Here at ComicMix we’ve run a couple tributes to Jean Giraud, a.k.a. Moebius. Michael Davis did his yesterday, Glenn Hauman wrote the obituary on Saturday. There might be more coming because Jean Giraud, a.k.a. Moebius, was exactly that important. Here’s how this master of our beloved medium affected me.
It was December 31, 1973, and I was in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Quebec is Canada’s most French province, and most of the people speak French-Canadian and most of the signs and radio stations are in French. They care about their heritage and their culture and, surrounded by the United States and Ontario, they have an understandably protectionist attitude.
So there I was in downtown Montreal. To be specific, I was in a Woolworth’s, then a distinctly United States institution, now sadly missed. There is no easier way to absorb the cultural differences than to see how others interpret our stuff, and this Woolworth’s was distinctly French-Canadian.
For one thing, they had a big selection of what we now call graphic novels. Not only did most domestic Woolworth’s neglect to carry comic books, we didn’t even have graphic novels in the States.
A couple of cigarette smoking skinny kids – teenagers, probably five years younger than me – approached me as I was gawking at the book racks. One mumbled something in French-Canadian. I looked at him blankly; like most United States citizens, I am linguistically challenged. I said “I’m sorry, but I don’t speak French.” Well, nor did they, but that’s not the point. The kid who approached me leaned in and translated. “Do you have any spare change?” Embarrassed, I gave him something and they slinked away in distain, leaving me to my profoundly holy moment.
I started pawing the racks, picking up each different title and thumbing through in amazement and astonishment. I’d seen a few such pages reprinted in books, but there had been only a few at that time and there were no English-language translations readily available in the States. At that time, my comic book choices came in but a few flavors: superhero, war, romance, mystery; all targeted to an age that was south of mine.
But here in Montreal was a wonderworld of choice, and I was… well, actually, I was pissed. Why didn’t we have this opportunity? Why were we restricted to such narrow fields of routine genre fiction?
Of the many titles in my view, I rapidly realized one single artist dominated the rack. I quickly understood why: he was mind-numbingly different.
He was Jean Giraud… a.k.a. Moebius.
My jealousy grew as I saw these and other books for sale at damn near every Montreal subway station I visited – and I visited quite a few, because they are beautiful. Besides, much of the newer downtown Montreal at the time was underground.
The name Jean Giraud, a.k.a. Moebius, was burned into several of my more prominent lobes. I was able to acquire imported English-language versions, and as Michael noted yesterday, Heavy Metal came along and made my quest easier.
Jean Giraud, a.k.a. Moebius, opened my eyes to the communications medium I had enjoyed and even worshipped since I was four years old. He re-fired my sense of wonder. He showed me that everything I knew was not enough, and damn it I wanted more.
Thank you, Moebius. I won’t miss your work; it’ll be here forever.
I am the proud owner of two, that’s right two original pieces of Moebius art.
It’s a big deal and it’s not a big deal. It’s a big deal because Moebius is one of the greatest artists ever. Period.
It’s not a big deal because hundreds, maybe even thousands, have an original piece of Moebius art.
That’s because he gave them away.
At comic conventions he would sit and do free sketches for people. So there is a multitude of people who all have original Moebius art.
Think about that for a second. Moebius one of the greatest artist ever, gave away sketches for free. And he did the drawings just for you.
That boggled my mind then and it boggles my mind now.
I was fan from the second I saw his work in Heavy Metal magazine way back when. Huge fan.
I had – and still have – a Moebius pen and ink style. I also give away free art at conventions, because no one would pay me, and I do those drawings in a Moebius pen and ink style.
When asked (rare as it may be) to do a drawing I still do them for free and, yes, if you catch me somewhere and I have a moment and you would like a Michael Davis drawing I will be happy to do one for you. But…
I only draw one thing… a drunken fat Batman. Long story and I will share… but not now. Now, I must digress for a moment before retuning to Moebius.
Many (I’d say most) of you just know me from my weekly rants here at ComicMix or for my f-word laced rants on my site. I’ve had a weird career in comics. That’s also a story for another time but take my word for it most of the stuff I’ve done has been behind the scenes.
