Altaplana, world of Francois Schuiten and Benoit Peeters

the impossible & infinite encyclopedia of the world created by Schuiten & Peeters

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Archiviste (L')

L'Archiviste is the third volume of the chronicles of the Obscure Cities, published in 1987 AD. An album of unusually large size, that does justice to the excellent plates telling the story.

In 1987, Casterman was planning a series of large size albums of pictures by famous cartoonists. The idea was that the individual pages could be taken out and used as posters. The concept never really took off, but Schuiten and Peeters were approached in the early stages. At that time, François had already produced a number of pieces for various projects, like this poster for a Public Transport Week in Brussels.

The idea of merely displaying a collection of pictures did not appeal much to the authors, but they saw there an opportunity to consolidate some disparate elements and expand on the universe of the Obscure Cities as a whole. After some discussions with the editor, they managed to have the original layout modified to include text and images on the back of the prints, turning the whole portfolio into a story that stands on its own.

The French term archiviste means not only “archive keeper”, but also designates a person who researches old documents. In Europe, where archives have been piling up for over two thousand years, this is a serious job. In this story, we meet Isidore Louis, who is given the task of researching the rumors which have begun to circulate about some mysterious Obscure Cities. Proper documentation is hard to come by, but Isidore manages to find several pieces of interest.

Among those are snippets about Xhystos, Brüsel, Calvani, Roth, Mylos and Alaxis…. True to an habit that was becoming well established, Schuiten and Peeters skillfully mixed references to books already published along with tentalising glimpses of things to come. This treatment of each individual album as a well integrated part of a greater whole accounts for much of the series popularity. L’Archiviste also introduced the concept that the Obscure Cities are somehow alive, feeding our dreams as much as being sustained by them.


Report of some strange stories by Isidore Louis, researcher at the Central Institute of Myths and Legends. Louis has to research some documents about the Obscure Cities. The book describes a few documents of Dossier 3284001:

After examining document no. 16 Isidore Louis concludes that the evidence is strong that the Obscure Cities exist. But it is unknown how to get there.

Enhanced edition

In the enhanced version of 2000 AD some pages are changed and some new pages are added. The changes are described below:

After document no.20 the dossier is closed.

Doc no.5 Doc no.7 Doc no.8

Editions / translations

1986L'ArchivisteFrenchCasterman48HC2203349018Large edition (40x30cm)
1987De ArchivarisDutchCasterman48HC9030385561Large edition (40x30cm), signed and numbered (1-500 & I-L)
1987De ArchivarisDutchCasterman48SC9030385545
1991Der ArchivarGermanFeest Comics48HC3894341845Large edition
1991ArkivarenDanishBogfabrikken48SCn/aLarge edition. Numbered 1-1000
1991El ArchivistaSpanishNorma Editorialn/an/a9788479040277Large edition
2000De ArchivarisDutchCasterman64HC9030385480Enhanced version
2000L'ArchivisteFrenchCasterman64HC2203349204Enhanced version
2001El ArchivistaSpanishNorma Editorial64n/a9788484314080
2003O arquivistaPortugueseMeribérica/Liber62HC9724517322
2003O arquivistaPortugueseMeribérica/Liber62SC9724516342
2009De ArchivarisDutchCasterman64SC9789030362470Slightly enhanced version
2009L'ArchivisteFrenchCasterman64HC9782203020382Slightly enhanced version
2012闇の国々JapaneseShoPro Books-HC4796871322Part of bundle 2
2021Der ArchivarGermanSchreiber & Leser64SC9783965820463
2021El ArchivistaSpanishNorma Editorial64SC9788467946239
2022L'ArchivisteFrenchCasterman64HC9782203247406New edition hardcover like the coloured edition of La Fièvre d'Urbicande. A new edition of the map of the Continent is added to the first edition.

See also