Endlessly the young Rork questions his foster father, who
tries to answer them as well as possible. On the night before
Rork's tenth birthday he turns to his wife: "We don't
have have any answers to his questions any more. Someone else
should...". Meanwhile Rork's asleep and dreams that he's
talking to strange, colorful creatures from another world. In
this dream he also meets Tanemanar, the master of dreams
Rork finally awakes after three nights of haunted sleep his hairs
have turned white as a sheet. A moment later Tanemanar comes for
him. Rork has shown an extraordinary intelligence already. Short
after he awakes from the dream mentioned above he gets his first
supernatural perception (a vision of the future, in which he sees
the house of his parents go up in flames). He then spends many
years with Tanemanar and has become, you could say, a sourcerer's
apprentice. Rork learns a lot very quickly, and in Le cimetière des géants
the time is right for his initiation in a
great secret, that of the passages to other worlds. A secret that
even Tanemanar has never mastered.
Both religion and magic believe in the existence of multiple
worlds. One of these worlds is ours, the human world. Other
worlds are peopled by spirits, gods and demons. Those worlds are
unimaginable by man (and thus terrible).
Religion also has the concept of transgression or passage.
But, ordinary man only enters one passage, at death. He leaves
the realm of the living and enters the world of the dead. Rork
obtains the power to pass from our world to parallel worlds in Le cimetière des géants
Hence Rork's no ordinary human. In La tache
we read about Rork: "an apparently young man,
whose birth wasn't witnessed by even the eldest inhabitants of
Alien's point". In Le maître des rêves
concludes: "... that was the last time I saw my parents.
That was three centuries ago." And in Le prisonnier du désespoir
he reflects "I can't age".
can be dangerous even to the highly gifted
Rork. The battle between Rork and Pharass, the guardian of the
is central in the second bundle of Rork's adventures. We
shall not go into this, since this album will only appear in half
Back to the beginning. In november 1978
the first episode of Rork
appears in Tintin/Hello BD (fr); Kuifje (nl)
: Un siècle pour une maison
promising work of the young artist Andreas, that draws attention
mainly by a mature drawing technique and the well told story.
Some influences are noteable, namely that of horror-and-fantasy
writer Lovecraft and of draftsman Wrightson. Of Berni Wrightson
(whom Andreas introduces in the first story as the young writer
Bernard Wright) we recognize the typical, cramped postures of the
persons: wide spread legs and arms, tendinous hands, faces with
mouths whose ends are drawn downwards, and the 19th century
clothing and waving cloaks. Furthermore Wrightson uses certain,
very conspicuous camera positions, like the bird perspective (for
example looking into the room from between the beams of the
ceiling). He also has a specific way of drawing lines, among
others a specific way of indicating shadows, namely by hatching.
We find this in Andreas work unmistakably. In the
black-and-white pictures that are published at the start of the
, are published we
recognize Wrightson's last work so precisely, the black-and-white
illustrations for Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein', that we
can see this as an ode. In his strips Andreas shows that he is
very well capable of telling his own story, even with borrowed
techniques. He perfects these techniques as well, and uses them
in a very personal way. For example he uses a very abnormal page
layout and often plain spectacular perspectives.
(1890-1937), an American writer of
pulp fiction, is loved by some adepts of the fantastic story. His
stories assume a self-developed Cthulhu-mythology: "All my
stories assume the fundamental knowledge or legend that this
world once was inhabited by another race, that lost its support
by practicing black art, yet lives on elsewhere, perpetually
prepared to take over the earth once again" (Wordt Vervolgd
The stories of Lovecraft are full of the threat of the
Unnamable, the Terrible. They are full of damned, occult
knowledge, cursed books and the insanity of those that once have
been in contact with what is to remain asleep, forever hidden.
Lovecraft has written succesful stories, like 'the Shadow over
Insmouth', 'The haunter of the dark',
'The outsider' and 'The thing on the doorstep'.
