Fashion & Beauty / Exhibit A

Moebius’ Arzach

This lone traveller with the pointed hat and billowing cape is Arzach, the enigmatic titular hero of Moebius’ comic strip series of the 1970s. The stone bird with the pterodactyl wingspan and beak is his usual steed. Together they journey across

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Preparatory drawing for Arzach, 1995
Preparatory drawing for Arzach, 1995By Mœbius

This lone traveller with the pointed hat and billowing cape is Arzach, the enigmatic titular hero of Moebius’ comic strip series of the 1970s. The stone bird with the pterodactyl wingspan and beak is his usual steed. Together they journey across barren wastes, occasionally encountering futuristic desert settlements or killer grass with fronds writhing like the tentacles of some deep sea monster. The action though is muted. What seals Arzach’s compelling, cryptic quality is that his world, absent of speech bubbles, is entirely silent. (Moebius’s later Flash Animation version of the comic, Arzach Rhapsody, introduced a voice over, the sound of howling wind and a sci-fi-meets-world music soundtrack.) With a long face that gives nothing away, Arzach’s purpose can only be guessed at. He is a mystery man, like the lone rider of cowboy movie mythology. Yet the frontier he flies across seems cut off from the flow of time, like an internalised landscape of the mind. There is no destination, only the journey.

Moebius is the pseudonym of Jean Giraud, a unique icon in the world of comics, currently being celebrated in a vast survey show at Fondation Cartier in Paris. He’s well-known for his work in the realm of futuristic fantasy – outside of comics, he’s worked on a string of classic sci-fi movies including Tron, Alien and The Abyss. But his talents stretch way beyond this. Working under two pseudonyms (Gir is his other artistic identity), highpoints of Jean Giraud’s 50-year career include the Western, Blueberry and Inside Moebius, where with typical post-modern panache, he depicts himself surrounded by his own characters. The satirical Garage Hermetique follows the adventures of Major Grubert and his self-enclosed world on an asteroid, and the Incal series is set in an embattled, dystopian future where a mystic crystal chooses John Difool, an anti-hero in18th century garb to save the planet.

 

Moebius Transe Forme is at Fondation Cartier, Paris until 13 March.

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