'Alien' visionary Jean Giraud ('Moebius') dead at 73
|NEWS - MOVIE NEWS|
A true SF original departs...
The younger geek won't remember the skulking atmosphere in which SF was trying to breathe through most of the 1970s, and neither will they remember the extraordinary, often adult-oriented world of Heavy Metal, the English-language edition of the famed SF dystopian comic-fest Metal Hurlant. Nor yet how many of those strange fantasies and amazing designs were created by the man known as 'Moebius' - Jean Giraud, who died of cancer today at the age of 73.
The man was a breath of fresh air in that struggling decade for science-fiction and futurism.
Director Ridley Scott, already an admirer of the French comic artist (who had by the mid-1970s amassed much-admired coffee-table books of illustrations, apart from his esteemed contributions to Heavy Metal and the comics world) was easily persuaded by Alien creator Dan O'Bannon to bring Moebius on-board as another artistic refugee, from Jodorowsky's Dune, to Alien. He came together with artists Chris Foss and H.R. Giger from the failed Jodorowsky project, which had crumbled under financial anaemia in 1976, sending O'Bannon back to Los Angeles broke after having been enlisted as VFX supervisor in the light of his work on John Carpenter's Dark Star (1974)..
Together with Ron Cobb, O'Bannon and Art Director Roger Christian, Moebius formed part of a formidable and wonderfully eclectic band of artists who created the look for Alien at Shepperton studios in 1978.
He did far more than Heavy Metal and Alien - Google him today, as the news-wires propagate the story of his passing, and you'll hear more of his most successful work, such as the Western comic series Blueberry - along with a slew of wonderful conceptual art, used or unused, for works such as Tron, The Abyss and Willow...
But I have sentimental ties to Alien and Heavy Metal, and for this have to say that I feel the loss of an artist whose far larger body of work and distinctive style truly stamped itself on one of the greatest SF movies ever made, and the franchise that followed in its wake.
Between Giraud, Giger, Foss, Cobb, and the ministrations of the ever-present Dan O'Bannon and AD Roger Christian, the environments of Alien seem divided into 'human' and 'other' - yet there are signs of all their work well outside of what was supposed to be their particular area of the art direction. Perhaps it's the bulky and bizarre space-suits (unventilated and hated by the actors, according to Alien actress Veronica Cartwright, who recounts in various Alien disc extras the story of John Hurt needing to be frequently revived after a certain amount of time in the suit) that really belong to Moebius, and were shortly after to be practically cloned for the Peter Hyams SF outing Outland (1981).
So, with the loss of Dan O'Bannon a few years back, another lynch-pin of the Alien franchise has gone, to my sorrow - and one whom I will additionally remember as a vanguard visionary of the wild and anarchic SF iconography of the 1970s - and beyond.
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