Advice and Philosophy
Without Jean Giraud knowing it (he always treated me as a peer), I took him on as a sort of guru or, at least, as a loose guide to my career and our philosophy of making the world a better place.
Both Moebius and I love the comics work of Richard Corben. It brims with great technical expertise (beyond that of nearly every comic artist) and rich, clear storytelling. When Giraud was asked about some recent work of Corben’s, I made a copy of Moebius’ written response. I posted it on my studio wall (it’s still there) and used it as a guideline in the direction, selection and execution of my own work. Here is what he wrote:
“Today, in our field, there is so much talent and recognition that we are reaching a saturation point. An artist should no longer strive only for breathtaking craftsmanship; he should, instead, try to help us live better, either by dressing the wounds that are constantly being opened by society, or by offering solutions to get us out of the mess we’re in…But it’s going to be difficult and we have a lot of work to do.”
Moebius and Fans
Giraud was always gracious with his fans. It’s a tradition in Europe for comic book artists there to freely draw sketches for them. Jean’s could often be quite elaborate, which leads me to one of my favorite Moebius stories.
One day at the Silver Snail, the largest and most prominent comic book shop in Toronto, a sign went up in their front window announcing that Jean “Moebius” Giraud would be making an appearance at the store.
A fourteen year old fan saw the sign and rushed inside.
“Is it true?” he exclaimed. “Moebius is coming here?”
“He’s really, truly going to be here?”
“Will he be signing things?”
“Does he do sketches?”
“I understand he does, on occasion.”
The excited boy returned to the Silver Snail nearly every day, asking the same round of questions and receiving all the same answers.
Finally, the big day arrived and that boy was the very first in line to meet Moebius. After being introduced, the boy shoved a large sheet of fine Strathmore paper in front of the great artist.
“I want you to draw Arzachk flying on his bird creature over an army of battling aliens. He has a beautiful woman on the back of his bird and flying creatures are trying to attack them….”
The boy went on and on, describing a vast elaborate scene with hundreds of figures.
The owner of the Silver Snail happened to catch some of this and exploded.
“You ungracious little jerk! This great artist comes here all the way from Paris and you make demands on him like he is your own personal art slave. I am going to escort you out of here…”
At that point Moebius raised his hand and calmly spoke.
“Non; eet eez not necessary. Theeze thing I will do for him.”
Jean picked up a pencil and proceeded to draw. He drew Arrzack; he drew Ahrzack’s bird creature. Giraud drew everything that kid had asked for and more. There were literally hundreds of figures, aliens, beasties and other creatures in the finished drawing, all interacting with one another. It was a drop dead, stunning masterpiece, an equivalent in quality and detail to this Arrzaak spread:
Completed, the shop owner held it up for the rest of the folks in line to see. Upon viewing this extraordinary work the entire line burst into spontaneous applause.
The owner presented the drawing to the boy, who walked away in a numbed daze, staring at his Moebius picture without seeming to blink.
A half an hour later the boy was back. He thrust the drawing in front of Moebius with a demand:
The shop owner nearly burst a blood vessel.
“You ungrateful little monster! HOW DARE YOU?!! I have never seen such rude behavior. Give me that damn drawing. I am going to personally throw you out of here! I don’t want to ever see you in my shop ever again, you obnoxious, spoiled brat…”
Again, Moebius silenced the shop owner by calmly raising his hand.
“Non, my friend…please. Theeze I will do for him…”
Moebius located the biggest, fattest black marker on the table, then proceeded to ink in every single delicate pencil line of his drawing until the entire picture was nothing but a mass of black, each stroke bleeding into the others.
The boy looked at the vanished masterpiece in pure shock, then slowly looked up at Moebius.
“I asked for too much, didn’t I?”
With a twinkle in his eye, Moebius responded:
“Today, you have learned sometheeng…and I have learned sometheeng.”