When transgressive psychedelic filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky began adapting the novel Dune for the screen, he turned to one man for the elaborate storyboards—French comics illustrator and writer Jean Giraud, a.k.a, Moebius. Already well known for his western comics work, particularly the the cutting edge Blueberry, Moebius caught Jodorowsky’s eye because of his work on rather cinematic and non-typical science fiction illustrations and book covers.
After working on the ultimately aborted Dune adaptation, for which he produced over 3,000 visionary drawings, Moebius launched the French science fiction and horror comics anthology Métal hurlant (Heavy Metal), and collaborated with Jodorowsky on the highly influential proto-cyberpunk space opera comic The Incal. In between decades of design work on films like Alien and The Fifth Element, Moebius continued illustrating and writing comics. One of the most influential of these was the science fiction comic Le Monde d'Edena (The World of Edena), which follows Stel and Atan, two interstellar travelers who land on the mythical paradise planet Edena, where topics like gender roles, humanity’s reliance on technology, environmental issues, and even lucid dreaming are explored.
Last year, Dark Horse Comics announced its collaboration with Moebius Production to publish the entire Moebius library in English. In February, Dark Horse announced the release of The World of Edena, its first entry in the English catalog, which is set for an October 26th release. Today, Dark Horse gives The Creators Project an exclusive look at the cover design and four images from the English language edition.
Philip R. Simon, the Senior Editor at Dark Horse tasked with bringing the Moebius catalog to English, tells The Creators Project that the collaboration started back in the mid-90s when they published a series of Moebius graphic novels and short story collections. “[They were] all formatted at 6" x 9" and reprinting some of the creator’s most beloved sci-fi works,” Simon explains. “The run included Arzach, Madwoman of the Sacred Heart (in collaboration with writer Jodorowsky), The Man from the Ciguri, Exotics, and H.P.’s Rock City. Moebius provided story notes for all of the short story collections, which are unfortunately out of print now. A special relationship with Moebius as well as his family was formed and nurtured.”
After Moebius passed away in 2012, Dark Horse publisher Mike Richardson remained in touch with the Giraud family, even though the comics company wasn’t publishing any of Moebius’ works at the time. The Giraud family runs Moebius Production, an international studio that keeps his major works in print in many languages, but also maintains a store of modern products and new publishing projects to keep his work alive for new readers.
Simon says that Dark Horse’s starting lineup of Moebius books was presented to them by the Giraud family as the “ideal starting lineup." “We’re launching with The World of Edena, The Art of Edena, and Inside Moebius Parts 1, 2, and 3—all hardcovers in the same 8.375" x 10.875" format—and a project in a larger format, The Art of Moebius, will follow,” says Simon. “The tricky part will be figuring out where to go next. There is certainly a wealth of material, and we’re looking at more art books, books in odd formats, and collections of interviews with the storytelling master as we build the line, in addition to more deluxe hardcovers that will serve as definitive English-language editions of Mr. Giraud’s graphic novels, short story collections, and illustration retrospectives.”
Dark Horse understands that everyone has their favorite Giraud/Moebius story, but Simon emphasizes that they’re working with the Giraud family to address what they want to see in print first—then they will try to please everyone else. As a piece of visual storytelling, The World of Edena is indeed a great place to start. It’s a collection that shows the many different facets of its creator, while introducing readers to, as Simon says, Moebius’ complicated, overlapping science-fiction works, without being too overwhelming.
“It’s a story that Moebius spent decades on, and you can see an evolution as he first focuses on a 'clean line' style—the style employed by such creators as Hergé (Tintin)—to a more involved, intricate style that seems to get more controlled and complicated as the story gets more surreal and dreamlike,” Simon says. “Moebius took several long breaks between World of Edena chapters, so you see an ‘evolution of interest,’ too, as Moebius goes from a pretty straightforward sci-fi tale to chapters that focus on gender roles, the environment, and man’s reliance on technology, before exploring lucid dreaming in a surreal final chapter.”
The images that Dark Horse is sharing are from "The Gardens of Edena," the second chapter in The World of Edena. The images show the main characters, Stel and Atan, surrounded by the elves of Edena as they sleep.
“Edena is a paradise planet that becomes tainted, in a way, once mankind arrives and spends some time evolving a culture there,” says Simon. “Without giving away any story twists, this scene shows the hopefulness and beauty that Edena has to offer mankind, before it’s core is actually twisted and tainted by man’s arrival. This sequence also shows the main style that Moebius employs in this collection—his clean line style—that morphs and gets more intricate as the story progresses.”
For the second volume in this line, Moebius Library: The Art of Edena, Simon says that Dark Horse is going to be collecting all of the artist’s short stories that feature World of Edena protagonists Stel and Atan—so, any story that features the two characters that doesn’t make it into the first volume. They will also be sharing illustrations and sketchbook pages focusing on the Edena locations, characters, and creatures.
“There are several stories that are either titled or referred to now as Repairmen stories, and we’ll be collecting all of those, which are in color and black-and-white—and often wordless,” Simon explains. “The ‘never-before-seen pieces’ of art... well, some have never been seen in an English-language book before, but they’ve been collected in overseas editions—and, as I understand it, most of the newer, really never-before-seen pieces of artwork will be scanned for our sixth book, The Art of Moebius, which will have the most work that’s never been seen by the world.”
Simon says that some Edena collections in other countries have included pinups and a few short stories, Dark Horse’s Art of Edena volume will strive to be the most complete collection of “Edena extras.” It will also give readers a look behind the scenes at Giraud’s creative processes throughout the years.
Dark Horse will also publish Inside Moebius, the most recent, long-form work that Moebius concluded right before his passing. Simon describes it as an “extended conversation with himself and with many characters that he created.”
“Osama Bin Laden makes a strange appearance,” says Simon, and there is “a surreal walk through Moebius’ life and topics that he found interesting and that affected him artistically.” Inside Moebius has appeared in several different formats in other countries, but Dark Horse’s English-language editions will take Moebius’ six-part story and collect that into three volumes. There’s also a complete edition coming out in France soon, but Dark Horse wanted to break up the 700-plus page story into three affordable hardcovers.
“One of my favorite quotes about Moebius is from filmmaker Federico Fellini, who said, ‘I consider him more important than [French artist] Doré.'” Simon muses, “What made Moebius so important? For an abstract approach to answering that, which Moebius would appreciate—let’s take, say, two dozen of your favorite modern writers and artists—think about gathering 12 of each, the best of the best storytellers—and let’s squish them all into a single brain. A brain that’s able to apparently access imagination and our dream world in such a way that it can constantly reinvent itself and take readers on insanely creative adventures for over 50 years. That’s Moebius.”
Click here to see more of Moebius’ work.