Saturday, October 9, 2010

moebius in the desert

Moebius, Angel Claw, 1996

Jean "Moebius" Giraud is one of (perhaps the) greatest surrealists working in the comics medium. He is perhaps best known in America for Arzach or The Airtight Garage. His most surreal work, under the pseudonym "Moebius" is produced via a technique of "automatic drawing", wherein no hesitation or planning impedes the fluid production of the image.

Some of the most compelling and elegant of these automatic visions involve mystical transformations in the desert. intermingling the abstract and the representational, we can often see magickal symbols. Here for example, we see the wand, cup, sword, and shield—the four suits of the tarot deck, and also the symbolic tools of the practicing magician.

Moebius, 1986

Moebius may be influenced in this imagery by his spiritual mentor and collaborator, Alexandro Jodorowsky. Jodorowsky frequently employs alchemical and magickal imagery in his works. For example, the wand, cup, sword, and coin can be seen bestowed upon the initiate at around 2:45 in this clip from his mystical epic, The Holy Mountain.

Of course, lovely as it is for the images to have significance (or semantic value), the sheer beauty and elegance of Moebius' desert phantasmagoria is what elevates them to the status of art. Art, surely, with broader appeal than the arcana of its mystical underpinnings.

Moebius, Le Chasseur Dé prime, 2008

Unfortunately, many of Moebius' most significant works in this genre are not easily available in English. Even in French, many are now out of print, or were only ever issued in small-run deluxe editions in the first place.

What about reprints? Translations? New collections of the beautiful old? Apparently (see comments here) publishers have repeatedly tried to strike a deal with Mr. Giraud for reprinting his work, only to be rebuffed by his wife.

Moebius, 40 Days dans le Désert B, 1999

1 comment:

book said...


I'm doing an analytic paper on Moebius and I found this blog article you did very insightful. I was wondering where you got your information about his automatic drawing? I can't seem to find any solid reference to it except in your blog. It would be a great addition to my paper, but unfortunately my professor is a stickler for "legitimate" sources. Any info would be most appreciated ^_^

Please feel free to email me at