Jean ‘Moebius’ Giraud 1938 - 2012
Jean ‘Moebius’ Giraud 1938 - 2012
Not usually known for a loss of words, the death of Jean ‘Moebius’ Giraud rendered me mute for a while. This state of emotional inarticulacy now seems, two days later, a weirdly appropriate reaction. Moebius had a way of capturing those moments of naked-ape humanity in his work, small emotions in the face of the cosmic...
After I heard the news, I took a copy of his book Starwatcher down from the shelf and pored over it at the kitchen table, leaving breakfast untouched. I thumbed carefully through these well-loved pages, which I’ve looked at for inspiration for about three decades now. I’m trying to remember when I first encountered his work – probably at the age of twelve or thirteen, when a schoolfriend introduced me to Metal Hurlant. It’s not an exaggeration to say Moebius blew my mind. Comics – the language, not the art form or the industry – is an incredibly supple tongue. I’ve known this innately from early in my childhood – I was attracted to comics before I could properly read. For every nascent cartoonist, there are turning points, moments when they see a piece of work by a certain artist for the first time and something bright inside them glows yet more luminous. I felt like Moebius changed and expanded my mind, spontaneously evolved it so that it could cope with his imagery.
Language is the oldest technology humankind has – and visual language, the ability to distill human experience and emotion and make a representation of it, one of the oldest human impulses (the cave paintings in Luscaux are testament to that). It’s a kind of alchemy perhaps, something that helps us reimagine our environment and design the world we make for ourselves. It’s the place in our minds where we translate what we see and experience, where we invent new vistas, new ways of seeing. Moebius did this, and by doing it, inspired and enabled it in others. Moebius was one of the very highest practitioners of this ability – he ignited creativity via his own extraordinary visual imagination. This incredibly valuable thing – to provoke the imagination to think differently, to enable others to see this world of ours in new ways – this is real freedom.
I know I’m not the only cartoonist, comic artist, conceptualiser or creative soul Moebius did this for. Can you measure inspiration and influence? It’s impossible to quantify the cultural effect a visionary artist like Moebius had and will continue to have. He was an artist – “artist” doesn’t seem like big enough of a word to encompass everything he did – who made me understand the scope of comics, that it was, in itself, actually a system of comprehending the world, a fusion of both visual and literary imagination and something more. He made me understand that landscape and environment can be as much a character in an image as a person, whether he was drawing westerns or future dreamscapes. With his incredible fluidity and humility – every mark made is in the service of the imagery, of the story, always there is this purity of intent – he helped me grasp that comics is an ever-expanding and utterly fertile argot. It is not limited to the printed page or the digital sphere, it is a way of thinking and communicating. Moebius helped me comprehend the potential of comics and all related modes of visual communication. He made me love it.
He’s still doing it – I left the Starwatcher book open the on the table at this page, of the girl cradling the star and went to take a shower. When I came back, my daughter Nadia had drawn her own version of it. This is what Moebius did, and still does – he inspires – he literally creates creativity in others, as all the best artists do. I’m going to go and make some comics now.
Thank you, Jean Giraud.
With thanks to Glyn Dillon, whose emails helped me regain speech.
Posted by: Nick Abadzis | permalink
Tags: giraud, ‘moebius’, jean