I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book. - Groucho Marx

Jean “Moebius” Giraud, 1938-2012, 2012-Onwards

by Zack Kotzer
Oct. 23, 2014
“My dear Moebius,” wrote Federico Fellini in a fan letter to the poignant comic artist, “Everything that you do pleases me; even your name pleases me” (1). Fellini goes on to praise Jean “Moebius” Giraud’s abilities as a creator, reminisce of his joyous first encounter with Metal Hurlant (which Giraud helped to found, and which would become known in English as Heavy Metal), and suggests Giraud try his hand at film (though he does not directly suggest they collaborate on it). “I would never call upon you because you are too complete, your visionary strength is too formidable. What would there be left for me to do?”

Moebius would never direct a film himself (the closest being a collaboration with Fantastic Planet helm René Laloux, which was entitled Time Masters). Still, his presence in film, if not all incarnations of genre, is important, if not irreplaceable. Directly, he influenced Alien, Tron and a handful of cult classics like The Abyss, Willow and Little Nemo. Indirectly, his work and style was omnipresent. From Blade Runner to Nausicaä, Moebius’ ability to weave imagery, overlapping the crowded techno-orgy of dystopian futures with desolate, mesa-pierced wastelands of psychedelic fantasy, made its mark on the works of anyone who gazed upon it. According to William Gibson, Moebius is responsible for the look and feel for cyberpunk (2). According to Hayao Miyazaki, “all manga authors were shaken by this work” (3).

Giraud was born in France, but just as his style was not limited by, or even very acknowledging of genre tropes and conventions, his work with the pen found itself traversing the globe. With the American human comics-mascot, Stan Lee, Giraud illustrated Silver Surfer: Parable, a melodic and emotional mini-series that has since been one of the highest praised inceptions of Marvel’s conflicted cosmic hero. With the Chilean career dreamer, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Giraud illustrated The Incal, a vivid, epic cacophony in which even static images do not sit still. 

Before any debate of comic’s merits as art even surfaced, Giraud created gorgeous art to be used in the context of merited comics. Giraud did not possess just an unparalleled imagination; he also had the rare ability to viscerally portray it. He could draw what looked like dreams on the page, lush, colourful and seamlessly melding with an engaging, emotional experience for those who viewed it. His worlds were interchanging. His iconic, stoic wanderer, Arzach, rarely donned the same outfit twice, despite being consistently recognizable atop his stone pterodactyl. His gunslinger, Blueberry, questioned the boundaries of a contemporary western.

It’s hard to imagine that his work, his style and his visions would come to an end, yet sadly, this past Saturday, March 10th, Giraud passed away from an unpublicized fight with cancer. However, whether that means his visions will cease to influence the world is beyond question.

1. http://www.comicbookdaily.com/daily_news/fellinis-fanboy-letter-moebius/

Zack Kotzer is a writer, editor, ghoul and ex-carnie living in his hometown of Toronto. As of now he has contributed to the Torontoist, The Onion AV Club, the SPACE Channel, Sharp Magazine, Dork Shelf and is the associate editor and Toronto head of Steel Bananas. Right now Zack is looking to see what it takes to start a print magazine because he is as dedicated as he is naive. Is that what deluded means? No wait never mind, don't answer that. @KingFranknstein