In the Netherlands, several bundles
have been published, mainly by Bruna. Lovecrafts horror is not
subtle, and many of his stories are boring and grotesque, but he
has inspired many people, amongst whom Philippe Druillet and
Alberto Breccía, who have each in their own way tried to express
's influence returns in Rork
in the visible
or invisible presence of that which cannot be comprehended:
Bernard Wright who suddenly starts to write in an unknown
handwriting (Un siècle pour une maison
), the impression that
remains after Neels' house is destroyed by something of outer
space (Point fatal
), the inhumanly great structure
and the presence of something that leaves large footprints, yet
remains (luckily) unseen in Low Valley
, the unavoidable
theat of an approaching death that leaves the writer just the
time to commit his terrible discovery to paper (Le prisonnier du désespoir
and the monster in Les oubliés
that inspires the people to express their feelings of hatred
towards eachother, resulting in killing eachother. Lovecraft
himself appears in the first episode of Révélations posthumes
a series of stories that Andreas made together
with François Rivière
for (A Suivre)
, in the same
period the first 'Rork' stories were made.
The first Rork
story of Andreas is promising, and the
following stories will only get better. Who then expects that
Andreas will become one of Tintin/Hello BD (fr); Kuifje (nl)
's heroes is mistaken: 'Rork'
hasn't entered a single reader's top ten.
For one thing, this is because Andreas' stories are not easy.
Drawings and text require concentrated reading, and that invokes
a near death sentence at the redaction of Tintin/Hello BD (fr); Kuifje (nl)
cannot be a coincidence that the brilliant 'Rork' stories
are replaced by the more artificial and rather boring story La caverne du souvenir
Just like the intriguing stories of 'Wen'
(by Eric) have been replaced by the adventures of 'Fool'
(site-editor: Dutch: Dwaaskop).
13 Stories of Rork
were placed over a period of
three-and-a-half year, with an occasional year-long inter-episode
period. In the beginning, at the time of the stories that were
later bundled into the first book, Fragments
caused few problems for the readers, since these stories were
rather autonomous. Any way, the infrequent appearance did the
recognition, and thus the popularity, no good.
The later stories, to be bundled in Passages
connected and reflect previous episodes repeatedly. By means of
flashbacks Rork's past is unveiled, and the complete history is
finished. That was impossible to trace in Tintin/Hello BD (fr); Kuifje (nl)
later stories of Rork
are too hard (or rather: too
subtle) to be published in a scattered way. Not only the
redaction, that waited up to a year before publishing stories, is
to blame, but mainly Andreas
, a perfectionist who never wants to
be satisfied with a result.
Whether 'Rork' will come back is unclear. A mysterious,
autonomous episode has appeared in Super Tintin/Kuifje
(1982), but in Tintin/Hello BD (fr); Kuifje (nl)
the 14th episode was never placed. It forms
the final act of the cycle and in it all lines of the story will
meet. This episode concludes book two, Passages
will appear in September. Up to then all readers of Tintin/Hello BD (fr); Kuifje (nl)
will have to wait for the unravelling of the story. Despite all
shortcomings of publication frequency (by one Tintin
reader even called the Rork-syndrome
) the fact that Rork
is stopped is a great loss to Tintin/Hello BD (fr); Kuifje (nl)
. We think the
readers of the albums Fragments
can agree to this.
Rork is, as we have seen, a magician. The master of dreams has
initiated him "in countless secrets from books that (he has)
only seen at his place" (Le cimetière des géants
initiation of the magician has a different purpose then that of
the believer. In the same way religious man believes and
reverently approaches to superhuman
in astonishment, the
magician wants to acquire knowledge
to get control over
, powers from different worlds. Where religion
bases itself on belief, magic basis itself on knowledge.
Knowledge of the supernatural is written in books an initiate can
read. We see Rork often absorbed by books. But for the same
reason his enemy Ebenezer, in Le retour de la tache
sets fire and later tells Rork: "I really only wanted to burn
your books...since that is where you could have learned the
secret of miss Darkthorn's powers and develop a counterforce."
