RIP Mœbius (1938-2012)

Jean Henri Gaston Giraud was a french comics artist, working in the french tradition of bandes dessinées (literally drawn strip or BDs).Known more prominently as Mœbius, and to a lesser extent Gir, the latter appearing in a boxed form at the bottom of the artists paintings.

His work has influenced generations of artists around the world for years. His transcendent, highly detailed technical ability belying the incredible simplicity of his compositions. The idea shines most brightly in most of Mœbius’ work, rendered with a clarity of vision rarely seen in any other artist.

Among his most famous creation was the Western comic series “Blueberry” which he cocreated with Jean-Michel Charlier, one of the first Western anti-heroes to appear in comics. Under the pseudonym Moebius he created a wide range of science fiction and and fantasy comics in a highly imaginative and surreal almost abstract style, the most famous of which are Arzach and the Airtight Garage of Jerry Cornelius, and the The Incal. Blueberry was adapted for the screen in 2004, and in 1997 Moebius and cocreator Alejandro Jodorowsky sued Luc Besson for using the Incal as inspiration for his movie The Fifth Element, a lawsuit which they lost.

Moebius contributed storyboards and concept designs to numerous science fiction and fantasy films, including Alien, Willow, and Tron.

Mœbius has given the most famous western artists and film makers their style. Modern industry legends such as Simon Bisley or Frank Quitely, Liam Sharp or Jamie Hewlett have drawn hhuge swathes of inspiration from his work.

The world of comics is significantly poorer without him, or would be had his legacy already been so securely etched into the rock face of modern comics art. An inspiration and an example to all artists arriving into the world now, Jean Henri Gaston Giraud’s effect will be felt for a great many years to come – perhaps as long as comic books exist.

4 thoughts on “RIP Mœbius (1938-2012)

  1. That news hit me right in the head and the earth. Follow and LOVE his work since the later beginning in Heavy Metal. Met him and talked about 2 hours with him in Angoulème in ’96 and he was a blast. A knowledge of all things absolutely brillant and icredibly interesting. A sad day but his work like his collaboration to Alien and his MASTERFUL comics are gonna shine forever. RIP my BD master, you’ll be missed. Say hi to the people on other timelines from me. I shed a few tears… \µ/—>:(

  2. Was literally reading ‘The Airtight Garage’ (haltingly!) the other day in French again. It is a crime that more of his work is not available in English translation, because he was truly an absolute genius of the genre. An immense loss.

  3. With that said, sueing Besson over ‘The Fifth Element’ seems a bit rich as the man who was *actually* responsible for most of the conceptualisation (and then later rescinded it to Besson’s use) was the (equally seminal, if more conventional) science fiction creator Jean-Claude Mezieres (who, so he liked to suggest, was also an inspiration for Lucas’s original Star Wars settings). Mezieres and Besson were actually very close collaborators for many years, and, because Mezieres had introduced Besson to concepts that he thought the director was no longer interested in using at one point, he reworked them into his own best-selling sci-fi comics series ‘Valerian and Laureline’, before Besson elected to rework them into ‘The Fifth Element’! Moebius certainly had some responsibility for the conceptualisation of some of the production design, though.

    With all this said, the key element may have been Jodorowsky, who is notoriously flaky about his intellectual property. I’m not really sure about the background to this story.

    It remains a perennial regret to some of us that Jodorowsky and Moebius never actually got to make their version of Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’, which would have been like nothing else ever made, I suspect, starting with Salvador Dali being cast as the Padishah Emperor and working on down. A pity, too, perhaps, that the otherwise rather fun ‘Heavy Metal’ movie (1981), which took inspiration from ‘Arzach’ for the final segment didn’t actually have the wherewithal to attempt to evoke Moebius’s gorgeous panels for the work.

    Amazing – Les Humanoides Associes have produced, collectively, some of my favourite comics material, period.

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