The Obscure Cities
June 18, 2005 3:17 AM   Subscribe

The Obscure Cities :Imagine another world (french site), a heartbeat, a breath away, and yet at the same time more distant than the farthest star. You can walk to it without even noticing, just by going through a door in some crooked building, or by day dreaming after having seen a curious painting or read an unusual book. It is a world of quaint vehicles (french site, flash), wondrous architecture and strange customs. {main link via vacapinta}
posted by dhruva (10 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What are you doing to my head?!!
posted by peacay at 4:54 AM on June 18, 2005

When I first saw this I thought they'd be written. Nice surprise! [going to look up 'irreal' in the dictionary]
posted by yoga at 5:35 AM on June 18, 2005

Actually, methinks Schuiten and Peeters (Borges, Kafka, Calvino descendents) may have been members of the Sonora Aero Club. It's really bizzaroworld. Great set of links. I wonder how many times you said "wtf?!" while cruising the linkset. Heh.
From here: "In 1985, a fan produced a companion piece to the second Obscure Cities story entitled Le MystËre d’Urbicande (The Mystery of Urbicande). Schuiten was so impressed by it that he agreed to provide illustrations for the slim booklet, using the pseudonym "Robert Louis Marie de la Barque." Since then, Schuiten and Peeters have actively sought out ideas and suggestions from their fans, working the best of them into the series, and even introducing several contributors as fictional characters."
posted by peacay at 5:43 AM on June 18, 2005

Yeah, the post should have come with a warning: Danger, Labyrinth Ahead :). I wish I knew french, because most of the cool stuff seems to be in french, and I read somewhere (dont ask me where!) that the translations haven't been all that good.

Here's an image that could have easily come out of the Sonora Club.
posted by dhruva at 5:50 AM on June 18, 2005

Here's another link to one of the cities: Brusel
posted by dhruva at 5:54 AM on June 18, 2005

Wow. Lovely, dhruva (and vacapinta). I'm going to have a good time unwrapping all these gifts!
posted by taz at 6:15 AM on June 18, 2005

Nice collection of links, dhruva, especially the French animations. The illustrations stand on their own even without an understanding of the words, though the main link elaborates about the content rather well. Also, I like the idea that cities have character, character which actively affects all other elements of the story.

Side anecdote: It was partly vacapinta's post about The Obscure Cities that inspired my own post about Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities. I was (still am, really) obsessing over Calvino after having read If on a winter's night a traveler, Mr. Palomar and A Hermit in Paris - but when I finally managed to hunt down Invisible Cities after seeing those links and upon vacapinta's encouragement ... wow. I could see why they were so particularly moved, and then I was even more smitten with Calvino.
posted by Lush at 9:25 AM on June 18, 2005

Great post. I'm with Lush, this makes me want to dust off my copy of Invisible Cities and give it another read. Followed shortly thereafter by learning French.
posted by Staggering Jack at 9:48 AM on June 18, 2005

I'm so glad to see this linked, Les Cités Obscures is one of my favourite bd series ever. Don't forget there are two subway stations designed by François Schuiten and based on the Cities: Arts et Métiers in Paris and Porte de Hal in Brussels.
posted by Goblindegook at 10:26 AM on June 18, 2005

I've never read any of the graphic novels, but I did once see a documentary about a journalist searching for those passage ways between Brussels and Brusel.
Looking at the links between the two cities and the history of Brussels, it was actually pretty convincing.
posted by Timeless at 10:53 AM on June 18, 2005

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