To the magician the science of the supernatural is not an
impossibility, since everything reflects everything: for example
we can trace matters of this world in the constellation of the
stars (the macrocosmos) or in the intestines of an animal or the
cards in a deal of cards (the microcosmos). To the magician it
holds: as above, so below.
Rork possesses a lot of knowledge. That knowledge brings with
it many dangers. Point fatal
starts with the line: "Rork
knows that even in the loneliness of his own home he isn't safe
to a sudden interruption by unknown forces, that seem to observe
him continuously". In Le cimetière des géants
Tanemanar says about the knowledge (of passages) that Rork is to
gain that he will carry this as a "continuous threat".
A good example of how everything is connected is the story Point fatal
When Adam Neels (read Neal Adams
, an American
comics artist) makes a sphere burst other spheres may burst as
well. Andreas doesn't explain exactly what occult relationship
exists between the spheres, but does make Neels explain his
invention: "One places a sphere between the rings... places
the needles against the sphere... and spins the flying
twice... notice the pattern of lines that is
drawn... () In all this mixup of crossing lines there is always
one point where five lines cross. It requires only a light
pressure to..." and the sphere bursts.
At first one is inclined to think that the sphere that was
placed in the device has gone weak by all the markings on its
surface. But that doesn't explain the synchronous exploding of
other spheres of the same volume that are positioned elsewhere.
We must thus presume that Neels has a much more fascinating
theory: every sphere has a weak spot, and with his device he is
able to determine this spot. The bursting of all kinds of spheres
proves his theory, and he is proud of it.
To the magician Rork it is a small leap of thought to then
imagine the earth's sphere, and a nut that discovers that fatal
point on the earth's surface. "All right, agreed" says
Neels, "that has occured to me... but who would be crazy
enough to saw through the branch he is sitting on?"
Rork: "Exactly, a nut... or... yes, indeed, a nut..."
Neels: "O, You always exaggerate! You spoil my beautiful
Rork holds something back, but we can guess his thoughts: the
same way Neels can burst the spheres in his laboratory, an alien
power, to whom the earth is a mere toy ball, can burst the earth.
What happens to us on a small scale (microcosmos) can happen
elsewhere on a large scale (macrocosmos).
A minute later the events start to follow up rapidly as the
villagers, that have had some hindrance of the side-effects of
Neels' experiments, decide to destroy Neels' cabin to end it all.
At that moment Neels has to admit that he has found the fatal
point already, and has build his cabin on top of it. Almost
immediately a supernatural force lowers "an enormous mass".
Lucky for us Neels has made a mistake in his calculations.
Understandably, since he is unable to build a device of suitable
size for thís calculation.
We then return to Andreas' precision. At the moment Rork
reaches Neels cabin (2nd page) we can see a kind of ivy growing
above it. If we watch really carefully we can even see a cable
and a hook in it. This is a detail we probably won't notice, but
it returns at the 6th page. The page, in which Neels explains to
have build his cabin on top of the fatal point, offers a top
view (bird perspective) on the cabin and the people running
towards it.We can see clearly that the cabin has been hung up
with these cables between two trees. Alongside these cables the
ivy curls. Thus Neels was afraid the weight of his cabin alone
could mean an overload of pressure to the earth's surface.
The bird perspective through which we see the cabin is
therefore not only very pretty, but very functional as well. And
it certainly is not the only thing that is extremely effective:
when at the same page the mass in the form of a giant needle
descends from the sky, Andreas uses a picture that spans the full
height of the page. For the impression of the needle in the
earth's crest he chooses a large picture, to do justice to the
giant proportions of the needle. For the picture in which Rork
and Neels conclude that "somewhere up there () there is a
power that is after our planet" Andreas takes a frog's
perspective to also show the starry sky above. One star is
blue...the color of the needle! Andreas uses more techniques very
functionally to tell his stories. For example his use of color,
or the composition of the pages.
