Below article is a summary of the comic strips that were published in 1982 and 1983, written by Bob de Moor, Belgium, relating the adventures of Georges Barelli and police inspector Moreau on Nusa Penida. Summary and English translation by Godi Dijkman.
Concise biography of Bob de Moor
Bob de Moor, designer and 'scenarist' (sceneographor'?) was born on 20 December 1925 in Antwerp. After the liberation, his first signed story is published. In 1948, he becomes part of the group working with the weekly magazine KUIFJE. In 1950, he commences work at the Hergé Studios. His collaboration with the father of 'Kuifje en Bobbie' doesn't keep him from creating various comic strips at the same time, whilst still working on the weekly 'Kuifje': 'De Leeuw van Vlaanderen', 'Sterke Jan', 'Kori de Scheepsjongen', 'Mijnheer Mus', 'Balthazar', and 'Barelli', a talented actor, a character who is bound to live many more adventures, someone who is not just intent on experiencing the best on the scene, but who also in daily life assures a share of excitement and a sense of humour. This sense of humour is something, which Bob de Moor knows how to convey to his audience like no other. Awards: "CISO", Breda, 1972, "La Serpe d'Argent", Tournai, 1981. Published: 'De Raadselachtige Meneer Barelli'; 'Barelli en de Geheim Agenten'; 'Barelli op Nusa Penida deel 1; soon to be published: 'Barelli op Nusa Penida part 2.
Barelli on Nusa Penida part 1: The Magician's Island
Paris: Georges Barelli and inspector Moreau of the department of Safety (police). Moreau is commissioned to arrest the 'brains' behind a dangerous gang, the leader with the mask. In letters from the chief, which almost vanished in the River Seine, is a map of Nusa-Penida, an island in the Java Sea where he owns a plantation. The chief incited the assistants to flee to that direction if times were hard. The chief would have been there already.
Barelli departs from Paris Orly, via Saigon to Djakarta, and from there on by boat to Nusa Penida. After some troubles, Barelli and Moreau are aboard the aeroplane. Next to Barelli there are two men with a map of Nusa-Penida, and both of them own a plantation there. These men appear to be Max Brasser and Jozef Larue, respectable and devoted traveller planters who recently bought a part of the plantation from the chief.
In Saigon they are attacked in alleyways by gangsters, probably accomplices of the chief. But Barelli and Moreau manage to arrive safely in Djakarta 'Kemajoran' in a DC4. Barelli commissions Moreau to investigate how the two suspected co-travellers Brasser en Larue want to reach Nusa-Penida. These characters would travel to Nusa-Penida in a brigantine called 'De Haai' (The Shark). Our twosome also travels to Nusa-Penida aboard 'De Haai'. They find a photograph on the ship of two men, the chief's collaborators, who are called Ben and 'The Lean One'. Suspicions arise that one of the planters is the gang leader.
One of the two suspects (the chief, who molested our twosome in Saigon) is prowling about on deck. It's midnight aboard the ship. "Bottel, if you have lost the money that you got for the opium... well, then we are in dire straights", says the intruder. During a confrontation with the captain of the ship, it becomes clear that it concerns opium traders. The captain is intent on paying them their money, and promises to get rid of Barelli and Moreau 'by accident' into the seas. Fierce storms rage across the oceans. It looks like it Barelli and Moreau are about to be thrown overboard by the storm. And indeed they are, but they are thrust back onto the deck by an unexpected wave, in the pitch-black night. Barelli and Moreau doubt whether they will ever know who is the real chief of the gang.
At dawn they land on Nusa Penida, and see people and hear curious music. They rejoice at the thought of great feasts and war dances or religious dances 'never before watched by white men'. They are welcomed by a few natives in their own language and they imagine themselves to be in Hawaii, but are attacked by islanders.
Image above (comic strip translation. p.22): "You don't need to feel frightned because of us, and there's no need to apologise, gentlemen. Hereby, I return you spear; 'Balinese'; Barelli, this surely means: be welcome strangers, in this paradise of flowers, rice and tea!; And? And this would be their way of saying good-bye!; It's a mistake... mistake, surely a misunderstanding, goodness me!"
