Altaplana, world of Francois Schuiten and Benoit Peeters

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Rebuilding Story worlds

Rebuilding Story worlds, the Obscure Cities by Schuiten and Peeters is book by Jan Baetens that was published by Rutgers University Press 1) in June 2020.

Jan Baetens is a professor of cultural studies at the University of Leuven in Flanders, Belgium. His recent books on comics and visual studies include The Graphic Novel, coauthored with Hugo Frey, The Cambridge History of the Graphic Novel, coedited with Frey and Steve Tabachnick, Novelization: From Film to Novel and The Film Photonovel: A Cultural History of Forgotten Adaptations.

Rebuilding Story Worlds offers the first full-length study of Obscure Cities series, exploring both the artistic traditions from which it emerges and the innovative ways it plays with genre, gender, and urban space. Comics scholar Jan Baetens examines how Schuiten’s work as an architectural designer informs the series’ concerns with the preservation of historic buildings. He also includes an original interview with Peeters, which reveals how poststructuralist critical theory influenced their construction of a rhizomatic fictional world, one which has made space for fan contributions through the Alta Plana website. Synthesizing cutting-edge approaches from both literary and visual studies, Rebuilding Story Worlds will give readers a new appreciation for both the aesthetic ingenuity of The Obscure Cities and its nuanced conception of politics.

The book (6.125 x 9.25 inches) will have 198 pages, 34 b-w images, 43 colour images,

Example pages

Some example pages from Rebuilding Story worlds.

You can read a preview at Google Books.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
1. A New Series, A New Type of Author 2. A World of Its Own
3. More than a Possible World
4. Between Chapter and Series
5. A New Fantastic
6. In and Out the Medium
7. Doing Politics in Comics
8. Close-reading The Leaning Girl
9. A Conversation with Benoît Peeters
10. Image Gallery
Primary Sources
Secondary Sources


In this compelling study of world making and storytelling in The Obscure Cities by François Schuiten and Benoît Peeters, Jan Baetens offers a subtle and intelligent reading of how structures of authorship, character, image, and world draw readers into a truly fictional universe in which interpretation and rereading are key. With this book, Baetens has certainly brought The Obscure Cities into its rightful place in the history of American and European comics. Nancy Pedri, Memorial University of Newfoundland

With clarity, insight, and depth, Jan Baetens’ Rebuilding Story Worlds gives the reader all the essential keys to navigate François Schuiten and Benoît Peeters’ sprawling graphic novel series The Obscure Cities— Belgium’s most sophisticated, contemporary bande dessinée opus. Jean-Paul Gabilliet, author of Of Comics and Men: A Cultural History of Comic Books in America