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[KIM] THOMPSON: You attended art school, right?
[JEAN] GIRAUD: Yes. I began as a self-taught artist, copying other artists; then, luckily, I entered an art school, which freed up my hand and opened my eyes to a degree. It’s very dangerous to work only second-hand — referring only to other artists, that is. My teachers were of the old school: they insisted that in order to transcribe reality with any degree of freshness or personality, the eye had to be confronted with the three-dimensional image. Of course, I didn’t do it enough, and when I met [Belgian artist Joseph] Gillain, that’s what he told me. He said that one could work from photographs in a pinch, but the work wouldn’t have the same intrinsic quality. It’s true: you can be very adept at drawing from photographs, and yet completely lose the scope, the dimension of the original…
THOMPSON: It has a tendency to flatten out…
GIRAUD: Yes, you lose the perspective; there are so many details to transcribe that you get lost within the billions of pieces of information. Working from nature teaches you to synthesize.
THOMPSON: Have you ever worked from photos?
GIRAUD: Oh, yes, when I began working with Joseph Gillain, he taught me how to draw from photos. It’s a very special kind of skill; if you’re too loyal to the photo, it swallows you up. If, for instance, in the middle of a whole page of “personal” drawings, there is suddenly a drawing that is too…
[JEAN-MARC] LOFFICIER: Overworked?
GIRAUD: Not overworked, but too dependent on a photographic vision, it’s as if there’s a sudden hole in the page. You have to take the elements from the photo that you need, and retranscribe them through your personal computer, in order to get a personal vision. The same rule applies to drawing from nature. It’s very difficult, but it’s what enables the artist to bring his vision to a work. Otherwise he’s nothing but a parrot, or an ape. [pp. 86-87]
SOURCE: Jean Giraud, “The Other Side of Moebius,” interview by Kim Thompson, The Comics Journal #118 (December 1987), pp. 85-105.
Brandon Graham > That elephant rumble — a loose, baggy monster of a blog post that includes two pages from National Geographic displayed alongside two pages by Moebius (see also below).
kiCswiLA? > Un, Dos, … — a side-by-side comparison of a publicity still from the move Hondo and the Apaches starring Ralph Taeger and Moebius’s cover painting for the Lieutenant Blueberry album, The Trail of the Sioux.
quenched consciousness > Comics artist Leland Purvis sent me this photo… — a side-by-side comparison of a famous photograph by Horst P. Horst and one of Moebius’s Angel Claw drawings.
quenched consciousness > Approaching Centauri Page 3 w/photo reference
BONUS IMAGES (added 30 June 2013):
The following two swipes from National Geographic were noticed by Brandon Graham and posted on his blog:
A link to Graham’s post is included in the bonus links above as well as right here.