Interview by Dominique Mirambeau.
-Jean, how MOEBIUS was born?
-How I came across MOEBIUS? Look, I came across MOEBIUS because
I had to do a story for Hara-Kiri, which at that time was a bizarre
satirical review. I thought it might be funny to commit an act
of aggression towards the world by taking on a pseudonym.
-How do you see your creative world?
-My creative world is pleasure above all. Pleasure is the spur
to survival. There is also a bonus, the fact of being loved and
admired by other cartoonists. That's something that affects me
a lot and still does: how do they see me, what do they think of
me? There are moments when it's very pleasant to have this kind
of thought and others when it's really frightening.
I've often had the idea that cartoonists take me for a joker who's
mask has fallen of. A kind of ghost even: MOEBIUS reveals himself
for what he really is: mediocre. But it's always a surprise to
see how they like me. It's great! Provided that it lasts!
-How do you get in touch with that universe?
-Oh, it's very easy! You just sit down at a table with a pencil
and paper and let pleasure get to work. It can also be difficult
because things sometimes come to you as if they were covered in
mist, in haze. They're shrouded by resistance to creation, the
absence of memory. When you're drawing, making a cartoon, it's
really the memory that's at work. As a result of this material
released from the memory, a sort of sensitivity to imagery will
appear, then a current which runs through the hand, the eye, the
stand and which suddenly provokes an emotion, which is what we
feel when we see a drawing. In fact, the drawing comes from the
traces left by emotion. Of course, there are all kinds of emotions:
harsh emotions, pleasant emotions, light, balanced emotions.
Sometimes, beautiful drawings appear because you have drawn from
mysterious, disturbing sources. It happens to me when I'm drawing,
I ask myself if I'm not going crazy. You really have the feeling
that you are losing your mind when you start drawing things which
don't have a recognisable point of reference. You find that you
are out of touch with yourself. You see yourself doing something
you don't understand, as if you were suddenly speaking a foreign
language. It's frightening and very exciting at the same time,
because with time you discover a kind of confidence. You know
you won't die in this unknown world. There is no more fear. You
think you're in danger but in fact you're not so you have to go
on. You absolutely must have confidence: I'm on my way! Beside,
the feeling of fear won't diminish with time: it will always be
just as intense.
-Tell us about your experience with films...
-Very interesting, to be sure, as it has brought me into close
contact with a world I admire a lot, which I have virtually idolised,
since I was a kid. For me, cinema is something I keep coming across.
It's holy. A movie is like a demonstration of divinity, almost...
Directors are "Gods" in inverted commas, of course.
I really rate the cinema very highly indeed. And I'm not the only
one. Loads of people feel the same thing.
-How are you able to jump from one world to another?
-Doing cartoons on the one hand and scripts on the other, you
learn bit by bit how to tell stories. And telling stories is the
linchpin which connect the different kinds of story teller, in
film, literature, strip cartoons, theater... The essence of which
is not merely literary.
What is telling a story? It's entering sections of people's lives,
real or imaginary, it doesn't really matter, as the imaginary
is reality that has been transposed and masked. It's enlarging
your own experience by entering the experience of other people.
It's a unique human ability which enables human beings to be identified
as such. We return to a collective network.
Our consciousness nowadays is made up of our personal experience,
"before" and "after" - assimilated by thousands
of other beings and it is this which produced, reworked, redone,
refined and synthesized archetypal stories. We integrate all this
into our consciousness. We become the aircraft-carriers of consciousness,
capable of holding devices, concepts, which take off, come back
are plunged into the hold, then come back again, spread out their
wings, and are catapult-launched once more. You see, this is permanently
at our disposal. It's perfect! What a beautiful life....
-What has your experience been of using computers to create images?
-As artists say, the computer is nothing but a sophisticated pencil.
It's nothing more and nothing less than an instrument. But at
the same time, one cannot hold its specific qualities in contempt,
because each instrument has its special touch and can lead the
artist into another world.
-What do you think is the potential of virtual reality?
-If we continue the way we started, there are strong possibilities
that synthetic imagery will be improved until it reaches a stage
where action could be created. We could use imaginary actors who
we could not distinguish from real ones. It's terrible and marvellous
at the same time. It's also a highly perfected tool for creating
and inventing stories. The moral problems this will pose, of course,
are countless. But we shouldn't forget that this will be our grandchildren's
main form of entertainment. We must know how to deal properly
with these problems, be they legal or moral.
That's the big question for the consciousness of mankind: what
is real, what is false? With synthetic imagery and virtual worlds
we will face an aspect of the problem that will materialise gradually,
becoming sharper and sharper, more and more distanced apparently
from its metaphysical base, but which in fact brings us right
back to it. So, this will be both marvellous and, at the same
time, a great trap for humanity, especially if we take virtual
reality to its logical conclusion.
What is the perfect virtual world? Dream. The day when we will
be able to enter virtual imagery as if in a dream, that's when
mankind will find itself face to face with its own destiny. Which
is more worthwhile: living the dream of reality, or the dream
of simulation? You will have to choose your dream.
The question will be as follows: will it be more worthwhile to
live with all the heaviness of the body, or to be put in suspended
animation for twenty years, intravenously fed, and to live like
that, in a dream life, in a world of dreamt images with some people
who will be there to direct, like gods. You see, we always come
back to the idea of directing and God!
Jean Giraud, better known as MOEBIUS, is probably the most
important fantasy comic artist of all time. Born in Nogent-sur-Marne
(France) in 1938, under the sign of Taurus, Giraud began drawing
the adventures of Lieutenant Blueberry in 1963, a long saga, still
continuing to this day.
In 1975 Jean Giraud renamed himself MOEBIUS, inspired by the German
astronomer who created the ring in the form of infinity. From
this moment on, his work takes on a new dimension: Arzach, The
Airtight Garage, The Long Tomorrow, The Gardens of Aedena, Les
Yeux du Chat, Venice Celeste... are true masterpieces that stretch
the limits of the classical comic and plunge us into unexplored
From the seventies onward, MOEBIUS began to take an interest in
the world of cinema. First he took part - along with Alexander
Jodorowski - in a frustrated attempt to bring Dune to the screen.
Later he collaborated on Ridley Scott's Alien (1979), on Steve
Lisberger's Tron (1982), Rene Leloux' "Le Maitre de Temps"
(1982), Ron Howard's Willow"(1988) and James Cameron's Abyss
Text originally published in ArtFutura's 1999 catalog.