From Heavy Metal vol. IV, no. 5, here’s “The Moebius Interview” by Diana K. Bletter; in her opening comment to Moebius, Bletter claims this is the artist’s first interview for an American publication, but I have no idea whether or not that’s true:
[CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE]
“Trying to enter the land of one’s conscious makes one live science fiction. For example, a science fiction writer might imagine that he is caught in a hole and he’s trying to get out of it. Yet there might be others who know several means of getting out of the hole, and even more people who live outside the hole. I find that the moment one finds a clear vision of the highs and the lows, the past and the future and even the present, and one decides to live in that part that is the future, then one becomes a person of science fiction. Instead of it being something imaginary and political, it becomes something very personal.” — Moebius, in conversation with Diana K. Bletter (1980)
“I try to be like a surfer riding on the crest of a wave, and I have to stay on the summit. I can’t worry about being comprehensible to everyone.” — Moebius, in conversation with Diana K. Bletter (1980)
[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…
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.
French cartoonist, illustrator, concept artist, and (inter)national treasure, Jean Giraud, also known as “Moebius” and “Gir,” died earlier today, 10 March 2012, in Paris after a long illness; he was 73 years old.
Like his namesake single-surfaced geometric figure, Giraud enjoyed two distinct careers that could be considered opposite sides of a coin, or a continuation of one another: As “Gir,” he co-created, illustrated, and eventually wrote the Western series Lt. Blueberry for over four decades, while as “Moebius,” he drew and often wrote some of the most revolutionary and dazzling science fiction comics ever created — as well as providing costume and set designs for such visually groundbreaking movies as Alien, TRON, and The Fifth Element.
Either career would have placed him at the forefront of his chosen trade; braided together into one astonishing life, the two made him indisputably one of the greatest cartoonists of the second half of the 20th century.
As i told you, i knew him personally for many years, and the first thing which come back to my memory is what an incredible worker he was. The production of Moebius is just phenomenal and he left to us literally thousand and thousand of artworks, and if we except his early work, all of them are stunning. I remember one day i had an appointment with him at his home and when i arrived he was finishing a drawing. He didn’t stopped to draw and i spent the next hours with him still finishing the artwork, putting the colors, etc… nothing would stop him and the incredible creative “fire” inside him!
And here’s a paragraph from Part Two:
It’s impossible to have a mind as visionary as he had and flying as such “altitude” — not to mention his amazing sense of beauty — without having a tremendous “fire” inside. But if someone was asking me what was Moebius “secret”, i think i would say that his genius partly came from his ability to keep his “fire” under control, and to redirect it in a creative way. Of course he had enough creative ambition and wanted to be the best, but his childhood which has been not really happy — parents divorced, raised by his grand parents, no sister or brother, etc… — might have been retrospectively a kind of luck. As any child he had to survive and he spent a lot of time drawing which later proved to be more important than anything. In two words, he found what he was born to do in his early years and that’s one of the best luck that one can have — even if the price to pay for this was a not-so-happy childhood.
Guardian.co.uk > Jean Giraud obituary by Steve Holland. Holland’s opening paragraph presents Jean “Moebius” Giraud’s career in a nutshell:
The artist Jean Giraud was principally known for his work on comic books under two pen names. As Gir, the co-creator of Blueberry, one of France’s most popular strips, his brushwork was detailed and realistic; as Moebius, he used intricate, visually arresting penwork to explore the subconscious in his creations Arzach, Le Garage Hermétique (The Airtight Garage) and L’Incal (The Incal). But Giraud, who has died of cancer aged 73, had an impact on the visual arts that went beyond comics. He was seen as a figurehead linking bandes dessinées with modernism and nouveau réalisme. As the co-creator of Métal Hurlant magazine, he took comics to an older, more literate audience. In cinema, his fans ranged from Federico Fellini to Hayao Miyazaki and his style influenced dozens of others, including Ridley Scott, George Lucas, James Cameron and Luc Besson.
Mr. Giraud, who used the pen name Moebius in much of his work, was seen in the comic-book world as a kind of artist-avatar of the unbounded interior human landscape. In France, where the line between popular and serious art often blurs, he was a source of national pride. Jack Lang, the French minister of culture in the 1980s and early 1990s, told Reuters that Mr. Giraud’s work “made him the figurehead of this unique art form in France.”
