Last Flight of Arzak

March 12, 2012

Jean Giraud (1938-2012) passed away this weekend, he was better known to comic fans around the world as Moebius. I found his work during a huge wave of reprinted European comics that hit the market in the mid-eighties. Others in the US were familiar with his work before that in the pages of Heavy Metal magazine, originally flying in Europe under the French banner Métal Hurlant. Although I will remember him more for his highly detailed sci-fi landscapes, and his character Arzak, all of which seem to be a wild combination of 60s psychedelic, the TARDIS, and the organic flow of Art Nouveau…

There are as many fans who will remember him for his old west stories, like “Lieutenant Blueberry”…

It always amazed me how his style would so easily accommodate both the mechanical insanity of the future, and the subtle, gritty nature of the great plains.

At first I wrote him off as one of those great European artists, who could do fabulous renderings of people built like you or I in (admittedly) more elaborate environments, but certainly he couldn’t draw over the top, excitement required for American comics- I was young, and I was wrong.

Marvel Comics commissioned him to do posters with several of their characters and that collaboration included a two issue mini-series of the Silver Surfer, written by the legendary Stan Lee and drawn by him. To quote a dear friend, “It warped my mind!”.

Many of you will not know who he is, but like my recent post on Ralph McQuarrie (also lost to the world recently) you know his work. He designed costumes and sets for numerous films, and was often consulted at the earliest stages for preproduction sketches to help sell the ideas to studios.

The above is work from the original Alien film, but he also did work for Tron, Masters of the Universe, the Abyss, Fifth Element, and more. One can say those are films he worked on, but others, many others, he inspired.

Moebius was a unique vision, which many have tried to copy, but he soared above them, as he does now— forever.