Our heroes are hung on sticks and are transported across the island and imprisoned in a hut. The village head speaks to them in broken English, he claims to be educated in Oxford, and is here on the island to escape from the tourists. They are sacrificed to the god Boega, at which they are informed they will get a proper funeral, but manage to undo the ropes with which they are tied and with the village head engage themselves in a conversation on cricket, something with which he would have become familiar in England. Barelli and Moreau claim to master this sport. With the village head they seem to have reached some kind of an agreement, but the dancers want revenge.
The village head offers them a lodging on stilts, to better resist earthquakes, and they introduce themselves as Moreau, inspector at 'Safety' and Barelli, globetrotter and stage actor. The village head supplies sarongs, with which our heroes dress themselves clumsily. But they are the victims of a keris drenched in blood thrown at them, a sign of revenge. As a result, they are guarded, but the next morning Moreau has disappeared.Image above (translation, p.28): "You stupid idiot! I'm not looking for a shower, I'm looking for my friend!; 'Balinese'; (...); The village head could help me to track down Moreau, but he is nowhere to be seen. Poor Moreau... Perhaps he is being tortured, or is dying of hunger...; Go ahead, you young person. Beat them to death!; That's Moreau's voice. He is still alive!"
The next morning Barelli finds Moreau in a hammock, surrounded by servants. They don't altogether don't trust the situation and think of a way of escaping the island. All day long, Barelli plays cricket with the village head. At night, the magician creeps up to Barelli and Moreau's lodgings with a knife and thinks this will be his revenge. But our heroes have fled, chased by the village head on an oxen. From the top of a palm tree they launch themselves on a proa, and as a result a native loses his balance and falls backwards. Barelli and Moreau peddle their way out of the jungle.
The two men manage to escape in a proa and to stock up on fruit, and head for Nusa-Penida. "The small proa has been floating on the seemingly endless Java Sea and Nusa Penida is still nowhere in sight... Their supplies of freshwater and fruit is reduced to virtually nil...". The two men have grown beards and are very tired. They do, however, manage to reach the shore, and land near a few houses on stilts. They get a hospitable welcome on Nusa Penida, including brass band music, by the Governor of Nusa Penida. After some time, they seem to be on the trail of something so they sneak out.
Barelli and Moreau are welcomed the Hawaiian way and they are covered with strings of flowers and are given the chance of delivering a speech to the gathered crowds. But the governor thought the two men were someone else: Kraenig and Houval. The governor is alarmed and disappointed and as he is also angry he wishes to put our two 'villains' in jail. He chases them away. During their escape, the two men see the two planters Brasser and Larue passing by in a car. The planters show kindness and take our two men in their car back to the governor's place. The governor is reproached for his actions. Barelli introduces himself as an stage actor and Moreau as an 'insext' specialist.
Barelli and Moreau also get new clothes in the temple 'Kwelang-Pamelong', where four times yearly offering ceremonies are held in honour of the god Boegi-Woegi, a ritual not intended for western eyes. The secondhand dealer 'the oldie' works in a junk shop called 'Batoe-Si-Kongan Bazaar'. He wants to sell clothes to our two men, who immediately recognise these clothes as their own. It appears that a stranger had offered these clothes to the dealer. The dealer gives them back their old clobber.
The two planters take Barelli and Moreau to their new ramshackle abode. They now suspect that Larue is 'The chief'. They bribe the secondhand dealer, who then promises to accompany them to Brasser's house during the temple feast. At night, they meet up with the junk shop salesman who takes them to the temple. There they see the shadow of a white man. They follow him in the darkness but get lost, until they find themselves unexpectedly inside an enormous hall within the temple complex. The two men face a gigantic statue of a god who appears to be speaking to our two heroes.
However, it turns out to be a microphone, operated by The Chief. Two temple guards await them, but our heroes manage to fend them off. They overpower the shadow of a white man, but are chased in the temple complex, until a point where they seem trapped in a room where the door shuts with a hard bang. During their flight, they fall into a deep pit. And all of a sudden Barelli finds himself wearing a bull's skull with horns on top, and Moreau thinks that he is bewitched. Then, they use the bull's skull as a weapon of defence against the men who had wanted to attack them in the dark. These attackers are no more than dark shadows.