“My drawings are not about dreams during sleep over which no one has any control. They are lucid dreams in which everything can appear: childhood memories, fleeting moods, anger, laziness. It’s very hard to identify exactly what is at work in these dreamworlds. While science fiction is based on prediction, I have progressively abandoned this notion to create hybrid drawings in the borderland of dreams.” — Jean “Moebius” Giraud, in conversation with Juliette Soulez, 2010
Art Review > Moebius, interview article by Paul Gravett. Here’s an especially good bit of autobiographical reflection from Moebius:
“I first saw the desert on a Greyhound bus trip, and that vision burned my brain forever. I met Mexico, a magical country, and was adopted as the mascot by a bunch of radical anti- American artists, writers, poets, journalists living the bohemian life. They were the continuation of a culture of revolution, in murals, and the school of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. I learned that to be an artist is to connect your story to a bigger story, to the history of humanity. They initiated me into the practice of art, modern jazz, playing chess, and to marijuana. Not for fun but to use as a tool for creation, different from the approach to drugs during the 1960s. I did not draw, but I spent my days walking, discussing, observing, absorbing. I stayed longer and missed my third year of school, but I thought I was learning something more important. It completely transformed me.”
Comics Commentary > Two Moebius interviews (1977 & 1982), posted by Rodrigo Baeza — “Here’s a Jean Giraud / Moebius interview conducted in November 1977, and published in the first issue of Graphixus (1978) and later in Alter Ego #11 (1978).”
The Comics Journal > An Interview with Jean Giraud by Kim Thompson — past experience tells me that this link will expire in the near future, but enjoy it while it lasts…
Creative Talent Network > An evening with “Moebius” — A CTN exclusive special event, 20 November 2010, moderated by Animation Director John Musker.
Fascineshion > Moebius — a 35-minute interview with our man in French with English subtitles.
“In the beginning I had two different levels,” Giraud said. “To be an artist in comics because it was my dream as a teenager and when I was 7, 8, 10. I was such a fan. I committed already to drawing. The comics were not only stories to enjoy for me they were drawings that possessed me. I saw very early on the difference with my friends. They were using comics like a book but to me I saw a drawing exposition. The purpose was different for us, the experience was not the same. The second level for me, another side -– which would maybe be my Moebius face –- was the other wonderful art I was discovering with a lot of appetite. The expression of art as something bigger than life, bigger than anything. There was something very mysterious about that and beautiful. It was a kind of heaven with Picasso and everybody at the same table. I wanted to be part of that. For me it was a feast through the ages. Timeless.”
“To me,” wrote the artist, again in Moebius 0, “‘adult’ means to be free in spirit, to know no bounds, to accept no moral restrictions, especially those imposed by somebody else.” The Airtight Garage embodied this philosophy, fusing together images from all over the artist’s still-young career in breakneck fashion, its latter-day colors again providing some isolating effect, though here as representative of not youth but adult triumph, of the confident secrets adults can hold while entering unfamiliar terrain, or even while stepping away from the drawing board as the ‘real’ world reasserts itself. This was the character of the artist’s ‘adult’ comics, at their best.
“When I do a story, I really suffer! I try to do, say eight pages and I put all of my feelings towards it inside it, but at the same time try not to put a message into it because I know that the basic message is the story itself. It’s rather like hitting that exact magic note when playing music, so for this reason I don’t try to be intellectually very strong — but more try to be in harmony.” — Moebius, in conversation with Mal Burns, November 1977
Around this time I was due to be in Paris so called him at his home there. He welcomed me in with a huge bowl of tea and sat me down saying “could I show you what I’ve been working on?” He disappeared into his studio, which I was craning my neck to look into, and emerged like an embarrassed child clutching a half finished page of Blueberry. I took it. He stood away, looking to catch my thoughts as I looked over it. What struck me wasn’t so much the beautifully crafted page of art, perfect and unique as it was, but the attitude he had. I was an equal, a fellow artist who’s thoughts and impressions meant a great deal to him. I shrugged, smiled up at him and said “Beautiful!” to which his response was so humble and honest that the moment stayed with me to this day.
Dune: Behind the Scenes > Unseen Dune > Jodorowsky on Jean “Moebius” Giraud — in addition to the comments from Jodorowsky, this page includes a large selection of costume designs and storyboards by Moebius himself.
My roommate found Moebius on the floor of a movie theater in Sand Diego in 1995. Actually, an employee of his found Moebius. Knowing my roommate (who I’ll call Rob, since that’s his name) read comics, the employee brought him to him. He was a little, 4” by 6” black, and hardbound Moebius. He contained a bunch of little drawings on medium press paper that felt slightly rough to the touch. The drawings were put down in shiny black ink, their line weights uniformly uniform, and their subject matter various. The thing about the drawings is that they were so perfect the employee thought it was a facsimile of Moebius that some conventioneer had dropped. For a second Rob thought the same thing. But before he pitched it on the lost-and-found he realized it was real. A weird little colored-pencil doodle by Bob Burden and some children’s drawings in crayon were what gave it away.
