By Zack Kotzer
"My dear Moebius," wrote Federico Fellini in a fan letter to the poignant comic artist, "Everything that you do pleases me; even your name pleases me." Fellini goes on to praise Jean "Moebius" Giraud's abilities as a creator, reminisces of his joyous first encounter with Metal Hurlant (a publication Giraud was a founder of, and would become known in English as Heavy Metal), directly and indirectly suggests Giraud try his hand at film, though not directly suggesting they collaborate on it. "I would never call upon you because you are too complete, your visionary strength is too formidable. What would there be left for me to do?"
Moebius would never direct a film himself (the closest being a collaboration with Fantastic Planet helm René Laloux, Time Masters), but his presence in film, if not all incarnations of genre, is largely more important and irreplaceable. Directly, he influenced Alien, Tron and a handful of cult classics like The Abyss, Willow and Little Nemo. Indirectly, well, his work and style was omnipresent. From Blade Runner to Nausicaä, Moebius' ability to weave out the imagery, overlapping the crowded techno-orgy of dystopian futures to desolate, mesa-pierced wastelands of psychedelic fantasy, made its presence into the works of anyone who gazed upon it. According to William Gibson, Moebius is responsible for the look and feel for cyberpunk. According to Hayao Miyazaki, "all manga authors were shaken by this work."
Giraud was born in France, but just as his style was not limited, or even very acknowledging of genre tropes and conventions, his work with the pen found itself traversing the globe. With the American human comics-mascot, Stan Lee, Giraud illustrated Silver Surfer: Parable, a melodic and emotional mini-series that has since been one of the highest praised inceptions of Marvel's conflicted cosmic hero. With the Chilean career dreamer, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Giraud illustrated The Incal, a vivid, epic cacophony in which even static images do not sit still.
Before any debate of comic's merits as art even surfaced, Giraud created gorgeous art to be used in the context of merited comics. Giraud did not possess just an unparalleled imagination; he also had the rare ability to viscerally portray it. He could draw what looked like dreams on the page, lush, colorful and seamlessly melding with an engaging, emotional experience for those who viewed it. His worlds were interchanging. His iconic, stoic wanderer, Arzach, rarely donned the same outfit twice despite being consistently recognizable atop his stone pterodactyl. His gunslinger, Blueberry, questioned the boundaries of a contemporary western.
It's hard to imagine that his work, his style and his visions would come to an end, yet sadly, this past Saturday, March 10th, Giraud passed away from an unpublicized fight with cancer. However, whether that means his visions are now over is highly debatable.
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