Le dernier Pharaon (the last Pharaoh) is the title of the Blake and Mortimer album designed by François Schuiten and co-written with Thomas Gunzig and Jaco Van Dormael. The album is coloured by Laurent Durieux.
The album is released as the 11th album in the “Autour de Blake et Mortimer” series. The release date of Le dernier Pharaon is May 29, 2019. The French and Dutch versions were released at the same time.
The making of this album took over three years. You can find a dossier about the making of this album at Blake and Mortimer by François Schuiten.
On May 28, 1952 in the journal Tintin, Professor Mortimer left Horus' room struck by amnesia. Sheik Abdel Razek had erased from his memory any memory of the discovery of the treasures of Pharaoh Akhenaten hidden in this secret chamber under the Great Pyramid of Cheops. From this adventure there remained only an enigmatic ring on Mortimer's finger. Abdel Razek did not give him the key. Sixty-seven years later, François Schuiten, Jaco Van Dormael, Thomas Gunzig and Laurent Durieux will help an aging Mortimer, quarreled with Captain Blake, to discover the secret of the ring.
The 80s. Professor Mortimers nightmares begin the day he studies strange radiation escaping from the Brussels Courthouse: a powerful magnetic field causes aurora borealis, breakdowns in electronic circuits and terrible nightmares among those exposed to it. The city is immediately evacuated by the army and surrounded by a high wall.
Mortimer has been living a gloomy retreat in London since then and Blake has risen in the ranks of the army where he holds important positions. With time, the two friends of yesterday are hardly seen any more. Until the day Blake comes to Mortimer. In the forbidden zone, despite the confinement of the building in a Faraday cage, the radiation suddenly resumed, threatening to erase the contents of all the computers on earth, including the data of the banks and the stock exchange.
To overcome the radiation, the army has designed a plan that jeopardises the future of the world. For Blake and Mortimer, despite their old quarrels, in spite of their age, it will be a question of starting again on the adventure, towards an abandoned Brussels to try again to save the world. And realize that the forbidden zone is not so abandoned as expected.
What they find there is connected with their past adventure, that which had led them in their youth, to the mysteries of the Great Pyramid.
Some example pages of Le Dernier Pharaon:
Some of the original black and white drawings by François Schuiten.
When we compare the black & white bibliophile edition with the normal edition with colors by Laurent Durieux we can see that Durieux sticked to the original drawings by Schuiten. Only a few minor alterations can be found. E.g. page 23 where on the second image of the lower row the click is removed. Or at page 32 a different way to show the screens shutting down can been found. Usually Durieux played with the way he applied colors: sometimes behind the black stripes of Schuiten, sometimes he replaced the stripes with colors. Only on a few occasions the color adds more than color, like the cow at page 59 on the first row or at page 97 the paper look of the document on the first row. With his coloring Durieux also sometimes adds light like he did on the first images of page 54 and the sunlight on the lower row of page 96.
The story of Le Dernier Pharaon starts with a flashback to the end of the story of “Mystère de la grande pyramide” by Jacobs. Blake and Mortimer wake up in the pyramid.
François Schuiten doesn't want to copy the style of Jacobs what can be clearly seen while reading the album 1). Until we come across a large image near the end of the album. The scene is very much in the style of Jacobs and almost clear line like the drawings by Jacobs. But it doesn't stop there: the image is placed by both authors as a large image on the left side of the page. Schuiten placed this image 8 pages before the end of the story, very close to the 9 pages before the end Jacobs used 2).
Dargaud launched the following announcement video a day before the release of the album.
