Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

 Icon made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com

Working name of influential French fantasy Comic-strip artist Jean Giraud (1938-2012). M has a fine, eloquent line style and a remarkably fertile imagination, and is considered one of Europe's leading talents; his influence can be discerned in the work of younger fantasy and sf artists all over the world. His early work (as Jean Giraud, or Gir), mainly in the form of comic strips about the US West, itself showed the strong influence of Comics artists like Milton Caniff (1907-1988) and Frank Robbins (1917-1994). In 1963 he began a collaboration with writer Jean-Michel Charlier (1924-1989), and together they created the Western series Lieutenant Blueberry (1963-1970; graph coll 1965-1990 26 vols; trans first 4 vols 1977-1979 UK; subsequent vols trans as Lieutenant Blueberry vols 1-4 1991 US, Marshall Blueberry vols 1-2 1990 US, Young Blueberry vols 1-3 1989 US, and Blueberry vols 1-5 1989-1990 US).

In the early 1960s Moebius created a series of dark-humoured strips for the satirical monthlies Hara Kiri and L'Echo des Savannes, which he signed "Moebius", a sobriquet which he continues to use for all his fantasy and sf work. In the late 1960s he illustrated a series of sf books for the publisher Editions Opta and in 1975 he cofounded the magazine Métal Hurlant with another leading French sf artist, Philippe Druillet (1944-    ) and the writer Jean-Pierre Dionnet (1947-    ). This ground-breaking periodical inspired an English-language counterpart in the USA, Heavy Metal, in which M's work featured prominently. This signalled the beginning of a long and particularly fertile period during which many of the themes and ideas which were to constitute what has been termed the "Moebius Universe" were first mooted. These elements were at first only tenuously interlinked, and some fascinating cross-feed from his work on Blueberry can be discerned, despite the historical accuracy of the one and the delightfully free improvisational quality of the other. M's range is very wide but visually remarkably consistent; and he creates stories and scenarios in many established genres of sf and fantasy plus a great number that are entirely unique, such as Le Bandard Fou (1975; trans as The Horny Goof in Heavy Metal February 1981).

Other creations for Métal Hurlant include Le Garage Hermétique de Gerry Cornelius (from 1975; trans as The Airtight Garage of Jerry Cornelius in Heavy Metal 1977-1980), Arzach (1976; trans in Heavy Metal 1977), The Long Tomorrow (1976; trans in Heavy Metal 1977), which was scripted by moviemaker Dan O'Bannon (1946-    ), and the multi-part epic scripted by moviemaker Alejandro Jodorowski (1930-    ), Les Aventures de John Difool ["The Adventures of John Difool"] (1981-1988): L'Incal Noir ["The Dark Incal"] (graph 1981), L'Incal Lumière (graph 1982; trans as "The Incal Light" in Heavy Metal 1982), Ce Qui est en Bas ["That Which is Below"] (1984; trans as "The Third Incal" in Heavy Metal 1984), Ce Qui est en Haut ["That Which is Above"] (graph 1985) and Le Cinquième Essence ["The Fifth Essence"] #1 (graph 1986) and #2 (graph 1988). These latter stories have been published in collected form as Incal #1 (graph coll 1988 UK/US), #2 (graph coll 1988 UK/US) and #3 (graph coll 1988 UK/US).

Tracing the publishing history of other Moebius material is made difficult by the fact that collections published in France and in the USA frequently have different contents. It is therefore expedient to list them separately. Books in French include Gir 30x40 (graph coll 1974), Les Maîtres du Temps ["The Time Masters"] (graph 1978), Tueur de Mondes ["World Killer"] (graph coll 1980), Mémoire du Futur ["Memory of the Future"] (graph coll 1983), Sur l'Étoile ["Upon a Star"] (graph coll 1984) and its sequel Les Jardins d'Aedena ["The Gardens of Aedena"] (graph coll 1986) based on the philosophical concepts of Appel Guery, Venise Celeste ["Heavenly Venice"] (graph coll 1985), Made in L.A. (graph coll 1988) and La Déesse ["The Goddess"] (graph coll 1990).

Collected works in English include Moebius #1: Upon a Star (graph coll 1986 US), #2: Arzach and Other Fantasy Stories (graph coll 1986 US), #3: The Airtight Garage (graph coll 1987 US), #4: The Long Tomorrow and Other Science Fiction Stories (graph coll 1988 US), #5: The Gardens of Aedena (graph coll 1988 US), #6: Pharagonesia and Other Strange Stories (graph coll 1988 US) and #7: The Goddess (graph coll 1989 US), plus The Magic Crystal (graph 1988 US), Island of the Unicorn (graph 1988 US) Aurely's Secret (graph 1989 US), Chaos (graph 1991 US) and others.

In the late 1980s Moebius moved to California and set up the company Starwatcher Graphics to publish his posters and fine-art pieces. He illustrated one two-episode story featuring Stan Lee's Silver Surfer, Parable (1988-1989 US), and an ecological story for a special "Earth Day" issue of Concrete (1991 US). In the early 1990s several spinoff comic books featuring such Moebius creations as The Airtight Garage and The Incal appeared in the USA as collaborative ventures with other artists, further developing the Moebius Universe; they include The Elsewhere Prince (#1-#6 1990), The Man from Ciguri (1990-1991), The Onyx Overlord (#1-#4 1992-1993) and Legends of Arzach, a six-issue series of short stories, accompanied by colour prints of artwork by leading comics artists (1992-1993), based on Moebius themes.

M has also been influential in the Cinema, doing design work on Jodorowski's ill-fated Dune project, spacesuit designs for Ridley Scott's Alien (1979) and the creature for James Cameron's The Abyss (1989); his influence is evident also in Scott's Blade Runner (1982). He contributed designs for the feature film Masters of the Universe (1987) dir Gary Goddard. His credits in Animated Movies include Disney's Tron (1982), and he designed Les Maîtres du Temps ["The Time Masters"] (1982) dir René Laloux, which was based on Stefan Wul's novel L'Orphéline de Perdide ["The Orphan from Perdide"] (1958). He was the leading designer on the animated feature Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland (1993), based on Winsor McCay's newspaper strip.

A French postage stamp designed by and in honour of Moebius was issued in 1988. [RT]

other works: Moebius: Oeuvres Complètes #1: Le Bandard Fou, John Watercolor, Cauchemar Blanc ["The Horny Goof, John Watercolor, White Nightmare"] (graph coll 1979), #2: Arzach, L'Homme est-il Bon? ["Arzach, Is Man Good?"] (graph coll 1980), #3: Major Fatal (graph coll 1980), #4: La Complainte de L'Homme-Programmé ["The Programmed Man's Complaint"] (graph coll 1981) and #5: Le Désintégré Réintégré ["The Disintegrated Reintegrated"]. Portfolios include City of Fire (1985) with Geoff Darrow, Crystal Saga (1986) and Futurs Magiques ["Magic Futures"] (1987).

Jean Giraud


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.