The term “visionary” is bandied about almost as much as the word “classic,” but even in an era in which the meaning of the expression has been diluted through overuse, Jean Giraud was an edge-pushing pioneer, an artistic leader, and a true visionary. The French writer-artist passed away on Saturday, March 10, 2012 at the age of 73 after a long battle with cancer.
Many American fans got to know his work through reprint collections published in the U.S. and through his collaboration with Stan Lee on The Silver Surfer, a two-part mini-series published in 1988-89.
His range of topics was vast, and his impact equaled their scope.
“He drew for more than 50 years, under various names, but was most widely known as Moebius,” said the BBC. “He was popular in the US and Japan, working with legend Stan Lee and manga artists, as well as in his homeland.”
“Colleagues paid tribute to the artist who is generally acknowledged as having been one of the most daring and innovative in his field, and whose striking ideas reached across the world and into the world of cinema,” Agency France Press said.
“Jean Giraud was a gentleman and a genius. He created worlds for us. He inspired us. If anything lies beyond life may his spirit, astride a pterodactyl perhaps, soar majestically toward new horizons,” said Jim Shooter, former Editor-in-Chief of Marvel Comics.
“Whether evoking the atmosphere of the old west or delineating dreams of the far future, Jean Giraud’s art and stories captured the imagination of fans and fellow professionals alike. I believe that we have yet to fully experience the benefit in storytelling and craftsmanship that will owe itself to the introduction to his work to American audiences through the collections Marvel published in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He was a professional, a teacher, and even a craftsman, but most of all I think he was a visual poet. His influence may be ethereal at times, but I think it will be very, very long lasting,” said Steve Geppi, President and CEO of Diamond Comic Distributors.
“Jean Giraud, Gir, Moebius – one of a very small group of master comics artists – someone who transformed what we thought comics could be. An artist who had the ability to get out of the way of his own imagination and let it spill pure upon the page. Exceptional draftsman, storyteller, humorist, painter, illustrator, visionary. We are so much richer for having known his work,” said writer-artist Mark Wheatley.
“The life of a storyteller like Jean Giraud cannot be evaluated simply by his prolific output or the elegance of his art or even by his commitment to his craft. Instead, in an earthly sense, we can only gauge his time among us by the impact he and his work had on others. In that sense, his effect is probably the definition of immeasurable,” said Melissa Bowersox, Executive Vice-President of Geppi’s Entertainment Museum.
“Giraud/Moebius was always a well I could go to to draw inspiration,” posted writer-artist P. Craig Russell. “What a loss.”
“He was one of those rare artists who could achieve more in a squiggle than other artists could in a full drawing,” one artist said.
“Jean Giraud was a true visionary in all senses of the word. He created worlds that were unique, were special and breathtaking and fantastically rendered that nobody could ever even come close to emulating his style. How could they? He was copying the world inside his mind onto paper, onto character designs and settings and storylines that were thoroughly, uniquely his and came from his own very unique background,” wrote ComicsBulletin.com’s Jason Sacks.
“This weekend, the comics world lost one of its iconic figures — and the science-fiction movie world one of its greatest influences — with the passing of Jean Giraud. Better known by his pen name of “Moebius,” Giraud was France’s best-known comics artist, and helped inspire the design of many sci-fi movies including Ridley Scott’s films Alien and Blade Runner, Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, and Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element. “Moebius is to comic books what Miles Davis is to jazz: the master,” Besson once said,” wrote Clark Collis of Entertainment Weekly.
“In his native France, where for decades comics have attracted an older readership, Giraud is considered his country's most important figure in cartooning. His signature creation is Les Aventures de Blueberry, the Old West saga that debuted in 1963 and followed a peripatetic U.S. Cavalry lieutenant nicknamed Blueberry. The final edition was published in 2005,” wrote Geoff Boucher for the Los Angeles Times.
“In 1975 he helped create the magazine Metal Hurlant, which as Heavy Metal became a major influence on American comics, mostly through its influence on the generation of comics creators who came of age in the 1980s and 1990s. Moebius’ Arzach (1975) and Le Garage Hermetique (The Airtight Garage), which he both wrote and illustrated, began in Metal Hurlant. He later achieved even more renown for L’Incal, a six-book series of science fiction comics written by Alexandro Jodorowsky that deftly mix metaphysics, space opera, and satire, much of which revolves around the main character John DiFool’s foibles,” said ICv2.com.
“In 1982, he also co-created the feature-length animated science fiction film Les Maîtres du temps, which was released in English as Time Masters,” The Hollywood Reporter’s Heat Vision blog said. “In 2010 the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art in Paris staged a retrospective exhibition of his work.”
His honors included the Shazam Award, Yellow Kid Award, Angoulême International Comics Festival Best French Artist, Grand Prix de la Science Fiction Française - Special Prize, Inkpot Award, Harvey Award, Eisner Award, Harvey Award Jack Kirby Hall of Fame, World Fantasy Award, and Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame, among others.