Tomas de Rat / Tomas the Rat

De Ijzeren Vogel / The Iron Bird page 7

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On this page I left some of the paper edges visible, so you can see how irregularly shaped the pages are. The edges are not even straight!
You may also notice how much cleaner the handwriting is. Originally it was getting a lot worse here, but by the time I inked these pages years and years later, my handwriting had finally evolved to something readable.

Row 1

Luckily Tomas was smart enough to keep his mouth shut, otherwise the explosion would have expelled the contents of his indestructible stomach all over the restaurant. His Eustachian tubes appear to be insufficiently large to let the food pass through, so only some steam comes out of his ears.

Notice how the little stove on the table has managed to set the carpet on fire. This was inspired by an actual experience in a restaurant in London, The Singing Bamboo (which is most likely long gone now). There the stove didn't set anything on fire, but it did produce sparks. In later comics I would sometimes include similar little details which didn't have anything to do with the story itself.

Row 2

Tomas realises that killing SNIK didn't relieve him of the constant explosion hazard, on the contrary. Instead of going to a hotel which will most likely explode too, they again abort their trip to Brussels and go back.

The panel on the restaurant reads “Chinees restaurant Chinois”, which is actually a concatenation of the Dutch and French translations of “Chinese restaurant”. This is possible because in French, adjectives are placed after substantives, while in Dutch it is the other way round, and “restaurant” is the same in both languages. In Belgium, Dutch is spoken in the North, French in the South, and both in the capital, Brussels. That's why you'll often see this kind of ‘compressed’ bilingual signs there.

Rows 3-5

Tomas starts to think about a way to find Smuggler's den, but he doesn't have much inspiration. It will come soon, however, because even in his skyscraper palace he isn't safe from bomb-throwing lunatics. Smuggler's facial composite picture (a black blot, most likely) has probably been distributed by now, but he has many accomplices who can get past security and deliver bombs nicely disguised as anniversary presents.

Because he is invulnerable, Tomas doesn't bother about searching for cover. Pricky is smart enough not to follow Tomas' advice which would leave him vulnerable to shrapnel, he instead topples over the table as a shield.

Rows 6-7

Tomas seems to have considered the previous assaults as jokes but now he's really pissed. His room — and especially his precious window — have been destroyed a third time! He is determined to catch Smuggler now, and he has a brilliant idea: another accomplice will probably come soon to drop another bomb. So if he can catch him, he can disguise himself as this accomplice and infiltrate in Smuggler's secret hiding place. Luckily Smuggler's accomplices are as stupid as himself, so it is easy to lure one inside with an obviously intentional open door and whack him on the head.

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