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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

Indiana Jones: The Cursed Grimoire Indiana Jones
The Cursed Grimoire
Graphic Novel
Written and drawn by C. Moliterni and G. Alessandrini
July 1995

Indy receives an alchemical book in the mail that may lead to the fabled philosopher's stone.


Read the story summary at the Indiana Jones Wiki


Notes from the Indiana Jones chronology


This graphic novel takes place in 1936 (though a handwritten note by Indy at the beginning of the book is dated April 1933 without explanation).


Didja Know?


Indiana Jones and the Cursed Grimoire (Indiana Jones et le Grimoire Maudit) is a French graphic novel first published in France in 1994.


The book's authors, credited as C. Moliterni and G. Alessandrini, are Claude Moliterni (1932-2009, a prolific French writer) and Giancarlo Alessandrini (an Italian comic book artist).


Notes from The Lost Journal of Indiana Jones


The Lost Journal of Indiana Jones is a 2008 publication that purports to be Indy's journal as seen throughout The Young Indiana Chronicles TV series and the big screen Indiana Jones movies. The publication is also annotated with notes from a functionary of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation, the successor agency of the Soviet Union's KGB security agency. The KGB relieved Indy of his journal in 1957 during the events of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The notations imply the journal was released to other governments by the FSB in the early 21st Century. However, some bookend segments of The Young Indiana Chronicles depict Old Indy still in possession of the journal in 1992. The discrepancy has never been resolved. 


The journal as published does not mention the events of this graphic novel, going from the end of The Temple of Doom to Indy trying to track the whereabouts of Dr. Abner Ravenwood and segueing into the events of Raiders of the Lost Ark.


Characters appearing or mentioned in this story


Professor Jacobs (dies in this story)


police officer

man in trench coat



Indiana Jones

library patrons

Nicolas Flamel (mentioned only)

Marya Smirnova

Master Canches (dies in this story)

American taxi driver

Henry Jones, Sr. (mentioned only)


past Master of Canches (mentioned only)

Clipper pilot

Clipper passengers

Clipper steward

Arnaud de Montsigny (missing, presumed dead in the course of story)

Frédéric Joliot-Curie

Irène Joliot-Curie (mentioned only)

laboratory assistant

French taxi driver


Colonel Joost Von Meert (dies in this story)

Professor Jacobs

college students




Didja Notice?


The story opens in "Aulrictown" Arkansas. This is not a real town. Possibly this is meant to translate to "Goldtown" since auric is an ion of gold (Au3+), though there is no town in Arkansas by that name either.


Page 5 is said to be set at Indy's home around Barnett College. He should actually be working a Marshall College at this time. Both colleges are fictitious.


In panels 3 and 4 of page 5, Indy has a painting of what appears to be the Great Pyramids of Giza on the wall of the study in his house.


The book Indy receives by post is filled with heiroglyphics and symbols. Indy translates the title as The Book of Abraham the Jew. It does not seem to be the so-called Book of Abraham allegedly translated by the founder of the Church of Latter-Day Saints founder Joseph Smith.


In the book, Indy reads that the 15th Century alchemist Nicolas Flamel had had possession of the Philosopher's Stone. Nicolas Flamel (1330-1418) was a French scrivenir whom some alchemists of the 17th Century claimed was an alchemist himself who discovered the Philosopher's Stone and, from it, invented an elixir of immortality. A couple claiming to be Flamel and his wife appeared in The Philosopher's Stone. The Philosopher's Stone is a mythical alchemical substance capable of transforming base elements into gold and also said it could be used as an elixir of life (rejuvenation or immortality). Indy never mentions here his past brush with the alleged Philosopher's Stone in his earlier (1933) adventure.


Marya tells Indy she knows someone who may be able to tell him more about the grimoire, a Master Canches at the Brooklyn Hebrew Library. This library appears to be fictitious.


Indy and Marya take an express train from Princeton to New York City.


Page 9 reveals that Marya also knows Indy's father and originally learned of Master Canches from him.


Master Canches tells Indy and Marya that the Book of Abraham the Jew presents an esoteric philosophy based on an interpretation of the Old Testament. The Old Testament, of course, is the first division of the Christian Bible, made up largely of the books of the Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh.


Master Canches says that the grimoire was in the hands of Cardinal Richelieu for a time, but he was unable to translate the strange symbols and after his death the grimoire disappeared. Richelieu was consecrated as a Cardinal in France in 1622 and soon became King Louis XIII's chief minister and is considered to be the world's first Prime Minister.


On page 11, Master Canches says that Flamel was finally successful in transmuting lead into silver and mercury into gold. Although in the West, the common assumption in alchemy was the practitioner's attempts to turn lead into gold, there are branches (particularly in India) where alchemists were said to have turned mercury into gold in the mythology.


