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RIP: Jean "Moebius" Giraud


The comics world lost one of its greatest visionaries with the passing this morning of the French artist Jean “Moebius” Giraud. One of the most influential artists of the last 40 years, Moebius died at his Paris home after a long illness at age 73. According to this interview from earlier last year, in recent years his eyesight had been failing, making working very difficult.

Under his own name, Girard drew the famed Western comic Lt. Blueberry, a masterpiece of the idealized West. As Moebius, he stretched the boundaries of both comics and consciousness with a series of mind-stretching fantasies such as Arzach, The Airtight Garage, and L’Incal, the last his collaboration with fellow explorer Alejandro Jorodowsky.

Among his most lasting achievements, Moebius co-created the French magazine METAL HURLANT, which, as HEAVY METAL in the US, blew the minds of impressionable youngsters around the world with both naughty Euro-sex and expansive science fiction.

It was mostly through this that he got his best-known work as a designer for films, including TRON, ALIEN, THE ABYSS, and THE FIFTH ELEMENT. It was through the first two alone that Moebius’s refined, lyrical vision of the universe became part of the cultural heritage of imagineers everywhere.

Just recently, the work of Moebius and his METAL HURLANT contemporaries has become a touchpoint for more recent generations of American cartoonists, led by Brandon Graham. Or as Tom Spurgeon wrote just this week:

If you’re paying close attention to what’s being written on the Internet about comics and by whom — and why wouldn’t you be? — you might process the piece as the latest by those writers and cartoonists under 35 or so to forge a connection with the strongly-crafted fantasy comics of the 1970s and 1980s, which you might then be able to interpret as something these folks are doing to craft a meaningful comics history for themselves that’s more about those comics and cartoonists and less about things like RAW and the undergrounds.

In recent years, very little of Moebius’s work has been published in English, reportedly due to contract difficulties. Here’s a rough guide to some of what is available. In the US, his best known work was probably his 1992 Silver Surfer graphic novel, written by Stan Lee and argued about in the submarine film, CRIMSON TIDE.

As soon as his death was announced, both Moebius and Jean Giraud were trending worldwide on Twitter. The outpourings of condolences have come from every sector of the comics industry, and the next few days will see more and more. Perhaps no cartoonist aside from Kirby has had such a huge visual impact on the last 50 years.


Robot 6 rounds up industry reaction.

Moebius was the subject of an amazing retrospective in Paris last year. Here’s the art.

The Comics Journal has reposted Kim Thompson’s 1987 interview with the man.

Moebius and Miyazaki in conversation..

Miyazaki – Through Arzach, which dates from 1975 I believe. I only met it in 1980, and it was a big shock. Not only for me. All manga authors were shaken by this work. Unfortunately when I discovered it, I already had a consolidated style. So I couldn’t use his influence to enrich my drawing. Though, even today, I think he has an awesome sense of space. I directed Nausicaä under Moebius’ influence.

Moebius – It’s true that when I saw Nausciaä… It proves that influence doesn’t matter much, what matters is that there was a community, a like-mindedness of inspiration that predated the conscious meeting, that, beyond cultures and beyond time and space, lets a person meet another one and feel synchronized with her. I was stricken not by what makes us look alike, but that people could see resemblances while so many things separates us. Mr. Miyazaki struck me because he was almost an executive, an industry director; because I know that animation cinema is an industry that demands a lot of power, since you have to lead 100, 150 or 200 people. And I’m amazed by the continued inspiration, the quality of inspiration, despite all this heavy machinery, over so many years. This I find absolutely incredible, and admire immensely. For I work alone, I am solitary.

Fellini’s letter to Moebius.

“THE LONG TOMORROW”—a short story by Dan O’Bannon (Alien) and Moebius that much influenced BLADE RUNNER.

In Search of Moebius – Jean Giraud clip1/3 by foivosloxias
A BBC documentary.

And finally:

  1. I don’t throw the word genius around much. Not in comics , not anywhere. Jean Giraud was a visionary genius, the fact that he chose comics as his means of expression elevated the whole medium.
    It was all so…beautiful.

  2. Make it stop! I can’t believe another is gone. RIP … I don’t believe in heaven, but if there’s something, I hope Giraud is winging around up in the clouds and that it looks something like his comics.

  3. Woke up to this news this morning.

    An amazing talent! In a class all his own. Crossing generations. He had an execution, scope and vision that most artists only dream of. He will be greatly missed. And I don’t say that lightly.

  4. Moebius showed us what comics could be. He had a seemingly unlimited imagination — what fantastic images he gave us.

    In my first year of art school, I discovered Heavy Metal magazine and found that odd name “Moebius” on all the most amazing stories. I found with each new issue I would rifle through the pages to see if his work was in it — what an absolute joy to find “Arzach”, “Air Tight Garage,”and others.

