My wife complained about the photo I chose of Jean and I together (she thought it did not flatter Jean). So here’s one of Jean and me out in front of Golden Apple Comics. This one doesn’t exactly flatter me; I look like a Mexican drug dealer. And suck in that gut!
This was taken around 1993. I just showed Jean the Arzach tribute I had done. He “got” every little detail of the picture…which I knew he would. My French title for the piece was in bad French. Moebious loved that and asked me not to change it (I didn’t). He thought it was funny.
Woo hoo! I made it to #20! This baby debuted last week at Comic-Con International. Inside, you’ll find more of my typical diversity — from my book cover designs for the hard-boiled detective McBleak to my never-before-seen Victorian mansion designs for the film Wicked Lovely; from new Dragon Con logo designs to my T-shirt and Program Book art for WesterCon 67; from my illustrations for Yusuf‘s (Cat Stevens) new CD to my portraits of five Yardbirds; plus three new Peter Pan plates, a faux Weird Science Fantasy comic book cover and much, much more! Maintain the tradition and complete your collection!
Also premiering atComic-Con was my new Monsters Sketchbook. All the classic monsters are here, but this fifth volume of All Things Monster is a bit different from the previous Monster Sketchbooks, as it contains my loving tributes to four of cinema’s greatest monster makers: Lon Chaney, Jack Pierce, Milicent Patrick and Paul Blaisdell. In addition, there are black and white representations of my three recent posters for Godzilla, Nosferatu and Mad Monster Party. Don’t miss it!
WAIT — there’s MORE!
I’m having a sale on my full color Flesk Publications book William Stout PREHISTORIC LIFE MURALS: 25% off, for a new retail price of just $30. You can’t beat that price for what I consider my best, most personal and lavish tome. And it gets better — you still get a free sketch inside each murals book you purchase. Birthday present? Early Christmas present? A treat to yourself? Order now!
The words of Moebius are in boldface; my comments are not.
18) Now it is possible to expose our works to readers in every part of the planet. We must always keep aware of this.
To begin with, drawing is a form of personal communication — but this does not mean that the artist should close himself off inside a bubble.
I urge all artists, young and old, to travel and expose themselves to all kinds of art, music cultures and architecture. Feed your mind; feed your soul. Instead of going to a movie and spending two hours alone in the dark, take that time to go out and have your own adventures instead of watching those created by someone else. I cannot overstress the value of such experiences.
His communication should be for those aesthetically, philosophically and geographically close to him, as well as for himself — but also for complete strangers.
With art, whether it’s writing, drawing, music — whatever — it may seem paradoxical, but the more specific you make something, the more universal it becomes.
Drawing is a medium of communication for the great family we have not met, for the public and for the world.
Along this train of thought, I learned this from Moebius:
If you make your living as an artist, you are one of the luckiest people in the world. When we’re at our best and most creative, what we do is joyful play. But in those moments of play, never forget that the art you create is like throwing a pebble into a glassy surfaced pond. You never know where those multiple ripples you created will end up.
So take the luck and honor of being an artist very, very seriously.
Create work that is meaningful, that is beautiful. Do not be a lesser version of yourself. You are adding to our world’s culture. Great skills are to be aspired to — but they are not enough. Ask yourself, “Is what I’m putting out there going to add to the world and help make it a better place? Or am I soiling our world with careless meanness, ugliness and nastiness? Or am I just merely marking time, creating nothing of consequence, and really just adding more trivial crap to our cultural clutter?”
I hope you enjoyed and learned from this series. Again, I want to express my thanks to the original poster, Perez Ruiz, and original translator, Xurxo Penalta. These 18 points just barely touch the surface of what Jean Giraud knew and practiced. He was a consummate artist, a deep thinker and one of the most profound talents the world of comics — or any form of art — has ever produced.
I miss his gentle, funny — but always accurate — counsel. Our friendship brought us both great joy. Thinking about Jean, his work and what I learned from both continues to bring me deep pleasure and inspiration. I hope you all can find someone in your life who can do that for you.
The final installment of the Moebius tips for comic book artists will have to wait (believe me, it’ll be worth the wait), as I am about to head down to San Diego for Comic Con International. If you’re one of the lucky few (130,000) to get tickets, please come by my booth over in the area of the Dealers Room set aside for illustrators and fantasy illustration (my double booth will be in my usual spot). I will have the booth set up as an art gallery with 50 original works for sale, including my huge Nosferatu piece commissioned by Mondo.
I will also debut William Stout -50 Convention Sketches Volume 20 (!) and Monsters Sketchbook Volume 5.
