100 Illustrators that all Illustrators should know: #74
Jean “Moebius” Giraud (1938-2012)
Famous for: Heavy Metal, Metal Hurlant, Arzach, L’Incal, Blueberry, The Airtight Garage, Alien, The Fifth Element, Dune, City of Fire, Edena, Silver Surfer, Tron, Les Maitres du Temps, Willow, The Abyss
Influenced: Geof Darrow, Phillippe Druillet, Phillippe Caza, Hayao Miyazaki, Katsuhiro Otomo, Enki Bilal, Tanino Liberatore, Milo Manara, Georges Bess, William Stout, Arno, José Ladronn, Juan Gimenez, Sylvain Despretz, Ridley Scott, Richard Corben, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Mike Mignola, Mark Bode, Katsuya Terada, Frank Cho, Vittorio Giardano, Frank Miller, Brandon Graham, Brendan McCarthy, Francois Schuiten, Marc Bati, Francois Boucq, Frank Quitely, Neil Gaiman, Paul Pope, Mike Allred, Phil Noto, Killian Eng, George Lucas, Blade Runner, William Gibson, Federico Fellini, Sci-Fi and Fantasy culture, concept art, animation and comics as a whole
Influenced by: Gustave Doré, Jijé, Jean-Claude Mezieres, Possibly Virgil Finlay, Will Eisner, Frederic Remington, Western Comics, Herge, Art Nouveau,
Jean Giraud, widely known by his pen-names Moebius and Gir, was a French comic illustrator and author, considered to be one of the most influential artists in the industry across the entire globe. Growing up in German-occupied France, Giraud found solace and escape in a small local theater that would play an abundance of American B-Westerns, which is where he’d develop a love for the genre. In 1954, Giraud received his only technical training at the École Supérieure des Arts Appliqués Duperré, where he’d produce western comics, much to the disappointment of his teachers. It is here where he’d meet close friend and fellow artist, Jean-Claude Méziéres (co-creator of Valerian). Giraud would not graduate and left the school in 1956. In the late 1950s, Giraud was drawing his own western strip for the magazine, Far West, very much influenced by the works of his later mentor, Joseph “Jijé” Gillain. In the 1960s, he developed the Lieutenant Blueberry character with Jean-Michel Charlier, a title he’d work on under the pseudonym, Gir until 1974. This is partly due to Giraud wanting to explore and develop the work of his Moebius alter-ego, as he had a growing interest in science-fiction and fantasy. That same year, Moebius, along with artist Phillipe Druillet and writer, Jean-Pierre Dionnet created the comic anthology magazine, Métal Hurlant (”Screaming Metal”) under the collective Les Humanoides Associes. Such stories published in the publication were The Long Tomorrow, ArzachandThe Airtight Garage. Metal Hurlant would later become known as Heavy Metal Magazine in the U.S. becoming a bastion for adult-oriented illustrated stories, with a focus on genre imagery. In 1980, Moebius worked with frequent collaborator, Alejandro Jodorowsky on the acclaimed L’Incal series. A couple of years later, Moebius would start collaborating on an ambitious portfolio with pupil, Geof Darrow, entitled City of Fire. Aside from working with Marvel Comics and other publishers, Moebius worked on a slew of films from the 70s-90s as a concept artist. These films include Alien, Tron, The Abyss, Willow, The Fifth Element and Jodorowsky’s unrealized adaption of Frank Herbert’s Dune. Moebius’ work is categorized by a range of qualities, producing incredibly simple work and exceptionally detailed work alike, both in the tradition of ligne claire, and hatch-heavy linework.
Sadly, Moebius passed away in 2012 after a long battle with cancer, though his legacy has only gotten more celebrated since. Ridley Scott is known for having said that Moebius’ sci-fi imagery is so influential that everything made in the genre now either directly or indirectly shares his DNA, with concepts inspired by or even stolen in such properties as Star Wars, Halo and Nausicaa and everything in-between. Celebrated artists, authors, directors, animators and illustrators such as Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away) , Federico Fellini (8 ½, Amarcord), William Gibson (Neuromancer) and Katsuhiro Otomo (AKIRA) have cited him as a primary or strong influence on their work(s).
“A drawing is both a representation of inner life and a mere picture. In the past, original sketches used to merge into the final work. Today, we look at them just as if we were listening to a beautiful single note within a symphony. Isolating this note is a way of giving credit for being unique, particular.”
“In today’s consumer society, there is a faceless creature in every adult.”