Here’s an important campaign that I feel confident most comics folk would whole-heartedly agree with and get behind. A Facebook page petitioning for the English-language rights of the great comics master, Moebius’ (aka Jean Giraud) work, is hoping to garner enough support to make a difference to the situation. It’s an incredibly strange and sad state of affairs, where one of the most important comic figures in the world has not been translated into the most accessible language of the world, thus bringing the magic of his work to thousands more people. Moebius is one of those figures, like Ronnie O’Sullivan in snooker or Nadal in tennis, that transcends his field and draws in the neutral novice (such as myself), who despite any background or knowledge is able to recognise the possession of a talent that truly breaks all barriers. And yet only a few of his books are available in English- most notably Humanoid titles The Incal and The Eyes of the Cat, with many out of print and hard to find.
Fantagraphics co-founder and highly respected comics industry figure Kim Thompson recently posted his thoughts as to why the English language rights remain in limbo, in a comments thread on the The Comics Journal:
“If I had to guess — and in the absence of no solid facts whatsoever, what with Mme. Giraud’s Sphinx-like demeanor on the subject — my conjecture would be that she feels Moebius was such a titan in the field that eventually some major English-language publisher is going to wake up and offer a ton of money for all of Moebius (say, mid six figures) — as Marvel did to whatever degree once, but this time on steroids — and piddling away the rights to individual volumes at a time on small publishers who’ll want to license just a couple of books and pay a few bucks (at the low end of five figures, say) here and there is a waste of her time, an insult to Moebius, and a threat to the eventual grand bargain that could be struck for the works with some Random House-scaled publisher someday. (In a way, the tabula rase lack of Moebius books in print in English is an opportunity.) So until that day, “No” is the easy, fall-back answer.
But this works only if someone at a Random House-scaled publisher thinks The Collected Moebius is worth (say) a quarter of a million bucks on the barrelhead, of course. Maybe there will come a time when it becomes obvious that the choice isn’t between a few piddly contracts with Fantagraphics- or Dark Horse- or Cinebook-level publishers and a grand bargain with Random House… but between a few piddly contracts with Fantagraphics- or Dark Horse- or Cinebook-level publishers and no English language Moebius at all in any of our lifetimes.”
I’m not sure who the page is run by, but I’m assuming their integrity as they’ve managed to get the backing of British comics artist Dave Taylor (Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Rebellion ) who has added his voice to the cause via a post on his blog, urging people to take the small action of ‘liking’ the page. You can find the Facebook page here and some of their manifesto below. If you have a Facebook account, please take a moment to like the page and spread the word.
We respectfully ask the estate of Jean Giraud, aka MŒBIUS, to authorize the publication of English-language editions of his comics by HUMANOIDS PUBLISHING, FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKS, or any other suitable English-language publisher that shows interest.
This facebook page is a fan-site that is not affiliated or connected in any way with Humanoids Publishing, Fantagraphics, or any other publisher or commercial entity. Its only objective is to gather the support of Mœbius’ fans that want to see this frustrating situation unblocked at long last.
We are talking, to begin with, about almost 500 pages of some of the most influential comics ever created, encompassing legendary masterpieces such as THE AIRTIGHT GARAGE, ARZACH or THE LONG TOMORROW: http://www.humano.com/album/35827
Most of those 500 pages of Mœbius stories have been published 2 or even 3 times in English. First, in the pages of early Heavy Metal Magazine, then by Marvel in the late 80s and lastly by Dark Horse in the early 90s. Now HUMANOIDS is willing to bring us the definitive edition of all these masterpieces.
HUMANOIDS is the US subsidiary of HUMANOIDES ASSOCIES, a French publishing house founded by Mœbius himself, that is actively reprinting all this material in French and licensing it for Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and other languages translation, so they have perfectly legitimate rights to these works. The situation in the English-speaking world (and Japan) is an exception that is really inexplicable.
Also, FANTAGRAPHICS (and very probably other publishers) are interested as well in reprinting MŒBIUS comics in English. We see no reason why their genuine interest shouldn’t be seriously reconsidered by the Mœbius estate.
If you want to see English added to the list of languages in which Mœbius comics are been translated in definitive editions, please like this page and spread the word.