17) When new work has been sent to an editor and it receives a rejection, you should always ask for and try to discover the reasons for the rejection.
Don’t take it personally.
What you hear might sting a little, but it also just might possibly put you on the path to making you a better artist.
As I often put it to my students:
Criticism is a gift. If the person criticizing your work knows what they’re talking about, listen carefully. Their criticism may sting a bit but it’s intended to make you better so, ultimately, what’s the downside? And if they don’t know what they’re talking about, then who cares?
If I want someone to tell me my work is great, I’ll show it to my mom. She never fails me. But her telling me I’m great is not going to make me a better artist.
By studying the reasons for our failure, only then can we begin to learn. It is not about struggle with our limitations, with the public or with the publishers.
You are not in competition with anyone but yourself.
Everyone develops at a different pace or rate, so stop comparing yourself to other artists. You should be working to become the best you that you can be.
One should treat it with more of an aikido approach. It is the very strength and power of our adversary that is used as the key to his defeat.
Here’s a personal example that also relates to the joke:
Q: Why did the hippie cross the road?
A: Because someone told him not to.
While I was in art school, I turned in an assignment in one of my illustration classes. My instructor, a an old school workaday illustrator named Sy Mezerow looked at it and said, “Your lettering is terrible. You should give up on lettering — don’t even try. Leave it to someone who is good at it.”
That really pissed me off. With a big, youthful chip on my shoulder I was determined to show him or anyone else who saw my work that I could be a damn fine letterer. I worked long and hard on my lettering skills. Eventually, I received satisfying vindication when some of the jobs I got in the movie poster advertising industry were solely for those skills I had perfected (the title lettering for the James Bond movie Octopussy is an example).
16) There are times when we knowingly head down a path of failure, choosing the wrong theme or subject for our capabilities, or choosing a project that is too large, or an unsuitable technique.
If this happens, you must not complain later.
An artist should experiment and risk falling on his face.
It can often be publicly embarrassing, but out of errors often comes growth.
Eventually, though, as Dirty Harry put it, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” Why keep beating your head against a wall? Admit that there are some things that are just beyond your capabilities and just move on. Not everyone can be an opera singer or a ballet dancer no matter how badly they want it.
“I started in 1957 when I sold my first story to a magazine.”
— Jean Giraud
15) At the beginning of an artist’s career, he should principally involve himself in the creation of very high quality short stories.
He has a better chance (than with long format stories) of successfully completing them, while maintaining a high standard of quality.
It will also be easier to place them in a book or sell them to a publisher.
Never forget to consider the business end of being an artist.
Once this short form has been mastered to some extent, then the artist can feel free to move on to a longer form with some degree of confidence in his or her storytelling skills.
Moebius once asked this about his stories: “What do they whisper? Words of love, family stories? Are they in business? It’s a mystery, the beginning of a novel … This scene that I draw, almost hiding, excites my imagination.”
Giraud was a master of both short form and long form comics storytelling. Here’s a two-pager by Jean:
Study it. There’s more here than first meets the eye.
14) Color is a language that the graphic artist uses to manipulate his reader’s attention as well as to create beauty.
Jean “Moebius” Giraud was a master of color. The previous 12 installments of this series all illustrate that quite well. Nevertheless, it’s always fun to look at Moebius’ work just for its color, so I will stuff this little chapter with lots of Jean’s art, exhibiting that he had no trouble whatsoever creating beauty using one basic color as a scheme or a combination of colors — or very little color at all.
Beginning with red and working our way through the spectrum:
This poster has graced my studio for decades. I picked it up on my first trip to Paris.
Primarily an orange color scheme with complementary accents and a surprising red.
Above: Some muted yellow color schemes.
Green is supposed to be the toughest color to work with — but look what Jean does with it.
The complementary color accents of red or orange really makes these pieces sing.
Ahhh, blue! So cool…
Jean’s use of process blue here almost makes me feel like I’m underwater.
This design for Alien is primarily variations of blue with a nice, complementary orange accent.
Moebius’ use of this very primary turquoise (with complementary yellow-orange accents) imparts a child-like quality to the machine that dominates this picture.
Here Jean’s use of turquoise and pink give this dangerous situation a whimsical feel.
Another example of a blue-dominate (accented with orange) color scheme…
…and another sublime example.
Moebius grayed his purples for this piece.
Grayed purples and lavenders are wonderful things indeed.
Who needs pure hues? Jean works wonders with browns…
How about a vibrant black and gray piece?
Let’s move on to multiple schemes.