Master Canches says the book indicates that Flamel was able to translate Egyptian hieroglyphs long before (centuries) Champollion. Jean-François Champollion (1790-1832) was a French philologist and early Egyptologist who first learned to decipher Egyptian hieroglyhpics through study of the Rosetta Stone, an Ancient Egyptian stele transcribed in 196 BC, featuring a text in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, Demotic script, and ancient Greek, becoming a translation tool for Egyptian hieroglyphics.


Master Canches notes some figures in the book that seem to be from the Asch Mezareph. The Asch Mezareph is an alchemical text originally written in Aramaic Chaldee, from the 16th or early 17th centuries.


Master Canches is wearing a black yarmulke, but in panel 4 of page 11, it dissapears before returning in panel 6.


Before he dies, Master Canches tells Indy to go the the Musée de Cluny in Paris and ask to see the tombstone of Flamel and find the hidden flask that contains the red powder which, when mixed with mercury, gives gold. The museum actually does hold the tombstone of Flamel.


Indy tells Marya they must take the next Pan American Clipper to La Havre. The Pan American clipper was a transoceanic airplane type that took off and landed on water and was used for the first transoceanic flights in the 1930s (though the first passenger flights from America to Europe did not begin until 1937, from my understanding). Pan American was a U.S. airline from 1927-1991.


On page 15, Arnaud remarks that Flamel died in 1417, but all the sources I've found say it was the following year. 


Indy's translation of the main part of Flamel's tombstone is largley accurate, but the Latin phrase Vulnerant omnes, ultima necat does appear on the real tombstone. The Latin phrase is as Indy translates it, "they all wound, and the last kills", referring to the minutes on the clock and our own inevitable death. This Latin inscription was found on the clock faces of churches or public monuments, just as Indy says. The tombstone drawn here is pretty close to the look of the actual one.


Obtaining a sample of Flamel's red powder at the museum, Indy and Marya take it to a lab nearby and ask Frédéric Joliot-Curie to test it and where Marya is disappointed not to also meet Joliot-Curie's wife, Irène. Frédéric (1900-1958) and Irène (1897-1956) were French husband and wife physicists who won the Nobel Prize for artificial radioactivity in 1935. The story reveals that Indy and Frédéric have met before, but the details are not revealed.


On page 21, it appears that Indy and Marya are staying at the Hôtel Ritz in Paris. The taxi in which they arrive at the hotel may be a Citroën.


Using the alias of Joost Van Meert to appear Dutch, Nazi Colonel Von Meert introduces himself to Indy and Marya as a professor from the University of Rotterdam. This probably refers to Erasmus University Rotterdam in the city of Rotterdam, Netherlands.


Indy and Marya catch a T.W.A. flight back to the U.S. Trans World Airlines, popularly known as TWA, was an international airline that operated from 1930-2001, though my understanding is that it did not begin serving Europe until after WWII. 


Arriving back in the U.S. Indy tells Marya they will attempt to complete the process on the red powder to make it into a philosopher's stone at his laboratory! I guess he's just referring to the lab at the college he teaches at. The building pictured on page 26 looks similar (though far from exact) to the main building at Barnett College as seen in The Last Crusade (though again, Indy is supposed to be at Marshall College at this time).


While Von Meert and his Nazi cohorts hold Marya hostage, they demand Indy meet them in three days at Red Cross Junction, in Bryce Canyon, at fifteen o'clock sharp. "Bryce Canyon" seems to be Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. As far as I can find, Red Cross Junction there is fictitious. "Fifteen o'clock" would be 24-hour time (or military time) for 3:00 p.m. 


On page 37, Von Meert's hidden laboratory in Utah appears much more sophisticated than it should be for 1936, even appearing to have a bank of computers before electronic computers were invented!


Von Meert's title of Oberstmanführer technically means "Colonel Commander" in German.


Von Meert remarks that alchemy was for centuries only practiced in Greece and Egpyt. In the Western world, alchemy was first known of in writings of Greco-Roman Egypt. The East has ancient writings that seem to be concerned with alchmical topics going back millennia.


Von Meert says that Flamel's tomb remained in place at the church where he was buried in 1418 until 1797. From what I've been able to find historically, the tombstone remained in place until 1810, when restructuring of the church (Church of Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie, also known as the Tour Saint-Jacques) occurred.


Von Meert relates a news account of the sentencing of Polish scientist Dunikowski for pretending to have made gold, who then fled to San Remo. This refers to Zbigniew Dunikowski, who claimed to be developing a process for procuring gold from common rocks and sand. The San Remo referred to may be the small city in Italy.


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