Jean ‘Moebius’ Giraud

One of my all-time favourite comic book artists is Moebius, and I can still remember the thrill I felt when I first read The Long Tomorrow, which he created with writer Dan O’Bannon in 1976. (O’Bannon had previously worked with John Carpenter on the film Dark Star.) The Long Tomorrow became one of the main inspirations for the look and feel of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, but the rest of Moebius’ work has been equally influential and includes Arzach, The Airtight Garage and a Silver Surfer mini-series.

One of his most important comics was L’Incal, which was written by Chilean film director Alexandro Jodorowsky (famous for the cult western, El Topo). Moebius had previously worked with Jodorowsky on their 1975 attempt to make a film version of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi epic, Dune. Jodorowsky had brought in several artists to work on the film’s visual style; Moebius designed the characters and costumes, HR Giger created the Harkonnen homeworld, and Chris Foss designed the spaceships and vehicles. Dan O’Bannon was also hired to work on special effects. The glimpses that remain, showing what might have been, are tantalizing. Salvador Dali was cast as the Emperor, Orson Welles as Baron Harkonnen, Mick Jagger as Feyd-Rautha, and the entire score was to have been written by Pink Floyd. But it was probably inevitable that such an ambitious project would founder.

Moebius had also illustrated the entire Dune script, which resulted in around 3,000 illustrations, but as far as I’m aware, his storyboard has never been published. Of the drawings that have surfaced, amongst the most interesting are Moebius’ character designs (shown throughout this post). Richly envisioned, it would have been incredible seeing the Baron in all his glory, and his nephew Feyd (played by Sting in David Lynch’s 1984 version) has been drawn more feminine than androgynous.

With the collapse of Jodorowsky’s Dune, O’Bannon reassembled the creative team of Moebius and Giger to work on Ridley Scott’s Alien, which O’Bannon co-scripted. Then in 1979 Scott was to have been the director of a revised version of Dune, but he stopped work on it after the death of his brother and decided instead to work on Blade Runner (which had a shorter production schedule). Moebius was asked by Scott to help visualise the film, but Moebius turned him down in order to work on a Franco-Hungarian animation project (much to his later regret). O’Bannon went on to co-write the script for Total Recall and directed The Return Of The Living Dead, whilst Moebius designed characters and sets for Tron, Masters Of The Universe, The Abyss and The Fifth Element.

Although Jodorowsky’s Dune was never filmed, it’s worth pausing to reflect that if Jodorowsky hadn’t brought Moebius and O’Bannon together, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner may have looked very different, and Alien may not even have been made at all.

Illustrations of Dune characters courtesy of, (from top): Baron Vladimir Harkonnen; Piter De Vries; Glossu ‘Beast’ Rabban; Baron Vladimir Harkonnen; Feyd-Rautha; Duke Leto Atreides; Thufir Hawat; a Sardaukar warrior; the Padisha Emperor

Posted by Manny Z

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Blade Runner


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