Moebius has long been established as one the preeminent comic artists of our time. His influence on films from Blade runner to the Fifth Element has been well noted. And while I had known of his work for sometime it wasn’t until recently that I got the full blast Moebius treatment.
In the last few weeks I have managed to get my hands on a huge digital archive of Heavy Metal magazine – the fantastic, and often times erotic comic magazine originally published by Matty Simmons of National Lampoon fame and, at least in early issues, a nearly direct pick-up of the french magazine Metal Hurlant.
I’ve been methodically plowing through these books, and while a lot of the artwork and stories are incredible (particularly the Richard Corben Den stuff and anything by the Schuiten brothers) the work of Moebius stands head and shoulders above most of the content in these early issues.
In particular I am thinking of the work he did of Arzach – sometimes also called Harzak. These strips are completely devoid of words, and have a strange ambiguity to them that leaves you feeling as though you didn’t quite grasp the comic. Take the third installment. For most of the story we are in the world of Arzach, riding with him on his trusted pterodactyl-like steed across stunning, surreal vistas. We see him fight monters, defeat enemies and get into strange adventures. But in the third comic, still under the Arzach name, we find ourselves in a desert landscape, travelling with some kind of steam punk engineer through stark egyptian-style buildings. Finally he goes into a room where we see Arzach and his bird on a television screen. The Bird seems dead. The engineer makes some repairs to some highly advanced equipment, the bird on screen comes alive again.
What’s it all mean? Whatever you’d like it to I guess. And as a result, you return again and again to the alien landscapes and stunning creatures Moebius creates.