Andreas picks his colors with care. For ordinary scenes the
colors are more or less realistic. In Le maître des rêves
the dreams of the ten year old Rork were depicted in
conspicuously bright colors, to express the living experience of
Impressive is Andreas when he uses shades of merely one or two
colors, like in the flashback in Le prisonnier du désespoir
that is done in brown and grey, and the passage scene in Le cimetière des géants
in which the color changes from purple-violet to blue-grey.
Andreas' attention to colors expresses itself in other moments
as well. Thus at some point he had to make a summary of past
stories for Tintin/Hello BD (fr); Kuifje (nl)
, because they had waited a long time
with the publication of the sequel. This page (site-editor: Fragments Summary
Andreas shaped into a disc, with Rork in the middle and the figures that stage the
episodes around him, each story a segment of the circle, that
isn't closed since the story isn't over. This page was printed in
black-and-white in the album Fragments
but in Tintin/Hello BD (fr); Kuifje (nl)
it appeared in color. It was performed as a colorful disc: the
segments of the disc each were performed in shades of one color,
and this main color passed into the next segment's color: from
yellow through green to blue, purple and red. The center space,
with Rork in it, was white: Rork is the sum of all parts.
As we finally consider the symbolic level, we see that Rork
who's dressed in black in later periodes finds himself opposite
an opponent, Pharass, who is dressed entirely in white. This way
the war between Good and Evil is for once expressed in a
Andreas uses increasingly
stranger looking pages in the course
of the stories. He uses page layouts we have only seen at Crepax,
like pages with oblique pictures, or full of small fragmentary
images. One can find very beautiful pictures of Rork. Let's take
the first two pages of Le cimetière des géants
example. The first page offers us a view of the room. We look
through the beams of the ceiling into the room. We can see books
everywhere, and Tanemanar and Rork are just going outside. The
second page consists of six page-wide pictures below each other,
in which we come from high above Rork and his master, going down,
while approaching the two persons, and then, still descending,
move away from them again, until at last we find ourselves far
below Rork and Tanemanar. Across this page you could, so to say,
draw two diagonals: the camera that moves from the upper left to
the lower right, and the persons moving through the wood from the
lower left to the upper right.
This is not only tightly scheduled and esthetically sound; it
is also - and that what important in a strip - very functional.
At the last picture the two persons approach from the woods to an
abyss, into which they will descend shortly. Through the fast
lowering of the camera the reader is already standing below,
making the abyss appear to be very deep.
The same way we can look at the next pages in the same story,
in which Andreas draws huge monsters (large picture), followed by
a descending Rork and his companion (small pictures, read from
top to bottom), followed by the beast breaking through the
ceiling (vertical picture, read from bottom to top).
Experimental, indeed, but remarkably well readable, and thus well
Every strip is told with texts and images. Text and images
each have their own properies, though. Andreas makes use of that.
He for example opposes text and images occasionally. The text at
the beginning of Point fatal
reads: "Its a
sombre, savage forest. The people of the village rarely dare to
go there..." The image indeed shows us that sombre, dark
forest, yet at the same time a cabin, and the shadow of a man
falling on a treetrunk. The image contradicts the text, more or
less, and prepares us for the next picture, in which we learn
that the old Neels lives in the cabin, and we see that the shadow
belongs to Rork, who is approaching the cabin.
Andreas uses, particularly in his later stories of Passages
many pages without text, which in itself is a piece of art few
authors are capable of. In the forelast episode (the last one to
be published in Tintin) he even tells two stories at the same
time: one by means of the texts and one by means of the images,
having a very dramatic effect. The text reflects the conversation
between Rork and the private investigator Raffington Event, and
the images show what happens concurrently, elsewhere, between the
opponents of Rork. At the last picture of the episode Rork
concludes his story, and his enemies reach his house at that
moment. All elements are present for a (sensational?) finale.