JEAN “Moebius” GIRAUD – Part Seven

Arrzhahk's Last Flight

Collaborations
I was asked to participate in a book celebrating one of Moebius’ famous creations: Arzak. Each artist was given a full color page to express their own thoughts on the character. I created a full page illustration entitled “Arzach’s Last Flight”. It depicted the death of Arzack, the moment at which his soul was exiting his body.

I heavily loaded the picture with symbolic imagery. Of course, Jean immediately and enthusiastically grasped what the picture was about and what I was doing. Not that it was difficult; I imagine it must have been much like a Harvard literature professor reading and interpreting Dick and Jane. Nevertheless, he confided in me that it was his favorite piece in the book.

I was delighted when one day I received a phone call from Jean’s agent (and my friend) Jean-Marc L’Officier, asking me if I would like to collaborate with Moebius on a new Arzachk story. Moebius wanted to expand his empire a bit, producing a comic book based on his own characters — but with different artists interpreting them. Moebius had written various Arzaak stories that were all in various states of completion. Giraud gave me first pick.

I chose a story that Jean had begun but had then stopped, halfway through the story. I relished the idea of this being a true collaboration — him writing and laying out the first half, me coming up with the story and layouts for the second half and the story’s ending. Then I penciled, inked, lettered and colored (the pen and ink version appeared in black and white in Moebius Comics; my later color version was published in Heavy Metal. If you pick up the Moebius Comics version, please note that one of the story’s pages was printed upside down, much to the mortification of Jean-Marc). I followed the two basic Arzaach rules: no dialogue and a different spelling of Arzzaak whenever his name appeared.

We continued to see each other off and on through the years, mostly at comic book conventions. He tracked me down at Comic-Con one year. I told him how delighted I was by Angel Claw, his then-new tightly rendered, extremely sexually graphic collaboration with Alejandro Jodorowsky.

His eyes lit up (I assume he caught a lot of flak for the work in this country) and twinkled with mischievous glee.

“It was very unexpected of me, no?”

“Yes — but beautiful.”

One of the milder images from Angel Claw

3 Responses to “JEAN “Moebius” GIRAUD – Part Seven”

  1. Rick catizone says:

    Bill,

    Love your version as well…very faithful, but with the Stout touch!

    Angel Claw illo is beautiful, and must have taken forever to ink a book that way….

    Best,
    Rick

  2. Scott Conner says:

    Bill, these articles on Moebius are *FANTASTIC*! It’s a crying shame that most of his work isn’t in print anymore in an English language version.

  3. Rick Tucker says:

    Bill,

    Thanks. All of these have been moving and sincerely honor Jean’s spirit.
    I remember years ago hanging out in Bud Plant’s booth when Zona (at least that’s the recollection) was still working for Bud. She was with another of Bud’s staff at the San Diego booth and she offered me a look at the Moebius portfolio that was both expensive, rare and controversial. They only had the one portfolio so they were being very careful with it. I remember thinking to myself that I would never have the money to afford that portfolio but at least I got to see the images contained within it. When NBM published the English language edition of the book Angel Claw I almost fell out of my chair so the speak. So, it was not a missed opportunity/treat. I could own copies of those images. It felt like buying the book was not really an option so much as an instinctive thing.
    By the way, your art on the Arzaq story is among my favorites as is the story. I always wondered about that conical head gear. All collaborative efforts should look and feel this good.

    Thanks again,

    Rick

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