Otherworldly line

A lurid thronelike tiered purple dais with a highly stylized bearded ruler at the center, wearing a tall cylindrical crown and what looks like a huge grey styrofoam bedspread, with neon piping. At his side a helmeted lady reclines in a skin-tight bodysuit; she is holding his hand
From Tron, courtesy Walt Disney Pictures

Today: Sam Thielman, a reporter, critic, essayist, and editor, and graphic novel columnist for the New York Times.

Issue No. 114

Mœbius and the Art of the Inescapable
Sam Thielman

Mœbius and the Art of the Inescapable

by Sam Thielman

“There’s no escaping yourself,” the French artist Jean Giraud observed; thus his principal pseudonym, Mœbius. And no one else can escape Mœbius, either—neither his eminent admirers, fellow visionaries from Hayao Miyazaki and Katsuhiro Otomo to Ridley Scott, Federico Fellini and Stan Lee, nor the rest of us, who live in the worlds he helped create as a titan in comics, as a founder of Heavy Metal (the magazine found in every record store and head shop of the ’70s), and as the visionary designer of dozens of futures for films and video games.*

He loved to draw people and places in states of transformation, and his images of convolved flesh and inhuman architecture are at once impossible and believable. Strange airships, dense cityscapes, alien flora and fauna, beautiful women and homunculoid men decorate his comics, but his true subject was his own irreparable persona, which he found just as frustrating and difficult and occasionally hilarious as his devoted readers and friends did.

Image: Dark Horse Comics

The deliberately disjointed, wrenchingly beautiful sci-fi adventure stories known under various names, and easiest to refer to as Major Fatal, are perhaps the clearest expression of this rare talent. The final volume of the series, The Major, is published in English for the first time this month by Dark Horse, twelve years after its author’s death; it is a kind of science-fictional self-assessment in which his hero, the semi-omnipotent explorer Major Grubert, finally meets Mœbius himself, is disappointed by him, and lives happily ever after.

In the Major Fatal stories, some places are bigger inside than outside, certain creatures are pure expressions of emotion given physical form, and yet Giraud could make it all appear real on the page. 

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