Sunday, January 04, 2009

Birthday Review #1 - Moebius Comics #1

Moebius Comics #1 (published by Caliber Comics, May 1996) - Despite the beautiful cover, this was kind of a mixed bag, a mishmash of odds and ends crammed together into a confusing one-man anthology. The book opens with a random middle chapter from an ongoing story called "The Man From Ciguri," which is apparently the sequel to another story called the "Airtight Garage." Despite the editor's attempts to provide background for new readers (the multi-page summary was more confusing than helpful, describing dozens of characters and locations with strange names), I gave up trying to read the story and just tried to enjoy the artwork. Moebius is clearly a master of fantasy art, with a vivid imagination, but I found the artwork in this story a little muddied. The problem is that Moebius used a dead, unvaried line throughout, with virtually no negative space, and the result was a lot of cluttered, visually confusing panels, like this one:

Perhaps if this were colored it might help, but as it is, the scene is very hard to distinguish. The next story is the opening chapter to a sci-fi serial called "Destiny x3" and this was a much stronger piece. Although only a three-page prelude, Moebius's artwork was much clearer and offered a glimpse of why the artist is considered one of the greats:

The panel compositions seemed inspired by Philipe Druillet in terms of their cosmic scope and incredibly detailed architectures, and I'd be interested in someday reading the entire story. Next was another confusing story called "Interstellar Transfer," drawn in a much sketchier, unfinished pencil format, about...honestly, I'm not sure. There was something about space pilots searching for new "energy stores" and a crowd of spectators watching an alien invasion. It felt like very early work, unpolished and juvenile, and was perhaps something that Moebius abandoned only to be resurrected to fill pages for this project.

The final story is an adaptation of an unfinished strip discovered in Moebius's sketchbooks, and this was by far the highlight. The silent 8-page story, entitled "Arzaq," is illustrated by Wm. Stout based on Moebius' rough sketches, which are also presented. Stout's artwork is stunning, as usual, although the story is again very slight - an alien dives into an ocean to retrieve an egg, which he then takes to a nest and waits with it until it hatches into some kind of pterodactyl.

Overall, reading this comic was the equivalent of watching the special features DVD for a movie you haven't seen. It was neat to see the behind-the-scenes odds and ends, but they meant very little out of context. There are far better examples of Moebius' artwork out there; I would only recommend this comic for completists and hardcore fans.

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