In 2013, the King Baudouin Foundation was given the original artwork of the comic strip Silence, the greatest success of Belgian artist Didier Comès.

Silence first appeared in February 1979 in the monthly magazine (A Suivre). Published by Casterman between 1978 and 1997, the magazine targeted adults and aimed to get comic strips written and illustrated by the author to be better known and developed. In 1980, the story was published as a comic book by the publisher Casterman. In the same year, it was honoured with the Grand Prix Saint-Michel. In 1981, it was awarded the ‘Alfred for Best Album’ at the International Comic Strip Festival of Angoulême.

The magazine (A Suivre) gave Didier Comès the possibility of creating in total liberty, without the constraints linked to publications for young people, and it paved the way to a radical change of style. Comès turned to using black and white for Silence. He left out everything that was superfluous and used suggestion to enable the reader to understand the story. A deep, square window on a black background, for instance, can suggest that the action occurs at night, that the building is a farm or in the countryside, isolated in a deserted landscape.

This initiatory account tells the story of Silence, a young, simple-minded mute, who is exploited by an unscrupulous landowner in the village of Beausonge. Naturally good, Silence knows nothing of hate and the relationships of power in society. He meets a blind witch, living far from the villagers, who teaches him the notions of good and evil, while mysteries surround the small village in the Ardennes.

Didier Comès deals with adult themes in Silence. He depicts outsiders such as mutes, midgets and disabled people and it is these ‘outsiders’ who power the story along, whilst at the same time gaining dignity and normality. Such people are common to all of Comès’s work after Silence. His exclusive use of black and white enables him to infuse his characters with a unique and intense soul and to illustrate their torments, wounds, dreams and fears. Comès sets the action in a village in the Ardennes (Belgium), a reference to his own origins.

The brother and two sisters of Didier Comès donated the original artwork for Silence to the King Baudouin Foundation in 2013, in order to prevent his work from being dispersed.

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