I make deals. That’s what I do. That’s yet another story for another time but that’s pretty much my career in comics I’m a deal maker and I’m talking big deals also.
I’m real good at deal making, Hell I’m the freakin’ best at it if you ask me. I’m not bragging. It’s not bragging if you can do it.
I can do it.
I’m co-founder of Milestone Media and once during one of our San Diego convention trips in the mid 90s my three partners, the late Dwayne McDuffie, Denys Cowan and Derek Dingle and I, were manning the Milestone booth in shifts.
On this day, during my brake from the Milestone booth I stood on a very long line to get my second Moebius drawing. The day before I stood on line during my break for the first. When I got back to the booth I proudly showed off my new Moebius drawing.
Denys looked at it like he was going to punch me and take it. Dwayne was just as impressed, I think Derek was scaring some kid away. How? Derek took his role as President of Milestone Media very seriously. He wore tailored suits everywhere, even comic conventions. He looked like a Fed and that scares people. Really, it does.
While we were looking at the drawing Denys and I started taking about Moebius and just how cool it would be to get him to do some Milestone covers…
“That will never happen.” Dwayne said in that Dwayne is always right tone of voice, because, well, he was always right.
“Why not?” I asked. “He’s one of the biggest artists in the industry, one of the biggest artist in the world. He’s swamped and impossible to get to.” Dwayne retorted.
“I got to him twice, today and yesterday.” I dead paned.
We all laughed at that and after that moment passed I told Dwayne I was going to ask Moebius. He said, and I’ll never forget it, “If you can get him then I’ll believe the hype.”
I got him.
Moebius did four covers for us and we then turned those covers into posters.
It was quite a coup for Milestone and me.
Moebius passed away Saturday and it really messed me up for most of the day. I not only admired his work I was a fan of the way he lived his life. Never a bad word about anyone or anything, always took the time to talk (and draw!) to his fans. He was just a wonderful man.
All these years I thought the reason Moebius did those covers was because I was such a hot shot dealmaker.
He did those covers because he was the real deal just a wonderful, wonderful, person.
He didn’t see Michael Davis, fast talking dealmaker. No, Moebius saw a fan that stood in two very long lines twice to get those drawing. He did those covers for the fan boy who really loved his work not the executive from Milestone.
That realization came to me like a brick to my forehead this morning when I heard the news. I’m now certain the answer would have been “no” if he didn’t know I was such a fan. Don’t ask me how I know, I just do.
Nevertheless, I did get a coup. Four coups, actually.
I have two Moebius drawings, I spent some time with him and he drew characters I co-created.
Not bad for a fanboy eh?
Rest in peace, dear Moebius, you were one of the greats, as an artist and as a man.
The BBC has bad news to report: Jean Henri Gaston Giraud, who first came to widespread prominence in America with the importing of Heavy Metal and known worldwide to his fans as Moebius, has died in Paris after a long battle with cancer. He was 73.
He was popular in the US and Japan, working with legend Stan Lee and manga artists, as well as in his homeland.
He also worked on design concepts and storyboards for a number of top science fiction films, including Alien, Tron, The Abyss and The Fifth Element.
Giraud trained at art school and turned to comics after working as an illustrator in the advertising and fashion industries.
His best known work in his native country was probably the Lieutenant Blueberry character but he also worked on the Silver Surfer with Stan Lee.
Active in comics since the 60s, Girard was a three-time Harvey Award winner and a two-time Eisner Award winner, and a Hall of Fame inductee for both. He also won the Shazam, the Yellow Kid (twice), the Angouleme International (three times), the Haxtur, and the World Fantasy Awards.
Here’s a trailer from the documentary Moebius Redux: A Life In Pictures, with commentary from Jim Lee, Mike Mignola, and Enki Bilal, where Giraud talks about his life and his work.
At the very end of 1973 I was lurking about in a Woolworth’s in downtown Montreal. I was suffering from my worst case of comics envy ever.
I was seduced by the graphic novels rack. That’s not what it was called, but that’s what it was. Dozens of titles by Jean Giraud (a.k.a. Moebius), Phillipe Druillet, and all kinds of master comics creators the likes of which we had not seen in the States. Beautiful stuff. I could follow much of the storytelling but little of the story itself.
