La caverne du souvenir

Story Information
TitleLa caverne du souvenir
Number of pages51
Context Information
AlbumLa caverne du souvenir
Magazine PublicationTintin/Hello BD (fr); Kuifje (nl) (1983, number 45; 1984, number 3, 11, 16)
from the article "Andreas. In grey and in colors. (1983)":
Opinions about comic strips vary widely. Some say that a good page is best created in black-and-white. I on the contrary think that color adds a lot. Not just esthetically! It was no coincidence or joke that in La caverne du souvenir the story began in shades of grey, then turned to bright colors, later to return again to grey. It all has to do with symbolism. The colors speak their own language. Especially when it comes to the expression of feelings. I hasten to say that my fantastic story always start from explainable situations. By characters remain humans, who are suddenly confronted with something unusual."
from the article "Andreas. What I wanted to tell you... (1984)":
The publication of a new Andreas story is a special event each time. Of all our authors he holds back most. Along with that, the subjects he treats, fuzzy and mysterious as they are, are often somewhat disconcerting to the reader unused to his unconventional writing style. "The cave of memories", whose second part now commences, resembles personal experience even more, that is lifted up from the fantastical to the metaphysical. We wanted to know it for long. But only today we dared to ask...
"First of all you need to know," Andreas explains, "that these two complete stories make up a larger single story of 50 pages. To me it is important to emphasize that this is about a larger whole, of which the deeper meaning becomes clear only when the following parts have been read. That was one thing. Furthermore, it will come as no surprise that my thoughts and imagination is strongly influenced by many witness accounts of the old Celtic civilisation one still finds in Brittany - where I live. The idea of this story came while reading the works on druids and Celtic religion. A religion that has completely disappeared, blown away by Christianity, and seemed to me to be very liberating as compared to this Christianity with its stringent dogmas. I let the druid concepts work in on me. The Celtic ideas of death and the hereafter have made a great impression on me. I thought I could use this "relevation" and came up with the idea to reconstruct paradise as the druids saw it, by adapting it to our time and let the story play in the sombre regions of northern France and southern Belgium. We are situated in our time, in the industreal area with many coal mines and iron mills. Hence the sombre and monotonous-grey colors. My hero, who has not been initiated the the druid mysteries, has a strange experience: he enters a hostile world, that looks familiar at first, but soon turns out to be the land of death. Because he doesn't know the laws that govern this land where he considers himself to be lost, he has some unpleasant experiences at first. But isn due time, when he learns to read the tokens, he discovers...but it will leave this for you to discover...
The fact that I have been fascinated by Celtic mythology so profoundly is no doubt because it matches my personal imagination. But perhaps also because it tightly linked to the German fairy tales and legends I heard in my youth. You will find the same names, concepts and gods. But don't think that all this constantly occupies my mind. I am certainly not tormented by thoughts of death. As of the hereafter... I was never really occupied by it..."
from the article "The C of Andreas. Cromwell Stone, Cythraul and Cyrrus (1984)":
On the rocky coast of Brittany Cythraul sails into a cave. Behind him the entrance collapses. He discovers a subterranean world and starts a search. The ones he meets do not give him a direct answer, but do ask him what he hides in the package he carries under his arm.
La caverne du souvenir appeared in 1983 and 1984 in Tintin/Hello BD (fr); Kuifje (nl). The story is kept quite simple; the number of events is small. The symbolic layer of events makes the story less transparent: the reader can't get around the question what the reason of the events is.
In the pictures Cythraul's experiences are separated from his memories by respectively thick and thin borders. The pictures have been kept 'empty', the pages are laid out spaciously. The rather undifferentiated use of color, the odd angles of view and the, by the use of lines, realistic expression of charicatural characters yet make the comic not very clear.
from the article "La caverne du souvenir: a Celtic fairytale with a deeper meaning (1985)":
Comics can be read and interpreted on several levels. On the level of entertainment it only matters to let time pass in a pleasurable, loose, way. The pictures are observed superficially and the accompanying text is partly swallowed. It needs to be said that most comics can be enjoyed at this level only, often because of staggeringly ill-written stories. Yet some white ravens can be found in the small world of comics. Marten Toonder is such an author and draftsman of stories who invites both for entertainment as for a quest for the dungeons of Ollie B. Bommel's (and thus Toonder's) soul. In his work plenty of symbolism (dream -, literary, and archetypal symbolism) is available.
Andreas isn't afraid of the heavier work, either. His stories are crammed with symbolism, in which feelings and problems in disguised form represent Andreas' struggle with appearance and reality. It is filled with true emotion, straight from the heart.
La caverne du souvenir can be enjoyed on the level of entertainment and as a Celtic failytale with it's main theme the battle between good and evil. The main actor in a theatrical company is killed by an adversary within the group. The perpetrator represents evil. With this deed he tries to gain the powers of the dead man. His desire for power drags him down. He is killed by falling rocks. In the twilight zone between life and death his soul seeks its destination. The epilogue is told by a druid who points out in what way the soul should be taken to paradise.
The pictures experiment with odd compositions. The sphereful scenes are set in horizontal, vertical, or arced borders, seen from different perspectives.
Diving deeper into the comic story the alert reader stumbles upon a great number of symbols. According to the Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung, who lived from 1875 to 1961, a symbol is a sensory representation of something surpassing the represented. A deeper meaning is mentioned which is perhaps not understood by all, possibly sensed by many and only completely grasped by a handful of people. In La caverne du souvenir the masses, who sense the symbolism somewhat, will have to do with the mythological story that accompanies the symbol, for further explanation. In this case it is overly clear that Andreas is so fascinated by religion that he used the battle between good (represented by God the father, Christ the son and Mary, the holy spirit) against evil (personified by Satan or Lucifer) as feeding soil for this epic.
In doing so, he stumbled on primal images (so called archetypes), that originate from the collective unconscious. The Self, the total of a personality, is such an archetype. This greater Self (many times greater than the ego, the small I or I-awareness of man) expresses itself according to Jung in fourfolds in a cross form or in a circle (mandala) and is the expression of the totality of man. The Shadow, an archetype as well, the so called evil (that is not really evil, but repressed) is symbolised in Christianity by the devil and can be regarded as a supplement to the Christian trinity. The Holy Ghost (in Hebrew a feminine word) and Mary collide; thus forming the following fourfold:
The fourfolds always express themselves in 3+1, 3 good and 1 evil or 3 conscious and 1 unconscious, or 3 ends of the cross are short and 1 long, but also in 3 men and 1 woman, 3 young persons and 1 old. In the story of Andreas is Jean DeVille (Devil) the shadow, who comes to consciousness. The treasure he craves represents the Self and this treasure can't be conquered by violence. They who want to conquer the Self by violence will be destroyed by violence. And so Andreas makes it happen. Jean DeVille encounters himself as a dying old man (page 23). He has died then already, but by this confrontation he realizes his Self through death. This way drawing and story telling reminds one of the Bardo Thödol, the Tibetan book of the dead. Stumbling through the twilight zone of death Jean meets an old woman, the archetype of Anima, leader of souls and intermediary between the I and the unconscious Self. Jean obviously hasn't made use of the Anima (the female) in himself; as earthly being he had a pityful underdeveloped consciousness. The fourfolds in this story correspond to those of Christian doctrine, as depicted above:
Stage: Norwegian
Reality: Celtic
Above all we are pointed to four cities, four wise men (pages 26, 27, 28) and the four blissful islands (pages 55, 56). Kadern represents, like Balder and Christ, the Self in the form of the dying god/hero, sacrificing himself for gaining consciousness (the treasure in the box). Man keeps looking, however, for that which is there internally already by nature, yet covered by many veils: the Self.

