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.
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.
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.”