Lt. Blueberry is an orphan. Its creator, Jean Giraud, aka Moebius, one of the giants of the comics world, who also created The Incal, died Saturday.
As soon as the announcement of his death was confirmed by his sister in law and close collaborator, internet ignited to celebrate on Twitter, in all languages, this "Giant" and lament the loss of "one of the best artists of the world".
Jean Henri Gaston Giraud (his real name), who also signed Gir on some of his works, would have been 74 years old in May.
"He died this morning following a long illness," the AFP was told by a family friend, who also works at Production Moebius/Jean Giraud editions, a company the artist founded in Paris in 1996.
For many, he remains one of the most daring creators of the genre, a pioneer of considerable influence, which the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art had paid tribute in 2010-2011, by organizing a retrospective of his works with a unique style and perpetually evolving.
For Benedict Mouchart, artistic director of the International Comics Festival of Angoulême, one of the biggest shows of the 9th Art, "France loses one of its most popular artists in the world. In Japan, Italy, in the United States, this is an amazing star, which has influenced the comic world."
"I weigh my words: Moebius will remain in the history of drawing, as well as Dürer or Ingres," he told the AFP.
"The whole business is in shock, totally floored, even though we knew he was seriously ill," the secretary general of the Comics Critics Association (ACBD), Gilles Ratier told the AFP.
The artist Boucq highlighted the talent of a "master of realistic drawing," also with "real talent for humor he was largely demonstrating with the nurses when I saw him two weeks ago on his hospital bed," he told the AFP.
After a childhood drawing cowboys and Indians and training at the School of Applied Arts, Jean Giraud, born May 8, 1938 in Nogent-sur-Marne, began publishing his first advertising and fashion drawings at the age of 18, before collaborating to illustrated magazines like Fripounet & Marisette.
Back from the war in Algeria, where he did his military service, he began publishing a western series in the magazine Spirou, then in Pilote.
And so were born the adventures of Lieutenant Blueberry, rooted in the “Wild, Wild, West” five albums published over two decades, inspiring several television adaptations and a movie directed by Jan Kounen in 2004 with Vincent Cassel in the title role.
But Moebius was also, and especially to his followers, a shaman passionate about fantasy and science fiction: it’s in fact to sign the first illustrations of a series of magazines and books on science fiction in the late 60s, that he will create the pseudonym Moebius, borrowed from a German mathematician.
Under this pen name, he created the series The Incal, mysterious and dual being - the light and dark Incal - ultra-powerful but not evil, written by the Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky.
"I have two poles, two motions. When I’m in the skin of Moebius, I draw in a trance, I try to escape my self," he explained to the AFP when interviewed for his exhibition at the Fondation Cartier.
With the disappearance of Jean Giraud, "we are losing two great artists," said the Minister of Culture Frédéric Mitterrand.
"Through his influence and his brilliance, he made of comics, this ninth art that has accompanied me through my existence, to which the International Festival of Angoulême does justice each year," added the Minister.
"The great Moebius died today, the great Moebius is still alive," wrote on his twitter account Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho, for who Moebius had illustrated the novel The Alchemist, in 1995. Adding in English: "Your body is dead now but your work is more alive than ever."
Source: AFP via Liberation.