Jean Giraud

Jean Giraud was one of the founders of the magazine Métal Hurlant and the publishing house Les Humanoïdes Associés. Не known as Gir, co-creator of realistic character Lieutenant Blueberry, and as Mœbius, who changed the aesthetic of science fiction and narrative model of comics.

He is considered the main artist, uniting Comics with new realism and modernism. Giraud’s art had a global impact, influencing a whole generation of writers in France, Japan and the United States, great filmmakers including George Lucas and Ridley Scott, James Cameron and Luc Besson. Among his fans were Federico Fellini, Hayao Miyazaki, and William Gibson.





Jean Henri Gaston Giraud was born in  Nogent-sur-Marne, in the suburbs of Paris, on 8 May 1938. When the boy was three years old his parents divorced and he grew up with grandparents in  Fontenay-sous-Bois. Separation of the parents as the Giraud explained put him a psychological trauma and in the future substantially affected a choice of pseudonyms. As a child, his imagination was nourished Franco-Belgian and Italian, and translated American comics, and at the age of 15 years, he sold his first story to a publisher Jacques Dumas. Then he had a deep passion for science fiction, according to the artist, thanks to the father who gave him the magazine of science fiction with words: «you will see that it is revolution of thinking which will please you». In the 16 years, he entered the Duperré School of Applied Arts. After schooling for two years, Giraud has worked for advertising and fashion. In this same period, he created his first important strip Les Aventures de Frank et Jérémie for the magazine Far West. In 1956, he went to Mexico to visit his mother, who married a Mexican. During the nine months he was inspired by the endless blue skies and desert landscapes, and then returned to France for military service, in Germany and Algeria. After mobilization, he visited the Belgian artist Gigi, who hired him as an assistant to work on Western strip Jerry spring, which became a model for many other westerns and in particular to Lieutenant Blubbery. In 1961 — 1962 Giraud worked in the scientific-popular edition of L’histoire des Civilisations, did the illustrations for the satirical magazine Hara-Kiri, in which he first used the pseudonym Mœbius.





In the year 1963 Jean Giraud started working in the newly founded weekly comic’s magazine Pilote, which was ready to challenge the hegemony of the Belgian heavyweights, Tintin and Spirou. Giraud was welcomed by  Jean-Michel Charlier, editor and screenwriter who griped hold of Illustrator to create his planned series of comics in the Western style about Lieutenant Blueberry (Jean Giraud joked later that Charlier, most likely, accepted the editorship for the opportunity to select the most promising cartoonists, only as they appeared at the entrance of the editorial office). Giraud’s portfolio, including cooperation with Gigi, were sufficient asset and the first story is about Mike Donovan, a Lieutenant in the U.S. cavalry, nicknamed Blueberry, Fort Navajo, was published in the 31st issue of the magazine in October. Thus, Giraud or how he signed up for «Gir» was a  co-creator of what will very soon become one of the most remarkable creations in the Franco-Belgian comics.

Despite several interruptions in the work due to creative or technical problems Blueberry remained a constant in the creative career of Giraud for four decades. He continued to work on the comic after the death of  Jean-Michel Charlier too. n total, the adventures of Lieutenant Blueberry are devoted to 29 albums. But the main purpose of the artist was to achieve independent success.





After creating another graphic novel about Blueberry Giraud united with other founders of comics what to create Le Humanoïdes Associés to publish Métal Hurlant magazine which involved such illustrators as Richard Corben, Jacques Tardi, Vaughn Bodē, e, Serge Clerc and Enki Bilal. On pages of Métal Hurlant Giraud experimented with non-narrative Arzach who is flying over a barren alien landscape on the pterodactyl and nonlinear stories of The Airtight Garage, developing many of the iconic images that were to make Mœbius such an influence.

Blubbery remained the most profitable project of Giraud, but in the seventies, the artist used his success to more eccentric impulses, having started working solo using the pseudonym Mœbius. Only after a while he became interested in that background which was behind it — the mysterious Möbius strip. Giraud-Gir’s hallmark was realistic, experienced influences of a cinema and the photo which was based in real places. But as Mœbius he investigated the new worlds, developed the rich, detailed style giving life to extraterrestrial civilizations in bright images.

