The Airtight Garage is the third volume of Moebius’ collected works, and it is without doubt, an unequivocal masterpiece.
It was first published in the French comic anthology Metal Hurlant between 1976 and 1980. The “garage” of the title, is an asteroid in the constellation Leo which houses a pocket universe. Space colonialist and moustachioed Major Grubert, orbits the asteroid in his spaceship Ciguri, overseeing the development of the worlds contained within. The asteroid itself is composed of three levels: each of them playing on the conscious, subconscious and extra subconscious levels of the human mind.
Lewis Carnelian (originally named Jerry Cornelius but changed due to a trademark dispute) is a character whom Grubert is trying to locate on the asteroid. An explosion on the asteroid (caused by a cable box) has left the very fabric of the three levels in jeopardy, and so it is imperative at all costs that Carnelian is located. Pretty soon a manhunt ensues, that unifies (and introduces) a cast of characters from all three levels.
There are key players in the story which one needs to familiarise with otherwise it can get very confusing indeed! Aside from Grubert and Carnelian, there is also engineer Barnier and Grubert’s fiancé Malvina, as well as the villain of the piece Ardant Echoy. They all play key roles in the journey.
The surreal aspect of the story is what impressed me most when I first encountered this magnificent strip; there were moments where my jaw hit the ground as I gawked in disbelief and child like wonder at some of the imagery and ideas on show.
It is deliberately confusing at times, very much like a dream. Worlds merge with other worlds, characters morph into others, it is a logic defying journey.
Moebius’ artwork is dazzling to say the least, the episodic nature of the work gives him free reign to experiment with different styles and techniques. He masterfully shifts his drawing style, changing the imagery according to plot points and alternate settings.
It can be very detailed and carefully rendered at one moment, and spontaneous and loud the next. It perfectly showcases the level of talent at his disposal.
To immerse yourself into this fascinating world is a privilege, and a boundless joy to witness Moebius, the visionary giant of the fantasy medium at his ultimate pinnacle.
Once you experience The Airtight Garage, everything else seems very pale in comparison. It is a work that stays with you…like a lingering dream.