French cartoonist Jean “Moebius” Giraud dies at 73

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Jean Moebius Giraud

Jean Moebius Giraud

Internationally renowned French cartoonist and comic book creator Jean “Moebius” Giraud died Saturday in Paris of cancer. He was 73.

Giraud began using the Moebius pseudonym in 1963 specifically for his fantasy and science fiction work, including storyboards for such films as the 1982 animated feature Les Maîtres Du Temps, released in English as Time Masters. He and director Rene Laloux shared the award for Best Children’s Film at the Fantafestival that year.

With Yutaka Fujioka, he wrote the story — for the 1982 Japanese animated feature film Little Nemo: Adventures In Slumberland; as well, he was a conceptual designer for the movie.

He wrote and directed the 2003 mini-series Arzak Rhapsody, a co-production of Carrère Groupe, Wolfland Pictures and France 2. In addition, he provided original designs and storyboards, and even was in the voice cast.

Giraud made original character designs and did visual development for Warner Bros.’ partly animated 1996 movie Space Jam. And though uncredited, he provided characters and situations for the “Taarna” segment of Ivan Reitman’s Heavy Metal(1981).

He was a writer, co-producer and character designer for 2005’s Thru The Moebius Strip, the first 3-D CGI feature movie made in China, and the country’s first feature film made primarily in English.

Giraud wrote and co-directed the 2010 animated short Encore. He contributed designs for the animated science-fiction feature film Strange Frame: Love & Sax; now in post-production, it is slated for release this year.

His work also included the L’Incal and The Airtight Garage series. Moebius was the name by which he was best known in the United States, where he contributed production design for such films as Alien, Willow, The Abyss and The Fifth Element.

The style and tone of his artwork was very adaptive and, through the course of his career, generally shifted from more realistic, as seen in his early Blueberry series, to more expressive and fantastical compositions.

He was born Jean Henri Gaston Giraud in the Paris suburb of Nogent-en-Bassigny (now Nogent) on May 8, 1938. Known as Gir as well as Moebius, he created the immensely popular character Lieutenant Blueberry for the Western series of that name.

As a child, he drew cowboys and Indians. Giraud trained at the prestigious Ecole des Arts Appliqué in Paris.

Before contributing to such comic books as Fripounet et Marisette, he had his first published works in advertising and fashion.

After his return from the Algerian war, he published a Western serial in Spirou and Pilote magazine. There, Lieutenant Blueberry’s adventures began.

Giraud collaborated with Stan Lee and several other famous comic book creators. Hugely successful film director George Lucas used one of his designs for the Imperial Probe Droid in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

In 1988, he was one of several persons chosen to illustrate a set of postage stamps on the theme of communication.

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