Monday, 13 July 2009

The Obscure Cities, or, Urbicande

To my unending shame, I realise that I have been remiss in my explorations. I return from a sojourn into the hinterland with news that many have already made the journey to the Obscure Cities.

A series of graphic novels originating in Belgium, the Urbicande is a long-running project by the genii Francois Buiton and Benoit Peeters which explores the wonderful societies of the architecturally unique cities of the title. The series is currently being updated and expanded, with new English translations, which will hopefully open up this incredible world to a wider audience.

Set in an alternative reality, and obsessively detailed and chronicled, each novel is set in a different city, each with its own dark secrets. Drawing on a vast array of sources, including art nouveau, Pugin, modernism, alternative histories, the industrial revolution, biology and more, Buiton and Peeters have created a deep, rich world which draws you in ever deeper. This world is consistent and solid, drawing upon real events and people to weave complicated and integrated tales across the novels, and is a joy to read as well as view. From airships to children integrated and welded into machines, to the elderly and insane living in the highest peaks of immense skyscrapers, this is a dark and labrynthine journey into the unknown.

A vast community of enthusiasts has grown amongst the aether, and I would urge you to explore them. Such wonders may be found here, here, here, and a good precis (with links) may be found here.

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