Isles of the Dead


The Isle of the Dead (version five, 1886) by Arnold Böcklin, Leipzig, Museum der bildenden Künste.

Reading old comics recently turned up the page below by Philippe Druillet which I didn’t remember having seen before. The drawing is from Gail, one of Druillet’s Lone Sloane stories (but not one included in the Six Voyages of Lone Sloane), and shows the entrance to a typically sinister Druillet city modelled on one of Arnold Böcklin’s Isle of the Dead paintings. (Druillet’s original was in black-and-white but was later coloured.) This derivation manages to keep all of Böcklin’s details while cleverly turning the cypresses into a fanged mouth.


Philippe Druillet (1976).


Böcklin’s cemetery isle has been the subject of several posts here, being one of my favourite paintings and also an object of fascination for its continuing influence in a variety of media: novels, films, music and, of course, comics. Druillet quotes from other artists in his Lone Sloane stories—notably Escher and Grandville—so the Böcklin quotation wasn’t too much of a surprise., the website devoted to works influenced by The Isle of the Dead, turned up a few more comic-related examples, some of which are featured below. What’s notable about the examples at Toteninsel is that they’re all from European artists; that’s not to say there isn’t an example to be found in American comics but European comic art seems much more aware of Symbolist painting.


François Schuiten (1987).

Schuiten replaces the cemetery isle with one of his mysterious “Networks”. (See this post.)


My adaptation of The Call of Cthulhu (1988) managed to quote Böcklin twice, with a reproduction of the Leipzig painting prefiguring the later revelation of Cthulhu’s risen city of R’lyeh.



Philippe Caza (1989).

Philippe Caza is a comic artist but this is a painting for the cover of a French edition of The Isle of the Dead (1969) by Roger Zelazny.


Florence Magnin (1995).

Böcklin’s island is popular as a fictional location, appearing here in Florence Magnin’s pirate series, Mary La Noire.


Milo Manara (1998).


Giancarlo Alessandrini (2000).

By contrast, this story has Böcklin’s paintings as its subject:

A chain of impossible robberies throw the museums into confusion. Mysterious individuals, living to an incredible age, purloin all the existing versions of The Island of the Dead, the famous painting by the Swiss artist Arnold Böcklin. Perhaps it’s simply a question of a mania of that has taken hold of inveterate collectors, but this is only a vain hope and the Detective of the Impossible knows this. How can thieves be stopped if they are literally able to disappear into thin air? And what secret is hidden in the stolen paintings?

I wouldn’t mind reading this but there doesn’t seem to be an English translation. I was hoping there might be a Moebius isle somewhere other than the dubious example at Toteninsel which is too low-res to be decisive either way. If anyone knows of one (or any other comic panels not at Toteninsel) then please leave a comment.

Previously on { feuilleton }
A Picture to Dream Over: The Isle of the Dead
The Isle of the Dead in detail
Arnold Böcklin and The Isle of the Dead

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