Image above (translation): Our heroes fall head over heels into a deep and dark well...; BOUM; Oof! My poor head! We're trapped and the question is: how do we ever get out of here? Huh, Barelli you? Barelli? Where are you?; Mmmm... mmmm... mmm...; Ha! Light! Well have I ever...!
The two men manage to escape from the temple, but are still chased by shadowy individuals. They go home, and outside their house is a shadow who places a basket full of snakes underneath their hut. Gradually, the snakes move into the hut. They ward off the snakes by blowing a flute to the tunes of The Bolero by Ravel. In the morning, they relate all their adventures from start to finish to the Governor, who doesn't think much of temple festivities. And then, they see Larue who runs away.
Having reached the conclusion that Larue is The Chief, they start to make plans. They decide to dress up as natives in order to be able to go with the believers to the temple. They count on the Governor's full support in order to take Larue in. The Governor helps them procure suitable clothing for the temple feast. Carrying a sack of rice on their shoulders, they head for the temple, hoping to be able to catch The Chief.
End of Part One
Barelli on Nusa Penida, part 2: The hagglers of the temple
"Well, dear friends, now that you see Moreau and myself dressed up as Javanese coolies, amidst the inhabitants of the island of Nusa Penida, I think I owe you an explanation. We're tracking down a criminal, but unfortunately there are two suspects! 'Who dunnit': Brasser or Larue? Who is the mysterious leader of the gang that sabotaged the nuclear aeroplane XYZ-1? That's what we're here to discover, with a helping hand from the governor of the island, who is assisting us with his men. For the time being, our main concern is to mingle with the natives who venture out here from the neighbouring islands. They bring offerings for their god Bhougi-Whougi, whom they worship in a decrepit temple...", is what Moreau and Barelli tell the reader.
In the temple, Barelli and Moreau listen to the deity who says: "You mortals! All the more, you have gathered here around my splendid statue to pay me honour and to bring me your offerings. Cast your offerings at my feet before the dancing and singing begins. The more sacks of powder you offer, the more good fortune and luck it will bring you..." Our two heroes watch the dancing in the temple. And at a certain moment the deity says: " Stop! There is a traitor amongst us!" And indeed, the deity unmasks two white men as they offer nothing but a small sack of rice. They are thrown into a well, a place where the offerings are also kept. They discover opium amidst the offerings, and they suspect that Brasser or Larue have concocted this. They are exhorted to climb a ladder to get higher up, but they foresee a complot. They have been taken in by the bandits. The gang leader with the red mask administers Barelli and Moreau an injection, and they are left 'for dead' in the well.
In the meantime, on the west coast of the island, a ship 'Lombok' approaches Nusa Penida. A dark shadow moves off deck and goes ashore and hears the violence in the distance. It appears this is Anne Nannah, the famous play-actor, who is then taken into a car. They are shot at by a young orang-utan, but manage to escape. Nannah tells that a native on Nusa Palembang informed her of the fate of our heroes. They head for the governor who will save their day. Driver Mario looses control of the brakes and hits the governor's house. Because of a paraffin lamp the governor's house explodes, and at some distance they're observed by natives.
The governor knocks at the door of the house of granddad Sambal. He calls in the help of his grandson Oelek, a boy of barely eight years old, who takes them to a storage room of chests and barrels, on which 'Achtung! Minen' (Attention! Mines!) is written, and so the governor thinks that this is a depot from World War II.
Image above: Watch out, don't hurt yourselves!; If the old fox Sambal takes us for a ride, I will get even with him!; Here, have your pick!; !*!@?*
"When loudmouth Oelek has been sent home, the group commences its journey through the forest. As they advance, numerous sceptical natives join the parade: their trust in the priests of Bhougi-Whougi has been tarnished! But let us anticipate just a little bit and cast a worried eye in the dungeon of the temple, where we last saw Barelli and Moreau..."
This is where our heroes are 'left for dead'. Because of an enormous racket, however, they awake utterly confused. Through the wall appears en enormous finger. At first just the finger, but soon afterwards an entire hand emerges in the dungeon that takes our heroes in its clutch. They are pulled backwards, and they watch how the hand seemingly belongs to Boogie-woogie, who welcomes them with 'Areuh!'. They bite the deity in his finger at which he drops the two men to the ground. Some time later, he threatens to crush our heroes under his feet. Barelli and Moreau flee and arrive in a chamber, from where the finger again threatens to take them out. To their surprise, the finger doesn't take the two men out, but prefers an earthenware pot from the dungeon. It becomes clear that the barrels contains alcohol and the deity is getting pretty tiddey. According to inspector Barelli, it is "a copy of Bacchus, made in Djakarta".
