unicorn shipwreck from "The Adventures of Tintin: Red Rackham's Treasure"
One of the Concepts for the derelict by Chris Foss, no.3

c)  Discovery of the alien space pilot skeleton and the retrieval of its skull
They discover an island where there sits an idol of Captain Haddock's ancestor, Sir Francis Haddock, and they take it back to the ship.

It would be as if Dan O'Bannon and Ron Shusett decided that this worked with the idea of a pilot of the derelict ship, connecting with the glimpse of the giant pilot skeleton from Planet of the Vampires, and perhaps even the dead body of the captain of the Demeter in Bram Stoker's Dracula

Discovery of the idol of Sir Francis Haddock from "The Adventures of Tintin: Red Rackham's Treasure"

Dan O'Bannon's preferred visualisation for non humanoid skeleton in a derelict ship by Ron Cobb

Retrieving the idol of Sir Francis Haddock from "The Adventures of Tintin: Red Rackham's Treasure"

Chris Foss's rendition of the alien pilot's
rotten head that's retrieved by the Snark crew
(Image courtesy of Charles Lippincott )

d) The document leading to another place becomes a pyramid scratched in a dashboard
The alien pilot had scratched a triangle into the surface of his dashboard before had died.

As well as a cross, Tintin discovers a box, and inside the they find fragmented documents that once assembled lead them to Captain Haddock's ancestral home, Marlinspike Hall.

drawing of a triangle from the early Alien script.

Document leading to Marlinspike from "The Adventures of Tintin: Red Rackham's Treasure"

e) The family estate becomes a pyramid
Meanwhile, Marlinspike being the family estate of Captain Haddock that's about to be sold, becomes the pyramid.

And this would be merged with the idea of the primitive towers from Junkyard.

Drawing of the pyramid on the planetoid from the early Alien script.

Captain Haddock and Tintin walk up the driveway of Marlinspike from "The Adventures of Tintin: Red Rackham's Treasure"

f) Into the cellar
Perhaps the cellar of the mansion accessed by a spiral staircase and a hole in the wall, merged with the idea of the bottom of the tower from Junkyard, becomes the pyramid's peculiar birth temple deep within.

Into the Marlisnpike cellar from "The Adventures of Tintin: Red Rackham's Treasure"

Ron Cobb's birth temple for Alien.
g) The globe filled with jewelry become the urn like alien spore.
The scene in the Tintin story that pins it to Alien is the discovery of a globe with treasure inside and how it opens, and then the other elements of the story become interesting in hindsight.

In the cellar of the ancestral home, Tintin and Captain Haddock discover a globe, and triggered off by the touch of button, with the aid of a "jack in the box" like spring, the top pops off like a lid and inside they find the treasure of Red Rackham.

For HR Giger, O'Bannon would draw a sketch of the facehugging creature popping out of its urn like pod, and the lid pops off

Globe pops open with spring and lid to reveal treasure within from "The Adventures of Tintin: Red Rackham's Treasure"
O'Bannon's drawing of the urn like spore with a creature that jumps out, for HR Giger

h) Sleeper in the lifeboat
The escape shuttle is described as a lifeboat, the alien turns up aboard the lifeboat, as does Professor Calculus who was found sleeping in the lifeboat having been denied permission to board the ship with his submarine.

Perhaps character behaves near enough like a Martian in the Tintin stories. In Alien, the creature is soon found hiding in the Snark 2 life boat, and in the final film is actually found sleeping in the Narcissus shuttle.

Professor Calculus found sleeping in a lifeboat from "The Adventures of Tintin: Red Rackham's Treasure"

Alien continuity polaroid from blu-ray set from the final Alien production


  1. Thank you for your wonderful observations - very stimulating! The best 'Alien' site on the net, no contest. I wonder if the Space Jockey also alludes to 'Mother' from Hitchcock's 'Psycho' (already referenced by the Nostromo computer of course), herself possibly a mortified, black comic version of Whistler's 'Mother', that American icon. See also 'The Texas Chain Saw Massacre' (feminist nightmare comedy variant - 'Granma' skeletonised and Leatherface acting as grotesque mother surrogate/parody). Just a thought! Thanks once again for your wonderful work. The only 'Alien' site that matters!

    1. If we're looking at Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I can say hat the bone chair or whatever it's called is something that seems to have been a part of the Space Jockey's evolution since the film makers were familiar with the movie and it would have been something exciting to see in the film and discuss. You would be able to imagine how it compared to Giger's artwork.