Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Legendary Artist Jean "Moebius" Giraud, TRON Designer, Passed Away at 73

One of the most legendary and talented artist of the 20th century, Jean "Moebius" Giraud, passed away last saturday at 73. For his countless fans he was a true visionary genius and the beauty of his artwork and his incredible "line" will stay forever. But Disney fans may remind him as the one who designed a big part of the original TRON movie, and i have found for you some of his TRON original artwork.

I had the luck and i can say privilege to knew him and be a friend of him during almost 15 years - and even published a great portfolio from one of his famous work - so i'll tell you more about him in a few seconds. But first, a bit of biography: Jean Giraud was born in Nogent-sur-Marne, in the suburbs of Paris, on May 8, 1938.When he was three years old, his parents divorced and he was raised mainly by his grandparents. The rupture between mother and father, city and country, created a lasting trauma that he explained lay at the heart of his choice of separate pen names. In 1955 at age 16, he began his only technical training at the Arts Appliqués art school, where he started producing Western comics. He became close friends with another comic artist Jean-Claude Mézières. In 1956 he left art school to visit his mother in Mexico and he stayed there eight months, after which he returned to work full time as an artist. In 1962 Giraud and writer Jean-Michel Charlier started the western comic strip Fort Navajo for Pilote magazine, introducing the now famous Blueberry character.

The Moebius pseudonym, which Giraud came to use for his science fiction and fantasy work, was born in 1963. In a satire magazine called Hara-Kiri, Moebius did 21 strips in 1963–64 and then disappeared for almost a decade. In 1975 he revived the Moebius pseudonym, and with Jean-Pierre Dionnet, Philippe Druillet, and Bernard Farkas, he became one of the founding members of the comics art group "Les Humanoides Associes". Together they started the magazine Métal Hurlant, the magazine known in the English speaking world as Heavy Metal. Moebius' famous serial The Airtight Garage and his groundbreaking Arzach both began in Métal Hurlant. In 1976 Metal Hurlant published The Long Tomorrow written by Dan O'Bannon.

Arzach, first published in Metal hurlant is a wordless comic, created in a conscious attempt to breathe new life into the comic genre which at the time was dominated by American superhero comics. It tracks the journey of the title character flying on the back of his pterodactyl through a fantastic world mixing medieval fantasy with futurism. Unlike most science fiction comics it has no captions, no speech ballons and no written sound effects. It has been argued that the wordlessness provides the strip with a sense of timelessness, setting up Arzach's journey as a quest for eternal, universal truths. In 1981 he started his famous L'Incal series in collaboration with Alejandro Jodorowsky.

Moebius contributed to storyboards and concept designs to numerous science fiction films, including Alien by Ridley Scott, Tron by Disney, The Fifth Element by Luc Besson - artwork below - and for Jodorowsky's planned adaptation of Frank Herbert's Dune, which was however abandoned in pre-production.

But his influence on others films on which he didn't contributed has been phenomenal, beginning by Star Wars, according to Georges Lucas himself who by the way agreed back in 1984 to write the foreword for the Moebius portfolio i was publishing.

So, TRON. You'll see below some of Moebius artwork that he did at that time. Moebius was not the only designer who had worked on the original TRON, others talented artists also contributed but for those who knew his style what was inspired in TRON by his artwork was instantly recognizable. Below, some of his concept-arts for the TRON characters.

The next artwork are for the famous TRON solar ship.

The next artwork below was not done for the original movie but many years after its release and is obviously inspired by TRON - a TRON monster taking revenge on his creator?

Amazingly, and although different projects were on track but never finalized, no one of Moebius stories have been adapted for movies, which is incredible as the world of Moebius is so rich that it could make gorgeous movies, including animated one. Same for a theme park ride, although a great concept was developed by Bill Gorgensen, the WDI Imagineer who created the DLP version of Pirates of Caribbean, but the project didn't became reality.

As i told you, i knew him personally for many years, and the first thing which come back to my memory is what an incredible worker he was.The production of Moebius is just phenomenal and he left to us literally thousand and thousand of artworks, and if we except his early work, all of them are stunning. I remember one day i had an appointment with him at his home and when i arrived he was finishing a drawing. He didn't stopped to draw and i spent the next hours with him still finishing the artwork, putting the colors, etc... nothing would stop him and the incredible creative "fire" inside him! He was indeed an incredible visionary and i remind having long talks with him about the famous Carlos Castaneda books. He knew pretty well the world of native americans sorcery as he was initiated back in the 1950's in Mexico by Indians and hallucinogen mushrooms - he used to say that what happened in his mind at that time had an influence on the next 40 years of his life and work. By the way, it's funny to see how he look on the picture at the top, shot a few years ago, like an old native american sorcerer!

Fascinated by parallels worlds he created visions of amazing beauty, but for all others artists it's the beauty of his line and the incredible easiness with which he was drawing who makes him a real "master"...also admired by others masters like famous Japanese animation director Hayao Miyazaki with whom he was good friend.

Another friend of mine, also coming book artist in France, told me that he saw Moebius one day at Venise doing a drawing for a young fan. He was standing, and did the drawing of a female character seen tilt up - so, seen from below, just like if the character was floating in the air - and he draw the whole character with ONE line which, if you ask any artist, is amazingly difficult to do. And it was perfect. Incredible.

Was he kind? Yes, he was, but the truth is that he was totally in his creation and that nothing could stop him, which is okay for me, i perfectly understand how important it is for an artist to be totally concentrated on his work. I think i can say that he has been one of my "spiritual fathers" and he helped me in my discovery of what is called the "energetic world" , something who at 30 changed my vision of the world forever.

I also remind asking him, while i was in the preparation of the Disneyland Paris book, what he thought of the book project. I knew that Moebius didn't like that much the WDC as a corporation but i also knew that WDI Imagineers had met him and that, as he told me, he was amazed by their "artistic purity". Moebius was definitely not the kind of person to spend his afternoons at Disneyland but his answer to my question was incredibly visionary, as always: "You should do it, and if you do it well, the Imagineers who created the park may become friends of you". And you know what? This is exactly what happened!

You will find below some video interviews of Jean "Moebius" Giraud, and the second part of my tribute to him is now online HERE and include rare and stunningly beautiful artwork from Moebius, so don't miss it!

On the next one, Jean "Moebius" Giraud is speaking about out of body experiences and mushrooms' visions for a documentary about the healing herb ayahuasca.

In the next video Moebius is with Hayao Miyazaki, both were filmed when opened the Miyazaki-Moebius exhibit in Paris some years ago,

Artwork: copyright Jean Giraud, Dargaud, Humanoides Associés, Disney


Anonymous said...

Love Jean Giraud's line work, and a few magic mushroom pieces like the skull,remind me of Aubrey Beardsley and a fellow student of the same period named Wolf who illustrated the book Faust. Looking forward to your next edition on him. PD

Orlando Attractions said...

Can't believe it. First Robert Sherman and now Jean. I loved this guys work. He was way ahead of his time. Very sad :(