Comic Book Artist Moebius Dies

Moebius, the French comic-book artist and designer whose spectacular science fantasy-based worked its magic on Hollywood classics such as "Alien" has died aged 73, after a long illness.

Moebius, the French comic-book artist and designer whose spectacular science fantasy-based worked its magic on Hollywood classics such as "Alien" has died aged 73, after a long illness.

Moebius -- or Jean Henri Gaston Giraud -- was one of France's leading cartoonists, who also found fame in Japan and the United States.

"He died this morning following a long illness," a friend and colleague told AFP.

"The whole profession is in shock, totally devastated, even if we knew that he was seriously ill," Gilles Ratier, head of France's Association of Comic-Book Critics, told AFP.

Colleagues paid tribute to the artist who is generally acknowledged as having been one of the most daring and innovative in his field, and whose striking ideas reached across the world and into the world of cinema.

Giraud, who grew up drawing cowboys and indians, found fame when he created the western character Lieutenant Blueberry in 1963. He adopted the pseudonym Moebius for his illustrations in science fiction books and magazines.

He worked on top French magazines including the politically incorrect but visually arresting "Metal Hurlant" (Heavy Metal), a mixture of science fiction and epic fantasy, which was featured in a 1981 animated film of the same name.

He also collaborated with Japanese manga artists and even co-produced a adventure of US comic-book superhero The Silver Surfer, working with Stan Lee, himself a legend in the field.

And his influence spread into cinema, putting his stamp on the first "Alien" film and the science fiction adventure "Tron".

In 2010-11 France's Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art acknowledged his stature, staging a major retrospective of his work.

Giraud was born in Nogent-sur-Marne east of Paris on May 8, 1938.

After art school he began training as an illustrator for advertisers and the fashion industry before turning to comic strips.

"My ambition was tremendous," he once told AFP. "I wanted to rock, so everybody in the comic industry would be stunned."

Tributes were quick to come in as news of his death spread.

Fellow artist Boucq told AFP Moebius had been a "master of realist drawing" with "a real talent for humour, which he was still demonstrating with the nurses when I saw him in his hospital bed a fortnight ago".

Brazilian author Paulo Coelho, whose bestselling 1995 novel "The Alchemist" was illustrated by Moebius, paid tribute to his collaborator on Twitter.

"The great Moebius died today, but the great Moebius is still alive," he tweeted.

"Your body died today, your work is more alive than ever."

Benoit Mouchart, artistic director at France's Angouleme International Comics Festival, compared him to artistic giants such as Germany's Albrecht Durer and France's Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres.

"France has lost one of its best known artists in the world," Mouchart told AFP. "In Japan, Italy, in the United States he is an incredible star who influenced world comics.

"Moebius will remain part of the history of drawing, in the same right as Durer or Ingres," he added.

"He was an incredible producer, he said he wanted to show what eyes do not always see."

French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand said France had lost "two great artists", referring to Giraud and his alias.

In 2007 one of his drawings sold for 58,242 euros ($76,433) at
an auction.