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Comic Riffs
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Posted at 08:57 PM ET, 03/11/2012

RIP MOEBIUS AND McQUARRIE: March is a cruel month for fans of two men with otherworldly imaginations


French cartoonist Jean Giraud, aka Moebius, stands behind his antihero Blueberry. (FRANCK FIFE - AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

RALPH McQUARRIE died last weekend. Moebius died this weekend. I’m not sure I want to open the headlines next weekend. Already this dark March, two visual legends have left our world in too swift succession. But good heavens, what genius-sprung worlds of deep and deft and rare imagination they leave behind.

Sometimes you take for granted the joys you unwrap in girl- or boyhood. To grow up in the ‘70s and ‘80s was to see delivered fresh the concept designs that helped birth “Star Wars” films (McQuarrie) and the penwork and paintings that helped breathe life and line into “Alien” and “Tron” and “The Abyss” and all that deliciously trippy “Heavy Metal” (Moebius). From canvas and page, often leaping from storyboard to screen, their jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring creations poured forth for fans like manna from men.


Original sketches of Imperial Storm Troopers by Ralph McQuarrie, from the 2002 exhibit "Star Wars: The Magic of the Myth" at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in Brooklyn. (Spencer Platt - GETTY IMAGES)

How profoundly poorer would our fantasy and science-fiction literature and cinema be without the man from Indiana and his fellow visual visioneer from France. George Lucas acknowledges his immeasurable debt to McQuarrie, his American creative partner who -- for all his great body of work, including his Oscar-winning visuals for Ron Howard’s “Cocoon,” before dying at 82 — will be best remembered for helping realize R2-D2 and C-3PO and the flowing-robed Darth Vader and the sandscapes of Tatooine.

And such writers as William Gibson (”Necromancer”) and directors such as Ridley Scott (“Blade Runner”) clearly were influenced by the dystopian visions of Moebius — born Jean Giraud in 1938.


Moebius in front of a fresco made from one of his albums in 2008. (ALAIN JOCARD - AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

Giraud, of course, accomplished so much as one of our greatest comics artists in generations — a draftsman who could seemingly render anything he could imagine with both technical and inventive prowess, from the subtleties of human anatomy to the striking calculus of towering architecture. His many career highlights included his Western antihero series “Blueberry” (which, given Moebius’ visual virtuosity, experienced some distinct shifts in style) and his work on the Silver Surfer, just to cite two.

“I deeply regret the fact that I only had the opportunity to do one book with the incredibly talented Moebius,” Stan Lee tells Comic Riffs on Saturday. “We worked together on a Silver Surfer story called ‘Parable’ which, thanks to Moebius’ brilliant interpretation, has always been one of my all-time favorites.

“I always regretted the fact that the two of us lived an ocean apart,” the Marvel mastermind continues, “because working with Moebius was one of the highlights of my career.”

And being a fan of both Moebius and McQuarrie can shine on as one of the highlights, if you’re so fortunate, of a comics- and film-loving childhood.


Original artwork titled "Bounty Hunters in Cloud City" by Ralph McQuarrie. The work was exhibited in 2002 among original costumes, models, props and other conceuptual art used in the original film trilogy of "Star Wars: A New Hope," "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi." (Spencer Platt - GETTY IMAGES)


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By  |  08:57 PM ET, 03/11/2012

Tags:  moebius, ralph mcquarrie, stan lee, george lucas, william gibson, ridley scott

 
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