Jean Giraud  

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Jean Henri Gaston Giraud (8 May 1938 – 10 March 2012) was a French comics artist, working in the French tradition of bandes dessinées. Giraud earned worldwide fame, not only under his own name but also under the pseudonym Mœbius, and to a lesser extent Gir, the latter appearing mostly in the form of a boxed signature at the bottom of the artist's paintings. Esteemed by Federico Fellini, Stan Lee and Jack Lang among other notables, he was one of the few francophone comic strip artists to receive international acclaim.

Among his most famous creation was the Western comic series "Blueberry" which he cocreated with Jean-Michel Charlier, one of the first Western anti-heroes to appear in comics. Under the pseudonym Moebius he created a wide range of science fiction and and fantasy comics in a highly imaginative and surreal almost abstract style, the most famous of which are Arzach and the Airtight Garage of Jerry Cornelius, and the The Incal. Blueberry was adapted for the screen in 2004, and in 1997 Moebius and cocreator Alejandro Jodorowsky sued Luc Besson for using the Incal as inspiration for his movie The Fifth Element, a lawsuit which they lost.

Moebius contributed storyboards and concept designs to numerous science fiction and fantasy films, including Alien, Willow, and Tron (1982).



Jean Giraud was born in Nogent-sur-Marne, in the suburbs of Paris, in 1938. At age 16, he began his only technical training at the Arts Appliqués. When he was three yeas old his parents divorced and he was raised mainly by his grandparents. The rupture beetween the mother and father, the city and country creating a lasting trauma that he explained was at the heart of his choice of separate pen-names. Through his career he experimented with drugs and various New Age type philosophies, such as Guy-Claude Burger's instinctotherapy, which influenced his creation of the comic book "Edena".


His working methods were various and adaptable ranging from etchings, white and black illustrations, to work in colour of the ligne claire genre and water colours. Giraud's solo Blueberry works were sometimes criticized by fans of the series because the artist dramatically changed the tone of the series as well as the graphic style. However, Blueberry's early success was also due to Giraud's innovations as he did not content himself with following earlier styles, an important aspect of his development as an artist.

To distinguish between work by Giraud and Moebius, Giraud used a brush for his own work and a pen when he signed his work as Moebius. Giraud drew very quickly.

His style has been compared to the Nouveaux réalistes, exemplified in his turn from the bowdlerized realism of Hergé's Tin Tin towards a grittier style depicting sex, violence and moral bankruptcy.


Western comics

At 18, Giraud was drawing his own comic strip, "Frank et Jeremie" for the magazine Far West. In 1961, Giraud became an apprentice of Jijé, one of the leading comic artists in Europe of the time, and collaborated on an album of Jerry Spring. In 1962 Giraud and writer Jean-Michel Charlier started the comic strip Fort Navajo for Pilote. It was a great hit and continued uninterrupted until 1974.

The Lieutenant Blueberry character, whose facial features were based on those of the actor Jean-Paul Belmondo, was created by Giraud and Charlier for Fort Navajo, and quickly became its most popular character. His adventures as told in the spin-off Western serial Blueberry, are possibly Giraud's best known work in his native France before his later collaborations with Alejandro Jodorowsky. The early Blueberry comics used a simple line drawing style, and standard Western themes and imagery, but gradually Giraud developed a darker and grittier style. Especially after censorship laws were loosened in 1968 the strip became more explicitly adult, and also adopted a wider range of thematics. Giraud left the series in 1973 leaving the artwork to Colin Wilson, and late Michel Blanc-Dumont.

When Charlier, Giraud's colaborator on Blueberry died in 1989, Giraud assumed responsibility for the scripting of the series.

Science fiction and fantasy comics

The Moebius pseudonym, which Giraud came to use for his science fiction and fantasy work, was born in 1963. In a satire magazine called Hara-Kiri, Moebius did 21 strips in 1963–64 and then disappeared for almost a decade.

In 1975 he revived the Moebius pseudonym and with Jean-Pierre Dionnet, Philippe Druillet, and Bernard Farkas, he became one of the founding members of the comics art group "Les Humanoides Associes" with whom he started the magazine Métal Hurlant, the magazine known in the English speaking world as "Heavy Metal" . Moebius' famous serial The Airtight Garage and his groundbreaking Arzach both began in Métal Hurlant.

Arzach, first published in Metal hurlant is a wordless comic, created in a conscious attempt to breathe new life into the comic genre which at the time was dominated by American superhero comics. It tracks the journey of the title character flying on the back of his pterodactyl through a fantastic world mixing medieval fantasy with futurism. Unlike most science fiction comics it has no captions, no speech ballons and no written sound effects. It has been argued that the wordlessness provides the strip with a sense of timelessness, setting up Arzach's journey as a quest for eternal, universal truths.

In 1981 he started his famous L'Incal series in collaboration with Alejandro Jodorowsky.

Jean Giraud drew the first of the two-part last volume of the XIII series titled La Version Irlandaise (The Irish Version) from a script by Jean Van Hamme, to accompany the second part by the regular team Jean Van Hamme–William Vance, Le dernier round (The Last Round). Both parts were published on the same date (13 November 2007).

