The Long Tomorrow

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.

Moebius 2
The Long Tomorrow

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!”

Dan O’Bannon holding his & Moebius’ finished story The Long Tomorrow
Moebius discussing The Long Tomorrow’s influence on Blade Runner

O’Bannon also praised Moebius’ inventiveness on one particular panel from The Long Tomorrow:

Métal Hurlant N°50
Métal Hurlant N°50, p75
Dan O’Bannon’s original sketch for The Long Tomorrow
Dan O’Bannon looking at Moebius’ finished page

“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

Le Garage Hermétique – Major Fatal: Part 1

Le Garage Hermétique (1976) / The Airtight Garage (1987)
Les Humanoïdes Associés
22 x 29cm, 98 pages

A masterpiece by Moebius that has had a huge influence on comic book readers the world over and features as it’s protagonist the pith-helmeted explorer known as Major Grubert in Le Garage Hermétique (The Airtight Garage). The nucleus for Major Grubert goes back to Jean Giraud’s teenage years and a lost story he first drew for peers at school inspired by a French edition of the exotic adventure stories of Frank Buck’s Bring ‘Em Back Alive comic strip. Years later, an early incarnation of Major Grubert would appear in Les Vacances du Major (The Hunt for the Vacationing Frenchman) published in 1974 for the daily newspaper France-Soir. Elements of Moebius’ early work Le Bandard Fou also make an appearance and help shape the world of Le Garage Hermétique to form a sort of loose prequel.

The first official introduction to Major Grubert comes in the 13-page prelude story Major Fatal which follows the travels of Houm Jakan who is on a quest to find the eponymous Grubert and hopefully enlist his help against the terrible Bakalite. Major Fatal was really the defining moment for Le Garage Hermétique, as it would establish the satirical, fourth wall breaking, direction of the story.

Major Fatal & Moebius 1
Major Fatal

Contained within the full title of Le Garage Hermétique of Jerry Cornelius is a reference to a character created by British writer Michael Moorcock but because of confusion later on over the rights to use the character or not, would eventually lead to Jerry Cornelius being renamed Lewis Carnelian in subsequent republished American editions.

The art within the pages of Le Garage Hermétique are some of Moebius’ most best work, executing experimental use of story as first explored in La Déviation coupled with sublime hatching/crosshatching/stippling pen strokes as seen in La Bandard Fou, that create such detailed depth to each panel.

Le Garage Hermétique

Le Garage Hermétique’s new page, first published in the American edition (bottom right)

Moebius’ used a unique storytelling approach for Le Garage Hermétique which employed improvisation as seen previously in Major Fatal (which was incredibly drawn within in a single sitting and without a script!) Whenever Moebius felt a surge of inspiration he would commit that idea to paper, making use of any spare time he had and often drawing late into the night/early into the following morning. For the creation of Le Garage Hermétique, Moebius had drawn the first 2 pages during one of his late night sessions, putting it into a drawer afterwards and then totally forgetting about it until that is one day when Jean-Pierre Dionnet, one of the founders of Les Humanoïdes Associés and Editor at the time of Métal hurlant, discovered Moebius’ pages and asked him to finish the story so that they could be published. A month had passed and Dionnet reminded Moebius about concluding those pages he had found in a drawer and Moebius, who had forgotten about those pages again and in a state of great panic, summoned the energy to complete 2 more pages without ever recalling the plot or sticking to any continuity with the initial pages.

Moebius upon reflection to this way of making the story for Le Garage Hermétique:

“By creating this feeling of permanent insecurity, I was forced to experiment the total joy of creating a continuity. Every month, I would try very hard to recreate a coherent story from the existing elements. Then, I would break them apart again in order to create again a feeling of insecurity, so that, the next month, I would again have to pick up the pieces and do it again, and so on until the end of the story.”