“The Long Tomorrow”: Discover Mœbius’ Hard-Boiled Detective Comic That Inspired Blade Runner (1975)

Ale­jan­dro Jodor­owsky may nev­er have made his film adap­ta­tion of Frank Her­bert’s Dune, but plen­ty came out of the attempt — includ­ing, one might well argue, Blade Run­ner. Mak­ing that still huge­ly influ­en­tial adap­ta­tion of Philip K. Dick­’s Do Androids Dream of Elec­tric Sheep?, Rid­ley Scott and his col­lab­o­ra­tors looked to a few key visu­al sources, one of them a two-part short sto­ry in com­ic form called “The Long Tomor­row.”

Illus­trat­ed by none oth­er than French artist Mœbius, one of the rich­est visu­al imag­i­na­tions of our time, it tells the futur­is­tic hard-boiled sto­ry of a pri­vate detec­tive in a dense, ver­ti­cal under­ground city filled with androids, row­dy bars, assas­sins, and fly­ing cars. “I’m a con­fi­den­tial nose,” says the pro­tag­o­nist by way of intro­duc­tion. “My office is on the 97th lev­el. Club’s the name, Pete Club.”

Then comes the fate­ful piece of nar­ra­tion that begins any detec­tive sto­ry worth its salt: “It start­ed out a day like any oth­er day.” But by the end of that day, Club has tak­en a job from a clas­sic dame in need, fend­ed off both a four-armed thug and a hired assas­sin, slain an alien mon­ster with whom he finds him­self in bed, and recov­ered the pres­i­den­t’s miss­ing brain.

The sto­ry was writ­ten writ­ten by Dan O’Ban­non, then known main­ly for the film Dark Star, a sci­ence-fic­tion com­e­dy he’d made with his Uni­ver­si­ty of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia class­mate John Car­pen­ter. On the strength of that, Jodor­owsky had brought him onto Dune to work on its spe­cial effects, just as he’d brought Mœbius on to cre­ate its sto­ry­boards and con­cept art. With noth­ing to do before shoot­ing began — which it nev­er did — O’Ban­non first drew “The Long Tomor­row” him­self as a way of keep­ing busy. Mœbius took one look at it and imme­di­ate­ly saw its promise.

The French may have coined the term film noir, but this ear­ly work of future noir ben­e­fit­ed from hav­ing an Amer­i­can writer. “When Euro­peans try this kind of par­o­dy, it is nev­er entire­ly sat­is­fac­to­ry,” Mœbius writes in the intro­duc­tion to the book ver­sion of “The Long Tomor­row.” “The French are too French, the Ital­ians are too Ital­ian … so, under my nose was a pas­tiche that was more orig­i­nal than the orig­i­nals.” It also, with Mœbius’ art, laid the visu­al ground­work for gen­er­a­tions of sci-fi sto­ries to come.

“The way Neu­ro­mancer-the-nov­el ‘looks’ was influ­enced in large part by some of the art­work I saw in  Heavy Met­al,” said William Gib­son, refer­ring to the Eng­lish ver­sion of Métal hurlant, the mag­a­zine that pop­u­lar­ized Mœbius’ work. (O’Ban­non also worked on the ani­mat­ed Heavy Met­al anthol­o­gy film, released in 1981.) But per­haps Rid­ley Scott, who start­ed work­ing with the artist on 1979’s O’Ban­non-script­ed Alien, described the influ­ence of Mœbius’ art on our visions of the future best: “You see it every­where, it runs through so much you can’t get away from it.” In a cul­tur­al sense, all of us live in Pete Club’s city now.

via Dan­ger­ous Minds

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Métal hurlant: The Huge­ly Influ­en­tial French Com­ic Mag­a­zine That Put Moe­bius on the Map & Changed Sci-Fi For­ev­er

Mœbius & Jodorowsky’s Sci-Fi Mas­ter­piece, The Incal, Brought to Life in a Tan­ta­liz­ing Ani­ma­tion

Moe­bius’ Sto­ry­boards & Con­cept Art for Jodorowsky’s Dune

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

The Blade Run­ner Sketch­book Fea­tures The Orig­i­nal Art of Syd Mead & Rid­ley Scott (1982)

The 14-Hour Epic Film, Dune, That Ale­jan­dro Jodor­owsky, Pink Floyd, Sal­vador Dalí, Moe­bius, Orson Welles & Mick Jag­ger Nev­er Made

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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