Exploring Utopia through Graphic Novels in Les Cités Obcures by Schuiten and Peeters

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Isabelle Chapuis-Alvarez, Hope College

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The city has always been the object of fascination for graphic novel authors because it conveys both their perception of a contemporary metropolis as well as their visions for a better society. François Schuiten and Benoit Peeters are two of the most prominent 20th century key figures in this realm. In their series entitled Les Cités Obscures, they design various scénographies, decors, and architectures to create a somewhat bizarre futuristic city environment in which the destiny of its inhabitants is determined by the city itself. Schuiten and Peeters’ universe appears rather ambiguous; it combines places of interest, architectural structures, and characters both real and imaginary. This presentation aims to expose the ambivalent nature of the various cities in the aforementioned albums, and to show that the graphic novel can be used as a valid medium of expression to successfully evoke worlds that are either utopian or counter-utopian.

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