Moebius 2 (1988) Graphitti Designs 22 x 28.5cm, 219 pages
Moebius 2 is the second volume of a limited edition of 1500, signed & numbered hardback collection of beautiful, bound, books published by Graphitti Designs that collects and reprints the acclaimed trade paperbacks that were originally published by Marvel/Epic Comics.
The book jacket of Moebius 2 features an illustration of private eye Pete Club (the protagonist of Dan O’Bannon and Moebius’ short story The Long Tomorrow) looking from high over a vertical futuristic cityscape below, centred and framed on a warm pastel tangerine (originally this cover illustration featured on the pastel blue cover of Marvel/Epic Comics’ Moebius 6: Pharagonesia & Other Strange Stories paperback). Once the book jacket is taken off, it reveals underneath an earthy teal faux leather hardcover with embossed gold foil stamped “Moebius 2” signature styled title and in the bottom-right hand a unique embossed Starwatcher hand drawn styled circular icon (but unlike Moebius 1 without gold foil).
This volume collects Moebius 4: The Long Tomorrow & Other Science Fiction Stories, Moebius 5: The Gardens of Aedena and Moebius 6: Pharagonesia & Other Strange Stories which contains the following Moebius works:
Both the Marvel/Epic Comics paperbacks and the Graphitti Designs hardback books are sadly now long out of print, rare editions that are much sought after today. Amazingly, Graphitti Designs still has copies in stock of Moebius 4-9 (at the time of writing) and is available online through their website here.
The Incal (1981-1988) Les Humanoïdes Associés/Humanoids 22 x 28.5cm, 309 pages
Picking up any surviving pieces from the smoked cinders of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s impossible dream of Dune, Jodorowsky and Moebius would band together once more and descend on the medium of bandes dessinées just as they did for their last work the short story Les Yeux Du Chat. Moebius for his next work with Jodorowsky, would take in visual inspiration from his collaboration with Dan O’Bannon on the futuristic noir short story The Long Tomorrow, and would set to work on their new project known as The Incal.
The idea of The Incal came to Jodorowsky in a dream after a chance encounter with Moebius where they both reminisced about Dune and what could have been, Jodorowsky’s dream is described in the foreword to Les Yeux Du Chat:
“That same night, I dreamed that I was flying in intergalactic space. A cosmic being formed by two superimposed pyramids, one black, the other white, was calling me. I moved toward it and found myself submerged in the center. We exploded. And that’s how my subconscious mind introduced me to “El Incal” (“The Incal”)!”
The Incal begins with lowly Class “R” Detective John Difool as he is set upon by masked men and is about to be thrown over the edge and down into Suicide Alley before narrowly escaping. Soon we meet Difool’s faithful companion a concrete pigeon by the name of Depo and as the story unfolds Difool whilst escorting an upper level aristo lady to the dangerous depths of The Red Ring, finds himself in possession of a mysterious object: the Incal.
The Incal is filled with a cast of complex characters both human & non-human, bursting at the seems with plot-twists and cliffhangers, whilst taking the audience on a truly expansive journey to explore deep questions about the human condition.
The Incal would be the gateway to a vast expanding comic book universe from the mind of Alejandro Jodorowsky dubbed the “Jodoverse”. Stories from the Jodoverse include a prequel to The Incal called Before the Incal made with Serbian artist Zoran Janjetov, followed by a sequel to it’s progenitor called the Final Incal made with Mexican artist José Ladrönn who picked up and developed an earlier story by Moebius’ called After the Incal which was unfinished due to ill health.
A major character that originally appeared in The Incal is that of the Metabaron who’s backstory is explored fully in The Metabarons, an epic science fiction saga with sublime visuals by Argentinian artist Juan Giménez, that traces the violent lineage of the universe’s most invincible warrior: the Metabaron.
Told from the point of view of 2 ship androids Tonto and Lothar who serve under the present Metabaron. Tonto, the more seasoned android of the two shares with the pupil Lothar, the genealogy of several generations of their master the Metabaron’s family tree. Each chapter of this space opera follows the journey of this warrior dynasty through the trials, tribulations and tragedies each member of the family faced.
The Metabaron’s past is explored ever further in Metabarons Genesis: Castaka with Spanish artist Das Pastoras, tracing the bloody origins of the first ancestor and story’s narrator, Dayal de Castaka. Incredibly the Jodoverse is still expanding and includes further continuations of the Metabaron’s story in Weapons of the Metabarons, The Metabaron: The Techno-Admiral & The Anti-Baron and most recently (at the time of writing) The Metabaron: The Techno Cardinal & The Transhuman.
Another genealogy explored of a different character who also first appeared in the pages of The Incal is that of The Technopriests with returning artist of Before the Incal, Zoran Janjetov, that details the history of Albino, the Supreme Technopriest who reveals the origins of his line: the Technopriests.
The Incal would prove to be such an influential masterpiece on the comic book landscape that unsurprisingly it would go on to inspire and shape the look of science fiction cinema to come, just as the ideas from The Long Tomorrow were assimilated into Blade Runner (1982) before it. An avid comic book reader by the name of Luc Besson who grew up on Métal hurlant as a teenager in France and would one day become a film director decided to channel the stories he read in his youth and use them in his film The Fifth Element (1997). Besson would not only borrow aspects of The Incal but even hire it’s artist Moebius to work as one of the designers on The Fifth Element and parallels can be drawn between the two works, for instance in the breathtaking shot of the central character Leeloo jumping over the edge of a futuristic vertical cityscape which looks strikingly reminiscent of John Difool’s fall down towards Suicide Alley in The Incal.
