Mœbius – Angel Claws cover (1993)
I was super into comic books in my late teens–roughly circa 1991 through 1997.
I followed the spate of hot shot upstart pencilers–who would go on to become Image Comics’ freshman class–Dale Keown, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Todd McFarland and Marc Silvestri.
I was aware of the edgier stuff out there: Neil Gaiman’s run on The Sandman; the Frank Miller/Geoff Darrow collaboration Hard Boiled–alternately, I never got what the fixation was with Alan Moore…
I fell out with the medium for two reasons: it became too expensive of a hobby for me to keep up with–there were also more things that I wanted to read each month than I could afford to acquire myself. And, my more professional interest in it waned.
At a certain point, I entertained the notion of writing and perhaps drawing sequential narrative work. I was especially partial to Jim Lee’s dynamic frames and diversity of depiction. His figures seemed solid in a way that others didn’t, his poses more considered. (Although in hindsight her frequently favored what in filmmaking you’d call insert shorts a wee bit too much and his economy of frames and layout were sometimes questionable.)
I was really taken with his Deathblow style reinvention. It was much darker, more abstract–with heavier lines, looking often more like a photographic negative than a comic book panel. I obsessed about this style; so much so: that when we were ordered to write a report on an artist my junior year of HS, I picked Lee.
This was pre-Internet. And it was daunting to find enough sources to build out a workable biography, let alone find information on development and growth of style and technique.
I managed to find enough information that I could stretch it to make the project work. But what I enjoyed most was selecting samples of his work and drawing an exact copy of one of his pictures and then drawing something using his style but applied to an original work.
My copy was a redux of the gatefold cover to X-Men #1. (Yeah, I’ve always been super ambitious/or a glutton for punishment, depending on your perspective.) My original in-the-style of was a riff on Cyberforce’s Velocity character in Lee’s Deathblow style.
I was ridiculously proud of it. I mean it wasn’t a masterpiece by any stretch but I’d applied myself in a way I rarely did on projects and if nothing else it showed a stubborn potential.
Things didn’t go so well. You’ll remember I went to an Xtian HS. And my art teacher was unspeakable offended by the degree of inappropriateness that my project demonstrated. I was ordered to give my presentation to my classmates as per normal but I was required to give a disclaimer that I had picked an insanely inappropriate artist and that I was very apologetic for bringing such filth into a place founded for the worship of and bringing glory to the name of God.
I was given after school suspension for a week–where I would sit with my art teacher, she would drape her arm around my shoulder and we would take turns praying that good would forgive me for the sins of the flesh I had committed by allowing this stuff into my head.
Since then, I’ve never been able to draw. It makes me violently nauseous.
Anyway, it’s nice to actually re-encounter Mœbius though. Logically, the preponderance of his work popping up on Tumblr likely has to do with the current ramping interest for Besson’s upcoming Valérian and Laureline adaptation (another Franco-Belgain comic book classic).
I have little interest. Besson hasn’t appealed to me since 1995. (However, in fairness, Léon: The Professional is what ended up making me a film student not ten years later.)
Also, does anyone else notice the degree to which Apollonia Saintclair has been influenced by Mœbius? It’s kind of cray-cray…