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R.I.P. Jean Giraud aka Moebius

March 10, 2012

Good Afternoon, Macketeers.

Today is a sad day. One of Uncle Eddie’s heroes has moved on to other, better worlds. The French master storyteller Moebius died today after a protracted fight with cancer. Lots of comics creators and even some movie and design people will be writing eulogies to a man who touched and changed more lives than just about any other cartoonist in modern history. He worked in virtually ever adventure-based genre at one point or another, and distinguished himself for being one of the most esoteric and yet accessible artists of the Metal Hurlant group. He rarely indulged in gratuitous violence or sex, but never shied away from controversial ideas, and loved putting the ‘French Finish’, as I call it–the tendency of European writers to end on a sour note–on his work, but in a way that rarely disappointed, unlike so many other European writer/artists I can think of.

The thing about the man’s work is that was different was that, whether he was creating Blueberry westerns under his own name, or his fantastical science fictions under the Moebius pen name, he applied a prodigious, protean style that never stopped changing, growing, clarifying, simplifying, perfecting, and he never allowed anyone to tell him different. Even the simplest of his limbe claire works has more sophistication and subtle ingenuity than most of the heavyweight contenders of the last thirty years in American comics. But the biggest thing, the thing that influenced me the most, was his incredible vision. The man’s imagination was untouchable.

If I took anything at all from his work, it was his ability to create bigger, more articulate, less ornate concepts than any of his peers, and to make even simple stories about jealousy, hatred and covetousness seem profound. When he got his teeth into a deeper, heavier topic like duty and responsibility, he achieved amazing things, and did so with ease that belied the care put into the work. He was a very fast artist, but he didn’t waste lines or fill spaces needlessly. And yet, when he cared to, he could render with as much depth, detail and skill as any artist of the 20th century.

I’m not sure if anyone will try to draw comparisons between him and the fine artists of the 20th Century, but I foresee a few comparing him to perhaps Picasso or Dali. Myself, I choose to see him as France’s answer to Winsor McCay, though perhaps his closest antecedent was the surrealist Yves Tanguy, another artist whose work influenced me greatly. There has never been another artist quite like him. There probably never will be again.

R.I.P. Jean Henri Gaston Giraud (8 May 1938 – 10 March 2012)

May winged creatures speed you on your way to better worlds.


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