Mœbius, aka Jean Giraud, aka Gir
The influence of the artist Mœbius resonates around the world. He is an incomparable master of line and color, bringing together his Incredible visions of strange and fantastic worlds. He first came to public attention in the 1980's when National Lampoon published an American version of the French graphic science-fiction magazine Métal Hurlant, which literally translates to screaming metal. The American version was titled Heavy Metal. The American edition and French original are no longer in publication, but their early influence shaped many of the comic books, movies, and stories people have come to love so much.
A treat for the eyes and a trip for the mind, the work of this artist is an absolute must!
The Day I met Mœbius
I first met Jean Giraud, back in 1999 when I was a web master for Gaumont, a French movie company best known for producing the Fifth Element and the Big Blue by Luc Besson. A friend of mine, the most talented concept artist Sylvain Despretz, had been working with Jean for over a decade and the master was apparently curious to know more about the Internet thing. Sylvain offered an introduction, and I jumped on it.
I met Jean Giraud at his place, in Paris. It was spring, and I remember feeling like I was entering a parallel dimension as I walked in the alley that lead to his door, away from the busy streets of Paris. The master was busy signing a limited edition of prints when I came in. The room, a large loft like open space, was literally filled with tables where stacks of large and colourful images were waiting for their father's mark. His wife was overlooking the process ; every time he finished signing a pile, Jean was trying to go back to his drawing desk, and every time she pulled him back. She pulled me back as well, and we clearly wouldn't be allowed to talk before the complete signing was done.
She kindly offered me tea, smiled and sat me down in the farthest corner of the room from which I could sit, shut-up and observe. Silence. The exact same scratching of the master's pencil repeated itself as more signing was done, and the occasional remarks of Jean regarding the prints remained unanswered. His wife wouldn't give him any distraction, not even in conversation.
Meeting Jean Giraud, aka Mœbius, was like meeting Gandalf or Merlin and I was astonished. There were images everywhere ; 30 piles of 50 large A3 or A2 prints each, all different and neatly laid out on even larger tables. The master was coming and going among them, imposing his signature and it took a good half hour before the final signature was done.
Isabelle smiled, Jean got a kiss on the fore head for his good work, and she invited me to leave my corner as she left the room.
Jean Giraud immediately walked back to his desk, picked-up a pencil like an itch and started drawing like there had been no interruption. Not a look for me, not a word and I could hear different sounds coming from his pencil. There were lines involved.
A bit embarrassed with myself, I started walking across the room going through the set of tables he had left behind. The signed prints were incredible. The complete series of the Hendrix illustrations was there on the right, Arzark ones on the left all so colourful, precise and detailed. My pace went even slower as I was drawn by the images, lured in like bug finding light.
"What do you think?" He asked.
My head went up, looking to see if Isabelle had returned but we were still alone. Jean remained focussed on his new piece as if nothing else existed around him.
"They are great", I finally relied.
"Not these", he replied. "This one."
I walked up to him, and my eyes were immediately caught-up in the line he was tracing. It was like seing magic. His hand was moving with such assurance, tracing an impeccable line at a constant pace that felt free and controlled at the same time. The page was just beginning to be drawn, no rough sketches, no marks anywhere and he was boldly going through the void like he already knew every detail of what was to come.
"So?", he said.
I remained silent, embarrassed. There were only a few curvy lines in a desert of white, and I just didn't know what to answer. His hand kept moving. Suddenly stoping short to start another line from other corner of the large page. I couldn't tell where this was going, until one line changed everything, giving away the shape of a face. Mœbius, for this was clearly a Mœbius piece (as opposed to Air. or Giraud who does westerns), drew both eyes in a flash as if to help me see what was going on. Simple, but incredibly just strokes and lines that gave personality and mood to this glance of a woman. She felt alive despite being so incomplete. Alive and peaceful. Sure of herself, and new lines kept coming in, exploring and building the image like a photograph beginning to appear in the dark room.
I was astonished. The image was opening-up like a flower. Every second added something. Every movement of the master's hand was leaving a meaningful and elegant trace. No hesitation, no pause, no mistake... Nothing less than perpetual perfection. Almost shocking.
Mœbius dropped his pencil and went for his colours. That was like a second shockwave. Bold colours and great contrasts, rapidly pulled the image from its monochrome dimension to a new lively world of colours. Who could blend such colours together? Harmony was everywhere, growing with every new patch of blue, orange , purple and yellow. Mœbius was fast now, applying, imposing, structuring and creating his image like it was all just a matter of speed now. It looked so easy.
He went back and forth, from pencil to colours, for some time until there wasn't much anymore to be added, a few additional strokes here, a bit more colour there. And there she was ; a Goddess keeping a star, looking at you as if she could read through you, calm, but sure of herself and so beautiful. She spelled love, adventure and freedom at the same time.
"So?", repeated the master.
And this time, I was sure.
"I love her", I said.