JEAN “Moebius” GIRAUD – Part Five

Moebius Pen Drawing of He-Man

Moebius/Stout Ink & Watercolor Version of He-man Redesign

In 1986 as production designer for the film Masters of the Universe, I hired Jean Giraud to solve some of our film’s more difficult design problems (he was living in Santa Monica at the time, working on and trying to raise money for his own film project). It was a joy to collaborate with Giraud. Among other elements, I assigned him the tasks of re-designing the lead character, He-man, as well as the Sorceress. Giraud also came up with concepts for the throne room, the center of power to all of the universe.

In his re-design of He-man (played in the film by Dolph Lundgren) Moebius completely modernized the look of the character, making him visually hip and relevant for the audience of that time. Jean came up with a brilliant concept for He-man’s armor. He theorized that the armor was made from scraps of metal and machinery picked up from the battlefield and then strapped to his body. Unfortunately, I had to fight Mattel (the toy company that produced the Masters of the Universe toy line) every step of the way to even get a watered down version of this design on the screen.

Giraud’s throne room design (I’ll try to find a copy of this design and post it in the future) included a row of what I referred to as “space gods” lining the walkway to the throne. Below the walkway was a series of gargoyle-like creatures. I picked up on Jean’s concept immediately and incorporated it into my set design. Since power is neither inherently good nor bad — it’s what you make of it — both the yin and the yang of power needed to be represented in that room.

Willow Landscape

Giraud created magnificent concept art for George Lucas and Ron Howard‘s Willow (1988).

He then wrote the story and produced concept art for a Japanese animated feature version of Winsor McKay’s classic, dream-like comic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland (1989). That same year Jean contributed creature designs to James Cameron‘s The Abyss, working once again with Ron Cobb.

Giraud contributed character and other designs to Space Jam (1996). Luc Besson’s 1997 science fiction feature The Fifth Element was production designed by Moebius and the creator of the French sci-fi comic book series Valerian, Jean-Claude Mézières.

Eventually, a Lieutenant Blueberry film was made to mixed reviews.

Lieutenant Blueberry Promotional Image

Jean contributed this painting (see above) to raise financial interest in the film at Cannes. I don’t know whether or not Giraud had any involvement in the making of the actual movie (Jean has no imdb credit on this film), ultimately shot and released as Renegade in 2004. It ended up starring Vincent Cassel as Mike Blueberry — not Martin Kove.

7 Responses to “JEAN “Moebius” GIRAUD – Part Five”

  1. Bob Cosgrove says:

    This is wonderful stuff. I don’t suppose his concept drawings (or a selection of them) have been published anywhere?

  2. sam says:

    where did you dig up those rad willow visuals? were they published somewhere? thanks in advance!

  3. Rick Catizone says:

    Bill and Bob…

    I did only a quick search, but amazing that I can’t seem to find a volume or two made up of samples of his amazing array of work. Many individual titles, but no “Best of”.

    Best,
    Rick

  4. Bill says:

    To Bob:
    Moebius’ film concept work is scattered over a large variety of publications. My Giraud collection spans several book shelves.

    To Sam:
    Jean’s Willow work has appeared in bits and pieces throughout several collections of his work. What I showed is the tip of the iceberg. Don’t quote me on this, but there might be some collections of Giraud’s Willow work in the Extras section on one of the Willow DVDs. Willow, BTW, was the first film to use CG “morphing”.

    To Rick:
    I’d love to see a huge collection consisting solely of Giraud’s film work. Of course, I think that everything that Jean ever touched should be in print. It would fill an entire library, though! Jean’s prolific nature puts me to shame.

  5. Bill,

    Thank you for posting all of this Moebius information. I am very fond of his work. He contained a spiritual understanding rarely seen in an individual.

    -Michael Stewart

  6. Nick Pitarra says:

    For those asking….Made In LA …is a rare French book with a ton of Moebius concept work for film published in it. I own the original He-Man full body drawing above and it and a number of other He-man drawings are in there. I can’t read French but the book basically has a title of a movie followed by a paragraph and then concept art for that movie.

  7. Pen says:

    Two giants!I am still under the shock of the news. Moebius was part of the three artstis I always mentioned as the ones “who started it all” for me. I’ve been a fan since I was about ten.I discovered Corto Maltese later in life but Pratt also is a big influence.

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