Jean Giraud understood the link between comics and film. A consummate visual storyteller, he easily made a successful transition to the latter.
In 1978, Jean’s friend and guru, film maker and comics writer Alejandro Jodorowsky made Moebius (along with Chris Foss and H. R. Giger) a part of his design team for Jodorowsky’s proposed film version of Frank Herbert’s Dune.
The funding for Dune collapsed at about the same time that film’s special effects coordinator Dan O’Bannon sold his screenplay of Alien (1979) to Ridley Scott. Dan convinced Scott to use the Dune art department for Alien, along with cartoonist Ron Cobb.
It is interesting that Cobb and Giraud worked together as I consider them both to be geniuses, a word I rarely use to describe anyone. I have worked closely with both gentlemen. They share some common traits. Both possess a child-like joy in their approach to the world. They seem to be constantly in the process of being delighted. I believe their lack of pre-judging is an essential key to keeping their unfettered flow of creativity from being blocked. Working with either of them in the same room is like sitting next to a fountain that gushes great ideas all day long.
After two weeks of work on Alien, Giraud received his first paycheck. “Five hundred dollars per week?” he exclaimed. “I thought I was making five thousand dollars per week!” Jean promptly quit the film and returned to Paris but by that time he had already designed all of the costumes and other key elements of Alien. In addition, he had an enormous artistic influence on the drawings of director Ridley Scott. When Scott helmed Bladerunner (1982), he used the Dan O’Bannon/Moebius comic book story “The Long Tomorrow” as the film’s initial design template.
Jean contributed designs to The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and characters and story bits to the Heavy Metal (1981) animated feature. It is reported that he storyboarded the entire film of Tron (1982) in just two and a half weeks — in addition to designing the costumes for the film!
That same year he collaborated with director René Laloux on his own animated feature, Les Maîtres du Temps (released in English as Time Masters).