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Monday, 12 March 2012

In Memoriam: Jean Giraud

Image via Le Blog de Mister Jacq
downthetubes was sorry to hear about the passing of one of the world's greatest comics artists, Jean Giraud (aka Moebius, or, simply, 'Gir').

Born in 1938, Giraud's comics work may have had sporadic publication in the UK but in the US and as far as many British comic creators are concerned his body of work - which includes strips for Metal Hurlant (Heavy Metal) magazine and stories such as Arzach, the Airtight Garage of Jerry Cornelius, The Incal and the western adventure, Blueberry - is without equal.

He also worked on both computer game and film design, working on storyboards for films such as Alien, Willow, adaptations of his own Blueberry character and Thru the Moebius Strip, and his work influenced many film makers, including George Lucas.

A painting inspired by Jean Giraud's story, Arzach.
"I consider him more important than Doré," said Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini. "He’s a unique talent endowed with an extraordinary visionary imagination that’s constantly renewed and never vulgar. Moebius disturbs and consoles. He has the ability to transport us into unknown worlds where we encounter unsettling characters.

"My admiration for him is total. I consider him a great artist, as great as Picasso and Matisse."

"It seems only a few years ago that we collaborated under the tutorship of Alejandro Jodorowsky on the initial version of Dune in Paris," recalls veteran SF illustrator Chris Foss. "Many, many happy memories come flooding back of our time together. It is fair to say that the firm basis of our relationship was a mutual admiration of each others work.

"... I fortunately spoke at length with Jean last year and the years just fell away. He was bright and cheerful and talked enthusiastically of his various projects. It did not occur to me that such a talented life would end so abruptly."

Above: Moebius at work on Telerama in 2010

There's no doubt his work was a strong influence on many and he was and will ever be, one of the best known artists of bandes dessinées outside France.

"Those that know me know what this man meant to me," says artist Dave Taylor, who make no secret of the impact Moebius' work had on his own art. "He was, at the beginning of my comic book career, my inspiration, my master and my guide. He continues to be all these things, he always will be.

"... Jean was, in a way, a father figure to me. I became aware of his work only a few years before my Father passed away. His work spoke to me as only a father can. He once told me that we were brothers. I guess this explains my mixed emotions right now. I've lost another Father and a brother all in one day."

"This has hit me hard like a thump to the heart," agrees artist Jon Haward."...  have loved this man's work for almost all my life.

"He showed me magical worlds beautiful people incredible creatures and inspired me on so many levels -- one being you don't have to draw only in one style. Jean was successful at what ever he drew, be it westerns, sci-fi, fantasy."

"I met Jean Giraud on a couple of occasions over the years," remembers writer Neil Gaiman. "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."

Brazilian author Paulo Coelho (whose work Moebius once illustrated) paid tribute on Twitter this weekend, stating: "The great Moebius died today, but the great Moebius is still alive. Your body died today, your work is more alive than ever."

"France has lost one of its best known artists in the world," commented Benoit Mouchart, artistic director at France's Angouleme International Comics Festival. "In Japan, Italy, in the United States he is an incredible star who influenced world comics.

"Moebius will remain part of the history of drawing, in the same right as Dürer or Ingres. He was an incredible producer, he said he wanted to show what eyes do not always see".

While here at downthetubes we'll remember him for his amazing work on Arzach and Incal, and strips for Heavy Metal - but his many credits in comics, film and illustration mean that he will never be remembered across the globe for just one of his creations alone.

Ride on, sir - and live on in my minds and hearts.

Moebius: Official website (French)

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