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Return of Captain Nemo (The)

The return of Captain Nemo (French: Le retour du capitaine Nemo) is the title of the new Les Cités Obscures album that is released on October 25th, 2023 by Casterman 1).

This book is a blend of a comic book, illustrated narrative and the story of Jules Verne himself, who has settled in Amiens, and where a monumental bronze sculpture of the Nauti-poulpe will once be erected.


A hybrid creature emerges from the water. Part anima and part underwater craft, The Nauti-poulpe carries a man with amnesia. Where is this little vessel taking him, as it travels through more or less familiar territory? “Captain, I was a captain… I am Captain Nemo.

Layout by Philippe Ghielmetti

Some interior pages of Le Retour du Capitaine Nemo:

Other editions / translations

2023Le Retour du Capitaine NemoFrenchCasterman96HC9782203254398Announced for October 25th
2023De terugkeer van kapitein NemoDutchCasterman96HC9789030377900 Announced for November 15
2023Le Retour du Capitaine NemoFrenchEditions Hennebelle100HC-Deluxe edition, offset print using HUV inks on 200g Munken Pure paper.All the illustrations will have been the subject of special work in order to obtain the greatest possible finesse. The cover will be made of machine-made marbled paper. The book will be accompanied by an offset print, all numbered and signed by the authors. Estimated print 450 copies, with a retail price of 300 euros. Format: 38 x 51 cm. Announced for November 2023
2023Le Retour du Capitaine NemoFrenchEditions Hennebelle100HC-Deluxe edition, printed with pigment inks on 100 % cotton paper. The cover will be printed on a different shade of paper than the other edition. The book will be paired with a digital print and its certificate. The marbled paper used for this version will be handmade. All pages will be protected by archival-quality crystal paper. Format: 38 x 51 cm. Estimated print run: 60 copies at a retail price of 1,300 euros. Announced for November 2023
2024The return of Captain NemoEnglishAlaxis Press96--Kickstarter by Steve Smith, release early December
2024The return of Captain NemoEnglishAlaxis Press96--Kickstarter by Steve Smith, release early December. Edition with a tipped-in Ex Libris plate signed by Benoît Peeters and François Schuiten
2024Die zweite Reise des Kapitän NemoGermanSchreiber & Leser96-9783965821415Announced for January 2024

“Le retour du capitaine Nemo” will also be published in Polish (early 2024), Italian and Spanish. No release dates for the last two translations.

Image of the deluxe edition by Editions Hennebelle

The history of this book

François Schuiten has been working on the Nauti-Pouple project in Amiens since 2019. During a meeting in Amiens in June 2022 François Schuiten talked about this project. During the meeting François confirmed that the next album of the Obscure Cities will take place in Amiens.

Schuiten: ”As I advanced with the Nauti-octopus, I had this image of a story, which could only be part of the Obscure Cities. I called Benoît Peeters. We agreed.2).

Benoît Peeters, who writes the scenario, acknowledges that the work ”has a particular genesis. First of all, Verne has always been among the references and loves that François and I share. And while he was present in L'Enfant Penchée, within the cycle of the Obscure Cities we never wanted to approach him head-on“. 3).

In May 2023 Benoît Peeters confirmed that the title will be The Return of Captain Nemo, instead of “The Mysterious Return of Captain Nemo 4).

The Return of Captain Nemo was already mentioned in L'Echo des Cités 5) and Augustin Desombres made a fresco about this event in 1902 6).

Une bande dessinée qui n’est pas une bande dessinée, C’est mon côté Magritte ! François Schuiten 7)

It will not be a comic book, but a text-image story, in the same way like L'Archiviste and L'Echo des Cités 8).

The Return of Captain Nemo will not be foreign to comics. Simply, there will be no phylacteries,” explains Peeters to Actualitte: “By freeing himself from the constraints of a previous narrative, François was unleashed in the pleasure of drawing. And graphically achieves the best of his art9).

When the project started François Schuiten has made six black and white drawings and Benoît Peeters wrote the first texts around them. They will now work together on the remaining story. Laurent Durieux will help with the graphical aspects of the second part of the story.

The idea is Captain Nemo who crosses the seas, arrives towards the coast, goes up to the hortillonnages, discovers the cathedral, then the link with the Perret tower.

Schuiten: “For now, I have made several drawings. We will now write it with Benoît Peeters to make it a new chapter of the Obscure Cities. Benoît has written a text around my first images, entitled The mysterious return of Captain Nemo. It will not be a comic book, rather an illustrated book.

And it would start with images like the engravings of Jules Verne's books, then the Nauti-Octopus would take on a presence, a different texture, for which I will ask my friend Laurent Durieux.” 10)

Schuiten: ”The idea, for us, is to rebuild a dark City that has an anchor, the book would be linked to the Cities but also to a place. And the fact that this anchor is in the city of Jules Verne would be a beautiful story. A way of talking about the relationship between the imaginary and the real.

A somewhat hybrid object, like sculpture itself… Because it is also a question of nourishing the history of sculpture, of ensuring that it is not only a work placed somewhere, but the result of a whole maturation. We must not leave the sculpture orphaned in its history.11)


Francois Schuiten worked with the sculptor Pierre Matter on the Octopus garden project in Amiens. Their first idea involved the rocket from Verne's story From the Earth to the Moon, but without the context of the story the sculpture was quite aggressive.

Schuiten says ”And then I began to think about the Nautilus, the battle with the octopus and then the relationship between the two. And we had this idea with Pierre to move towards a form of hybridity.

Today, we know that we will soon have transplants, avatars, therefore bridges between the animal and mechanics. And I think that if Jules Verne lived today, he would certainly have visions of it. With this Nauti-Poulpe, we try to find the object that can embody Jules Verne's presence in Amiens.12)

See also: Nauti-poulpe

More artwork

The artwork of this album that has been published before the album was published.

See also