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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