The cover of the famed Silver Surfer mini-series Moebius illustrated and co-wrote with Stan Lee.

The legendary French artist Jean Giraud, known to most of his fans as Moebius, has died at age 73 after a long battle with cancer.

Giraud’s career spanned more than fifty years.  He was one of the founding artists of the French comics magazine Metal Hurlant which debuted in1974, to appear a year later in English in the United States as Heavy Metal.

His most famous creations were the Western anti-hero Blueberry, which first appeared in 1963 in France, and the farcical Jerry Cornelius of The Airtight Garage of Jerry Cornelius.  Blueberry was a loner who traveled the post-Civil War American West after being framed for a murder he did not commit. The character started out as a racist but came to oppose discrimination of all kinds. Cornelius was the figure of a British military man who tried to make sense out of his frequently absurd encounters with creatures on an alien world.

He also scripted a two-part Silver Surfer mini-series with Stan Lee, which won an Eisner Award, the comics equivalent of an Oscar, in 1989.  Giraud also worked on the concepts and storyboards for numerous science fiction films, including Alien, Tron, The Abyss, and The Fifth Element.  In 1982, he also co-created the feature-length animated science fiction film Les Maîtres du temps, which was released in English as Time Masters.  In 2009, he provided designs and conceptual art for an arcade in Sony’s Metreon, across the street from San Francisco’s Moskone Center, dedicated to Jerry Cornelius. In 2010 the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art in Paris staged a retrospective exhibition of his work.

Giraud was born in the Paris suburb of in Nogent-sur-Marne in 1938.

“Lieutenant Blueberry is an orphan …,” wrote French newspaper Le Nouvel Observateur.  “We’ve lost two great artists,” the French cultural minister said of Giraud and his alter ego Moebius, adding: “Through his influence and his dazzling images, he made comic books the 9th art form that has stayed with me throughout my life.”  “France has lost one of its most well-known artists in the world. In Japan, in Italy, in the US, he was an incredible star,” artistic director of the Angouleme comic book festival Benoit Mouchart said.  “The whole profession is still in shock, totally collapsed, even if we knew he was gravely ill,” French association of comic book critics the ACBD’s Gilles Ratier said.

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