Also an alternative version was made:
|2019||Le Dernier Pharaon||French||Les Éditions Blake et Mortimer||92||HC||9782870972809||First edition: 250.000 copies. The second edition (20.000 copies) has some minor changes.|
|2019||Le Dernier Pharaon||French||Les Éditions Blake et Mortimer||176||HC||9782870972830||Special edition limited to 8.000 copies. Its size will be oblong/italian/“half size” with half of the original page per page|
|2019||Le Dernier Pharaon||French||CanalBD||92||HC||9782870972861||Édition Collector CANAL BD. Limited edition of 2000 copies. Exclusive CanalBD cover. Frontispiece signed by François Schuiten on 25% recycled paper Conqueror laid 300g - sewn in the book, after the guards. CanalBD logo on the back cover and colophon on frontispiece.|
|2019||Le Dernier Pharaon||French||BDnet||92||HC||9910000071713||Special edition by Bdnet. Including a signed postal stamp. Limited to 300 copies.|
|2019||De Laatste Farao||Dutch||Blake en Mortimer||92||SC||9789067370912||First edition 31.000 copies.|
|2019||De Laatste Farao||Dutch||Blake en Mortimer||176||HC||9789067370929||Special edition limited to 1.000 copies. Oblong/half size format. This edition was already sold out during presales 3)|
|2019||F.Schuiten - Le Dernier Pharaon||French||Les Éditions Blake et Mortimer||32||HC||-||Carnet with the making of le Dernier Pharaon. See: Carnet F. Schuiten - Le dernier Pharaon|
|2019||Blake & Mortimer Spezial 1: Der letzte Pharao||German||Carlsen Verlag||92||HC||9783551740854||Based on the second French edition|
|2019||Den Sidste Farao||Danish||Cobolt||92||HC||9788770857765||Based on the second French edition|
|2019||L'Ultimo Faraone||Italian||Alessandro Editore||92||HC||9788882854119||Based on the second French edition|
|2019||Den Siste Faraonen||Swedish||Cobolt||92||HC||9789188897138||Based on the second French edition|
|2019||Le Dernier Pharaon||French||Les Éditions Blake et Mortimer||104||HC||9782870972861||A bibliophile edition with black & white pages. Numbered in a limited edition of 8.000 copies. Including sketches, artwork and a seperate ex-libris in colour.|
|2019||El Último Faraón||Spanish||Norma Editorial||92||HC||9788467938265||Based on the second French edition|
|2019||De Laatste Farao||Dutch||Blloan||104||HC||9789462107120||A bibliophile edition with black & white pages. Numbered in a limited edition of 1.600 copies. Including sketches, artwork and a seperate ex-libris in colour.|
|2020||O Último Faraó||Portuguese||Edições Asa||92||HC||9789892346984||Based on the second French edition|
|2020||Le Dernier Pharaon||French||Editions Laurent Hennebelle||108||HC||n/a||A special black & white edition printed with pigment inks, Format 58x43cm, 35 copies. Special cover and binding. Signed by all four authors. With added print. Price 1.350 euros 4)|
|2020||Le Dernier Pharaon||French||Editions Laurent Hennebelle||92||HC||n/a||A special coloured edition printed with pigment inks, Format 58x43cm, 35 copies. Special cover and binding.Signed by all four authors. With added print. Price 1.350 euros 5)|
|202?||Viimeinen faarao||Finnish||Arktinen Banaani||92||HC||9789522704511||Publication delayed to unknown date|
François Schuiten gave an interview to Laurence Froidevaux for Vertigo of Swiss RTS radio 6).
François Schuiten gave an interview to David Courier at BX1.
also Cine Heroes had an interview with Schuiten 7)
Dargaud, the publisher of Le Dernier Pharaon organised a series of events around the launch of the album.
The amount of attention around the release of Le Dernier Pharaon was unseen before for a comic book. Publisher Editions Dargaud won in December 2019 the “Le Trophée de la communication” from Livres Hebdo for this communication plan 8).
BX1 had an interview with François Schuiten after the award ceremony 11).
Le Dernier Pharaon won end November 2019 Le Prix de la BD Carrefour en Belgique 13). The prize is based on votes by customers of supermarket chain Carrefour and was awarded in 2019 for the first time. Jaco van Dormael made the following video of the announcement 14).
After the release of Le Dernier Pharaon some small mistakes were found. One of the most obvious is the one with the military men on page 84 wearing London police hats instead of military caps. This mistake has been corrected in the second print edition.
Another mistake corrected in the second print release is on page 24 where the MI6 building 15) in London is mistaken for MI5.
Another continuity error can be found when Mortimer climbs a stair with the wall on his left side, when suddenly the wall is on the right 16). François Schuiten explained that had focused on the dynamics of the page, which reflected the confinement of Mortimer's character in the pyramid 17).
And what about these three images?
The first one is famous British photographer Donald McCullin's 1964 photo of the Turkish Cypriot woman, second one is the blatant use of the photo as Libyan postal stamp. And the last one can be found in the album. Coincidence? According to many: the hands give it away… 18).