It seems like we're losing a lot of our heroes of late. From giants of contemporary music like Donna Summer, and MCA, to the inventor of the Raleigh Chopper bicycle - Alan Oakley. It is, of course, just a generational thing. The people we grew up admiring and being inspired by were adults when we were kids and now we are adults they are old, nature runs it's course and perhaps the kids of today will feel this kind of collective cultural loss when Lady Gaga pops her clogs in years to come - maybe. But even amongst this current bumper crop of recently departed greats one name holds particular gravity for us at EndoftheLine, and yet for a majority of people it might not be a name they recognise, that name is Jean Giraud better known by his alias Mœbius.
It would be hard to overstate just how important a figure Jean Giraud is, his work underpins so many defining moments of popular culture you're probably a fan without even realising it. With his seminal bandes dessinées series Blueberry and as part of the art group Les Humanoides Associes, who started the incredibly influential magazine Métal Hurlant (Heavy Metal), he built upon a style popularised by artists like Jijé and Hergé but made it his own and brought it in to the modern era with a psychedelic, sexualised spin.
"They said that I changed their life," Giraud whispered in amazement. "'You changed my life.' 'Your work is why I became an artist.' Oh, it makes me happy. But you know at the same time I have an internal broom to clean it all up. It can be dangerous to believe it. Someone wrote, 'Mœbius is a legendary artist.' A legend - now I am like a unicorn."
Fans include everyone from Federico Fellini, who said "My admiration for him is total. I consider him a great artist, as great as Picasso and Matisse", to the revered manga author and filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki. He and Giraud were good friends, and Giraud even named his daughter Nausicaä after the character in Myazaki's Nausicaä of the Valley Of the Wind - a film which Hayao said was "directed under Mœbius' influence." He collaborated with the legendary Stan Lee of Marvel comics fame on a Silver Surfer miniseries which won him an Eisner Award (the comic industry equivalent of an oscar). Whilst storyboards and concept designs for groundbreaking films like The Empire Strikes Back, Tron, Alien, and The Fifth Element cemented his style in to our collective consciousness forever. It wouldn't be hyperbole to say that, when it comes to aesthetics, most modern science fiction owes him a debt.
"But, as you know, one is never made of only light or clearness, but both. I believe I have always encouraged artists to express their duality, telling people who know how to show pain, horror and anger in their work to also look for ways of expressing their other face, the angelic face, the face of joy, but also encouraging those who express their inner beauty to accept their other side, their dark side, and express their pain and anger."
When news of Giraud's passing broke it was clear that any tribute would have to be suitably prominent and large-scale, and, although it took a couple of months of waiting, the opportunity arose to do just such a piece in the heart of Shoreditch. EndoftheLine's creative director Jim Vision a.k.a. Probs took advantage of a rare bit of British sunshine and painted the massive mural over a period of nine days. Jim often works with moody colours or in monochrome but Giraud was as much a master of colourful washes as he was of free-flowing line so, appropriately, this fantastical merging of some of Moebius' greatest hits lights up it's drab urban surroundings with an explosion of colour.
As the painting evolved locals, commuters and friends alike stopped to join Jim as he worked, testament to the universal appeal of one of the world's greatest and most loved artists - a creative genius who gave so much to the world, shaping the visual language of a generation, and changing forever how we imagine the future to look.
"My grand aim was to escape my mortality and now - when it's too late, it seems - I've learned that time won't let me"