“We artists can only go so far as the people can follow us. We are not alone, we are part of the system. We can take risks, but if you want to go to the peak of your consciousness, you may very well find yourself alone. Even if you know how to translate what you see, maybe only ten people will be able to understand what you tell. But, if you have faith in your vision, and retell it again and again, you will start noticing that, after a time, more people will begin to catch up with you.” — Jean “Moebius” Giraud
But as affecting to me as the visual splendor of Moebius’ images was the awesome silence of his world. It was a silence unlike any other in my experience of comics; monumental, grand, with more than a hint of menace. Moebius’ silence, in tandem with his images, made for a comics experience of the sublime; frightening, humbling, awe-inspiring; something akin to watching the sunrise alone at the Grand Canyon — or the Northern Lights at the North Pole.
Matt Seneca Comix > RIP MOEBIUS by Matt Seneca. Here’s a short excerpt:
Moebius was a master of illustrative detail: his unweighted, hatched and stippled pen marks created images so strikingly clear that pictures on similar themes in other comics seem muddy and vague by comparison. But detail never bogged down a Moebius drawing: his way with texture was matched by a crisp simplicity of form and light, airy compositions that created an open, habitable space that was constant in everything he drew. His color sense, as refined and bold as that of anyone to have drawn comics, birthed brightly shining, massively tangible vistas, so real and yet so far from what we see out our own windows that the immediate impression upon opening a Moebius comic is that the smell of the air has changed; the paper underneath one’s fingertips has grown softer.
I met Jean Giraud on a couple of occasions over the years. He was sweet and gentle and really… I don’t know. Spiritual is not a word I use much, mostly because it feels so very misused these days, but I’d go with it for him. I liked him enormously, and felt humbled around him. And in my 20s and 30s I didn’t do humbled very much or very well.
“I try to be in harmony with all the people I know and with myself. When something seems wrong, I try [to] love it as such. When there is a mistake, I embrace it and make it part of myself and subsequently part of the finished work.” — Moebius, in conversation with Mal Burns, November 1977
Language is the oldest technology humankind has — and visual language, the ability to distill human experience and emotion and make a representation of it, one of the oldest human impulses (the cave paintings in Luscaux are testament to that). It’s a kind of alchemy perhaps, something that helps us reimagine our environment and design the world we make for ourselves. It’s the place in our minds where we translate what we see and experience, where we invent new vistas, new ways of seeing. Moebius did this, and by doing it, inspired and enabled it in others. Moebius was one of the very highest practitioners of this ability — he ignited creativity via his own extraordinary visual imagination. This incredibly valuable thing — to provoke the imagination to think differently, to enable others to see this world of ours in new ways — this is real freedom.
quenched consciousness > Moebius Career Timeline: 1958 (and more) by Ian MacEwen. From the 1958 entry:
Over the next week, I’m going to focus on posting pieces of Giraud’s work in chronological order. Ideally, there will be at least one post of something that he drew for every year of his professional career. My hope is to give a clear and thorough presentation that will help give people (myself included) a better understanding of Jean Giraud’s life work. To that end, if any of you find that I am missing something, I would love to hear from you. So far, I am missing a few key things from his early years. Primarily, any of his work on a western strip called Frank et Jeremie for Far West Magazine, and any work he did for the French Army magazine 5/5 Forces Françaises, while serving in Algeria.
Robot 6 > Six by 6 | Six essential Moebius books — selected and with short introductions by Chris Mautner and Joe McCulloch, the list includes The Airtight Garage (Marvel/Epic), The Incal (Humanoids), Arzach (Dark Horse/Marvel-Epic), The Gardens of Aedena (Marvel/Epic), The Long Tomorrow (Marvel/Epic), and Mississippi River (Marvel/Epic). Too bad only one of those books is still in print, but lucky me, I already own three of them; makes me wish I’d bought all of those Epic reprints when I had the chance, though.
Sailor Twain or The Mermaid in the Hudson > SailorTwain357 by Mark Siegel — includes “A Mystic Among Cartoonists: Farewell Moebius, Adieu Jean.” An excerpt:
Giraud always seemed to begin again, to return to being a beginner. In his sixties, at an age when other successful artists settle like concrete into their past accomplishments, his spiritual quest took him where few younger searchers dare go. There has always been that inner journey with him, and perhaps it relates to that indefinable Moebius quality which many have copied, but none seem to emulate. By turns shamanic, psychedelic, erotic, comedic, subversive and childlike, he always escaped pigeon-holing.
