Saturday, March 10, 2012

R.I.P. Moebius

Perhaps the greatest inspiration to me as a comic artist, Moebius (Jean Giraud), has sadly passed from this Earth. I'll always remember the Heavy Metal collection of Incal that blew my mind when I got it at such an impressionable age, as both a comic fan and aspiring artist, in around 1981-1982. Here was a large format graphic novelesque collection of work (Heavy Metal presents: Moebius), lead by the dazzling sci-fi story of John Difool, from the magazine that inspired the equally inspiring film (from the year prior). But more so, it was the craft of this master, unheard of in American comics, and certainly to me, that had so much skill and transcendence. It was at this time that Moebius made me aware of European comics, just as anime like Star Blazers (and a random imported manga or two) were turning me on to comics from Japan. There was a whole world of comics and talent out there to discover, but perhaps none so bright and intriguing, as that of Moebius.

That said, in the early 80's, finding more of The Incal, or Moebius, or manga, was just not possible for me - there was no internet, and there certainly wasn't any stash of this stuff at the local comic shops or shows. So aside from this taste of the man and his work - the book featured samples from several of his works, and galleries of his commercial illustrations - I never had much more to enjoy. I had gone through a faze of picking up the Heavy Metal magazines where I could, but this odd collection of French comics, or other works by Moebius, were not anything that ran inside them at the time. Then, it wasn't too many years after this that I got out of comics, so not having returned until the mid to late 90's, I missed all of the subsequent US adaptations of his work (which is still spotty at best), and the seminal collaboration with Marvel/Stan Lee and Silver Surfer, that to this day is what most US comic fans know the man for.

Certainly his DNA was all over the film, The Fifth Element (which was mostly a Moebius comic brought to life), and as it turns out, he had a hand in quite a number of popular sci-fi (Alien, Dune, and Tron) to some extent. But most people are unaware of this. Because of that, you likely are familiar with him, and don't even know it.
To me though, he was always the pinnacle of what comic artistry was about, pure unadulterated visuals that transport you to a higher state, of vision and skill unrivaled by any other. Having not aquired much of his work though, he simply left a lasting impression, a major component in an overall tapestry of what comics could, or should aspire to. To me that is Moebius, the dream of comics as art and story in perfect harmony.

If you aren't very familiar with the man, I urge you to seek out some of his work. While most of what I've seen can be obviously talented if not immediately engaging, his work does span a huge range of tastes, and, is undeniably skilled. So, perhaps take a moment to have a closer look. You'll be all the richer in soul for it.

Upon news of his passing, some quick Google searching turned up a couple solid finds...

First, for a genral overview, there's THIS

and then second, for an interesting collection of work (and sequentials) there is THIS BLOG

and lastly, there's this TUMBLR that is dedicated solely to his work HERE which has a wealth of his art on display (including The Incal).

Of his work, as I've said, I'm most familiar with The Incal (as it's known in the states - L'Incal if you're French), a collaboration with Jodorowsky, but perhaps his most popular work (outside the Marvel/Surfer) is Arzach, or Airtight Garage, and the Western Blueberry seems to be his most popular work natively (all of which are fine works, from what I've seen). The Incal, to me though, is unsurpassed in mature science fiction illustration. But if you do look into it, please, do not start with the prequel series (Before the Incal), which is not drawn by Moebius, not because of that, but that, you simply must be thrown headfirst into the world of this story at it's original starting point. The original first volume of the story (book one - The Dark Incal), to this day the only I've read, is a master class in story and art, so also be sure not to pick up the remastered version by Humanoids (from the early 2000's), as the coloring was changed (and the content censored I've heard), but one of the collections of the original material. There was a recent oversized complete collection, which I believe includes the unaltered content, that I've had my eye on (but it's a bit pricey). While this story may not be for all, the work itself is without a doubt worth seeing.

His work will be missed, but I look forward to continuing my journey of discovery and wonder with it.

1 comment:

Clayton Hollifield said...

My introduction to Moebius was "Madwoman of the Sacred Heart," because it was running concurrently in DHP with the original "Sin City" story. That's still my favorite, but there's really no wrong answer for what anyone's favorite Moebius story is.