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.”