Scott Edelman > Moebius 1938-2012 — Edelman posts scans of a six-page profile of Moebius that appeared in the glossy magazine Science-Fiction Age in September 1996.
Moebius had a genius for graphic world-building that few artists have equaled. His imaginary worlds boast a genuine otherworldliness, an organic wholeness, and a beauty at once sensual and ethereal. Few cartoonists have ever come close to this visionary quality: the sense of peering into another world and yet giving it palpable reality, or surreality, in this one. The worldscapes he conjured invite comparison to those of McCay, Foster, Miyazaki, a very few others — and, outside of comics, the fantastical worlds of Bosch and Escher. Moebius’ work is ravishing and challenging in equal measure: a gift to the eyes, but also an affront to human self-importance and meanness, as well as a cognitive sparkplug.
sirspamdalot > Moebius by Jesse Hamm — in which the author argues, with evidence based on a detailed analysis of specific drawings, that his hero, Moebius, in addition to being a visionary artist, was a devoted and highly skilled craftsman.
In a medium where so little is profound, even the worst of Moebius’ comics achieve a level of serenity simply by how they have been drawn. Each panel is imbued with a sense of absolute assurance of the line conveying meaning, motion, feeling, story. Moebius’ surfaces are tactile, his characters are not only defined by their design but by expression, by how they carry themselves, how they move. His pages are fraught with detail, but rarely are those details overworked or sterile. The consistency of his hand gives his landscapes and cityscapes a kind of depth that is different from the way most illustration renders depth; his faces convey just how deft and expressive his hand could be — and how that meant a face battered by life or one untouched by stress.
Tirade > Moebius (8 May 1938 – 10 March 2012) by Ronnie del Carmen — in return for working on character designs for an animated Airtight Garage project, overseen by Moebius’s company, that at the time was in an early stage of production in Russia, illustrator Ronnie del Carmen received an unexpected form of payment. Unfortunately, the film itself was never made.
Let me get something out of the way before we continue — I’m a huge Moebius fan. I have been for many years. The last couple of days have been incredibly hard for me. Only recently I’d been discussing with Tor.com’s editors about writing an article about the man and his work — something I was looking forward to so much — but now I sit down to actually do it I’m filled with sadness. It was hard, too, to decide which direction to take; writing a biography or cataloguing his work would not only be a daunting task for such a prolific artist, but would somehow reduce his importance to just a list of events and publications. Instead it feels more apt to try and show how influential his work truly was by picking a small selection from some of the best known and loved genre works from the last four decades that drew — both directly and indirectly — on his prophetic talent. And — wherever possible — I’ve tried to let the great man’s work talk for itself.
SELECTED NOTICES AND TRIBUTES IN FRENCH AND SPANISH:
Entrecomics > Fallece Moebius by El tio berni (Google translation: Moebius dies) — a compilation of links to various interviews, videos, and stories that have appeared in Entrecomics in recent years.
Ergocomics > Adiós Moebius by Carlos Reyes (Google translation: Moebius Farewell). Here’s an uncorrected excerpt from the auto-translated version:
Why Moebius is so great? What makes him a contemporary landmark? His chameleon-like work, the diversity of styles that grew, but nonetheless had the same mark, the same footprint, the author with a unique personality and defined as a cartoonist Moebius was not without its own line, but his drawing now automatic and loose, sometimes exquisite, neat, were the two sides of a prodigious hand and above all, always easily recognizable, beyond changes in style.
From the 1990s, the work is less rich. Following the death of Jean-Michel Charlier, Jean Giraud continues the series Blueberry and Jim Cutlass and scenarios written for them destitute (he has anyway been a rather mediocre writer, although his hallucinations sometimes offered improvised moments). The line of Moebius, having mellowed during the previous decade, tends to become poorer. His talent was such that it still continues to produce outstanding works. His most memorable of his last 20 years is probably the series Inside Moebius, whose six volumes constitute an interesting experience and improvised delusional diary, in which the narrator meets both multiple avatars of himself and his own creations. With this original work, it surpasses similar efforts of some members of the next generation, Sfar, Trondheim and their books.
Serie de viñetas: Blog sobre cómics de Octavio Beares > GIRAUD/MOEBIUS (Google translation: GIRAUD/MOEBIUS) — includes an annotated list of five “indispensable” works by the artist, including Arzach, The Airtight Garage, The Incal, and Inside Moebius.
