L’Ombre du Corbeau

L’Ombre du Corbeau (The Crow’s Shadow) was the first really successful story by Didier Comès, a leading comic strip figure during the second part of the 20th century. Initially published in the weekly magazine Tintin in 1976, the comic strip was published as an album in 1981 by the publisher Le Lombard. The brother and two sisters of the artist made a donation of the original artwork to the King Baudouin Foundation in 2013, in order to prevent his work being dispersed.

L’Ombre du Corbeau tells about the wanderings of a German soldier, Goetz von Berlichingen, during the First World War. Having survived a bomb attack, the soldier finds himself separated from his unit and discovers a parallel world in which he is cared for by strange characters. The soldier soon realises that his hosts are incarnations of different facets of death and that this parallel world influences the real world.

This work sees Didier Comès undergoing a stylistic transition, with numerous graphic innovations, some of which appear throughout his work. One notes, for instance, an almost total absence of speech balloons and this absence of sounds or words reappears in the rest of his work. Drawn to be put into colour, the black and white comic strip presents little hatching and flat black Indian ink, so that the illustration seems almost empty.

In this story, Didier Comès deals with the sense of life and death. This is symbolised, among other ways, by the very reduced amount of dialogue and onomatopoeia. He also evokes the absurdity of armed conflict. L’Ombre du Corbeau also marks a turn in the subjects Comès deals with. He leaves the universe of science fiction that characterised Ergün L’Errant to go to a more fantastical world. This work also marks the appearance of elements such as the crows and forests of the Belgian Ardennes, which appear throughout his work.

The initial objective for this work when it was published was to expand the readership of the weekly Tintin. But this was did not happen and the publisher asked Didier Comès to return to a more conventional style. Comès refused and gave up creating comic strips for a few years until he wrote Silence, his greatest success, which was published in 1979.

Works on paper
Type of acquisition: 
Donated by the brother and sisters of Didier Comès
Year of acquisition: 
Depository institution: 
Musée en Piconrue, Bastogne