«Blueberry, Jean Giraud, is my part in the Cartesian coordinate system. It is applied, perfectionist, chained to the drawing table, devoted to the scenarios of Charlier until his death in 1989. Even today, I can spend hours searching for information about huge boulders for Amerindian rites and carefully decorate the cacti in the third plan. Initially, Mœbius was a nickname when I signed short stories Hara Kiri in the early 1960s, and then quickly, an almost Pavlovian way of, it became a signal. I suddenly had the freedom to do what I wanted, I was not given anything. It was a new identity and above all another aspect of me, twisted, bent, but not dissociated, like the famous Möbius strip. But to look really there, Mœbius is never far from Giraud», — Giraud told.



Arzach. Publication date: 1975


Masterly art handwriting, continued experimenting, fundamental changes in style, fantastic works offered the bouquet uniting dark and erotic, freakish and intellectual, provocative and venomous, comic and philosophical in uncountable combinations. It is characteristic that Giraud didn’t leave carefully ordered creative heritage — instead of a  well-groomed garden of civilized pleasures you find the multi Universe of surprising impulses.

Arzach changed everything. Giraud as Mœbius created a new language for comics. Freed from the constraints of conventional scenario of Ligne claire (the strip was non-linear), he realized expressive surreal fantasies that allowed the reader to make sense of the images.

«It happened for the first time — the book is without dialogue. I did it deliberately provocative. The character was so mysterious, and silence of his secrets. It’s like a silent movie, but with art style and unique colors. Pictures have their own power, without words the values come directly from the images, landscapes, characters. So history can be seen in one picture.»



Arzach. Publication date: 1975


Although the stories may seem relatively simple, they actually run on a subconscious level (like most works of Giraud). Filled with images of dreams they resemble intricate small puzzles with the value always tantalizing and always out of reach. Mœbius is one of those rare artists whose work really feels that you are peering into another universe.

His masterpiece, Le Garage Hermétique (The Airtight Garage), is improvisation, created by chapters from 1976 to 1979, having grown up in inventive and multi-dimensional graphic novel. Mœbius has explained that the story was improvised consciously, so from time to time it becomes entangled. The «garage» is actually an asteroid in the constellation Leo which houses a pocket universe, governed by a demigod, Major Grubert.

Major Grubert orbits the asteroid in his spaceship Ciguri and oversees the development of the worlds within it. Throughout history, the hero acquires different physical characteristics, but mostly appears as a mustachioed man in the old colonial form. Major Grubert’s universe consists of three levels: the unconscious, conscious and super conscious. Several entities, including Jerry Cornelius, seek to invade the garage. The plot involves a mechanic who accidentally carries out the fuse from the important machine and to avoid retribution of the boss, he runs. Ultimately, the mistake leads to a massive search that combines characters of all three levels. Major Gruber is forced to personally investigate all the levels of his own creation, in search of a possible saboteur. Worlds manifest themselves in other worlds; the characters change names, faces, even gender. They exist and evolve in a very fickle universe of Mœbius, following the whims of the creator. This is an important aspect of his work, which has become a main precondition for comic effect in many future productions.



Le Garage Hermétique (The Airtight Garage). Date of publication: 1976–1979


Le Garage Hermétique consists of short chapters, reflecting the author’s anarchic game in which the creator intentionally sharp introduces new conceptual complications every month to destroy the coherence of the story and create their own problems for which he will have to come up with a solution, but next time he again poses new challenges. This condition Giraud explained as constantly dangerous position that inspired in him a desire to recreate the sequence, lead to «un délice absolute» (absolute delight). A central place in the compositional process played the need to constantly surprise yourself. Giraud talked about the abolition of rational «regulated center» and allowed his hand to become «independent», when he was Mœbius (whereas compositions of Gir were strictly disciplined).

