Peeters and Schuiten meet in 1968, not on the barricades but on the school benches. One draws, the other writes. They start a school newspaper, lose sight of each other for a few years and then meet again to continue their adventure. Peeters has become a specialist in Tintin and a theoretician of comics and storyboarding. Schuiten is part of the band of Métal Hurlant, the magazine founded by Les Humanoïde Associés which brings together science fiction comics and publishes a large number of leading comic artists. From this rediscovered friendship are born the Obscure Cities in 1983, a corpus of science fiction albums which take place in futuristic cities invisible to humans, on a hidden planet between the Earth-Sun axis.
The cities, Brüsel, Pârhy, Urbicande or Alaxis, are based on a fantastic but coherent imagination , supported by characters and varied points of view, leaving the mystery hovering. Every detail wants to be plausible, every machine is realizable. Schuiten is an architect of drawing or a draftsman-architect, and the character of the cities often takes precedence over that of the characters. An background remove service alarming future It’s about global warming causing icebergs to drift as far as Egypt, overabundant waste and the headache of recycling it, which is becoming an extremely popular job… We find extremely vertical cities like Lyon (image below, at left, then the next two for details), or vegetated in giant greenhouses maintained by billionaire window washers, with streets covered with highways or flying machines.
These imagined cities are inspired by books by Verne, Robina or Kafka , and great dystopian SF films like Blade Runner, Metropolis or Brazil , as illustrated below. Lyon and Paris in an imagined future The vertical canopy of buildings in Lyon, detail Fourvière in the middle of the futuristic city, detail Metropolis, 1927 Metropolis , 1927 Blade Runner, 1982. Source: screenmusings.org As Peeters explains, these worlds are neither utopias nor desired visions of the future. It would seem that they are born of a dream, a futuristic representation of the city neither ideal nor plausible , with always a worm in the apple. These are somewhat wobbly visions of the world, to make us react as a utopian vision would have done, without however making us want to. Paris under a bell.