R.M. Rhodes, comic creator and friend of French comics, returns to introduce the uninitiated to another classic artist, whose influence you’ve experienced even if you didn’t realize it was him…
Jean Giraud (aka Gir, aka Moebius) is probably the most famous living French cartoonist. His career started in the early 60s when he started drawing the feature Blueberry with writer Jean-Michel Charlier for the French comics magazine Pilote. Giraud was immediately noticed for the quality of his linework and distinctive visual style. Blueberry went on to be a smash hit, becoming one of the most popular features in Pilote, a leading comic magazine of the period.
At the time, Pilote was edited by Rene Goscinny, whose point of view regarding the content of the magazine came into sharp conflict with Giraud and several other creators of his generation. The result of that conflict was the creation of a comic magazine with more adult sensibilities, called Metal Hurlant.
Even when he was making comics for the professional market, Giraud was also making uncensored comics for the underground market, signing them with the name Moebius. This name was revived for Metal Hurlant, most notably in the wordless Arzach series and the free-associational series The Airtight Garage of Jerry Cornelius.
He made a Silver Surfer comic with Stan Lee in the 1980s and collaborated with Alejandro Jodorowsky on a number of comics – most notably The Incal, a grand space opera comic. This series has spawned a few spinoffs, the most well-known of which is the Metabarons. Moebius has no direct input to these spinoffs that I’m aware of, but his visual style is evident in every book.
At the age of 72, Moebius shows no signs of slowing down. There was a major show of his art in Paris last summer and there are plans to release a copy of the complete Incal in the United States any time now. His latest work is a profoundly beautiful book called 40 Days in the Desert and is a daily visual diary of when he recently decided to stop smoking marijuana.