    His unique design work for films like Blade Runner, Alien, Tron, Fifth Element, and others was like an additional character on screen.

    I never had the pleasure of meeting the man, but if I had, I would’ve hugged him.

    I hope that with his passing, all of his masterpieces and sketchbooks are released in large coffee table books.

    With his passing, we have no giants left.

  5. A few years ago at SDCC, Moebius was signing copies of the HALO graphic novel. I was dead broke and couldn’t afford a copy, so instead I went over to the table and stood as close as I could without being in the way and watched him draw for a half an hour.

    He was so fluid and peaceful as he drew, it was truly effortless on his part. He’d put the pen on the paper, and it seemed the only work was simply holding the pen upright as it transcribed a drawing from some other place.

    Several times he would glance up to say hello, and he saw me there watching for so long, and he smiled peacefully at me, sort of like he was saying “it’s beautiful, isn’t it? I’m very lucky”.

    I felt the same way, and I’m sad he’s gone, but I hope there is somewhere else where he gets that feeling of peace and fluidity.

  6. Moebius’ passing, though tremendously sad, will rekindle the spirit of creative revolution that was the power behind Metal Hurlant and the progressive comic art movement that he inspired. The legacy of his genius and its true impact has just been reborn. Long live the memory and influence of his work.

  7. This weekend fucking sucks, first Peter Bergman, now Moebius. We’ve lost two of the great creative minds!

  8. People will be talking about Moebius 100 years from now, living in future cities built by civil engineers under his influence.

    Sleep the good sleep, and thank you so much.

    Thank you.

  9. In 1978 my grandfather brought home a book called Is Man Good? by Moebius, published by Heavy Metal. I was hooked from that point and bought anything and everything over the years that had the name Moebius attached to it.
    I was very fortunate to meet him at the SDCC in 1985 and he autographed several books and posters and was very patience and kind( even though it did not seem that he spoke much english ).
    I will never forget that meeting or the impact his art had on me. Amazing, just amazing!

  10. I’m not much of a comics fan because I had never heard of Moebius until today in my life. Yet, The reaction makes me realize I need to find the Incal Collection, the Halo Graphic Novel or his Nausicaa artwork soon before it gets all snatched up. His art has made an impact that most capes and spandex fans never ever realize. We focus so much on creators like Kirby and Simonson that we forget the creators that inspire this generation of artists.

  11. So sorry to hear of Moebius’ passing. I was fortunate to meet him once, and he impressed me as a man of talent and humanity.

    His work was breathtaking. Here’s hoping that it all becomes available to the English speaking market.

  12. Nobody will succeed him because nobody can come within a stone’s throw of his mastery. You could bathe in those images.

    It’s probably an unfair comparison, but I find it interesting the headlines and TV time devoted to middling crowd-pleaser Whitney Houston, and the vast public won’t have an inkling of the treasure that’s left us today. Parker, Hitchcock and Dali are perfect comparisons.

  13. Interesting expression of respect in the Fellini letter:

    “…I have long dreamed of making a science fiction film……but I will never call on you because your vision is too complete…”

  14. I was so grief stricken waking up yesterday and finding out the news.
    I discovered Moebius on my own -thought i had found an undiscovered gem in a magazine that reprinted one of his stories as a kid…he became my hero based on that short comic alone. Of course it didn’t take long to figure out he was a giant in the field already even than, and realized he was the same guy who drew Blueberry, which i was familiar with.
    He was so generous -and kindly drew a jam drawing with me once.
    So sad.

  15. It’s interesting to see angry responses to the passing of someone as incredible as Moebius when we should simply be grateful that he was here to share his gift in the first place. He had an incredible life and leaves behind an amazing legacy. Instead of sorrow, I feel grateful for what he brought to this world.

  16. Regarding those “contract difficulties”, Humanoids official statement from a few months back:


    “Many people have asked us during these past years why Humanoids hasn’t released the incredible works that Moebius created alone (without Jodorowsky) during his tenure at Metal Hurlant, and that are widely considered not only his best, but some of the most interesting work ever done in the European comics scene.

    Well, the answer is simple: unlike the rest of the world, in order to be able to publish these works in English (and in Japanese), Humanoids needs to get a formal approval by Moebius, or to be more precise by Moebius’ second wife, Isabelle Giraud, who acts as his business representative. It seems that despite repeated demands during these past years, the English speaking territories are not a significant concern of theirs. It is an unfortunate and very frustrating situation for us just as it is for many, many English language readers worldwide. There is nothing more we can do on our end, BUT we encourage you to launch a petition addressed to Moebius directly in order to get his attention to this real issue. Maybe with your help, we can make the english speaking territories a concern to all those involved.”

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