(With thanks to Frans Gerritsen, member of the Interdisciplinaire Vereniging voor Analytische Psychologie.)

Dr. R.J. van Helsdingen, C.G. Jung edition Kruseman 1983 Den Haag, 4th print
from the article "Rork and the fantastic (1995)":
Before you left Tintin, you published La caverne du souvenir.
Andreas: Yes, that is one of my least successful albums. I actually made it in assignment. I drew it in Paris and colored it in Brittany. Despite of that there is not a trace of Bretonic influence in it. They just didn't have anything to publish in their Collection Verhalen en Legenden (FR) and asked everyone: "Don't you want to make something? A story based on Celtic legends for example." Generally I only start at a story after thinking it through for a long time. La caverne du souvenir I just made too quickly. I read some books, wrote the story and then drew it immediately. The same is true for Azteca and El octavo prisionero, I wrote them in assignment for a Spanish publisher. I didn't know much about the French revolution, I read some about it and then immediately wrote the story. That's not really my favorite way of working. For the same reason I find Azteca not very successful. I wrote it in assignment in memory of the 'year of Columbus' a couple of years ago. I chose the story of the Aztecs, because their history knows a definite start and end. All other subjects were too wieldly. So I read a mass of books and then tried to process everything in a story full of links. I screwed up, it isn't good. Sometimes I sadly tend to put too many things in a story. That's what's wrong with Azteca and La caverne du souvenir. They are loaded, nearly incomprehensible.
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