Book of the Month

Book of the Month – The Incal Classic Collection

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Written by Alexandro Jodorowsky
Art by Moebius

Size: 308 pages
Price: 44.95

As you get deeper and deeper in to the hobby of collecting and appreciating comic books, there's a roll call of legendary artists that you'll hear discussed constantly.  Between popping up in interviews with other creators, or discussed on panels at conventions or in the hallowed halls of comic book stores, names will be bandied about as evidence and explanation of influences and originations for current works. Names like Eisner, Kirby, Caniff, Williamson and on and on.  One such name that gets spoken in revered tones is that of Moebius. 

For years, you've probably heard the name Moebius and about how amazing his work is and how influential it has been to other comic artists as well as films over the past 30 years.  But due to the fact that Moebius is French and much of his work has been either out of print or simply unavailable in the U.S., it's been difficult to see what Moebius is about for yourself. And so you're forced to take those who know at their word, and pray that the constant prais and adoration is not overhyped. 

Thanks to the recent collection by Humanoids, The Incal Classic Collection, you can now experience the amazing worlds of Moebius for yourself and realize that all the hype and all the praise is worth it on every level.  

The Incal Classic Collection gathers the mammoth science fiction epic as written by Alexandro Jodorowsky and illustrated by Moebius (the nom de plume of Jean Giraud). Spanning from 1981 to 1989, The Incal is a metaphysical tale that combines sci-fi action, bizarre landscapes and insane plot twists on a grand stage that spans galaxies as a small group of heroes fight the darkness that threatens to take over the universe, and in the process unlock the mysteries of creation and being.

If that description sounds haughty to you, don't worry, it is.  But it's grand and unbelievable in all the right places.  Beginning in an overdeveloped, futuristic-esque city, we are introduced to low level private detective schlub John DiFool, who stumbles on a box called, "The Incal" and begins on adventure along with concrete seagull Deepo, who is given the ability to talk by the Incal, the Metabaron, a dynamic, swashbucking mercenary, Animah and Tanatah, 2 beautiful sisters who represent light and dark, and Kill Wolfhead, an anthropromorphic wolf who works for Tanatah.  Their adventure takes them from the highlight techno city planets, to an undersea planet, to a forest of crystals to subspace. At times The Incal reads like it's batshit crazy, and that's because it is.  It's so wonderfully batshit crazy that you can't help but to get sucked into the world that Jodorowsky and Moebius have created. Putting aside all you know and believe and rolling with the metaphysical challenges and obsctacles that DiFool and his team are presented with will give you hours of delightful escapism and enjoyment.



As for the work itself, originally written in French and translated to English for this collection, Jodorowsky's tale loses nothing in the translation.  Sure there are some slightly awkward transitions and exclamations here and there, but that's to be expected in the translation process, along with the fact that this was done in the 1980s and the storytelling method is very smiliar to that of the comics we read in the US at the time (Claremont comes to mind), where often the analysis just pushed aside to keep the story moving, which can be both amusing as well as acceptable to maintain the pace set forth.  

Everything you've ever heard about Moebius is absolutely true.  His artistic style is amazing on so many levels.  From the level of detail presented in the dynamic locations, to the cartooning and "acting" of the main characters.  There was not a page in this entire collection that did not leave shellshocked and saying "wow."  I think I said "wow" after nearly every page turn, as Moebius just dazzled with every action sequence or setting change throughout the book.  As you read The Incal, it's clear to see just how Moebius has helped to define the Europoean look of comics, as well as influence artists in mainstream comics today.  Look around at the comics you read and enjoy and then look at The Incal, and it's a pretty good chance that you'll see and understand just how influential Moebius has been.

In terms of lasting impact of The Incal, the foreward in this collection by Brian Michael Bendis serves the purpose of explaning how important The Incal is.  Bendis explains that in looking at the book now, he can see how major parts of The Incal have been lifted and used in movies and television, as the work of Jodorowsky and Moebius reaches beyond comics and into the film world.  The most notable example of this is movie The Fifth Element, which Moebius actually worked on early in the production. The Fifth Element drew so much from the story and visuals of The Incal, that Moebius and Jodorowsky sued over (unfortunately, they lost).  But legal matters and lifting without crediting aside, the importance of The Incal and the work of Jodorowsky and Moebius is clear.

Do yourself a favor, pick up The Incal Classic Collection and cross the line. Become that guy in the comic book store who can speak about the influence of Moebius and how much other artists have pulled from his work.  Be able to intelligently analyze any science fiction from the past 20+ years and identify the concepts and ideas that the authors have lifted from Jodorowsky. Sure, those not in the know may roll their eyes at you or get annoyed, but that's their fault for not being enlightened, for not knowing the truth that when it comes to The Incal, Jodorowsky and Moebius, all of the hype is earned.  Every single last bit of it. Much like our hero of The Incal, John DiFool, "you must learn to remember."

Ron Richards
It all makes sense now…
ron@ifanboy.com


 

Comments

  1. Moebius is so fucking awesome. I really need to pick up more of his stuff. thanks for highlighting this book Ron, now i have a great starting point!

  2. Hells yes. Incal is big, ballsy science fiction, and a fantastic gateway to European comics. If you like it, there are other Jodorowsky books set in the same universe (Metabarons and the Techno-Priests).

  3. i’m really interested in this. I’ve only seen Moebius work in classroom settings but never held a book in my hands. How is the quality of the physical book overall? at $45 (on amazon) its more expensive than what i usually get. 

  4. I wasn’t sure if this was going to be Book of the Month because it was released just last week, but I’m glad you got this up here so soon, because I have a feeling this may sell out rather quickly.  I’ve only read the first of six stories in this collection, but I’m already sold on how great this comic is.  It’s definitely the best classic reprint I’ve bought in a long, long time.

  5. @wallythegreenmonster  It’s a decent, sturdy hardcover. Good colour quality and well designed. The one downside is that there isn’t any backmatter; for $45 you’d expect at least an interview with Jodorowsky or Moebius in the back, but aside from Bendis’s introduction it’s just story from cover to cover.

  6. @kingdomofevan–thanks for the tip. He’s kind of reclusive isn’t he? I’m a cheap bastard, but this book seems worth it. Moebius seems like a folk tale out here in America…we’ve all heard of him, but we never get to see the physical evidence!

  7. I am dying to crack this one open!

    I have an annual summer stack that I put together for the cabin on the beach I hit for 2 weeks. My yearly retreat where I tell the kids to “get lost” (sort of) and I end up having more of a relationship with Stella (the beer) than my own wife. Beach, beer, comics! Plus, its always a hoot to see the dog dig and pick up crabs, only to end up spitting them out unharmed. Sorry… I’m getting excited about this trip arlready! Anyways, my incomplete stack so far:

    Incal
    Xenozoic
    The Sixth Gun vol.1&2
    Hellblazer: Hard Time

  8. Great pick for book of the month!!
     

  9. Big thanks for this pick!

    Have been curious about Moebius’s work, but never knew where/when to find good examples. Now I do. 
     

  10. I would put Moebius as the parent of wayward sons Geoff Darrow and Seth Fisher.

  11. WANT WANT WANT Just saw Holy Mountain. HOLY MOUNTAIN!