In Search of Mœbius: A Documentary Introduction to the Inscrutable Imagination of the Late Comic Artist Mœbius

“I’ll die in some tru­ly banal man­ner, the way I live,” says the sub­ject of BBC Four’s In Search of Mœbius. I don’t know what would con­sti­tute a non-banal man­ner of death — or, for that mat­ter, a banal one — but nobody famil­iar with mod­ern com­ic art could believe that Jean Giraud, also known as Mœbius, could pos­si­bly have lived a banal life. If you haven’t read a com­ic since your child­hood Sun­day fun­nies, you need only watch this pro­gram to under­stand why the artist’s pass­ing on Sat­ur­day brought forth so many breath­less trib­utes. You’ll also catch a glimpse of the vast pos­si­bil­i­ties offered by com­ic art as a form. The inscrutable work­ings of Mœbius’ pecu­liar imag­i­na­tion drove him far into this ter­ri­to­ry, and many cre­ators (in comics and else­where) still strug­gle to fol­low him.

Aside from Mœbius him­self, the pro­gram inter­views the coterie from his ear­ly years in France at Métal Hurlant, the mag­a­zine that would open the space for his dis­tinc­tive­ly sub­con­scious-fueled, near-psy­che­del­ic yet rich­ly tex­tur­al sci­ence-fic­tion sen­si­bil­i­ty. It goes on to talk with well-known admir­ers who, feel­ing the res­o­nance of those par­tic­u­lar (and par­tic­u­lar­ly dif­fi­cult to describe) qual­i­ties of Mœbius’ vision that cross so many nation­al and artis­tic bound­aries, found ways to work with him.

These high-pro­file col­lab­o­ra­tors range from Mar­vel Comics founder Stan Lee, who enlist­ed Mœbius to take Sil­ver Surfer in new aes­thet­ic and intel­lec­tu­al direc­tions, to screen­writer Dan O’Bannon, bio­me­chan­i­cal sur­re­al­ist H.R. Giger, and filmmaker/mystic Ale­jan­dro Jodor­owsky, who worked with him on an unre­al­ized (but still tan­ta­liz­ing) film adap­ta­tion of Dune.

In Search of Mœbius also explores the real land­scapes that must have worked their way into Mœbius’ imag­i­na­tion, con­tribut­ing to the strik­ing­ly unre­al land­scapes that worked their way out of it. We see the deserts of Mex­i­co, traces of which appear in his West­ern series Blue­ber­ry, where he vis­it­ed his moth­er in the 1950s. We see the Los Ange­les he con­sid­ered “real­ly an amaz­ing city,” where his work on Sil­ver Surfer took him. We even see him in his native land, stand­ing before the harsh­ly icon­ic Bib­lio­thèque nationale de France. Mœbius may be gone, but the world inside his head remains for­ev­er open for us on the page to explore. H/T @EscapeIntoLife

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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