Jean Giraud, aka Gir, aka Moebius passed away a while back, and it saddened me a lot. Sure, I accept that people do pass on, but nevertheless, it was a loss that I felt half way around the world. Digging through my memories, I realize how big an influence Moebius was on me even as a child. I first encountered his work in the children’s section of a local bookstore. I thought, “Ooo! Comics!”. What I got was a naked man with his dick flapping around, getting it on with a fully naked woman, breasts and everything else in full view. Horrifyingly, the girl slowly transforms into a tentacle beast, and there’s this memorable shot of the guy, realizing what was on top of him, tentacles pulling at his dick, and he’s freaking out. He shoots her to death. It completely blew my innocent 8 year old mind.
I hesitate to say that memory traumatized me, but it did sear indelibly into my brain. I never forgot it. And in the back of my mind, the amazing drawings probably stayed.
I next saw Moebius’ work in the book “Masters of Comic Book Art” by P.R. Garriock. The back cover featured a startling portrait of a monkey in a spacesuit that Moebius drew. Inside, the drawings were just tremendous. It is also in this book I was exposed for the first time to the works of Barry Windsor Smith, Robert Crumb, Wally Wood, Will Eisner, Richard Corben and Frank Bellamy, artists who would, unbeknownst to me at the time, would greatly influence me as well.
I saw this book on the shelves of Alemars in Makati in the early 80′s. I couldn’t afford to buy it back then (I remember it was around 200 pesos) so all I did was whenever our family would go to Makati, I would go to Alemars just to look at this book.
When I went to the San Diego Comic-con in 1999, I saw Moebius. I tried hard to keep from freaking out. I didn’t have any of his works with me so I scrambled to the retailers and got me a copy of the Dark Horse edition of Azrach, and ran back to Moebius’ table to have him sign it. But a woman stopped me with a hand in my face and told me, “Moebius not signing anymore.” rather bluntly.
So there I was, holding Azrach with both my hands, staring woefully at Moebius as he chatted with some guy behind his table. Of course, I didn’t take it against him. It was just awesome just standing there and actually seeing the guy. It was enough to bring me over the moon.
Over the years I started collecting many of his other works, and I was finally able to track down the story that I saw that traumatized me as a child. It was “The Long Tomorrow”, and strangely enough, I also got it from the children’s section of that same book store.
When the Internet came, I was able to track down a copy of “Masters of Comic Book Art” online and bought it. It was great seeing the book again. It’s one of the priceless books in my collection.
A couple of weeks ago, British artist Mike Collins invited me to participate in a tribute book for Moebius. I was very honored. After a couple of days, I knew exactly what I wanted to draw. I would go back to the back cover of “Masters of Comic Book Art”, and do homage of that drawing. Instead of the monkey, I would place Moebius’ face in it. The problem was, I was bad at copying people’s likenesses. So I had to do extensive photo referencing just to get it right.
I did the drawing over the span of a few days, through a massive toothache and a tooth extraction, but in the end, I was very happy with what I did.
I hope it’s a fitting tribute.