Moebius

By: Anthony Miller
May 8, 2015

Moebius self-portrait
Moebius self-portrait

The terrains of MOEBIUS (Jean Giraud, 1938–2012) are astonishing and outlandish yet instantly inhabitable. One of the consummate world builders not simply in comics but in all of science fiction, he drew haunting, decaying, lived-in futures that have become templates for too many sci-fi films to list. Moebius’s art traversed overpopulated cities as well as sacred deserts, the realms of Blade Runner and Burning Man. His central figure was often, like the artist himself, a wanderer and observer — whether it was the Belmondo-inspired former cavalry officer Blueberry moseying through the American West or the warrior Arzach surveying his environs atop a pterodactyl-esque steed. His imagery registers at once as anthropological and oracular, contemplating the beauty and mystery of vehicles, dwellings, and clothes. There’s a bit of whimsy in Moebius’s signature elongated earflap hats and other fanciful headgear with which he festooned his characters.

One of the founders of the revolutionary bande dessinée magazine Metal Hurlant, which reached American readers in 1977 as Heavy Metal, the French-born illustrator inspired with his surreal, evocative tales The Airtight Garage (1976–79) and The Long Tomorrow (1976, w. Dan O’Bannon). Although he collaborated with Alejandro Jodorowsky on a film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune that never made it to the screen, the two did create The Incal (1981–88), an esoterically inspired space opera epic in which the two storytellers’ philosophic and artistic fascinations mesh sublimely. The Incal is a wild ride and the apotheosis for this fearless explorer of the illustrated page. As with that non-orientable geometric shape from which he took his nom de plume, Moebius’s work is an enveloping vision — tantalizing us with and tangling us in the enigmatic, intimate, and infinite loop of his imagination.

NEW WAVE SCI-FI at HILOBROW: 75 Best New Wave (1964–83) Sci-Fi Novels | Back to Utopia: Fredric Jameson’s theorizing about New Wave sci-fi | Douglas Adams | Poul Anderson | J.G. Ballard | John Brunner | William Burroughs | Octavia E. Butler | Samuel R. Delany | Philip K. Dick | Frank Herbert | Ursula K. Le Guin | Barry N. Malzberg | Moebius (Jean Giraud) | Michael Moorcock | Alan Moore | Gary Panter | Walker Percy | Thomas Pynchon | Joanna Russ | James Tiptree Jr. (Alice Sheldon) | Kurt Vonnegut | PLUS: Jack Kirby’s Golden Age and New Wave science fiction comics.

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On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: Tristan Jones, Gary Snyder, Edmund Wilson, Thomas Pynchon, Don Rickles, Roberto Rossellini.

READ MORE about members of the Anti-Anti-Utopian Generation (1934-43).

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