Tuesday, March 20, 2012

World´s Greatest Comic Artists : Moebius

As you may have heard one of the greatest comic artists of all times, Jean Giraud better known as Moebius has died in France at the age of 73 last weekend. I myself got the news from ComicBits Online and have decided to not include this in my last comic news post since he clearly deserves a post all of his own. The word genius barely scratches the surface of how brilliant the man was.

I guess more than hundred websites are writing about how influential he was, what an exceptional artist he was and what a great imagination he had which managed to influence others so easily. And it still is not enough.

collection of links by german comic website Comicgate

american comicbook industry remembers Moebius

extensive article about Jean Giraud / Moebius by Jim Vadeboncoeur Jr

I once read in an interview with Adam Hughes that his definition of being famous is if there is one person in every country who knows who he is. Well, with Moebius I think there are very few people on the planet who DON´T know who he is. Most people in America probably know him from his collaboration with Stan Lee on the SILVER SURFER miniseries.

But my favorite work by Moebius has always been the INCAL series with John Difool. Written by Alejandro Jodorowsky the series had everything you could want in a science fiction series : spirituality, social criticism, incredible new concepts, crazy science, lots of aliens, sex, humor and John Difool even gained superpowers for a while.

The initial series was so successful that a second series followed with the adventures of John Difool before the events in the Incal story written by Jodorowsky and drawn by Zoran Janjetov.

The INCAL series also introduced the Meta - Barons which spawned it´s own series once again written by Jodorowsky this time drawn by Juan Gimenez.

And also another album that I bought that was started by Travis Charest and he never finished. Reading the story it´s evident that it was much to repetetive to catch his attention for long ( think videogame : search item a, fight adversary to get item a, collect item a, power up, search item b, rinse, wash, repeat ).

But back to Moebius. With so many people writing so eloquently about him ( like Sean Witzke in his post about how Moebius changed his life ) I feel a bit inadequate and also I have never been one for writing good eulogies. So I have decided to do what I always do in these cases : write about the comics I read. I´m not sure if my little story ( well, little, let´s hope we can finish this in one post ) is so different from other bloggers but since I live under the delusion of having a lot of readers from America I thought it might be interesting for them. Also there may be other people who only know some of his work so let´s start. As usual this will be one of my longwinded rants with uncountable off topic tangents so be warned and better get something to eat and drink and visit the bathroom for a final time.


Now the whole story is a bit complicated when you think of it, because when the INCAL series had come out I already knew who Moebius was although I kind of didn´t know who he was, and the first time I discovered him was really the second time I discovered him but I didn´t know it at that time.

Nevertheless I think this is the best point to start. In previous posts I have already written a bit about the german comics I used to read in my youth and one of them was SCHWERMETALL, the german version of the french comic magazine METAL HURLANT known to my readers from the United States as HEAVY METAL.

Back at that time, which was probably during the 80s ( yes, I not only lived them, I also remember them ), there were no specialised comicshops and you had to buy your comics at stationery shops or at newsstands. Our stationery shop in Neckarweihingen didn´t have any comics for adults, just the regular issues of MICKY MAUS, FIX & FOXY, SUPERMAN, BATMAN, DER ROTE BLITZ, SPIDER - MAN or the other superheroes published by Ehapa or Condor.

But there was a newsstand in Ludwigsburg at the Arsenal Station that had a really good selection of pulp novels, magazines and comics. From the outside it didn´t look like much but when you stepped inside the walls were just crammed with tons of sci fi or fantasy novels by Philip K. Dick, Asimov, Stephen King, Robert E. Howard, Robert Asprin, Roger Zelazny or Michael Moorcock. They also had all the great horror pulps I used to devour during my school years like JOHN SINCLAIR, PROFESSOR ZAMORRA or DAMONA KING.

They had all the superhero comics that were published at that time and it´s also where I got my first issues of U - COMIX and SCHWERMETALL. Although I think the first issue I read was one my older brother brought home. I was totally fascinated by this collection of intelligently written sci fi stories with just mindblowing art that also wasn´t afraid to show some nude females now and then. Which was a big deal for me in my teens.

Anyway, as luck would have it I was going to middle school in Eglosheim at that time so I had a monthly ticket and I had to change busses which I always did at the Arsenal Station. Sadly the newsstand isn´t there anymore but I must have spent hundreds of hours leafing through the pages of all those wonderful comics. It´s where I got my first issue ..... well, of probably almost everything printed in the 80s I bought.

So I started reading SCHWERMETALL on a somewhat regular basis. Like I said there were no special comicshops where you could get back issues so if you couldn´t find an issue at one of the other newsstands you had just missed it and had to wait until they later released collected editions that were just four or five issues glued together with a cover on top.

So I got my monthly dosis of Jeff Jones, Phillipe Druillet, Caza or Moebius from those issues. Just hearing the names again I get all nostalgic and am tempted to look for any old issues I still might have. Back then I was kind of overwhelmed how much this Moebius guy did in each issue, not knowing that he was one of the founders of the magazine. I think at that point he just did short stories which should not be taken as a statement about the quality. One comic in particular, THE LONG TOMORROW written by Dan O'Bannon was a major visual influence on Ridley Scott´s movie BLADE RUNNER .

But that was just the beginning as Moebius started his first series with an iconic creation : four stories without words starring an alien with a strange headgear and a weird flying creature exploring questions like the inherent goodness of man. Arzach was born.

As predicted I can´t tell the whole story in one post ( I spent most of the day looking for the necessary pictures for this post and doing other research things ) and since it took me over a week to finish my last post I´m ending this one right now. Next time we will be talking about more Arzach, more Moebius, possibly even Major Grubert and how I discovered that I had already discovered Moebius. Hopefully.

But with a blog named TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN I can´t end this post without posting one of Moebius first forays into the realms of superheroes : his Superman pin up that was printed in SUPERMAN 400 which came out in 1984, the year in which I graduated.

It says everything about Superman that everyone else seems to miss. While clearly an idealized form of a man, he is not the muscle bound lunkhead you often see. Almost every other artist draws the character as a generic, hunky looking guy, ranging in age from 20 to 35 or so. Here, Moebius has made him truly look like an alien.

And you can read the full analisis of this masterpiece on The Ballad of Theo Huxtable from where I shamelessly pulled my quote .

Since this post is all about Moebius Today´s video is the documentry MOEBIUS REDUX : A LIFE IN PICTURES for anyone who hasn´t seen it yet.

New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN : top ten posts / more posts of interest

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