RIP, Moebius

Jean Giraud, the comics artist who worked under the name Moebius, has died at the age of 73. Moebius defined the style of Metal Hurlant/Heavy Metal, a surreal, madcap, sometimes grotesque science fictional visual style that is often imitated but which Moebius himself produced to high spec and in such great amounts. On, art director Irene Gallo remembers him: "He was a particular favorite among his fellow artists. Many creatives and readers will mourn his passing." Neil Gaiman also has words on his passing:

I couldn’t actually figure out what the Moebius stories were about, but I figured that was because my French wasn’t up to it. (I could get the gist of the Richard Corben Den story, and loved that too, and not just because of the nakedness, but the Moebius stories were obviously so much deeper.)

I read the magazine over and over and envied the French because they had everything I dreamed of in comics - beautifully drawn, visionary and literate comics, for adults. I just wished my French was better, so I could understand the stories (which I knew would be amazing).

I wanted to make comics like that when I grew up.

I finally read the Moebius stories in that Metal Hurlant when I was in my 20s, in translation, and discovered that they weren’t actually brilliant stories. More like stream-of-consciousness art meets Ionesco absurdism. The literary depth and brilliance of the stories had all been in my head. Didn’t matter. The damage had long since been done.

I recently reviewed The Incal, Moebius and Jodorowsky's bizarre, classic, lately reprinted science fiction comic.


  1. I was incredibly sad to hear about this, I always loved Moebius’ signature style. A true creative, will be sorely missed.

  2. I discovered Moebius in the pages of Heavy Metal as a sprout, and bought every single damn issue until it folded just in hopes of catching more. 

    His “Airtight Garage of Jerry Cornelius” served as the lush, far-horizon counterpoint to all the Moorcock I was reading at the time – and as antidote to the mundanity of school.

    His work on “The Long Tomorrow” inspired the producers of “The Fifth Element” and me and every other nerd who saw it to believe in the utopian urban dystopia – a fast, weird and dangerous place that could get you laid as swiftly as it could get you killed. 

    His … aw hell, the news just sucks. Not even sure how to process it.

    1.  I think it was “So Beautiful, So Dangerous” which Luc Besson copied – unintentionally (Besson had read it when he was a child) – for The Fifth Element. Resulting in two fantastic stories. Thanks Moebius!

    2.  “I discovered Moebius in the pages of Heavy Metal as a sprout, and bought every single damn issue until it folded…”

      A particular story arc? Because they are still printing Heavy Metal.

  3. Even as a Midwestern kid who didn’t grok a lick of French, I could tell that Moebius’ art came from a very different cultural place than the Marvel & DC stuff I was generally stuck with. 
    When he drew nudity, violence and strange civilizations, it didn’t feel prurient or juvenile or judgmental – As opposed to a lot of what was in HEAVY METAL or the Warren mags – It felt more like an intergalactic version of National Geographic, where stuff like that was an everyday occurrence,  where even exceptional people didn’t have to dress up in long underwear and capes or have biceps the size of beer kegs to get into wild adventures, and where it was frequently their brains, grace under pressure and plain ol’, non-interventionist-god luck what got them out of jams more than brute strength, pompous moral rectitude or annoyingly convenient deux ex machinas.

    In his stories, the events were always more grandiose than the characters in them, an outlook that brought an important sense of scale and moral ambivalence to the stories, a vibe usually the opposite of American comics. His characters weren’t always fighting against their mirror opposite, as a way of reinforcing the morality of the “heroes” of the story – They were more Hitchcockian, everyday people living in fantastic circumstances, swept up in events and coping with shit the best they could.

  4. If you like ‘reading’ French comics, I’d heatily recommend Red Ketchup, by Pierre Fournier and Réal Godbout.  It used to appear in the back pages of Croc magazine in the eighties.

    The series, about the cocaine-snorting albino FBI agent who used to take drugs by the cafeteria-tray-full, was drawn more in the style of Hergé’s Tintin than Moebius’s, but very definitely Métal Hurlant.

    More here:

  5.  Noooo!!!

    Not another great talent!

    Moebius is one of those creators that I only have a handful of things from, need more, but love what I have.

    In the Star Wars Galaxy 2 Factory Card Set, I have a card signed  by him. I THINK I have two sets around here – both this signed cards. His signature is also came in my super-duper-deluxe Art of Star Wars Galaxy book (along with Mr. McQuarrie). I had a goal of some day getting all of the artists in that book to sign the page with their work – but obviously that goal is no unreachable.

    Sooooo – RIP, dear sir. You left the world a better place than what you found it.

  6. Wow what a sad loss. I was greatly influenced by Moebius’s work. I had a few of his books and really enjoyed his style, highly creative and other-worldly. His artwork is what I think of when I am drawing as you can clearly see here:

  7. My mom used to translate him for me. His art gave me such a thrill. Now they’re both gone life seems to change in a way I don’t want. But blessings to those who have passed. We are sad and feel that loss bit they now rest and ascend/sublimate into the universe(perhaps)

  8. The Incal was the canonical Moebius Strip as it ended at the same point where it began!

    He was Big In Japan too.  Last time I was in Tokyo there was a live-action “Air Tight Garage” ride/show down in the bay area.

