Saturday, March 10, 2012

Jean Giraud 1938-2012

We've lost one of the greats:  Jean Giraud, better known as Moebius, passed away March 10th.  While he had a lengthy and influential career doing sequential work, I'm more familiar with him as a film conceptual artist thanks to my childhood obsession with the movie Alien.  One of my brothers bought me a bargain bin copy of The Book of Alien, a "making of" album full of behind the scenes photos and pre-production artwork.  The Moebius drawings for the spacesuits stood out for me, which is saying a lot considering he was only on the film for a few days and the book mostly concentrated on Ron Cobb's excellent spaceship designs, as well as on the always fabulous H.R. Giger sculpting the title creature itself.

I eventually tossed the book or sold it at a garage sale but found a newer edition here in Japan at Tower Records.  Of course I bought it immediately upon realizing what it was and once again found myself entranced by Giraud's designs.

His work was always distinctive, instantly recognizable.  I didn't have to read the credits to recognize his touch in Luc Besson's The Fifth ElementEspecially those cop costumes with their wild, impractical helmets! 

Even when he didn't do the design work himself his influence could be so significant it burst out in other people's work.  No surprise Giraud and another genius, Hayao Miyazaki, were good friends. Miyazaki's manga Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind-- and the film, of course-- has a distinct Moebius-esque look.   I feel pretty sure Carlos Ezquerra steeped himself in Moebius at some point before designing Judge Dredd  and his world for 2000 AD

Europeancomics don't seem to be as hung up on the same limited genres as our American comics do.  At home, Giraud did Westerns, spy conspiracies and  and science fiction, but for the American market he teamed up with Stan Lee for a Silver Surfer story and contributed a wickedly beautiful Batman pin-up to DC's Batman Black and White

I love his clean, open artwork and parallel-line modeling.  Every once in a while in my sketchbooks I'd try to channel some Moebius and fail miserably.  Time for me to shut up and allow a late master speak for himself in the way he knew best.

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