Image above: Mmmm... slurp... glob; He seems happy...; Quick, the other barrels!; Tra-la-lie-laa!.. Areuh!; Not at all... this is to your health, old fellow!
Our two intrepid heroes take up courage and move, and appear before the giant. They address the deity respectfully, and the god then 'raises his glass' and wants our twosome to join in with the drinking game. It has every appearance of a drinking spree and the two heroes gladly take part in it, until they perceive all kinds of sounds from an adjoining room: a gamelan orchestra 'Li-Honeih Hamp-Tonc'. The giant and our heroes watch the spectacle merrily. The orchestra plays, and there are female dances dressed in Javanese style, whom our heroes seem to appreciate well, though they find the music a tad monotonous.
But then all of a sudden, the dancers move away afraid. As soon as they have recovered from the fright (?), the band members agree to play the 'boogy-woogy', and the dancers arrange themselves while the deity watches the spectacle peacefully. The orchestra plays the 'Big Temple Boogie Bo-Bom' in a most swinging fashion and everyone dances to its tunes. YEAH! When the deity too moves in to join the dance party, pieces of rock and waist start tumbling down. In the chaos and the dust, Barelli and Moreau cannot see each other.
Image above: Ehm, hick... that's a gamelan orchestra; That, hick... is really funny, isn't it?...; You don't think this music is a tad mo-no-monotonous?; Yes, but those female dancers are really not bad at all...; Cuckoo!
They are found by the governor, who unmasks the deity as the idol image Bhougi-Whougi. Barelli answers the governor in a confused manner: "Wait... yes, I remember... the "chief" tried to kill us with a poisonous injection... when we woke up... we cast off our chains... and after that... the hand, the hand appeared through the wall...!!!" De governor had noticed how the giant escaped at the time he discovered Barelli en Moreau during the 'earthquake'. But why, Barelli wonders, hasn't the poison killed us?
Meanwhile in the temple. The master wears a red mask and is confused after the earthquake, and admits he's made a mistake by not administering our two heroes the 'patent-poison "dead-as-a-doornail", but instead having administered the anaesthetic "faint". He orders his helpers to track down the twosome.
Meanwhile, it appears that Anne, together with the governor, has saved their lives. Anna returns to Nusa Palembang. At her departure, Barelli implores her to reassure his dear aunty and to convey his greetings to Randor. He kisses her as farewell. But Moreau is still missing, so they decide to return to the temple. Moreau is trapped, and notices the master with the red mask and his men in the doorway. Moreau succeeds in chasing away the master and his helpers with a pistol, and barricades himself in the room for the sacrifices of the temple.
A (white) man with an Asian-type straw bonnet enters the temple, witnessed by the master. The man escapes, but the master chases him down on top of the temple, and points at him with a gun. He shoots, but misses target. It appears to be Barelli, who from a liana ends up in the mud beneath. The master suspects that the governor and his men are intent on entering the temple. "Friends", he addresses his helpers, "the temple is under attack! We shall stand our ground until the ship arrives. In about two hours the ship will reach the secret entrance and we'll be able to escape, give weapons to the natives, they will help us!"
The deity-giant adds: "Believers! White men and those native who have been sold to the white men have surrounded the sanctuary and are intent on entering it with violence, they aim at killing the priests and all the believers! But never will be able to set foot on the grounds of this holy place if we don't allow it! Defend the temple, and God Boegi-Woegi!"
The governor and his men and Barelli make plans to enter the temple and liberate Moreau. They are attacked by gunfire but manage to find an entrance in the temple. At dawn, Barelli and co stand on top of the temple. Again, they are targeted, this time with a grenade, which they ward off until it explodes. Barelli, the governor and his men find themselves in the temple.
