By Moebius & Jodorowsky, translated by Thierry Nantier (Humanoids)
Like vaudeville and comedy, the world of comics has been blessed with some incredible double-acts: seasoned professionals capable of astounding works individually but in close combination, fuelling and feeding each other until elevated to a sublime peak of invention and application.
You’ll have your own candidates, but for me Joe Simon & Jack Kirby, Goscinny & Uderzo, Lee & Kirby, Kazuo Koike & Goseki Kojima and Rosiński & Van Hamme all resonate as individual masters who respond to certain collaborations and combinations with unmatched brilliance…
One of European comics most impressive and controversial pairings was always Moebius & Jodorowsky and this recently revived dark confection is possibly their most daring and audacious co-creation…
Born in Tocopilla, Chile in 1929, Alejandro Jodorowsky Prullansky is a filmmaker, playwright, actor, author, world traveller, philosopher, spiritual guru and comics writer.
The acclaimed polymath is most widely revered for such films as Fando y Lis, El Topo, The Holy Mountain, Sante Sangre, The Rainbow Thief, The Dance of Reality and others, plus his vast and influential comics output, which includes Anibal 5, Le Lama blanc, Aliot, The Meta-Barons, Borgia, Madwoman of the Sacred Heart and so many more, created with many of South America and Europe’s greatest artists.
His decade-long collaboration with Moebius on Tarot-inspired fantasy epic The Incal (1981-1989) completely redefined and reinvented what comics could aspire to and achieve.
Acclaimed for violently surreal avant-garde films, loaded with highly-charged, inspired imagery – blending mysticism and what he terms “religious provocation” – and his spiritually-informed fantasy and science fiction comics, Jodorowsky is also fascinated by humanity’s inner realms and has devised his own doctrine of therapeutic healing: Psychomagic, Psychogenealogy and Initiatic massage.
He remains fully engaged and active in all these creative areas to this day.
Jean Henri Gaston Giraud was born in the suburbs of Paris on May 8th 1938 and raised by grandparents after his mother and father divorced in 1941. In 1955, he attended Institut des Arts Appliqués and became friends with Jean-Claude Mézières who, at 17, was already selling strips and illustrations to magazines such as Coeurs Valliants, Fripounet et Marisette and Spirou. Giraud apparently spent most of his college time drawing cowboy comics and left after a year.
In 1956 he travelled to Mexico, staying with his mother for eight months, before returning to France and a full-time career drawing comics, mostly westerns such as Frank et Jeremie for Far West and King of the Buffalo, A Giant with the Hurons and others for Coeurs Valliants in a style based on French comics legend Joseph Gillain AKA “Jijé”.
Between 1959-1960 Giraud spent his National Service in Algeria, working on military service magazine 5/5 Forces Françaises before returning to civilian life as Jijé’s assistant in 1961, working on the master’s long-running (1954-1977) western epic Jerry Spring.
A year later, Giraud and Belgian writer Jean-Michel Charlier launched the serial Fort Navajo in Pilote #210, and soon its disreputable, anti-heroic lead character Lieutenant Blueberry became one of the most popular European strips of modern times.
In 1963-1964, Giraud produced a numerous strips for satire periodical Hara-Kiri and, keen to distinguish and separate the material from his serious day job, first coined his pen-name “Moebius”.
He didn’t use it again until 1975 when he joined Bernard Farkas, Jean-Pierre Dionnet and Philippe Druillet – all devout science fiction fans – as founders of a revolution in narrative graphic arts created by “Les Humanoides Associes”.
Their groundbreaking adult fantasy magazine Métal Hurlant utterly enraptured the comics-buying public and Giraud again wanted to utilise a discreet creative persona for the lyrical, experimental, soul-searching material he was increasingly driven to produce: series such as The Airtight Garage, The Incal and the mystical, dreamy flights of sheer fantasy contained in Arzach…
To further separate his creative twins, Giraud worked his inks with a brush whilst the dedicated futurist Moebius rendered his lines with pens. After a truly stellar career which saw him become a household name, both Giraud and Moebius passed away in March 2012.
Griffes D’ange was first published in 1994, during a period when the deeply spiritual Moebius was especially concerned with purging, honing and redefining his creative soul and artistic vision. One result of his divinations was this collation of sexually hyper-charged images accompanied – as was the earlier collaboration Claws of the Cat – by evocative poetic musings from his brother-in-graphic exploration Jodorowsky…
Stunning monochrome plates – rendered in stark monochrome lines – counter-pointed and augmented by terse, challenging, intentionally disturbing descriptive statements reveal the innermost workings of a recently-bereaved young woman who throws aside all pretences of convention to embark on a quest of personal discovery and awakening. Where the search takes her is the stuff of dreams and nightmares…
Fetishistic, scary, sexually explicit, deeply symbolic, confrontationally transformative and – as previous stated – reportedly a therapeutic exercise for the creators, Angel Claws is a stunning assault on the senses and traditional mores and morality to appal and delight in equal amounts… depending, of course, upon what your own upbringing brings to the feast…
Available as an oversized (406 x 305 mm) hardcover coffee table tome and in digital editions, this is a visual milestone no consenting adult connoisseur of comics should miss.
Angel Claws and its logo are ™ Les Humanoides Associes SAS Paris (France). English version © 2012 Humanoids, Inc., Los Angeles (USA). All rights reserved.