The graphic style of the series of the Le Monde d’Edena (The World of Edena) is different from other work of Mœbius by the fact that the artist was confined to a Ligne claire (clean line) with a minimum details. But he achieves great balance of mastery and boldness, as in the line art and coloring.

In the second novel, Les Jardins d’Edena (The Gardens of Edena) published in 1988, apparently, that everything shines the life reflecting magnificent paradise vision. The name of a cycle belongs to the Garden of Eden and the myth about Adam and Eve, revealing realities of multilevel Le Garage Hermétique and passes in a dream inspired by Carlos Castaneda. Novels were strongly influenced by the teachings of  Jean-Paul Appel-Guery and Swiss nutritionist Guy-Claude Burger. Power of  science-fiction stories is that Mœbius uses them to ask questions of dreams, food and health, biology and sexuality, human desire to live in the structured society, archetypical good and evil. All these more or less philosophical elements are organically embedded in deceivingly easy stories.

Giraud’s experimental novels and vision attracted attention film-makers. In 1975, Alejandro Jodorowsky tried to adapt the political, ecological and religious epic of Frank Herbert, Dune, for which Giraud made 3000 drawings. The movie had not been shot, but very soon, Dan O’Bannon and Ridley Scott hired Mœbius to work in Alien. Much of a creative heritage of the unfortunate project of Dune Ridley Scott used in Alien, including Giraud, Chris Foss and HR Giger’s creations — to design what has become a science fiction/horror classic.



L’Incal (The Incal). Date of publication: 1981 — 1988


Visual language of Jean Giraud liked in Hollywood, although the artist said it was not for him, and above all he is a comic artist and Illustrator. In 1980 Giraud started the multivolume history L’Incal (Inkal) according to Alejandro Jodorowsky’s scenario published in Métal Hurlant. His works include the animated Les Maîtres du Temps (Time Masters) and Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland, movies Throne, Willow, Masters of the Universe, The Abyss and The Fifth Element, Space jam. For French television, he directed the animated Arzak Rhapsody and La Planète Encore. His story Cauchemar Blanc was filmed in 1991; a Blueberry movie was released in 2004.

In the 1980s, Giraud most of my time spent in USA, Tahiti and Japan, where were published his best works in translation. Cooperation with Marvel Comics led to the fact that he illustrated the two part Silver Surfer: Parable written by Stan Lee.

In the 1990s, he again collaborated with Jodorowsky on Le Coeur Couronné (The Crowned Heart) trilogy and Griffes d’Ange (Angel Claws). A sequel to Le Garage Hermétique, L’Homme du Ciguri, appeared in 1995, and Giraud, despite being kept busy with his scripts and artwork for Blueberry and Jim Cutlass, still managed to produce further Moebius works, including an Incal sequel, Le Nouveau Rêve, and Ikaru drawn by Jiro Taniguchi.

Genius of Giraud as a multifaceted master most vividly was shown in  «Moebius-Transe-Forme», the exhibition held at the Fondation Cartier in 2010. Show Mœbius showed different themes of the universe of the outstanding artist convincingly proving that converting with its many consequences is the great theme of creativity Giraud. At the beginning of year 2011 Mœbius published a limited edition graphic novel about Major Grubert, which is now more reclusive than a man of action, explores questions of good and evil, life and death, nature of reality.

March 10, 2012 Giraud died at the age of 73 after a long battle with cancer. He was buried in Montparnasse cemetery, Paris.



Jean Giraud at the exhibition «Moebius-Transe-Forme»


«I always had excessive and insolent requirements: comics are a bridge to art. Small Mickey, the broken noses and large ears belong to the same tradition as the rock carvings or paintings exhibited in the national museums. Of course, the comic was originally the result of a seething popular culture, but with time, its graphic requirements have evolved and sometimes joined those of contemporary art. On my fifty years of work, so I try to be really honest, there are a lot of dross and perhaps a dozen drawings that emerges and may one day be placed alongside those of Picasso, Rembrandt, David and others, without anyone crying foul» (from an interview with Moebius in 2010 on the occasion of the exhibition at the Fondation Cartier).

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