When Tintin and Snowy are cast a drift in sarcophagi during Cigars of the Pharaoh they are rescued by a passing arms dealer. That man was based on Henry de Monfreid, a french drug smuggler who became famous after the publication of the autobiographic Hashish: A Smuggler’s Tale and Secrets of the Red Sea.
Monfreid first went to the Red Sea in 1911 with the intent of trading in coffee but spent the next thirty years smuggling guns, hashish and diving for pearls. He also spent a fair amount in prison because of this. Following the outbreak of World War II he worked for the Italians until captured by the British. When the war was over he retired to France and continued to write. Over the next 30 years he wrote about 70 books. When money got tight he mortgaged the family collection of Gauguin. After his death these paintings were found to be fake.
Hashish: A Smuggler’s Tale was published in the early thirties just when Herge was writing Cigars of the Pharaoh. It seems odd that the conservative, strait-laced Herge should put a character like Monfreid in his book but one can imagine the exotic, devil-may-care, existence of the smuggler would appeal to the shy Belgium who had never left his country. Though possible it was Monfreid attitude to Germans that appeal. On seeing the Pyramids he couldn’t wait to leave. Saying “The only thing that one might possibly admire is the stupendous effort it took to build them, and this admiration demands the mentality of a German tourist.”