The Long Tomorrow is a seminal piece of work from Moebius. It went on to influence film makers, writers and artists from around the world.
The story behind The Long Tomorrow is an interesting one;
In 1976, Moebius was working on Alejandro Jodorowsky’s ill fated production of Dune, supplying visual concepts and ideas. Dan O’Bannon (who wrote Alien) was in charge of the special effects. Sat in Paris with nothing much to do for a long periods of time, O’Bannon started drawing comics. One of the comic strips he drew was a futuristic detective story called The Long Tomorrow.
The story was inspired by film noir and hardboiled crime fiction, but set in a distant, science fiction future, making it quite possibly one of the first true cyberpunk stories.
Moebius fell in love with it,
“I immediately became enthusiastic”, writes Moebius in the afterword, “I loved the way he had handled it. When we try to do stories like that in Europe, parodies or imitations of the Golden Age American detective story, it always looks fake. If the French are doing it, it looks French. If the Italians do it, it looks Italian. Somehow, the national peculiarities always come back to haunt the final product. But in The Long Tomorrow, there was no such thing. It was pure”
Moebius soon set about doing his version, which was eventually published in Heavy Metal. The both of them even talked about doing a sequel to the original story, unfortunately it never came to fruition.
After Dune folded, O’Bannon went back to America, and started work on Alien with Ridley Scott. He recommended Moebius for the design work and in turn, Ridley became a huge admirer of the French artist. Indeed, if you look at Alien today, you can see the heavy influence of Moebius.
When Ridley was making Blade Runner, he wanted Moebius on board again, however, he was already busy working on another film, The Time Masters. Nonetheless, the influence of Moebius and especially The Long Tomorrow, is clear to see in Blade Runner.
Not only did The Long Tomorrow influence Ridley Scott, but other film makers such as George Lucas too, whose idea for the probe droid in The Empire Strike Back were basically copied from The Long Tomorrow, hence completely preserving Moebius’ original design.
I cannot praise The Long Tomorrow highly enough, Blade Runner and Alien are two of the most important science fiction films of all time, and were it not for Moebius, they may have been much lesser films.
In comics too, Akira and Judge Dredd feel very much like an off shot of the story; especially the vast sprawling cityscapes of both worlds, Tokyo and Mega City One respectively.
The other stories in the collection are science fiction shorts by Moebius. They are humourous stories filled with varying styles and tone.
It’s A Small Universe is a four page strip about how the past can come back to haunt you, it has a very dark yet funny ending.
There is a Prince Charming on Phenixon is about a space faring couple who are constantly bickering. They land on a colurful lush world filled with alien fauna and small creatures who take them to a tentacled sea creature called a Pavachus, who in turn takes a romantic liking to the woman. Moebius’ artwork is very striking, especially his depiction of the world. The colours are striking and complement the humourous tone of the strip.
Variations No. 4027 On “The” Theme has a more serious tone to it, dealing with the aftermath of nuclear war and the repurcussions for the man responsible for it.
Approaching Centauri is about a spaceman who experiences a nightmare or out of body experience. There are some full page artworks which are stunning in their use of colour and the depiction of horror inside a man’s mind.
Blackbeard and the Pirate Brain is another hilarious story about a man and his robot, who thinks the man is a pirate.
Christmas on Lipponia is about two human hunters who come to an alien looking for game for Christmas. It soon becomes clear that it is a case of the hunter becoming the hunted, as the creatures are no Christmas turkey! It is only three pages in length but again, the visuals are a treat.
Following in a similar vein, The Artifact is quite possibly my favourite story amongst the short stories. Again, two humans discover an alien planet, 200 times the size of planet earth. Upon landing, they discover a huge derelict castle, and then, things take a turn for the worst! The twist ending is very good indeed, and the artwork is a delight to behold.
Split the Little Space Pioneer comes at a mere two pages, but is the funniest of the lot! Moebius’ artwork is different here, a more spontaneous style which works perfectly for the tone of the story.
Is Man Good? The final story of the volume is another strong entry. The accumilation of detail in each panel is very impressive. The story is told visually and is almost completely wordless, much like Arzach. Moebius writes:
“Is Man Good? Was a very important new step for me. It was like opening a door, or reaching a new plateu, and discovering whole new vistas in front of me”