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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Know Your Idols: Jean "Moebius" Giraud

    Giraud original character- Blueberry.
    The art world lost one of its most inspiring and influential talents this past Saturday. The legacy of the artist known to most as Moebius will be part of our culture for years to come. Yet, many have never even heard of this French illustrator. Meet an idol in this week's tribute to Jean "Moebius" Giraud.

    I feel like I'm about to dose you with a little dry history here but his life and work is too impressive to abbreviate.

    Giraud began drawing comics at 16 with very little art training. By the age of 18, his western themed comics were regularly published in niche magazines. In 1961 (about age 23), Giruad was apprenticed under one of the best European comic artists of the time, known as Jij√©. A couple short years later, Giraud would create Blueberry, the US Cavalry Lieutenant who would become the center of a comic series that continued into the 21st century.

    His Western work gained much acclaim in his home country but it would be his sci fi and fantasy work that would carve out a place for him in Hollywood- under his more widely recognized pen name, Moebius.

    Heavy Metal would spur a cult-classic
    film in the 80's
    Giraud adopted the pseudonym in 1963. He would later credit his troubled childhood for inspiring his division into multiple pen names. However, Moebius would disappear shortly after his debut, not to be resurrected for another 10 years as one of the founding artists of a magazine called Metal Hurlant- or (to English speakers) “Heavy Metal,”—A magazine that would change the world of comics forever.

    Around that time, Moebius contributed to Ridley Scott’s Alien. The ability to quickly sketch entire rich, fictional worlds and environments as if he had actually been there was the key to his success. He would later contribute concept art and storyboarding for such notable titles as, Tron, The Fifth Element, Willow, Masters of the Universe, and The Abyss. If you live above ground you must remember at least one of these! Giraud is even listed on IMDB.

    During the 90’s, we saw some of his earlier works adapted for film, including stories involving his original character Blueberry. Bear in mind, his Western works were much beloved in France. I won't rattle off the list of French titles here. 

    Concept art from The Fifth Element

    Giraud would live out his life as both writer and illustrator to multiple projects and influencing many more. This artist took cartooning to a whole new level. Censorship laws of Giraud's time were pushed to the limit by the sex, violence, and grit that poured from his pen. His revolutionary style would inspire the work of Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Princess Mononoke to name a few), William Gibson (Pioneering Cyberpunk author), Rick Carter (productiond designer for Avatar), James Cameron, George Lucas, and Stan Lee.

    “The inspiration I always felt from the art of Moebius was that I believed he truly saw the imagery he depicted and was actually not making it up,’ Carter said Saturday. ‘His imagery appears as if it was sketched from a real-life subconscious world/existence.” –Rick Carter as quoted by the LA Times

    Watch him work-