What Moebius taught me.

(Original blog post March 10, 2012 – 227 views)

So it’s 1990, I’m 15 or 16. I’ve decided that I wanna be a comic book artist someday. I’m pretty good at drawing superheroes, I’ve learned a lot from the classic tome How To Draw Comics the Marvel Way. I’m getting the hang of anatomy, pencilling and inking, line weight, composition, stuff like that. By this age, I’ve gotten a taste of some of some of the more bold and stylish artists like Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz, and my mind is open to new things. I just got the latest issue of a magazine about comics, I think it was called Comics Scene or something like that. Then I open it up, and the first thing I see, printed full-page, is this:

moebius_ironman

And then my head exploded.

What the hell IS this, I thought? Who drew it? Why is Iron Man so…organic? Asymmetrical? Why is his costume not quite right, kind of ugly, and yet I can’t stop looking at it?

The magazine quickly told me that the French artist Moebius was about to release a new series of posters of Marvel superheroes. Up until then, I was only vaguely aware of the name. I knew he had a series of large-format graphic novel collections put out by Epic/Marvel. But, considering that I couldn’t stop studying and staring at that image of Iron Man, Moebius was immediately and permanently stamped on my radar.

At the next opportunity, I picked up the first collection, Upon A Star. It was amazing.

The first thing that struck me was that his comic art, though stylistically similar to his paintings of the Marvel heroes, was much simpler. His linework was simple, but he could tell you so much with a minimum number of lines. There was detail, but not too much; you could fill in the blanks effortlessly yourself just based on what little information he gave you. If he drew a scene of a vast planetscape or an alien metropolis packed with organically-shaped skyscrapers, his line weight was almost uniform throughout, yet there was no question how near or far each object was to your eye.

The revelation: I finally understood what “less is more” meant, and realized that you don’t need to draw a lot of lines as long as you make each line mean something.

Of course, over time I learned more about his past work with Metal Hurlant/Heavy Metal magazine, his work on films such as Tron, and when the two-issue Silver Surfer miniseries (drawn by Moebius and written by Stan Lee) came out, I was on top of it. Regrettably, I never got the rest of those now-long-out-of-print collections in the Epic series (jeebus, look at those used prices on Amazon), so I have not absorbed anywhere near as much of his work as I should have.

This morning, Moebius passed away in Paris. This is the second posthumous tribute to beloved artists I’ve made in a week. I should really make it a point to talk about my favorites more often, while they’re still with us.

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