Arzach (1974)
Les Humanoïdes Associés

21 x 27cm, 8 pages

If ever there was a defining moment in both French bandes dessinées and the landscape of comic books as a whole, it would be when in December 1974, Moebius, Jean-Pierre Dionnet, Philippe Druillet and Bernard Farkas put their minds together to form Les Humanoïdes Associés (or Humanoids) and launched Métal hurlant (meaning “Howling Metal”) out into an unsuspecting world.

One of the first sights a reader picking up Métal hurlant would have noticed would be of a curious, caped, pointed hat wanderer mounted on the back of a pale white bird/pterodactyl, soaring silently above a barren, dreamlike landscape. Introduced for the first time in Métal hurlant N°1, Arzach is a wordless, colour comic and one of Moebius’ most recognisable and enduring stories. With each part of the saga, Moebius would vary the spelling as a sort of tongue-in-cheek joke, for instance Arzach would became Harzak, then Arzak, then changed to Harzakc and finally Harzach.

Métal hurlant would go on to attract some of the most talented artists in the field such as Philippe Druillet, Enki Bilal, Milo Manara and many more in the pages of each issue. Métal hurlant reached a new international platform when it was republished in America by National Lampoon and debuted in April 1977 as Heavy Metal.

Arzach was a breath of fresh air for a medium traditionally aimed at children and would have a huge inspiration on other artists’ and their work. One notable example, Japanese auteur filmmaker and founder of Studio Ghibli, Hayao Miyazaki, who’s masterpiece Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind shows a great appreciation of Moebius’ creation. The two great artists had such mutual respect for one another’s work that they even held a joint exhibition titled ‘Miyazaki-Moebius’ at the Monnaie de Paris from 2004 to 2005.

Métal Hurlant N°1 & Arzach

Le Bandard Fou

Le Bandard Fou (1974) / The Horny Goof (1990)
Les Éditions du Fromage/Les Humanoïdes Associés
24 x 31.8cm, 48 pages

Emboldened by the creative direction of La Déviation drawn a year earlier, Jean Giraud then embarked on making a longer story in that style that would also be the first official “Moebius” full length comic book.

Le Bandard Fou begins with the titular horny character waking up with a sizeable morning erection only to soon discover of his male member’s refusal to subside and thus hilarity ensues as we follow the protagonist’s various misadventures to avoid being captured by the ruthless Syldanian authorities who have outlawed any erections out of the breeding season.

The format of Le Bandard Fou is split into 2 separate sections:
On the pages on the left side of the book there is a series of surreal full page drawings and on the right is the main story of Le Bandard Fou. The drawings on the left show a seated figure looking out at the audience who suddenly and without reason becomes engulfed by some unknown liquid that grows and quickly overwhelms the figure completely but with a surprise twist at the end. The drawings serve as a sort of flip book animation but in an unusual portrait format for the reader to explore.

Moebius lays down line after copious line across each page that flow freely and coupled with generously detailed hatching/crosshatching & stippling, create a vast, expansive world for the reader to get lost in. This Moebius story has a clearly more adult tone to it reminiscent of the underground comix of American artist R. Crumb, mixed with science fiction elements and unique witty humour. Le Bandard Fou would also go on to establish the comic book universe that would be visited again in Moebius’ later work Le Garage hermétique (The Airtight Garage).

First published by Les Éditions du Fromage in September 1974 (a French comic book publisher set up by former Pilote artists Claire Bretécher, Marcel Gotlib and Nikita Mandryka) and as the exodus of artists from Pilote continued, published again a few months later in December 1974 under Les Humanoïdes Associés (newly founded by Moebius, Jean-Pierre Dionnet, Philippe Druillet and Bernard Farkas) and the future home of Métal hurlant.

Les Éditions du Fromage & Les Humanoïdes Associés

The Horny Goof