These two Arzak pages use the classic red-yellow-blue primary colors scheme…
…as do these.
I couldn’t find one of my favorite color schemes (the three secondary colors: orange-green-purple) in Jean’s online work, so I’m reluctantly (I really want this to be about Moebius — not me) posting one of my own pieces with this palette:
The above are a rarity: two similar pieces by Moebius. Both are dominated by a kind of blue-green scheme; one with a gold accent, the other accented with pink.
Blue with various red (and brick red) complements.
In the piece above, blue is used to complement the overall tan and muted pastel orange scheme.
Above: Green with a complementary red accent (am I stating the obvious?).
Very delicate; almost no color.
A mini-symphony of muted pastels. Speaking of pastels…
Here’s a pastel scheme mixed with burnt siennas:
There is objective and subjective color.
Color can be arbitrary; it does not necessarily need to be “realistic”. An artist does not have the limitations that bind a photographer.
This Van Gogh painting depicts this woman (in this portrait from the Norton Simon Museum) with green and yellow skin and alizarin lips. Who cares? It works, and the color gives a whisper to the viewer about whom this woman is.
Pretty in pink.
The emotional states of the characters can change or influence the color from one panel to the next, as can place and time of day.
The example above clearly takes place at dawn.
It’s what we in the Film Biz call “Magic Hour” in the picture above.
And, of course, there’s sunset.
This step-by-step shows that Moebius was just as adept with digital color as he was painting traditionally.
A muted example of a full palette scheme.
Special study and attention must be paid to the language of color.
This next tip is rather difficult to illustrate, so I decided to go a different route. Since music is the main topic here, the pictures used as illustrations for Tip #13 are all Jimi Hendrix related.
Moebius and I shared a huge passion for Jimi Hendrix. Most of the pictures here came from a fantastic boxed Moebius portfolio devoted to Jimi Hendrix. These are some of my favorite works by Jean. Here is the cover to that box:
13) There is a connection between music and drawing.
I often see my own big paintings as symphonies, with color accents performing as grace notes.
The size of that connection depends upon your personality and what’s going on at that moment.
I can also look at one of my paintings and tell you what piece of music I was listening to when I created certain passages in the painting.
For the last ten years I’ve been working in silence; for me, there is music in the rhythm of my lines.
Although I don’t work in silence (except when I’m writing), I can see how drawing and painting in silence might give one greater concentration or focus.
Drawing at times is a search for discoveries.
Yes! And feel free to take chances and make mistakes. I think I learn more from my mistakes than from my successes. You also open up the opportunity for what we in The Biz call “happy accidents”.
A precise, beautifully executed line is like an orgasm!
I don’t recall the perfect execution of a piece of line work ever making me cum, but it has certainly given me enormous satisfaction at times.
12) Beware of the devastating influence of North American comic books.
…or the works of Frank Frazetta — or any other art that displays immediate, dazzling or hypnotic power on its surface. It’s easy to be seduced away from the development of your own style; you risk becoming just another clone of your hero. Study them like crazy, if you want — but also always try to look below the surface to see if their work has true depth and longevity. Frank’s stuff does, primarily because it’s so personal and is such a deep expression of him and who he is — but the work of most of the current lot of popular superhero artists will fall by the wayside in a few short years, as it just doesn’t have the depth or layers to sustain any amount of serious interest with anyone whose tastes have matured.
Jean “Moebius” Giraud occasionally delved into the world of mainstream superheroes.
His most famous collaboration in this genre was with Stan Lee for some Silver Surfer comics.
The mystical nature of the Silver Surfer was a good fit with Moebius.
Giraud also created a series of Marvel superhero pin-ups.
He never failed to put his own stamp on each character.
He saw and interpreted them all with fresh eyes.
The artists in Mexico (where I believe Giraud was speaking) seem to only study their surface effects: a little bit of anatomy mixed with dynamic compositions, monsters, fights, screaming and teeth.
I don’t know about you, but with me that stuff gets very boring, very quickly and looks painfully adolescent and unsophisticated. The over-the-top agonized expressions on the faces of so many of these overly-muscled superheroes make it seem to me as if they’re suffering from terminal constipation, as if they’re straining to force out the world’s largest stool. I find such stuff embarrassing.
I like some of that stuff too, but there are many other possibilities and expressions that are also worthy of exploration.
Discovering and experimenting with those alternate forms of expression is what ultimately separates the men from the boys.
Here are some of Jean’s other forays into the worlds of superheroes:
Even Jean’s pictures of superheroes are always thoughtful, beautifully designed and hauntingly classy.