Marvel comics

A two-issue Silver Surfer miniseries (later collected as Silver Surfer: Parable), scripted by Lee and drawn by Moebius, was published through Marvel's Epic Comics imprint in 1988 and 1989. Because of inconsistencies with other stories, it has been argued that these stories actually feature an alternate Silver Surfer from a parallel Earth. This miniseries won the Eisner Award for best finite/limited series in 1989.


Moebius contributed storyboards and concept designs to numerous science fiction films, including Alien by Ridley Scott, Tron by Disney, The Fifth Element by Luc Besson, and for Jodorowsky's planned adaptation of Frank Herbert's Dune, which was however abandoned in pre-production.

In 1982 he collaborated with director René Laloux to create the science fiction feature-length animated movie Les Maîtres du temps (released in English as Time Masters) based on a novel by Stefan Wul.

In 1991 his graphic novel Cauchemar Blanc was cinematized by Matthieu Kassowitz. The Blueberry series was adapted for the screen in 2004, by Jan Kounen as Blueberry: L'expérience secrète.


From December 2004 to March 2005, his work was exhibited with that of Hayao Miyazaki at La Monnaie in Paris.


Giraud's prestige in France – where comics are held in high artistic regard – is enormous; In 1988 Moebius was chosen, among 11 other winners of the prestigious Grand Prix of the Angoulême Festival, to illustrate a postage stamp set issued on the theme of communication. Under the names Giraud and Gir, he also wrote numerous comics for other comic artists like Auclair and Tardi.


He has also published "Inside Moebius", a illustrated autobiography from 2000 to 2010. Inside Moebius (its title is in English though the books are in French), is six hardcover volumes totaling 700 pages. In these books he appears in cartoon form as both creator and protagonist, trapped within the story alongside his younger self and several longtime characters such as Blueberry, Arzak (the latest re-spelling of the Arzach character's name), Major Grubert (from The Airtight Garage), and others. Moebius subsequently decided to revive the Arzak character in an elaborate new adventure series, the first volume of which, Arzak L'Arpenteur, appeared in 2010. He also began new works in the Airtight Garage series with a volume entitled Le Chasseur Deprime.


Giraud died of cancer on March 10, 2012 at age 73 in Paris.

Influence and legacy

Many artists around the world have cited Giraud as an influence on their work. Manga author and anime filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki has said:

Through Arzach, which dates from 1975 I believe. I only met it in 1980, and it was a big shock. Not only for me. All manga authors were shaken by this work. Unfortunately when I discovered it, I already had a consolidated style. So I couldn't use his influence to enrich my drawing. Though, even today, I think he has an awesome sense of space. I directed Nausicaä under Moebius' influence.

Miyazaki and Giraud were longtime friends. Giraud named his daughter after Nausicaä from Miyazaki's Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.

Pioneering cyberpunk author William Gibson said of Giraud's work The Long Tomorrow:

So it's entirely fair to say, and I've said it before, that the way Neuromancer-the-novel "looks" was influenced in large part by some of the artwork I saw in 'Heavy Metal'. I assume that this must also be true of John Carpenter's 'Escape from New York', Ridley Scott's 'Blade Runner'", and all other artefacts of the style sometimes dubbed 'cyberpunk'. Those French guys, they got their end in early.

The Long Tomorrow also came to the attention of Ridley Scott and was a key visual reference for Blade Runner.


Those works for which English translations have been published are noted as such. Their respective pages describe this further.

As Jean Giraud

  • Blueberry (29 volumes, English translation, 1965 - ), artist (all vol), writer vol 25-29
  • Jim Cutlass (7 volumes, 1979–1999), artist vol. 1, writer vol 2-7
  • XIII (volume 18, La Version irlandaise in 2007), artist
  • Marshall Blueberry (3 volumes, 2000), writer
  • Le Cristal Majeur (3 volumes, 1986–1990), writer (artist: Bati), Paris: Dargaud

As Moebius

Collected editions

The English-language versions of many of Moebius's comics have been collected into various editions, beginning with a series of trade paperbacks from Marvel Comics' Epic imprint in the late 1980s and early 1990s:

The Collected Fantasies of Jean Giraud (1987–1994):

Most of these volumes were later reissued by Graphitti Designs in assorted combinations, as a series of signed and numbered hardcover limited editions.

In 2010 and 2011, the publisher Humanoids (in the U.S.) began releasing new editions of Moebius works, starting with three of Moebius's past collaborations with Alexandro Jodorowsky: The Incal (original series complete in one volume), Madwoman of the Sacred Heart (all three parts complete in one volume), and The Eyes of the Cat.


Video games

  • Fade to Black cover art (1995)
  • Panzer Dragoon (1995)
  • Pilgrim: Faith as a Weapon (1998)
  • An arcade and bar based on Giraud's work, called The Airtight Garage, was one of the original main attractions at the Metreon in San Francisco when the complex opened in 1999. It included three original games: Quaternia, a first-person shooter networked between terminals and based on the concept of "junctors" from Major Fatal and The Airtight Garage; a virtual reality bumper cars game about mining asteroids; and Hyperbowl, an obstacle course bowling game incorporating very little overtly Moebius imagery. The arcade was closed and reopened as "Portal One", retaining much of the Moebius-based decor and Hyperbowl but eliminating the other originals in favor of more common arcade games.


See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Jean Giraud" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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