I was also seduced by the wide range of subject material, with nary a cape in sight. Western, science fiction, private eye, romance, ennui-ridden existentialism, and stuff that seemed as though it was influenced by lysergic acid diethylamide the likes of which we never had on St. Mark’s Place. In short order I stumbled upon equally awesome material from Japan and Italy and, possibly, Mars. I experienced a beautiful work covering the widest range of subject matter imaginable. But in comics, such a range was not imaginable, not in the United States.
A couple years later the National Lampoon folks started up Heavy Metal, and while it wasn’t as interesting as it could have been, the new magazine got this material out there. At worst, it was a gallon of water brought to the desert. At best, Heavy Metal was a door opener.
One might think that a logical way of dealing with my comics envy would be to learn a foreign language – certainly French or Japanese. No such luck. Like most Americans I’m lacking in the foreign language learning gene: I took five years of Spanish and lived (and now live) in neighborhoods with or near a significant Latino population and I can barely mumble a few phrases, “perdóname” being my most heavily used.
38 years later a lot of wonderful material has been translated – but that’s not the best part. The best part is, the American comics medium has grown to the point where we now create stories that cover many of the genres that we see overseas. Not anywhere near all, but many. We still don’t have comics for senior citizen grandmothers the way they do in Japan, but we’ve gone a lot further than the 1973 diet of capes, muscles, some horror, a few klutzy teenagers, and a smattering of “children’s comics.” For one thing, we are finally seeing something of a return of children’s comics, thanks to outfits like Boom! and Ape.
Sadly, we’re not seeing a lot of sales in these categories. Most comics shops really can’t afford to risk stocking them in any depth and then promoting them to the appropriate audiences, and most publishers – maybe all of them, now that the tide has changed at DC and Marvel – really can’t afford to help them in any dramatic and useful way.
Maybe electronic distribution will change all that. Clearly, it’s the best way right now to attract new readers, but the promotion budget has to be there and that ain’t easy.
CANNES — Scott Adkins (“The Expendables 2”) and Michael Jai White (“Black Dynamite”) have joined the international cast of sci-fi TV series “Metal Hurlant Chronicles.”
Rutger Hauer (“Blade Runner”), Joe Flanigan (“Stargate Atlantis) and James Marsters (“Buffy”) will also star in the TV show’s first season.
“Metal Hurlant Chronicles” is based on the French sci-fi and fantasy comics anthology that was published in the U.S. as “Heavy Metal.” The first season will be delivered in April and the second will bow in November 2012. Each episode will adapt stories from the original graphic novels. Created by comic artists Jean Giraud (aka Moebius) and Philippe Druillet in 1974, “Metal Hurlant” became a sci-fi phenom in the 1980s.
Editor’s Note: This originally appeared at www.michaeldavisworld.com on January 28, 2011. It is being reprinted here without permission. It’s been reformatted to meet ComicMix’s high editorial standards.
A long time ago in a galaxy, blah, blah, blah…
…Denys Cowan, Bill Sienkiewicz and I shared a studio next to some creators who are all legends now. It was the second silver age of comics and we were in the thick of it.
Howard Chaykin was doing American Flagg!, Walt Simonson was on Thor, Al Milgrom was doing Spider-Man. Jim Sherman was in the studio but I forgot what he was working on, I do remember it was bad ass.
The studio where all those superstar upstarts were was called Upstart Studio.
Also at Upstart was Frank Miller who was doing Daredevil and about to do Ronin. I seldom saw Frank but when I did more often than not he would ask what I was working on and was just a great guy. I remember being a bit jealous when Bill and Frank started working on Elektra and for the life of me I can’t remember why.
All that said, how’s that for a line up?
Those guys (Denys included) sounds like a comic fan’s dream team even now. Speaking of my best friend Denys a few years forward in time from our studios days would see him nominated for an Eisner for best penciler… twice. People forget just how badass Denys Cowan is.
Our studio never got an official name although Bill liked to call it Bill and his little helpers… the bastard.
As far as what we were doing at Bill and his little helpersStudio, Bill was working on Elektra and The New Mutants; Denys was doing The Black Panther for Marvel, V (the comic adaption of the original TV series) and Vigilante for DC.
