In 1981, comics writer Alejandro Jodorowsky teamed up with French comic artist legend Moebius and created a new French comic serial called The Incal, (allegedly salvaging a bunch of material Jodorowsky created for an aborted film adaptation of Dune). The Incal's story is barely comprehensible, a mystical, satirical space-opera that anticipates many of cyberpunk's tropes. But the story isn't the point of The Incal. Reading Self-Made Hero's new English edition of Incal is an exciting and delightful experience for reasons having nothing at all to do with the consistency or comprehensibility of its plot.
Rather, The Incal is a triumph of glorious, self-indulgent, eyeball-kicking science fiction high weirdness. Jodorowsky's plotting strategy seems to have consisted of making up the weirdest stuff he could think of, getting bored, chucking in a bunch of new, weirder stuff, and repeating as necessary. New plot elements are conjured up from thin air without explanation or rhyme or reason. No pretense is made to any kind of underlying physics or poleconomy or philosophy.
Instead, Moebius just draws the hell out of Jodorowsky's fevered notions, producing a strong and curious aesthetic sensation that is quite pleasing and a little freaky. The creators of The Incal sued The Fifth Element for allegedly ripping it off (they lost), and Fifth Element is a pretty good point of reference for what goes on in The Incal: innumerable stylish, semi-erotic, high-tech incoherencies sprayed at the reader at a furious pace, fast enough that the fact that none of it makes much sense hardly has time to sink in.
I feel like I should try to summarize the storyline here, but in truth, there's not much point. Wikipedia says "The story begins in the dystopian capital city of an insignificant planet in a human-dominated galactic empire. (The Bergs, aliens who resemble featherless birds and reside in a neighboring galaxy, make up another power bloc.) DiFool receives the Light Incal, a crystal of enormous powers, from a dying Berg. The Incal is then sought by many factions: the Bergs; the corrupt and decadent government of the great pit-city; the rebel group Amok; and the Church of Industrial Saints (commonly referred to as the Techno-Technos or the Technopriests), a sinister technocratic cult which worships the Dark Incal. Animah (an allusion to anima), the keeper of the Light Incal, seeks it as well."
And yeah, I guess that's what happens. But it's not particularly the point of this volume.
Marvel previously collected these comics in English, and then DC did it again (censoring the nudity and changing the really excellent coloring), and this latest edition from Self-Made Hero restores the colors and the boobies, as Moebius intended. It's very good, very funny, very odd, and awfully silly.
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.