Sarcophagus meets Tintin on a cruise ship at the beginning of Cigars of the Pharaoh, introduced as a friendly but naïve and clumsy scholar longing to find the tomb of the fictional Pharaoh Kih-Oskh. Tintin joins him on his quest and they eventually find the tomb hidden under the sand in Egypt, but Sarcophagus soon disappears after finding it. When Tintin and Snowy went on to explore the tomb themselves, they find Sarcophagus in a mummified-like state, but they soon become terrified of the surreal discoveries inside the tomb and attempt to escape, only to be subsequently captured alongside Sarcophagus.
He, Tintin and Snowy end up in sarcophagi in the middle of the Red Sea. While Tintin and Snowy are later rescued by a traveling dhow, Sarcophagus is picked up by a ship captained by Allan Thompson, a drug smuggler of the Kih-Oskh Brotherhood, whose gang uses the tomb of Kih-Oskh as a base. After the ship reaches India, the Fakir, another member of the Kih-Oskh Brotherhood, shoots a dart containing Rajaijah juice, which will put Sarcophagus into a state of insanity. Tintin later finds him in the Indian jungle painting the symbol of Kih-Oskh on palm trees. By this point, Sarcophagus had become completely mad and imagines himself to be the Pharaoh Rameses II. Fortunately, he is eventually committed to a sanatorium in India for treatment on his madness.
When Cigars of the Pharaoh was first published in the early 1930s, Sarcophagus was an unnamed and beardless scholar who wore sunglasses. Tintin even speculates that he may have been a member of the drug-smuggling gang but this is never developed. In later revisions of the adventure, his facial features were redrawn into a more eccentric look with a long pointed beard and pair of round spectacles.
After he became mad, he claimed to be Rameses II, acting with Egyptian mannerisms and singing nonsensical songs. In his state of madness he also attacked Mrs. Snowball and attempted to kill Tintin, but this was fortunately prevented. In one of his delusions while believing to be Rameses II, he called Tintin a friend of Tutankhamun, but this is anachronistic to consider as Rameses II and Tutankhamun did not live at the same time.