Sunday, March 11, 2012

Jean Giraud / Moebius 1938 - 2012

I was sitting in a movie theater yesterday, I was watching the adventures of a man from Earth mysteriously transported to Mars when I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket. I took a quick look at the message - Moebius has died - RIP JEAN GIRAUD. I thought the setting was somehow fitting, as Moebius had transported me to so many other worlds.

I first became aware of Moebius in 1977 when NATIONAL LAMPOON began advertising their new adult fantasy magazine HEAVY METAL. The first issue of HEAVY METAL has a cover date of April 1977 and contains my first real exposure to Moebius. His silent eight-page ARZACH was the most compelling story in the issue. Its world was as mysterious to me as its creator, Moebius.

The world of 1977 was far different than the world of Google and Wikipedia that exists today. There was nowhere I could go to get more information about the artist whose drawings fascinated me. Luckily, his work appeared in each subsequent issue of HEAVY METAL and over time I learned more about him.

Jean Giraud was a modern comic book master, as Moebius his work took me to far distant worlds of the future, and as Gir he took me to the hostile Southwest Territories following the Civil War. He was honored in France with a postage stamp and last year there was an amazing retrospective at The Foundation Cartier pour l'arts Contemporain in Paris. In addition to his comic book work he did design work for live action films and animation, his work entertained and inspired. He opened a door that I gladly stepped through.

I was lucky enough to meet Moebius twice. The first time was at an opening of his work at friend’s art gallery in Philadelphia in 1986. I was nervous and gave him copies of the newly published THREAT! which contained ZONE.

As a young starving artist I could only afford to buy a postcard for him to sign.

I met him again six years later in the Marvel Comics Bullpen. Marvel was publishing collections of his work and he was visiting the office for the day. He had come out to the bullpen to sign copies of his books for members of the staff. I had copies of his books but they were sitting on my shelf at home. I approached him with a blank piece of Bristol board, the scrap that is left over when they trimmed Marvel’s original art board down to size.  Seeking only his autograph he took the board from me and drew a picture of man standing in a corner, pointing to a drawing of a man standing in a corner, pointing to a drawing…   his own Möbius strip.  Unfortunately I’m unable to scan it as it is framed under glass and has been hanging on one wall or the other since I got it back from the framer twenty years ago.

My world was much richer because of Moebius, his work inspired mine and his storytelling beguiled me. Imagine now how much more precious is the note he scribbled to me.


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