All of the above mentioned comic books by Jodorowsky and Moebius are available from Humanoids.
The Long Tomorrow (1976) Les Humanoïdes Associés 21 x 27cm, 16 pages
Forged from the ashes of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s unrealised dream of Dune (see Les Yeux Du Chat), was a meeting of creative minds between Jodorowsky, Moebius, Dan O’Bannon, Chris Foss and H.R. Giger that would have a far-reaching influence on the cinematic landscape of the future.
A notable example of this was a futuristic noir short story by Dune’s special effects artist Dan O’Bannon called The Long Tomorrow, who wrote and sketched it in a moment of ennui during downtime on pre-production of Dune and was then adapted into comic book form by Moebius for publication in Métal hurlant (Heavy Metal).
Set in a dystopian future The Long Tomorrow follows a day in the life of private detective Pete Club who receives a call from a dame called Dolly Vook Von Katterbar to retrieve a box containing “some personal effects” for her from a subway locker located on the disreputable 199th level. Whilst out collecting the box for Katterbar, Club soon attracts some unwanted attention and almost finds out the hard way to what lengths some would go to get the box and it’s mysterious contents but Club soon spies the perpetrator and goes on hot pursuit of his assailant. The Long Tomorrow feels like a film noir set in the future, written in the vein of a hardboiled crime fiction and would prove to be so ahead of it’s time that it is now recognised as being one of the earliest proponents of a new branch of science fiction storytelling known as cyberpunk.
After Dune failed to materialise, Dan O’Bannon suffered a nervous breakdown and returned back to Los Angeles with no money left, leaving most of his belongings back in Paris except for a book of H.R.Giger’s work ARh+ that he had borrowed from the artist himself. After going through therapy for many years, Dan O’Bannon wanted to get his old life back and one of the ways he aimed to achieve this was by feverishly churning out script after script from atop friend Ronald Shusett’s couch (which O’Bannon was living on at this point) and one of the screenplays he wrote was for Starbeast later to become Alien (1979). When Alien got green-lit, Dan O’Bannon recommended it’s director Ridley Scott to bring onboard the creative team that he worked with on Dune.
The Long Tomorrow like Jodorowsky’s Dune would be a huge inspiration for many science fiction films to come such as George Lucas’ original Star Wars trilogy and most noticeably Ridley Scott’s next film Blade Runner (1982) which would not be possible without it. Ridley Scott even makes reference to The Long Tomorrow in the closing scenes of his later film and Alien prequel Prometheus (2012).
Dan O’Bannon reflecting upon on the enduring appeal of The Long Tomorrow:
“…Mainly that vertical design for the city, Ridley (Scott) chose to do an ‘unauthorised borrowing’ of that city for Blade Runner and he’s right, it does make a good image!”
O’Bannon also praised Moebius’ inventiveness on one particular panel from The Long Tomorrow:
“This drawing here where I had the private detective discover that the beautiful woman that he’s in bed with, is really a shape-changing monster like something out of The Thing From Another World. My original sketch was roughly like this but it was Giraud (Moebius) who curled all of his toes inwards right there, I thought that was utterly perfect! Normally you might put a thought balloon showing what the guy is thinking but I think having his toes curled inwards like that does it even better.”
Goodbye to these great masters…
Daniel Thomas “Dan” O’Bannon
30th September 1946 – 17th December 2009
Hans Ruedi “H.R.” Giger
5th February 1940 – 12th May 2014
Les Yeux Du Chat (1978) / The Eyes of the Cat (2011) Les Humanoïdes Associés 16 x 22.5cm, 54 pages
In the aftermath of visionary Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky’s unrealised cinematic interpretation of Frank Herbert’s science fiction masterpiece Dune (1965), a fruitful collaboration kindled in the ashes of Dune between Jodorowsky and Moebius, who contributed art, costumes and storyboards for the demised project (see Frank Pavich’s enlightening 2013 documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune for more). A few years later in 1978, Jodorowsky and Moebius would collaborate again but this time in a short bandes dessinées called Les Yeux Du Chat (The Eyes of the Cat).
Les Yeux Du Chat tells the allegorical story of a blind orphan boy shut-in a tall tower above a desolate wasteland and one of only a few lifeforms save for the titular black cat and also later an eagle. Employing a similar page format to Le Bandard Fou but this time the left and right pages correspond to internal and external views of the ongoing story. The left side shows a shadowy silhouette of the orphan boy standing by a open window and the right side shows a bird’s-eye view (literally) from the eagle’s perspective. This format was not accidental but an ingenious way to fill more pages and extend a shorter story, as Alejandro Jodorowsky writes in the foreword of the reprinted edition:
“I suggested to Jean a short story, in five pages divided into five scenes, about a blind boy, Mœbius was fascinated with the story but he objected, saying, “It’s too short, only five pages. We need to fill 25 pages.” I answered, “We will be free from the traditional format of each page cut into panels. We will tell the story in a series of beautiful and solitary illustrations, each taking up an entire page…”
Les Yeux Du Chat was released by Les Humanoïdes Associés as part of it’s promotional Mistral Editions of works which were petite, not for sale, limited edition of 5000 print run intended as a gift for loyal fans but soon fell out of circulation, quickly becoming rare, sought after collector’s items. Thankfully Les Yeux Du Chat was rereleased 3+ decades later by Humanoids in 2011 in a more accessible edition in it’s original French but also a welcome surprise in English too, with other languages to follow.