This is the first book in a series collecting the works of French comics maestro Jean Giraud Moebius.
Moebius to me, is an icon. An artist of monolithic stature whose works are like visual scriptures, full of wonder and meaning. You can can totally get lost in his art, and that is one of best qualities of an accomplished artist and storyteller such as him.
The first story is called The Repairman a short prequel to the main story. We are introduced to two characters; space-travelling mechanic Stel and his associate Atan, who are called to repair a vehicle on an alien planet.
It’s a story with some great ideas and visuals on show. The “Waymasters” are the mysterious inhabitants of this world and drive endlessly through the vast network of roads on the planet.
Stel enters the Waymaster to repair it, but in order to do this he must reach into his own memories to achieve a breakthrough. It is a very poignant story and one which sets up the main one perfectly.
By now, we are more acquainted with our two protagonist Stel and Atan, and in Upon a Star, they crash land on a strange planet and an ancient camp of humans and aliens living around a mysterious blue pyrmaid.
Nobody quite knows what the pyrmaid is, but it seems to possess mysterious powers such as prolonging life. It is only after Stel experiences headaches and a strong temptation towards approaching the pyrmaid when we begin to understand who or what the pyrmaid is, and more importantly, its purpose.
Upon a Star was originally produced as a private printing for the French car manufacturer Citroën, and in the foreward, Moebius explains how he went about bringing his ideas to life. It is a stunning story, absolutely gorgeous to behold and with a strong feeling of beauty and wonderment; this is what real science fiction is, it makes you question, and gives you inspirations and fuels your dreams. Moebius uses his ‘clear line’ style, with minimal details as opposed to some of his more “obsessive detail”, especially in his later works. Moebius says thus;
“I was trying to fight one of my problems, which was to compensate for any imprecisions in my linework, or for any limpness in my style, in a sheer accumilation of details.
By forcing myself to draw Upon a Star in a style as pure as simple as possible, I could no longer find myself refuge in an excess of details. I was obliged to work very hard on my lines, and make each one count, because every true representation of anatomy, matter and shape could only be expressed through simple lines”.
The results are simply breathtaking to say the least. Simple, and yet very striking and profound. This story moved me in a very strong way, taking me back to my own childhood, it has a very innocent feel to it. The friendship and bond between Stel and Atan is another thing which I loved.
The next story Aedena is written by Moebius’ guru, Jean-Paul Appel-Guery. Some humans find themselves inside a strange star vessel, and soon, alien beings take them to Aedena, wherein they are physically and spiritually cleansed.
The story has a very philosophical feel to it, and Moebius’ artwork is again a visual feast.
The volume concludes with Celestial Venice, a paean to Venice. It is another stunning short story about a city whose time is nearing end; only a “soul crystal” can resurrect it back to its former, majestic glory.
This first book in Moebius’ saga is a triumph of science fiction art and storytelling, it is a stunning piece of work and lays the ground work for future stories, especially for the Aedana arc. I recommend it wholeheartedly.