Mœbius Illustrates Paulo Coelho’s Inspirational Novel The Alchemist (1998)

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When Paulo Coel­ho’s nov­el The Alchemist came out in Eng­lish, the lev­el of pop­u­lar­i­ty it even­tu­al­ly attained seri­ous­ly impressed me. Then I went to Latin Amer­i­ca, where the Span­ish ver­sion seemed to have won a vaster read­er­ship still. I haven’t yet gone to Brazil to gauge the book’s pop­u­lar­i­ty on the streets of Coel­ho’s home­land since its first pub­li­ca­tion to rel­a­tive­ly lit­tle inter­est, but it sure­ly has­n’t gone unknown there. As many fans as The Alchemist has, though, the inspi­ra­tion-and-des­tiny-inflect­ed appeal of the text entire­ly escapes some read­ers, in whichev­er lan­guage they read it. Per­haps they’d pre­fer an edi­tion illus­trat­ed by Mœbius?

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Born Jean Giraud, Mœbius’ career guar­an­tees him a per­ma­nent place as one of the most influ­en­tial com­ic artists ever to live. Even apart from the achieve­ments in the medi­um in which he became famous — his found­ing work on Heavy Met­al, his cre­ation of non­tra­di­tion­al west­ern out­law Blue­ber­ry — he did a good deal of work that brought his sin­gu­lar­ly imag­i­na­tive aes­thet­ic into oth­er cre­ative realms, such as con­cept art from Ale­jan­dro Jodor­owky’s Dune and illus­tra­tions for Dan­te’s Par­adiso. In some sense, it might have seemed nat­ur­al for him to lend his hand to Coel­ho’s fan­ta­sy tale of an Andalu­sian shep­herd boy on a trea­sure-hunt­ing jour­ney to Egypt.

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The Illus­trat­ed Alchemist: A Fable About Fol­low­ing Your Dream came out in 1998, and it includ­ed 35 Mœbius illus­tra­tions, four of which you see here. The artist’s sig­na­ture style, which he usu­al­ly used in the ser­vice of dark, com­plex fusions of past and present, might at first sound ill-suit­ed for Coel­ho’s sim­ple fable, but Mœbius adapts well to the mate­r­i­al. Even if you put down the book uncon­vinced by Coel­ho’s argu­ments about fol­low­ing your dream, you might con­sid­er look­ing to Mœbius instead with our post on his tips for aspir­ing artists. Either way, The Illus­trat­ed Alchemist itself show­cas­es a col­lab­o­ra­tion between two well-known cre­ators who most def­i­nite­ly paid their dues.

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Relat­ed con­tent:

How Paulo Coel­ho Start­ed Pirat­ing His Own Books (And Where You Can Find Them)

Paulo Coel­ho on the Fear of Fail­ure

The Inscrutable Imag­i­na­tion of the Late Com­ic Artist Mœbius

Mœbius’ Sto­ry­boards & Con­cept Art for Jodorowsky’s Dune

Mœbius Illus­trates Dante’s Par­adiso

Moe­bius Gives 18 Wis­dom-Filled Tips to Aspir­ing Artists (1996)

Col­in Mar­shall writes on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, and the video series The City in Cin­e­maFol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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Comments (4)
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  • Peter says:

    Has any­one else noticed that this whole alchemist sto­ry was writ­ten in a cou­ple of pages, and much more mem­o­rably, in Jorge Luis Borges’ Uni­ver­sal His­to­ry of Infamy?

  • Rammohan Nagarkar says:

    It is dif­fi­cult for me to under­stand why this book has become so pop­u­lar around the World. It deals with mys­ti­cism, and unbe­liev­able instances and hap­pen­ings which can’t be proved in real life. It takes you to an impos­si­ble imag­i­nary pseu­do-spir­i­tu­al realm.

    Avid admir­ers of ‘Alchemist’, more like­ly have a wish­ful desire for mir­a­cles to hap­pen. The inspi­ra­tion from state­ments like, “The entire uni­verse will con­spire …”
    etc. makes one believe in super­nat­ur­al forces, how­ev­er intan­gi­ble.

  • dario says:


    And Borges explic­it­ly stat­ed that he was just rewrit­ing one of the One thou­sand and one nights.

    I tried to add this infor­ma­tion to Wikipedia, but it was can­celed with dis­hon­our. Since than I am not much of a fan of Coel­ho’s fans!

  • Peter says:

    Thanks dario. I’m with you on that one!

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