A personal journey through the work of Jean “Moebius” Giraud – sculptor of worlds, creator of universes and master of his dimension.
Jean Giraud has been a part of your life ever since you can remember. This is something I have had to explain to everyone who asked me who he was and why he is so important. Over the last 50 years, this Frenchman went from comic book artist to path-breaking figure by changing the way we imagine. Giraud might have passed away on March 10 but his legend lives on through his work which consists of a huge body of quality illustrations, designs and story-telling. This art belongs to a dimension of its own and discovering this dimension evokes a sense of wonder and joy. Today is the day to take the journey through the Moebius dimension; to marvel at the genius that has left our world and to celebrate a person that has given us a beautiful vision of the future.
When he was still in his early twenties, Giraud traveled to Mexico for his mother’s wedding but stayed for months because he was fascinated with the desert which awakened the shaman within him. I really think that Giraud’s best work was often in illustrations depicting deserts. The impressive details he adds to each of his characters and objects tend to stand out even more in the stark emptiness of his desert landscapes. Giraud might have started out drawing westerns Blueberry, but to me it was his science fiction work that changed everything, and that was done by Moebius.
Blueberry was doing very well and Giraud was living his dream of drawing westerns, but he wanted to do more. He worked extensively with many other publications while drawing Blueberry. Giraud started to draw under the pseudonym Gir for some of his projects and eventually, he grew into Moebius. Metal Hurlant was where he really embraced Moebius as a part of him. Arzach was a mainstay of Metal Hurlant and the magazine was getting incredible attention from all over the world. The original series of Arzach was a beautiful tale of comic book artistry at its very finest and was only a four-story run. The protagonist Arzach remains silent throughout the series and entire story is told only through vividly coloured illustrations and it takes absolutely no time to read. The illustrations are heavily textured and the plot is simple, but it brutally depicts man’s base desires and primal nature. According to Moebius, Arzach to him was “like a Rorschach ink blot test” in that it revealed his personal feelings and inner psyche. Arzach was something of a revolution in French comics and is considered a timeless classic.
Moebius got more comfortable with his new futuristic style and produced a lot of very influential work from the mid-’70s onwards. Impressive titles such as Long Tomorrow, La Deviation, La Garage Hermetique and other Metal Hurlant stories were given immense critical praise as well a public admiration. It wasn’t just that his work was being appreciated but that it was also inspiring other great artists of the time. Moebius’ Long Tomorrow had a lot of stylistic influence on Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner especially in terms of the vertical city setting and the futuristic costumes. This is where the Moebius dimension unfolds as a magic place containing many universes for his characters whether they be protagonists or antagonists.
Moebius had a style which was all his own and when other people borrow a concept or illustration of his, you know it’s him because it is unmistakable. Tron is a movie he worked on and his vision for the world of Tron played a big part in the movie reaching the cult status it holds. The entire movie has Moebius’ design DNA all over it since it is dominated by purposeful and even lines creating a virtual feel. Moebius and two other designers created such a fantastic world that for me, light cycles, programs and “Users” are part of fantasy world which has endless possibilities for imaginative fantasy tales. I’ll be the first to admit that Tron was not much of movie in the traditional sense of good script, good acting which is all orchestrated by a brilliant director because the story was haphazard and the actors were usually overshadowed by the special effects and the sets but it really is a magical place which merits a place in any sci-fi fan’s heart.
Great as he was, Moebius did not write for any of the big mainstream comic book companies except on one occasion when teamed up with Stan Lee and created one of my favourite comic books of all time, Silver Surfer: Parable. The Silver Surfer is easily my favourite comic book character and his cosmic destiny touches upon so many different themes and emotions that it’s hard not to invest your own emotions into a Silver Surfer comic book. I got my hands on this comic book after reading hundreds of other Silver Surfer comics which were written and drawn by different writers and artists over the years, so I was well aware of what to expect from a Silver Surfer comic. This is not a great story and you could see that Stan Lee was a bit rusty and lackadaisical while writing this but somehow Moebius’ work rises above this. The trademark Moebius style was depicted perfectly in this comic book, psychedelic colours, clear lines and rich details were married with futuristic designs. Moebius lettered and coloured the comic himself which is very unorthodox for an American comic book, but this comprehensive approach to styling gave this Silver Surfer comic book a uniform sense of style which Moebius adhered to. This is still one of the best interpretations of the Silver Surfer I have ever seen and I treasure my copy of Silver Surfer: Parable. I hoped to one day get this comic book signed by Moebius and Stan Lee but that dream is gone now. The Moebius Dimension will stay open for whoever wants to let their imagination soar and I have no doubt that the comic book fans of the future will preserve and visit this place for many years to come.