…Sigueleyendo > Moebius, el inmortal by Javier Lopez Menacho (Google translation: Moebius, the immortal) — various comics critics, booksellers, and illustrators share their thoughts about what Jean Giraud/Gir/Moebius’s work means to them; includes contributions from Paco Roca, Pepo Pérez, César Sebastián Díaz, Gerardo Vilches, Mireia Pérez, Pedro García, Álvaro Ortiz, Jesús Vázquez, Fernando Rosillo, Ascensión Andreo, Peubé, and Sergio Bleda.
Ushuaia > Deuil by Luc Desmarchelier (Google translation: Mourning)
“Going from Giraud to Moebius, I twisted the strip; changed dimensions. I was the same and yet someone else. Moebius is the result of my duality.” — Jean “Moebius” Giraud, official biography
Conversazioni Sul Fumetto > Un Moebius fra gli altri by Andrea Queirolo — a gallery of photographs of Moebius palling around with great cartoonists from around the world.
doppelganger X’s photostream > Jean-Moebius-Giraud — browse through an amazing set of 220 high-res images.
Evil Twin > In Memoriam: Moebius — an anecdote about Moebius and a young fan, adapted by Alex Cox for Comic Book Comics #2; Geof Darrow shares his version of the story in a recorded conversation available here.
Apo (k) lyps > Tribute to Moebius — drawings by Boulet, vinhnyu, Bruno Leyval, J.Coelho, David Sodrovni, José Marecos, KcD Studios, Matt Dunhill, Ronan Toulhoat , Francesco Francavilla, Yaxin, Akeno Omokoto, Kuhnart, Euan Mactavish, Laurent Lolmede, Cliff Chiang, Denis Medri, Mahmud A. Asrar, Enki Bilal (Une de Libé du 12/03/2012), Yildiray Cinar, Pal Degome, Adi Granov, Katsuya Terada, Fabrice Giband, Alex Orbe, Nolegz, Jerk in Space, unspeakable vault, Loopydave, Alejandro Fuentes, Genesis Project, Christopher K. Leavitt, Sean Hayden, Marc Bati, PieR Gajewski, Kelilan, Naiel Ibarrola, Phobos-Romulus, Seamus Heffernan, Chris Weston, Giannis Milonogiannis, Ricardo Venâncio, Raúl Treviño, Tradd Moore, andrew maclean, WJC, cheetahnudes, Cameron Stewart, Darco Macan, Raphael Lacoste, Ze L’Host, etc.
BDfugue > Jean Giraud alias Moebius (1938 – 2012) — gallery includes drawings in honour of Moebius by Enrico Marini, Laurent Lefeuvre, Alex Orbe, Tim Hamilton, Thierry Martin, Arthur de Pins, Olivier Taduc, Laurent Lolmède, Vincent Lévèque, Ralph Meyer, Boulet, Enki Bilal, Francesco Francavilla, Lindingre, Jaime Posadas Fernández, Enrique Corominas, Thomas Labourot, Michel Kichka, Man Arenas, Gradimir Smudja, Dominique Bertail, Li-An, Ronan Toulhoat, Jean-Marie Minguez, Marcial Toledano, Arnaud Boutle, Bruno Duhamel, Chris Weston, Denis Medri, Olivier Boiscommun, Loopydave, Sébastien Latour, Matt Dunhill, Kelilan, Akeno Omokoto, and Jorge Coelho.
Le Blog de Mister Jacq > Hommage à Jean Giraud by Jacq — at the end of the day, even Blueberry likes to set a spell.
The Bouletcorp > Farewell, Moebius…, a drawing by Gilles “Boulet” Roussel — portfolio under his arm, Moebius prepares to embark on a grand Arzachian adventure…
cats without dogs > Arzkat by Jason — a combined tribute both to Moebius and to George Herriman. On the same site, see also R.I.P. Moebius.
Theirry Martin > Merci Mr Moebius — on the other side of the jump you’ll find a lovely drawing by Martin entitled, “Ô Mage Moebius / 1938 · 2012”; to avoid the pop-up gallery and instead view the full-sized JPEG by itself, simply hold down the Ctrl button when you click the image.
“I think that real life is about having problems. There is no life without problems. And real life means reacting to the problems as they happen… [laughs] and then solving them as best one can. Absolute satisfaction… is interesting as a dream… as a concept.” — Jean “Moebius” Giraud, in conversation in the film Moebius Redux: A Life in Pictures (2007)