Beautiful Darkness / Jolies Ténèbres by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoët

A dark fairy tale about surviving the human experience

Aurora’s having a tea party with Hector, the prince she’s been dreaming about, when a sudden deluge forces them to take shelter elsewhere. They emerge from the skull of a dead girl into the woods at night, and find themselves amongst a crowd of tiny people, all of whom are milling about. Aurora quickly takes charge of the situation, and at first things seem to be going well for most of her friends. Despite a few injuries and deaths and a lot of hunger, they forage successfully, and befriend a mouse that lives in the neighborhood. But as time goes by, more and more of the little people begin to lose hope, turning against one another in brutal ways.

Beautiful Darkness is a harrowing look at the human psyche and the darkness that hides behind the routine politeness and meaningless kindness of civilized society. The sweet faces and bright leaves of Kerascoet’s joyful watercolors only serve to highlight the evil which dwells beneath, as characters allow their pettiness, greed, and jealousy to take over. Beautiful Darkness presents a bleak allegory on the human condition; Kerascoet and Vehlman’s work is a searing condemnation of our vast capacity for evil writ tiny. 

Now available in English from Drawn & Quarterly | pdf preview


Les avontures de Spirou et Fantasio 54: Le groom de Sniper Ally (the Sniper Ally Bellhop), the first seven pages! I apologise for the badness of my translation.It’s usual to first read the whole album but I only have this, bought from Izneo. I have no clue how the album will continue. The very last text balloon of Spip is translated by Spiroureporter.

In other news only I’m interested in, the Dutch title of this album is known! It’s ‘Een piccolo in Sniper Ally’, literally translated 'A bellhop in Sniper Ally’.

Update: the release date of this album is known! It’s the 21th of November. 


Thwarted Fates (Les destins contrariés)

The Spirou and Fantasio story from Le Journal de Spirou 4000. Obviously I stole the English title from spiroureporter and the exclaimation ‘Stroll on’ from commetulevois (continuity is important! - oh wait).

Apparently, in this alternate universe where everything is different, Fantasio is straight. I think this says something about the canon universe.

In this story, the chaos theory ('butterfly theory’), the multiverse theory and quantum mechanics, which have little to do with eachother, are linked. The multiverse theory is depicted here as parallel universes that exist at the same time, but they could also be branched.

Those little figures in the margins are Spouri and Fantaziz. They appear in Le Journal the Spirou sometimes, not just in the special. I forgot how the pear-Spirou and the pickle-Fantasio are called.

Not sure if Fantasio is being helpful or sadistic…


Bellhop Forever

A Short story by Yoann And Velhmann that appeared in the Spirou 75th Birthday special, April 2013. Scanlation by me.

Bigger page links -1 -2 -3 -4 -5 -6

This story gave us the opportunity to pay tribute to the exceptional longevity of the magazine and also the characters that made it famous.The difficulty being not to miss out on too much about them, knowing that this is inevitable, we ask the authors concerned to excuse us … the other difficulty is to cover all of this little world in a short six-page story. - Yoann and Vehlmann 

The Magazine cover is from Spirou reporter. The pages are a mix of my scans with pages form inedispirous unpublished comics catalog (98-102). 

I translated it because I could understand most of it myself but I’m not great at french.Thanks to my friend Thomas for helping me out with part of it.


Cinebook release the first volume of Bruno Gazzotti and Fabien Vehlmann’s Alone (Seuls) series in English this month. The story centers around 5 children who wake up one day to find every single person in the city, except for themselves, has vanished. I wrote more about it here, where Vehlmann also talks about the decision to make the hero his story a young black kid, and the discussion around that. As you can see it looks pretty amazing, it’s all-ages and representative. You should look into it!

Last night, I read Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann, illustrated by Kerascoët, courtesy of the wonderful Gearfish. Hoooly crap. If you like dark fantasy/subverted fairy tales, this is definitely a graphic novel you should check out.

The illustrations and watercolors are phenomenal and the story stuck with me through the night. Don’t let the cutesy style fool you, this is a pretty morbid tale. I wouldn’t classify this as horror, but the terror lingers. 

(Also Amazon is having a pretty nice sale of this book at the moment FYI)


By Zainab Akhtar

It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoët’s Beautiful Darkness has been one of the undisputed standouts in the not unglorious year of comics 2014. Originating from the mind and sketch/notebooks of Marie Pommepuy (she, and partner Sébastien Cosset collaborate under the pen-name Kerascoët), the story of a group of tiny people springing from the body of a dead girl in the woods and the vicious lengths and efforts they go to to survive is appreciable on several, complex levels. One of the facets of great art is that it lingers in the mind, burrows and shifts, dredging up thought and questions, analyses, re-evaluation, and Beautiful Darkness is no different. And so, to accompany my original review, I’ve compiled a deconstruction of sorts presented here as various questions (answered and unanswered) and theories that dig further into the text and its potential readings.



This week’s AV Club review of Fabien Vehlmann’s and Bruno Gazzotti’s Alone vol 3: Clan of the Shark. Such a good, good series. Fun, suspenseful, scary, complex, great to look at. I enjoy it as an adult, but honestly, if you know any 7-12 year olds, I think they would absolutely devour these. Reviews of books 1 and 2 can be found here and here.

‘While apocalyptic scenarios often depict the consequences of social breakdown, Gazzotti and Vehlmann illustrate a situation that presents the problem of extremities in maintaining specific social mores. The apathetic nature of following group behaviors is further highlighted in the young, impressionable, and scared children. Ideologies and implementation of social hierarchies and constructs are a learned behavior, which Saul has developed from his father. It’s no accident that he goes into overdrive mode when his leadership is threatened by Dodzi and Leila, two black children who are admired and respected for their intelligence and resourcefulness, and easily trusted by the rest.’