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:
- doc no.6 - Brüsel, distribution of the pamphlets of the Valorisation funds
- doc no.8 - Brüsel, the night or never
- doc no. 14 - Mylos, the quarter with the central machines
- doc no. 17 - Alaxis, view of the canal the night before carnaval
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.
In the enhanced version of 2000 AD some pages are changed and some new pages are added. The changes are described below:
- doc no.1 - Chula Vista, the nature crack
- doc no.7 - Brüsel, Revenge of the water
- doc no.10 to 16 is old doc no.9 to 15
- doc no.18 is old doc no. 17
- doc no.20 - Samarobrive - The Last Pages
After document no.20 the dossier is closed.
- Cernovada, The electricity market
- Harbor of the apes, The Crusoe invention
Editions / translations
|1986||L'Archiviste||French||Casterman||48||HC||2203349018||Large edition (40x30cm)|
|1987||De Archivaris||Dutch||Casterman||48||HC||9030385561||Large edition (40x30cm), signed and numbered (1-500 & I-L)|
|1991||Der Archivar||German||Feest Comics||48||HC||3894341845||Large edition|
|1991||Arkivaren||Danish||Bogfabrikken||48||SC||n/a||Large edition. Numbered 1-1000|
|1991||El Archivista||Spanish||Norma Editorial||n/a||n/a||9788479040277||Large edition|
|2000||De Archivaris||Dutch||Casterman||64||HC||9030385480||Enhanced version|
|2001||El Archivista||Spanish||Norma Editorial||64||n/a||9788484314080|
|2009||De Archivaris||Dutch||Casterman||64||SC||9789030362470||Slightly enhanced version|
|2009||L'Archiviste||French||Casterman||64||HC||9782203020382||Slightly enhanced version|
|2012||闇の国々||Japanese||ShoPro Books||-||HC||4796871322||Part of bundle 2|
|2021||Der Archivar||German||Schreiber & Leser||64||SC||9783965820463|
|2021||El Archivista||Spanish||Norma Editorial||64||SC||9788467946239|
|2022||L'Archiviste||French||Casterman||64||HC||9782203247406||New 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.|