In 1982, the magazine (A Suivre) published the first pages of “Les Murailles de Samaris” [The Great Walls of Samaris], a story that was to become the first opus of the “Obscure Cities” series. Since then, many albums have been published in several languages and in thousands of copies. This series has spread to such various media as theater plays, conference, Compact Disks, CD-ROMs, posters, Internet sites…
Twenty years, that's a good enough reason to celebrate! And if you think about an anniversary celebration, you might think about gifts! Christophe Compere collected some gifts. The original website is vanished from the Internet but we have saved these gifts on this page.
At the end of 1995, Caspar de Wind visited me to evaluate the possibilities of Internet. I had already several years of experience in running a Bulletin Board Service (BBS) and mail networks such as Fidonet and I had recently converted to Internet. Fidonet is a network of systems which physically phoned each other and exchanged messages, via via your message arrived even to America. A great idea to be able to communicate with somebody all over the world, although it took one to three days before your message arrived in America.
Internet was really a revolution, because your message is in a few seconds at other side of the world. In addition to e-mail, that was already available for a few years, another service Internet was just around the corner: WWW. At the beginning it was very slow and there was not much information available, but about 1995, I dared to affirm that you could find all your information on the Internet.
Information that Caspar wanted to see concerned Schuiten and Peeters and their Obscure Cities. My words proofed wrong, because there was nothing to find about the two authors. Caspar was disappointed, but I remained enthusiastic because if no information is present, you have to compose it yourself.
One week later, we were again in my room in Groningen with all information available on the Obscure Cities. By reading the albums again, I recognized them. I had already read them in the previous years but never establish the link between all the albums. Caspar wrote the story of Joseph Le Perdriel and his search for the Obscure Cities. We found the name in an ad in the Echo of the Cities. While Caspar wrote the history, I created the pages in a simple HTML using Notepad in Windows.
We spent two months to make the first pages. Then we questioned the Internet again, and we found the first page about the Obscure Cities. A company inn Belgium (Switchon) told us they were making the official site on behalf of the authors. We examined the site but we found our site much more beautiful. In spite of the warnings of the company in connection with lawyers of Casterman and authors we continued. At the beginning of 1996 we had the site on line.
With our great astonishment, the pages were visited by many people and we received beautiful reactions of which those of Schuiten and Peeters:
Friday 28 June 1996
Dear Mr. Perdriel
A few days ago, François Schuiten and myself made a research in AltaVista (this name is very close to Alta Plana, which is a city in the Obscure Cities…) and we found your Web pages. We really are very impressed by the high quality of your work and the number of interesting documents that you discovered. [… ]
We thank you much for your marvelous work and your interest in our work.
Regards, Benoit Peeters
For us, it was a great stimulation to continue.
A great disadvantage was the accessibility of pages, when I moved, a new Internet provider had to be found, and the pages had to be moved. That convinced me to require my own domain name: EBBS.net. A name I already used in my BBS period. Since then the pages of Le Perdriel were accessible independently from my moves to new places.
The pages on Le Perdriel increased in number, we received the assistance of Sebastien Effinier for the French translation while he also wrote his own part . Whoever wanted to help, we helped them by offering place, by making photographs and texts. A synopsis is still available at the credit page.
After the experiments with sound and movies in 1999, the size of the site increased enormously, so the site was moved to America. The disk space in America was really cheaper, now we could offer hosting to other sites on the Obscure Cities which were on too slow server or had not enough space to grow.
EBBS increased and changed during years. Via the archives on the Internet, it is still possible to see some things. Some examples: June 4, 1997 , February 12, 1998, March 10, 1999, January 16, 2000, September 02, 2000, April 18, 2001.
These last years, the amount of information on the Obscure Cities enormously increased. Many beautiful sites on the Obscure Cities were build and some of them were hosted on our server.
At the end of 1995, I had not dared to dream that it could become this big. Behind Urbicande.be (the beautiful site of the team of Alok Nandi), EBBS.net became a large beacon for the people who seek information about the Obscure Cities. In a recent interview of the Dutch magazine about comic strips Zozolala, Schuiten and Peeters declared that the sites made by amateurs such as EBBS.net brought them much satisfaction in their work.
I still remember a forum of discussion at the annual book fair of Brussels on the subject Comic strips and Internet. François was in the forum and a lecturer began a whole story about a Dutch site which toldwith stories about the Obscure Cities and which misused the work of Schuiten and Peeters. The lecturer wanted to know what Schuiten found of the abuse of his work. Schuiten was laughing and invited the lecturer of prudence because the creators of this 'terrific' site sat at the back of the room. Schuiten declared that he found it splendid and that such sites were for him the most beautiful compliments on his work.
In the honor of the work of François Schuiten and Benoît Peeters, Caspar and the many volunteers of EBBS.net keep the site available and we hope to continue for many years, so we can make EBBS.net one of the centers of the Obscure Cities on Internet.
Congratulation for these first 20 years, hoping for the continuation of the good collaboration and successes for the 20 years to come!
When I discovered this extraordinary world by reading ' Zara ', the second tome of the 'Terres creuses' (Hollow Earths) series, when I was 14, a feeling of anger came over me. I wondered how an architect like you, Mr Schuiten (it is only later than I knew that you aren't), could make such Horrible mistakes. Everyone knows how the law of the gravity works, how then could you describe a world where the gravitation would not be the effect of the attraction of the masses but that of the Holy Ghost… (some characters walk without stopping in the internal surface of a hollow planet (that's completely unrealistic), others are fixed on the internal surface of another planet as to a giant wall (that's quite as unrealistic)). If at that time I had had your address, I would have sent a well felt letter telling you of my indignation for such aberrations. I read and read again this album, reassuring me on the cogency of my convictions. Until one day, I said to myself 'And why not?'. Yes why should the gravitation in this story not be applied by the will of the Holy Ghost (or anybody else) and according to the most fantastic manner that can be… Why should everything that art in general can generate, be absolutely endorsed by a Cartesian demonstation? I discovered this day that it did not make any sense. As of this day, my vision of the world has completely changed: I did not look any more at the paintings of Picasso as being full of errors or listen to the music of my elder brothers and sisters as being merely noise. This album was a revealation to me. Sudenly, it opened my spirit, made me receptive to art. I could discover its meaning and it gave a desire to be interested in art in all its forms, which teached me the tolerance, broadmindedness, imagination, creativity… If my artistic journey is mainly due only to me, you were the instigator. And for this reason, I will be eternally grateful to you. This recognition doubling with another: that you gave your permission to recover your work to recreate others things from them, I had already offered you in thanks (at the time of the conference of May 3 in the FNAC of Brussels) a photograph of the mapemonde of the Obscure Cities in 3 dimensions in a hangar, here are other images generated by computer: variation on the topic of the cube. Thank you.
I´ve first opened a Schuiten album (Mary it was) some time in mid-1990s, in a squattered house in East Berlin. It was a never-come-again coincidence: to discover a sort of parallel universe (yet the one with most striking ties to our own past and present), while standing in a real-life “paralell community”. Both the time and the place seemed to be purpose-made for the matter; the projectile had to hit the target. It did, and since then I consider myself a Schuiten/ Peeters´ debtor. These both pictures, the “Obscuriosities Shop”(left) and the “Multitude of 20-ies” (right), as well as their predecessors of different kind, are, in a way, re-paying the debt.
By the way, how many hidden 20-ies would you find in the “Multitude”? Let me know!
Dmitry (Mitya) Sukhin, St.Petersburg - Berlin, December 2002