The Incal

Friday, October 28th, 2016

As Mœbius, Jean Giraud was famous for illustrating a number of influential bandes dessinées, including Arzach and The Incal.

When I saw that the first volume of The Incal was included in Amazon’s Prime Reading program, I gave it a read, and it was just as weird as I’d heard. (Alejandro Jodorowsky is the writer.)

If you enjoyed The Fifth Element — which I did not — you know the look and the tone. Moebius and Jodorowsky sued Luc Besson for using The Incal as inspiration for The Fifth Element. (They lost.)

Incal Deepo Speaks

Incal Berg Attack


  1. Graham says:

    Argh! “Heavy Metal” flashbacks from when I read that in the 1980s.

    I remember finding most of the material in that mag ‘messed up’, to say the least. And not just as to content. Stories that not only began but often as not ended in medias res, and contain little explanatory material in between, get tiresome over and over again. Weird mix of visual styles between Moebius and others, as well. The erotica element made the illustrations in Marvel Conan comics seem tame indeed.

    Jodorowsky recently produced a lurid graphic novel, illustrated in a very dramatic and lush style by Dongzi Liu [who has a more realist approach than Moebius] called “Royal Blood”. It’s a sort of dark, violent, gross fairy tale on the theme of ‘the return of the king’ [not at all like the Tolkien take on that same basic myth/story concept]. Bloodthirsty warrior king is wounded in battle, takes time to heal, entrusts trusted similar looking advisor to take his place, throne is usurped, then a long series of dark Nordic themes happen.

    It was like watching Wagner if he had written a comic book, and lacked any taste for high culture.

  2. Coyote says:

    Fifth Element is a tribute to the lazy film skills of Beeson; although a obvious ripoff of the Incal story, the courts were against the froggy arteests at the time.

    That said, I found the early Heavy Metal art and stories were better “film” in the sense of using print media to convey the French approach to nihilistic or existential philosophies. The science fiction was somewhat trite and derivative of the best American SF (and leaning too heavily on the French obsession with western dime novel storylines), but I found the art, penmanship, and coloration rather well done.

    George Lucas obviously stole a lot from those early Heavy Metal comics, as well. When subscriptions began to fall off in the mid 80s, Heavy Metal went for the adolescent jerkoffs, and the mag was history.

    One of my favorite Moebius creations were The Airtight Garage of Jerry Cornelius and Arzach — very dreamlike, stream-of-consciousness, almost beatnik, jazz-like in a visual form. And did you ever read his comic in Heavy Metal wherein Enlightenment fantasy meets Wagnerian extinction?

  3. Isegoria says:

    I’ve mentioned this before, but if you know Heavy Metal from the movie, then you might recognize Moebius’s work indirectly, from the last sequence, Taarna, which was based on his Arzach stories — but with his protagonist replaced by a hawt chick.

  4. Graham says:

    I think Taarna is the only segment of the Heavy Metal movie I remember. I quite liked its imagery and style, and not only those of the protagonist.

    I just went back and read the wiki summary. I can’t believe I had forgotten so many other segments or the overall saga of the Loc Nar. I guess even the epics fade.

    It also made me go and look up Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards, the other iconic animation fantasy I remember from that era.

    Man, we were into weirdly psychedelic fantasy then.

  5. Graham says:


    You’re not kidding about late ’80s Heavy Metal. The only series I remember is Druuna, which the Wikipedia summary characterizes very well. The Druuna series appeared in most issues, if I remember correctly, and went on forever. And was as graphic as described. Serpieri was clearly a strange dude.

    There was more interesting and less hyperrealistic [or less realistic too] drawing and more interesting scenario building by others, but inevitably a post-apocalyptic setting that left one wondering what manner of apocalypse had such bizarre results.

    I am interested by this reference: “And did you ever read his comic in Heavy Metal wherein Enlightenment fantasy meets Wagnerian extinction?”

    What story was that? I would read anything that fits that description.

    Did he borrow the Jerry Cornelius character? Wasn’t that a Moorcock character in the Eternal Champion stories?

  6. Isegoria says:

    In the four novels of Michael Moorcock’s Cornelius Quartet, “Jerry undergoes transformations, dies, is reborn, spends one entire novel as a shivering wreck, and eventually discovers his true natures.” Here’s how the Wikipedia entry summarizes the first novel:

    Jerry battles his brother Frank who has kidnapped his beloved sister Catherine. Frank dies, but Catherine is also killed. Jerry is sucked into the plans of Miss Brunner to create the perfect being by merging the bodies of Jerry and herself together. When this is done, a radiantly charismatic hermaphroditic being emerges from the machinery. All who see the new creature fall quaking to their knees. The creature itself announces that this is “a very tasty world”.

    This is the author who attacked the popular works of Tolkien (Lord of the Rings), C.S. Lewis (Chronicles of Narnia), and Richard Adams (Watership Down) as Epic Pooh

  7. Isegoria says:

    I have definitely discussed Bakshi’s Wizards before. His Fire and Ice is in the same vein as Heavy Metal, too.

  8. Graham says:

    I never read the Cornelius books. I preferred Oswald Bastable. Epic Boys’ Own Adventures. Looked at a certain way.

    I remember Epic Pooh. It’s one of those things where you can see where he is coming from, but it still seems like cheap reductionism.

    But I admit Elric and his universe were a pretty epic concept.

  9. Sam J. says:

    If you guys like Moebius and sci-fi maybe this will interest you as much as it did me.

    “Jodorowsky’s Dune’ gives first look at one of the greatest movies never made”

    The people and talent he lined up for this was extraordinary but he ran out of money. The effects and look were stolen over and over by other filmmakers.

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