What was I doing? Nothing great in comics, that’s for sure.
I was working on children books, movie posters, etc. I had one comic book assignment for the Marvel magazine Epic. The assignment was given to me by the late great Archie Goodwin. I made an appointment with Archie hoping for a cover assignment I never dreamt he would give me an interior job.
I loved comics but I was trained as an editorial and mainstream illustrator. I never learned to do comics like, say, a Denys Cowan who can imagine and draw anything from his head. I need reference, I need to look at stuff, and I need dozens of layouts before I start a finished piece. Comics that are fully painted and tell a non-liner story at that time were rare. I was always jealous (still am) of guys that can do that make it up from nothing jazz.
Dwayne McDuffie recently commented on multitalented guys that can write and draw. Truth be told Dwayne, just as a writer, is light years away from where I will ever be as a visual storyteller. That, to me, is multitalented. When Christopher Priest was the editor on the Spider-Man book he once dissected a cover painting I did for him like he was a high school science teacher and I was the frog. He’s also a hell of a writer and just as good a musician. Reggie Hudlin glides between producing and directing movies and TV shows to writing some of the best comics I’ve ever read. Those guys are multitalented.
20 or so years ago, except for Heavy Metal and a few other outlets, painted comics were few and far between. The graphic novel as a fully painted editorial piece of art and content was not quite there yet. It was about to come into its own lead by people like my brother from another mother Bill Sienkiewicz. The work of Kent Williams, George Pratt and Dave McKean was just around the corner as well but not there yet.
Howard Chaykin saw over 20 years ago where comics were going and produced a few painted books before just about anyone did.
Like an asshole, I tried to do comics the way Denys, Walt, Howard and Frank did. I was too stupid to listen to Howard Chaykin when he told me, “Do what you do, the industry is changing and you can bring something new to it.’
Some of the best advice I’ve ever been given. It’s right up there with, put your hands on the wheel and answer in a civil tone of voice, “Yes officer, whatever you say officer.”
I wish I was joking about the cop advice, but I assure you I’m not.
I did not listen to Howard. Years later Mike Gold told me the same thing after I delivered a Wasteland story, which was not my finest hour. I didn’t think he would but Mike gave me another Wasteland story and said, “Do this like any other illustration assignment.” The story was about South Africa and I nailed that mother.
Of all the high profile regular illustrations gigs I was doing (Newsweek, NBC, etc.) the assignment I was the most excited about was Epic. It was a six-page story I was writing and drawing and taking forever to do because I wanted to do it like “regular” comics artists did. Could not do it then, can’t do it now.
Long story short, I will never forget those late night talks with Howard, Bill, Frank, Jim, Al and Denys. It was indeed the second silver age but for me it will always be my golden age.
Bill and his little helpers. Somehow that does not brother me anymore.
Noted illustrator and sometime comics artist Jeffrey Catherine Jones died yesterday of complications from emphysema.
In comics, her work appeared in Heavy Metal, the various Warren magazines, Epic Illustrated, and many, many others. Committing herself to illustration in general and expressionism in specific, she was a member of the legendary Studio along with Michael Kaluta, Barry Windsor-Smith and Bernie Wrightson. Jones’ illustrations graced a great many science fantasy novels (Michael Moorcock, Dean Koontz, Fritz Lieber, Andre Norton, and others) and magazines as well as publications such as The National Lampoon.
Her work has been reprinted in a number of albums, most recently IDW’s [[[Jeffrey Jones: A Life In Art]]]. This ironically titled tome was released at the beginning of this year.
Jones married Mary Louise Alexander (now Louise Simonson) in 1966 and had a daughter, Julianna, the following year. In 2001 Jeffrey had gender reassignment surgery. In recent years she suffered from numerous ailments, but had made a sadly brief return to the drawing board last month.
In one of the highest compliments imaginable, illustrator Frank Frazetta called Jones “the greatest living painter.”
Considering he’s about to lose a leg, author Michael Moorcock certainly is in good spirits.
