The GeeksverseLeaving Proof 84 | Adieu Moebius

Leaving Proof 84 | Adieu Moebius
Published on Sunday, March 11, 2012 by

Jean Henri Gaston Giraud, the French comics artist more famously known by his pseudonym Moebius, passed away on 10 March 2012 after a long illness. He was 73.

Pages from "Arzach" (1975)

There are very few comics artists who have added to the visual vocabulary of late 20th century popular culture and entertainment more than Moebius. Acclaimed animation director and mangaka Hayao Miyazaki cites Moebius’ Arzach as a seminal influence on his work. Moebius also made direct contributions as a conceptual artist to notable science-fiction films like 1979’s Alien, 1982’s Tron, and 1989’s The Abyss. His collaboration with the late Dan O’Bannon, The Long Tomorrow, informed the “future noir” set and character design of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and dozens upon dozens of other works in print, film, and animation.

Page from "The Long Tomorrow" (1975)

I distinctly remember the first time I actually read a Moebius work. I was 16 years old, the first semester of my freshman year at the University of the Philippines-Manila. I was cleaning out an old desk I’d inherited from a previous tenant in the tiny room I shared with two other guys. At the bottom of the desk drawer, alongside a bunch of forgettable early-1990s Punisher comics were three trade paperback “albums” of translated Moebius work: Arzach & Other Fantasy Stories, The Long Tomorrow & Other Science Fiction Stories, and The Gardens of Aedena. I never looked at comics art the same way after going through those three books that warm July afternoon. The only other experience I can think of that had as profound an effect on the way I look at and appreciate comics and sequential art was seeing Alex Niño’s work in Pendulum Press’ Moby Dick when I was eight. I’d always enjoyed reading comics growing up—that fateful day I was already deep into my infatuation with the Homage Studios school of comics art (I was young!)—but I think it was at that point that the medium went from being a hobby into a lifelong passion for me.

Panel detail from "Les Jardins d'Edena" (1983)

Panel detail from "Les Jardins d'Edena" (1983)

The identity of the ex-tenant who owned those comics remains a mystery to me to this day. I saw a CMT uniform patch with the surname “Hipolito” in the drawer, but that could have been from any of the old residents. I didn’t keep the books, by the way. When I moved down the street the following year, I left them where I found them, with the hope that they would help turn on the room’s next occupants to comics.

Cover "Silver Surfer" #1 (1988)

Cover to "Silver Surfer" #1 (1988)

I never did find the time or resources to dig deeper into Moebius’ ouevre beyond those three volumes. Oh, I picked up Moebius’ collaboration with Stan Lee (the 1988 Silver Surfer mini-series, later re-released and re-titled as Silver Surfer: Parable) at some point when I moved to Canada. But I guess with someone as hugely influential as Moebius, a sequential art visionary whose aesthetic sense is unmistakably evident in everything from films to animation to manga to video games, I didn’t feel like I needed to personally own reproductions of his work. In a similar vein, as much as I appreciate them and as important as they are as cultural touchstones, I’ve never felt compelled to buy a postcard reproduction of Van Gogh’s The Starry Night, a recording of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 14, or a DVD collecting the directorial works of Chuck Jones. They’re such an embedded part of our shared cultural fabric, so intimately wedded to our contemporary aesthetic consciousness that I guess it’s almost second nature to take them for granted, you know what I mean? And as weird as that sounds, I think that’s a testament to the strength of Moebius’ contribution not just to the world of comics and sequential art, but to the art world in general.

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