Jean Giraud is perhaps one of the most diverse and prolific comicbookartists in France today. Spanning from western to sci-fi over fantasy and realism, he takes on every genre with equal enthusiasm.
Giraud was born in Paris, France on May 8, 1938. Spending a lot of time with his grandparents, he discovered artists such as Gustave Dore. After graduating at the Arts Appliques age 16, Giraud went on a Greyhound bus trip across America and spent 8 months in Mexico.
During his time in Mexico, he saw the beauty of the desert and in 1956, he made his first western, Frank & Jeremie, published by the magazine Far West. He then met Jijé/Joseph Gillian, one of the founders of Spirou and the man behind the western Jerry Spring, a series which Giraud liked.
After two years of army service, Jijé asked Giraud to be his assistant on the comic. He stopped rather quickly, though, and went to Studio Hachette to illustrate the lexicon Histoire des Civilisations ("The History of Civilization"). It was at Studio Hachette that he met his future wife Claudine (whose family name is impossible to dig up).
In 1963, Giraud wanted to do some satirical (think Mad Magazine) comics for the french publication Hara Kiri, but needed a nom de guerre. He chose Moebius as he felt it was the most fitting for the style, a mix of surrealism and fantasy.
At the same time, Giraud met Jean-Michel Charlier, with whom he created the Blueberry series, one of the longest running western comics today. He worked exclusively with Blueberry for the next five years.
In 1969, the Moebius moniker showed up again, as Giraud illustrated several science fiction books by such notables as Robert Heinlein and Roger Zelazny. It wasn't until 1973, though, that the first real comic by Moebius was released. Detour, an odd little comic with himself and Claudine as the main characters driving around between giants and decomposed toll-officers.
During the seventies, Giraud created several comics as Moebius, aside from the ever-growing stack of Blueberry comics. The big shift came in 1975 when he, along with Philippe Druillet, Jean-Pierre Dionnet and Bernard Farkas created Metal Hurlant.
Like the American underground comics a decade before, Metal Hurlant completely transformed the scene overnight. It became the center for most creative art quickly, and it was through the magazine that Giraud met Alejandro Jodorowsky, with whom he would work on many occasions.
He designed several sets for the movie Dune, which was to be directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky, and they even got as far as to create the storyboard before the project caved in due to the politics of it - the studios backed out as Jodorowsky was making the movie a very politically volatile project.
Instead, Giraud started working with Dan O'Bannon (who also worked on Dune) on Alien, designing various aircraft and costumes (examples can be seen in Heavy Metal volume II issue 12, as well as The Book of Alien, a behind-the-scenes collection). The project was a success (if you didn't know), and they later made the comic story The Long Tomorrow, a noiresque (despite the vivid colors and fast-paced action) detective tale set in the future. The style would be picked up again in the Jodorowsky/Moebius collaboration The Incal.
Also during the late 1970s, Giraud befriended the Zen-collectivist Jean-Poul Appel-Guery, whose philosophies inspired him, as he had already started speculating as he met Jodorowsky. Following Appel-Guery, Giraud moved to Tahiti in 1983 where he lived for a year before moving to Los Angeles.
Giraud, feeling the urge for a new alias pressing, chose Gir as his newest pseudonym. He used this in his Edena comics, which were based heavily on Appel-Guery's ideas about harmony and duality.
Aside from continuing his various storylines, Giraud spent most of the eighties and nineties working on various movie projects. Following the death of Charlier in 1988, Giraud finished the latest Blueberry comics after Carliers synopsis. In 1992, Giraud would work with Jodorowsky again, collaborating on Le Coeur Couronné (The Crowned Heart).
Recently, Giraud has been working on the animation/3D film Through the Moebius Strip which should arrive anytime soon now.
Like his characters, Giraud is very playful, which is very evident when reading his interview in HM. He talks about passing off apples as pianos, and in particular the conclusive passage made me smile:
Moebius: [...] I could say that dreams are the opposite of nightmares, or I could ask you, what's the opposite of black?
Moebius: And I could say it's "Taaaaa!"
HM: I have the feeling while talking to you that nothing is really how it seems.
Moebius: [laughter] Everything I'm saying now is totally unknown to me, and I don't even want to think about how I'm going to sound to Heavy Metal readers when this interview appears.
While he has dabbled in drugs, and does not regret it the least, he feels that it is a descent as opposed to an eye-opener - he'd rather reach "enlightenment" through his consciousness than through his unconsciousness.
- Frank & Jeremie (Far West, 1956)
- Blueberry series (Dargaud, 1962-)
- Le Bandard Fou (The Horny Goof) (Les Humanoides Associés, 1974)
- Harzach/Harzakc/Arzak/Harzak/Arzach (Les Humanoides Associés, 1976)
- Le Garage Hermetique (The Airtight Garage) (Les Humanoides Associés, 1976-)
- Cauchemar Blanc ("White Nightmare") (Les Humanoides Associés, 1977)
- Les Yeux du Chat ("Eyes of the Cat") (Les Humanoides Associés, 1978)
- Major Fatal (Les Humanoides Associés, 1979)
- Jim Cutlass series (Dargaud, 1979-)
- L'Incal series (The Incal, with Alejandro Jodorowsky) (Les Nouveaux Humanoides Associés, 1981-)
- Le Monde d'Edena series ("Edens World/The World of Eden") (Casterman, 1983-)
- Altor series (with Marc Bati) (Dargaud, 1986-)
- La Nuit de l'Etoile ("The Night of the Star") (Éditions Aedena, 1986)
- Le Surfer d'Argent (The Silver Surfer, with Stan Lee) (Soleil Productions, 2001)
Sources: My fathers comic collection, my own, interview in Heavy Metal magazine, vol IV, issue 5 (August, 1980), BDParadisio.com, Google, IMDB.
Note: titles translated by hand are in quotationmarks, the rest are as they are published in English - if you know the correct translations to the ones I don't, let me know. And this bibliography was quite a job piecing together from several sources. See also other Comics creators. Audited July 18, 2002