Jean Giraud aka Moebius died yesterday morning. His inspiration on my work started in my teens and early twenties. I was sending samples of bad comic strip art to all the big publishing companies and all the small companies’ in-between and was rejected universally by all. I think I know why, because they sensed I was trying too hard to draw , that there was something false in what I presented to them. I love comics; never been able to concentrate on a novel or even a short story for long, so comics was where I got my stories from. There was television but at that time TV was a family activity. Comics felt like they were mine. My teenage world, my secret and my little bit of ‘I know something you doesn’t’.
As a teen I read everything. The Beano, Dandy, Victor, Warlord, 2000Ad, Roy of the Rovers, Battle, Marvel and DC imports when the card shop or newsagent in the new undercover concourse could get them. I fell out of love with superheroes real quick. Their universe was huge and it felt like another clique I was trying too hard to bust into, I really loved Sci Fi in comics. Other worlds, better worlds, stranger than life worlds and I think this is where my love for European Comics came in, introduced itself and never left. I can’t remember the names of the comics I read into my early twenties although Tintin would have been in there as a teenager, if I searched the internet I could probably rediscover the titles, the American reprints and have a right old nostalgia fest. Nostalgia is one thing I don’t do.
I am not sure where I first saw a Moebius picture, I wasn’t cool enough to have seen the original Metal Hurlant but Heavy Metal was reprinting Euro stuff and then there was the Westminster Comic Mart I attended frequently, aiming for the Fast Fiction table first.
I tried a lot of things when I was younger, not the usual stuff that young men get into, I was too busy drawing and getting a few things printed in fanzines. Football, motor racing and sport in general bored me. I was shy and nervous around everyone never mind girls. No friends to lead me astray either. I might have supped a can of shandy on one heady summer’s night but it was the company not the liquor buzz I enjoyed.
Meditation, Spirituality Churches, yoga, Kung Fu they seemed to suit my personality, which wasn’t social and didn’t involve alcohol. When I became aware of Moebius’s work it talked to me, here was an artist describing states of transformation. Floating souls, other worlds, other shapes… and it all kinda fitted beautifully into what I wanted from the world.
I have phase's where I try to draw like Giraud but it’s a lot harder than it looks. To be a good cartoonist you have to understand how to draw things well before you abstract from them. I never really liked the way his stories ended but I loved the journey, the lines, design and colour. He could draw loose and he could draw realistically detailed, most jealousy inducing of all he could draw insanely freehand as demonstrated in ‘40 Days Dan’s Le Desert’.
I met him once at the Angouleme Comics Festival 1998, I queued to get an autograph and a quick pencil sketch. When it got to my turn I presented him with a copy of a diary comic I was making at the time which his minders dutifully took, “pour vous Jean” was all my meagre French could muster in the situation. A few weeks later I received a black and white postcard with the Ciguri on the front and a short message on the back from Starwatcher Graphics saying 'Moebius had read the diary comic and thought it was good, thank you'. That card doesn’t exist anymore, lost with a lot of other comics and graphic novel and physical remembrances from the past in the Yorkshire floods of 2007. A cellar full of memories turned to pulp in a night of heavy rain. Or were they, surely the memories remain?