The creator of Elric, Hawkmoon, Count Brass, and Jerry Cornelius, the author of such award-winning books as Behold The Man and Gloriana, singer/songwriter for Hawkwind and the Heavy Metal movie, former editor of the British Tarzan comics, screenwriter of The Land That Time Forgot, and, by the way, author of the latest Doctor Who novel, Michael Moorcock is facing the amputation of a leg. As he stated on his blog: “I apologize for being a bad correspondent with many over the last couple of months. All efforts to save my wounded foot without resort to surgery have been made and now, somewhat inconveniently, I’m seeing a surgeon tomorrow (Monday) re. amputation. Shouldn’t be too serious, though, as I said somewhere, I feel a bit fed up with constantly supplying Mrs Lovett for tidbits for her bloody pies… I AM a little nervous but it’s mostly to do with more things going wrong (caused by medical staff) than anything else.”
As our pal Rich Johnston notes at his Bleeding Cool site: “Michael seems to be taking this, as much as everything in his life, with good humour, if a touch on the gallows’ side. All at Bleeding Cool wish him well tomorrow and in the days to come.” We’ll toss in the staff and friends of ComicMix as well, Rich.
As a Moorcock fan of 40 years standing, I’m not the least bit surprised about his attitude. The man virtually invented steampunk, the man who virtually invented the “grim and gritty” hero (Elric; and I should know, having coined the term for GrimJack), the British Jew who moved to Texas and espoused radical thought, and cosmic rocker extraordinaire, the 70 year-old writer is expected to make a complete recovers… except for one of those legs of his.
Hey, look. At least it’s not one of his arms. Take care, Michael.
Reviewing what is essentially an art book is tough if you’re not an artist since so many of the proper words and phrases can prove elusive. Also, if you have only a passing familiarity with the artist, you might lack the experience to judge the work. Still, if you like art, like fantasy and science fiction, the hope is that the package is compelling enough for you to buy it and learn more.
The 59 year old artist Luis Royo is perhaps best known in America for his work in the 1980s in [[[Heavy Metal]]]. His popularity there led to countless paperback cover paintings and then his work in trading cards, culminating in several sets from Comic Images to spotlight him.
In 1994, Royo’s first collection of work, [[[Malefic]]], was released and has since gone on to be an international best seller. Now, coming in February from NBM, a new edition will be unveiled. The hardcover book, measuring 8.5” x 10.5”, has is the first in a newly remastered set of Royo’s collections. Beginning here and to be carried on through subsequent volumes, Royo will redesign and reorganize his paintings, adding to the complete works.
Under a new cover, which shows the painter has not seen his talent diminish, the book is a collection of sketches and finished works with scant text that attempts to evoke a mood for each portrait. Maybe it’s the translation from the original Spanish, but the prose is poor at provoking a feeling or conveying information. In some ways, the book would have been better without it or Royo should have hired a writer to flesh things out.
Regardless, his art speaks volumes without a single letter. In the introduction, Miguelanxo Prado notes, “He fills his airbrush with darkness and spreads it left and right with virtuous accuracy. He paints thick, Lovecraftian fogs, the kind that wrap everything in gloom, like vapors from cheesy special effects.”
Royo’s work is somber, using a limited color palette to work with, keeping all his settings filled with dread or despair. Even his warriors at repose are bathed in muted tones, indicating danger is merely at bay, not at all defeated. He works predominantly with acrylic and oil on paper and the work is moving and imaginative.
Examining the occasional preliminary sketch with the finished product shows the detail and twisted thinking that makes his work distinctive. While the outfits his men, and especially his women, wear isn’t always practical, they are always memorable. What’s really interesting is that the feeling one gets from his pencil work and his painted work can be entirely different. Both are good, and always engaging.
The women are full-figured without exaggeration and varied in physical type. His men avoid the bodybuilder template while his creatures – organic or mechanical – never feel out of place. There’s an undercurrent of sensuality in his compositions regardless of setting or impending doom.
In this book alone, there are few recurring characters, although the title figure, Malefic, can be found in multiple images. Overall, this is a handsomely packaged, albeit expensive, art book. Royo fans will certainly rejoice in having new material and a unified library. More casual art fans are encouraged to check this out and see other worlds and ideas conjured up in a compelling way.