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How Dan O'Bannon's Heavy Metal story influenced Blade Runner


From a 1977 Heavy Metal story to Blade Runner's blasted 'Hades' futurescape...?

Syd Mead art from 'Blade Runner'

On the late and very great Dan O'Bannon's continuing Facebook page, I was pleased to see this link to a clip from a BBC documentary on Jean Giraud Moebius that I had missed when it came out, which features O'Bannon explaining how a comic strip that he wrote for the original French edition of Heavy Metal (Metal Hurlant) went on to influence O'Bannon's Alien collaborator Ridley Scott when visualising the 'Hades' cityscape for Blade Runner.

In Moebius Redux: A Life in Pictures (BBC, 2007), O'Bannon was interviewed about the writing of the Moebius comic strip The Long Tomorrow for Metal Hurlant. The story displays the typical alienated urban dystopia that hallmarked the magazine in its heyday, and features a view down a nightmarish and overblown future cityscape. Talking of the period in which he worked with the famed French illustrator and artist on Alexander Jodorowsky's ill-fated Dune project, O'Bannon says:

"After a while [Moebius] got tired of me looking over his shoulder, so he asked me to go and write him a comic-book story, a graphic story that he could publish in his magazine Metal Hurlant. It was of course a film noir in the future. I didn't think about it a bit for many months until an American publisher decided to publish Metal Hurlant in an English-language edition, and call it Heavy Metal."

Responding to Moebius's comments that the comic-strip was heavily mined for the look of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner in 1982, O'Bannon continues...

"Yeah, I know. Mainly the vertical design of that city. Ridley kind of did an unauthorised borrowing of that city for Blade Runner, and he's right - it does make a good image!"

Luc Besson's The Fifth Element also seems to owe the strip a pretty heavy visual debt, and not just by the proxy of Blade Runner either...

Moebius - Long Tomorrow


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