Today is an incredibly sad day for fans of comic books, concept art, and downright anything science fiction. Artist Jean "Moebius" Giraud, who provided some of the most stunning scifi and fantasy art ever to grace a page, has succumbed to illness at the age of 73.
It's pretty hard to overstate the hand Moebius had in some of science fiction's most phantasmagoric cinema. You know his work even if you've never realized it.
In addition to providing preliminary designs for such films as Alien, Tron, The Abyss, Masters of the Universe, The Fifth Element, and Willow (which were awesome albeit unused), the artist provided concept art for El Topo director Alejandro Jodorowsky's never-realized Dune adaptation, which was to star Mick Jagger and boast a soundtrack by Pink Floyd.
Jodorowsky was a frequent comic collaborator with Moebius. Together they worked on the must-read, gloriously nutbar space opera The Incal (which was chock full of evil space eggs and virtuous giant jellyfish) and the screwball divine pregnancy tale The Madwoman of the Sacred Heart.
The Incal and his fantasy comic Arzach were slated to become a cartoon in the 1980s, but neither project sadly panned out (the latter was later adapted for European television in 2004). Moebius' other seminal works included the western Blueberry, artwork for Heavy Metal magazine, the futuristic detective story The Long Tomorrow (which provided Ridley Scott cues for Blade Runner and William Gibson inspiration for Neuromancer), and Stan Lee's Silver Surfer miniseries Parable. As you can see below, Giraud drew a fantastic Galactus.
If you need testimonials on how ridiculously influential Moebius was, here's a BBC documentary on the artist from a few years back, wherein some of the biggest names in comics heap praise on the man like candyfloss. The artist was also pals with Hayao Miyazaki, for goodness' sake. You can also peruse a ton of his comic work and design at The Airtight Garage fan site. And for a look at how Moebius was faring in his final months, here's an illuminating interview with The Los Angeles Times from April 2011, in which the artist pishposhed his celebrity:
"They said that I changed their life," Giraud whispered in amazement. "‘You changed my life.' ‘Your work is why I became an artist.' Oh, it makes me happy. But you know at same time I have an internal broom to clean it all up. It can be dangerous to believe it. Someone wrote, ‘Moebius is a legendary artist.' I put a frame around me. A legend - now I am like a unicorn."
Behold the master at work in 2009. Between Giraud today and Ralph McQuarrie last week, the world of science fiction design has lost two of its greatest visionaries. Here's a sampling of Moebius' concept and comic art. That series of Willow illustrations will blow your damn mind. Stupid Daikini, it is not.
A scene from 1988's Silver Surfer: Parable.
Another scene from Silver Surfer.
Masters of the Universe.
Tron 2.0 promotional artwork.
The original Tron.
A scene from Arzach.
Paul Atreides from Dune.
Baron Vladimir Harkonnen from Dune.
Feyd from Dune.
Leto Atreides from Dune.
A scene from his 1982 animated film The Time Masters.