Moebius, aka Jean Giraud, aka Gir, Has Passed Away

The pioneering comic book creator and movie concept artist Moebius, aka Jean Giraud, aka Gir, has passed away at the age of 73.

I expect Rich will want to add something more in respect of his comics work in particular, so I think I’ll share some of his incredible movie work.

I believe the first film produced with designs by Giraud was Alien, though this was after he had worked for some years on projects that stalled or were cancelled, most infamously, Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune.

Not only did Jodorowsky complete the usual costume and set designs for Dune, he appears to have been the principle storyboard artist on the project. Had it come to be, the course of genre film making would have taken a sharp turn… even still, the influence seeped out, and a film that never went before cameras still managed to change everything.

The image to the right is one of Giraud’s space suit images for Alien. His work gelled perfectly with that of Ron Cobb, and stood in brilliant contrast to the biomechanics of HR Giger.

Throughout the years Giraud contributed to any number of visually striking pictures, pictures that impressed with no small thanks to himself: Tron, The Abyss, and The Fifth Element in particular. Just as notable, in another respect, are his unused designs for films that ended up looking rather impoverished instead.

A good case in point is Willow. It wound up being quite a drab, murky and witlessly designed picture – I’m sure everybody was just following instructions – but here’s what it might have looked like instead:

During the development of the animated Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland, while talent as varied as Ray Bradbury, Brad Bird and Brian Froud came and went, one draft of the script was written by Giraud. On the final film he’s given a story credit, and you can see, from time to time, pieces of his design work in the animation.

His more successful animated work would be Les Maitres du Temps, or Time Masters, created with the director Rene Laloux. The storytelling both frays and gets tied up into knots but the film has some very memorable visuals, and often packs a powerful punch from just the way it looks.

Here’s a French trailer for the film.

Giraud’s contribution to the sci-fi aesthetic of modern movies can’t easily be overstated but for all of his imitators, it’s still true that nobody did it better.

Thanks, Moebius, and goodbye.

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