  9. With Moebius, every frame was a fully realized world that the main character happened to be passing through.  In the backgrounds, the reader could see telling examples that explained the customs, technology, and morals of that society. and how the character was living their life in that environment. And it was always a world that looked a bit frayed around the edges, so the reader had strong sense of the utopian visions behind the culture, and the point where the world or the character had come up short or started to fall back.

  10. A great loss. Moebius was one of the greatest artists. His influence is obvious to those who know his works, but alas, his name still isn’t well known even among the people who love the visuals of Blade Runner, Fifth Element, Alien etc. 

    From now on I will draw something every day just to honor him, because despite the fact that I attended a couple of art schools, it was Moebius who taught me the little I know about drawing.

  11. That is so sad – I’ve been hooked on French comics since the the early 80s, and Moebius was both the gateway drug into the French  comics scene and – for me – the best of the best.

    As others have commented, his work (and that of Mezieres) was instrumental in the design of The Fifth Element. On the DVD of The Fifth Element (some editions anyway…) there’s an interview with the two artists, and it’s a delight to see how happy the two – friends since art school – are to have seen their worlds brought to life.

  12. Profoundly sad news and an unimaginable loss. Looking at Jean Giraud’s drawings, the fluidity with which he drew, the fullu realised worlds inside even the simplest sketch, the masterful linework, all of it just combined into something that was unfathomably amazing to fourteen-year-old me, and the mystery simply hasn’t dissipated 23 years later.

    There’s little I could say about Moebius that others hadn’t said more articulately. Every time I draw something and without thinking try and add a little volume with a run of almost-parallel noodle-like hatching, that’s the little bit of Moebius I try to draw from the ether and will continue to try until I draw my last breath.

    Thank you for feeding my head. I remain eternally grateful.

  13. What a sad day.
    Unfortunately, as I was saying elsewhere, we’ve now reached a time when most pop masters of the 60s/70s/80s are due to leave this spiritual plane, and we can only accept it and thank them for their fantastic work. Jean “Moebius” Giraud was a XX-century giant, and leaves behind an incredible array of visual masterpieces; there used to be a time, in the late 80s, when most Italian artists wanted to be Moebius and tried hard to imitate his style, and it was difficult to find anything not clearly influenced by him.

    It’s strange how French readers seem to remember him mostly for his western stories, which were mostly run-of-the-mill, whereas the rest of the world knew him for Metal Hurlant and his visionary sci-fi illustrations, which were revolutionary and incredibly influential. The accidents of fame!

    Au revoir, Monsieur Girard. Tu es deja’ regrette’.

  14. Wow. Just today I was thinking about Exterminator 17, from the late 70’s Heavy Metal. My favorite Moebius work. The artwork was amazing. There’s an awesome movie to be made from that. 

  15.  His, obviously. :) (I had just been about to say, that was *my* first intro to him, then I tracked down The Airtight Garage, etc.)

  16. Very good artist! Capable of creating whole complete worlds with their particular atmospheres!
    He was from here (FR) but i learned about him from a favorite (super good) comic-drawings guy: Geoff Darrow. 

  17. There are still walls between comics, bande dessinée and manga, as if many artists- and fans alike- are somewhat scared of exploring the whole gamut that the 9th art has on offer (Unfortunate tribalism? Fear of contamination?…)

    Moebius had absolutely none of that fear. In the comics universe, he was as intrepid an explorer as his swashbuckling  characters. He embraced every flavour and culture in that universe and left his mark everywhere he landed. Moebius owns the hearts and minds of Franco-Belgian, North American, South American and Japanese alike.

    It is that unabashed passion for his medium that I admire the most in Giraud. His passion extended far beyond his own art to reach countless fellow creators in vastly different circles.  Stories are meant to be shared. Stories can cross borders and tear down walls. Stories have a common language. Moebius, possibly more than any other artist, embodies this.

    On to the next world, intergalactic traveler.

  18. I’m probably younger than the average Moebius fan, but growing up with French parents, my first glimpse of comics was from their collection of Moebius. His work blew my mind and made me realise there was a big weird universe beyond the suburbs.

    He was too big for our small world, now he can explore the ‘verse unbridled by the constraints of the human form. 

  19. Moebius, I feel, influenced soooo much of the “cyberpunk” aesthetic, that vision of the not-so-distant world which has been invaded by robots, mutants, and aliens, absurd fashion, cultists, unimaginable technology, and over the top sexuality.  In other words, an obvious reflection of the world in which we live.  Moebius’ art literally makes me enjoy our world more, because I can now see it as one big, kooky, out of control French science fiction comic book.  Thank you, Sir.  I will now continue reading the reprint of The Incal which I purchased upon hearing about on this very site.

  20. I am quite saddened there will be no more Moebius works and mourn his passing. Like most here, I discovered his art through “Heavy Metal” ending up seeing parts of “Airtight Garage” before his most known, Arzach…

    I’m actually more of a “Druillet” fan.  IMO Moebius/Druillet are part of a “Pairing” I’ve noticed when there are artists who have mirrored styles, like Kaluta and Charles Vess.  I actually liked Druillet better for his dark, gothic space operas, but I do recognize Moebius is the superior of the two.

    Frankly, there’s a YouTube trailer for “The Incal” but it seems no movie, and I hope it’s made at last!

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