Meanwhile, we see how Moreau tries to escape and hides himself behind the deity. The moment the master and his helpers think that Barelli and co are caught within the temple, Moreau speaks through the deity: "Don't venture out another step or the temple roof will fall down upon you all!", at which the master and his helpers flee in all directions. Also, 'the deity' says: "Hell and devil! Thunder and lightning! I was about to break my neck, and all because of that gang of masquerade bandits! Damned opium smokers!" And then the master understands that something is amiss with the deity. In the meantime, Moreau tries to escape via the deity's big toe.
Image above (translation): Moreau wriggles himself through the opening...; and notices that he's crawling out of the statue Boegi Woegi's big toe...; And here is when the knocking start again!; The big hall is empty, if I'm not mistaken, these fake priests have escaped throuht that hole over there...'
At last, Barelli finds inspector Moreau in the temple. They leave the temple together and near the coast they see the boat intent on taking aboard the bandits: the brigantine 'De Haai'. The captain appears to be amused at the idea of receiving 'the powder'. The master and his accomplices flee in the direction of the coast through a secret throughway. However, Barelli en Moreau are also there. Stones fall down, and they find themselves blocked by fallen rocks, but the master manages to reach the end of the tunnel, and so they see 'De Haai'. The captain, however, through his binoculars, notices something is amiss on the coast.
While the bandits are trying to reach the sloop of 'De Haai', hampered by high waves, we see Larue, alias Brasser, who addresses his master and says: "You have turned me into a opium smoker because you knew I was aware of your criminal intentions... you threatened not to supply any more opium to me, if I betrayed you. So I kept silent, but for months I haven's used any more drugs, and so NOW is the final reckoning: revenge!" The master and his assistants are confused by these words.
From halfway up the cliffs, at the far end of the tunnel, Barelli, Moreau and the governor appear, who keep the bandits covered. The master and helpers are ordered to follow the governor, and Barelli and Moreau enter the sloop and head for 'De Haai'. Once aboard, they arrest the captain: "So you are accomplices! You transported the opium, which the native population offered in the temple...", says Moreau to the captain and his aid. The governor has also arrived on the scene, but the chief has disappeared.
Meanwhile, one of the assistants offers Moreau an explanation: "This man is the boss of those seamen. I eavesdropped on their conversation and understood they were engaged in opium smuggling and were in dire need of cash. I proposed to lend them money on the condition that they would throw Barelli and Moreau overboard". Moreau's answer was: "Ah, but an inspector of public safety is not to be underestimated! And I am aware of the rest of the story: Safely arrived on Nusa Penida you made sure you would become the gang leader and you organised the 'opium trade' on a large scale", at which the gang leader confesses: "And I beguiled the islanders into selling their poppies as an offering for Boegi Woegi. I turned the stone image into a speaking god. This really made a terrifying impression on the people here..."
Barelli and Moreau receive a letter from security with all kinds of documents and money. They prepare themselves for their journey home and take Brasser with them as he is wanted by Interpol as an international bandit who sabotaged the first nuclear aeroplane and smuggled opium in large quantities. Our two heroes are lauded publicly and are buried with flowers by the attending crowds as they have unmasked a criminal priest.
The governor organises a grand farewell party for our two heroes: 'Long live Moreau and Barelli!'. And so they raise their glasses to a safe journey home aboard 'De Haai'.
- Moor, Robert De (1925-1992) - Barelli op Nusa Penida. Deel 1. Het tovenaarseiland : met gekleurde ills. [van de schrijver], 1982; Editie: [herdr.]; Uitgever: Brussel : Lombard; Reeks: Barelli; Annotatie: Eerder verschenen in het weekblad "Kuifje"; Omvang: 46 blz; Formaat: 4; ISBN: 90-6421-351-8; Trefwoord: (LTR) ballonstrips; Samenvatting: Ballonstrip; Genre: Stripverhaal
- Moor, Robert De (1925-1992) - Barelli op Nusa Penida, Deel 2: De sjacheraars van de tempel; 1983; Uitgever: Brussel : Lombard; Montfoort : Albracht; Reeks: Barelli ; 4; Annotatie: ill. in kleur; Bew. van de 1e uitg.: Den Haag : Paul Rĳperman, 1980; Omvang: 46 p; Formaat: 29 cm; ISBN: 90-6421-417-4; Nummer: (Brinkman) B8468271; Trefwoord: (BTR) stripverhalen; Code: (UNESCO) Kinderboeken, stripverhalen; Genre / literaire vorm: Stripverhaal