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Akira's Katsuhiro Otomo Remembers French Artist Moebius

posted on by Ko Ransom
Obituary for acclaimed comic artist/illustrator published in national Asahi Shimbun paper

The manga creator and anime director Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira, Memories, Steamboy) wrote a quarter-page obituary for the acclaimed French comic artist and illustrator Moebius, who passed away on March 10. Japan's national Asahi Shimbun newspaper published the article in the morning edition of its April 4 issue.

In the obituary, Otomo recalls his first contact with work by Moebius (born Jean Giraud in 1938) in the late 1970s after he had begun drawing comics himself. Otomo reminisces about how the artist's "wondrous" and "storybook-like" Arzach shocked him the first time he came across it. He later notes that the artist's The Long Tomorrow was a stark, "dirty," European contrast to George Lucas' Star Wars. Otomo also compares Moebius' work to the then-popular gekiga style of Japanese comics, contrasting the French artist's "calm" and "cool" style featuring "even lines" with the "energetic" gekiga style.

Otomo then goes on to recall the times he met Moebius, including his 2009 visit to the Kyoto International Manga Museum. The Akira creator was happy to see Moebius, though not in the best health, being "properly introduced" to Japan. Otomo concludes by urging his audience to read the artist's work, and notes that he was happy to be able to live in the same age as Moebius and to take so much from him.

On the day of Moebius' death, Otomo also posted an open message to the artist. Otomo mused about how distant is the horizon that Moebius drew, and asked if Moebius may wait for him there if he is able to go there himself. Otomo explained that he still had more that he wished to say to Moebius when they meet again.

Moebius not only shaped the direction of comic art in his native country, but he also influenced generations of comic and animation creators in Japan, America, and other countries. He collaborated with another award-winning artist, Jiro Taniguchi, on the manga Icaro (Icare). The artist also worked on Little Nemo - Adventures in Slumberland, Alien, Tron, The Fifth Element, Panzer Dragoon and many other film and game projects worldwide. He maintained a friendship with manga creator and anime director Hayao Miyazaki (another artist initially attached to Little Nemo) for decades.

Otomo's GENGA art exhibit is running at Tokyo's 3331 Arts Chiyoda center until May 30.

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