Every civilization has its great myths. It's easy to forget that the ancient tales we've classified as relics of a bygone era were once as popular as our contemporary fiction. We might remember The Illiad as a boring homework assignment, but it was the equivalent of The Avengers during the era of its creation. Although centuries strain our connection to myths from the past, the most salient elements of those stories become impervious to time and embed themselves into modern works. For example, Superman shares ancestral DNA with Hercules the same way Goku borrows from the Man of Steel. Certain stories find immortality through the influence they induce in later works of fiction. The Franco Belgian comic Valerian is an apt example of this concept, as it has been the backbone for a litany of the most famous stories of our day.
Unless you're a comics fanatic- or if you were lucky enough to be born French- Valerian is a hidden gem in the world of science fiction despite its far-reaching influence. The hardcover Valerian books frequently make mention of how generously George Lucas borrowed visuals and plot beats from the French masterpiece for Star Wars.
The genesis of those influential visuals came from the talented mind and pencil of Jean-Claude Mézières. Mézières recently passed away on January 23, 2022, at the age of 83, leaving an overwhelming legacy. If you've enjoyed a Luc Besson film, congratulations, you're probably a fan of Mézières. Aside from inspiring the visual language of Besson's films, Jean-Claude Mézières provided concept art for The Fifth Element and copious other films.
It's impossible to condense his mammoth legacy into a few paragraphs, so I'm going to keep it succinct. The man was a creative powerhouse in the world of comics, and his contribution to the medium is immense. If you can, take some time out to read some of Mézières' work. You won't be disappointed.