Friday, June 20, 2008

Moebius: aka a Taylor fan (trust me, I don't believe it either.)

A few weeks ago, I read about the Barcelona comics salon and I really wish I could've attended. I've been to quite a few and they're always great fun, meeting with fans and other artists, some of whom were my heroes. But no artist has influenced my comic book work more than Moebius who was the guest of honor at this years comics salon. Reading about his appearance reminded me of when I finally met the creator of Arzach and what followed in the years after.

It was 1994 at the San Diego Comic Con and the first GIRL series was well done by then. I was at the Rip-Off Press booth doing drawings and signings and took a break to browse the room. This was one of the first years the con took place at the convention center that it's held at now, and, although much bigger today, it was still a good walk from end to end back then. After a while as I walked back towards the Rip-Off booth, I see the young couple who was manning the booth then waving to me frantically. They could barely contain themselves as I got there and told me that Moebius wanted to meet me. They were a very good looking couple and it hurts me to say how much I laughed at that statement from them. I sat down behind the table and picked up my sketch pad and pencils to finish some requests and they kept asking me "What are you doing?! Moebius wants to meet you!" I decide to pay attention and they explained that his assistant Randy Lofficier-a lovely woman-came by the booth and asked about me, whether I was there, then gave them the message to ask me to come to Moebius' table. About this time Kathy Todd, one of the publishers, appeared and confirmed this. Okay, now what do I do? Attempt to meet the artist who cemented in my mind that the shape of comic book panels don't necessarilly tell a great story as much as what is in the panels without vomiting on his shoes, or just ignore this amazing opportunity and fly back to New York without so much as a "How ya doin'?" I decided to risk vomiting and meet the man.

(A small note: The Moebius story that dictated how I would forever do comics was a five page story that appeared in Heavy Metal called "The Long Tomorrow". If you can find it, it's simply beautiful.)

So, I trekked over to the Moebius stand only to be confronted with one of the longest lines of fans I'd ever seen outside of a Star Wars film. What do I do? Obviously, I go to the end of the line like every other fan, figuring it'll be quite a while. About two minutes pass when Randy, Moebius' assistant, comes to the back of the line, reads my name tag and says "Mr. Taylor. No, no, come with me." She introduces herself and takes me to the front of the line where I see Moebius doing a drawing in someone's book with a pen. No pencilling to ink over-and it was perfect. I'm thinking, okay, I'll wait until he's finished. But Randy says "Jean! Jean!" (Moebius' real name Jean Girard) And she introduces me. A big smile appears on this man's face and he stands up to shake my hand. Now, anyone that's attended a comic con has probably noticed that artists rarely, if ever, stand up to greet people, especially when it's really busy. And, not only did he shake my hand, but he made a hand sandwich with my hand between both of his hands! I was trying to tell him how much his work has influenced and shaped my own comic book work, but he kept telling me how much he loved my work and my comics and that he had them all. At that time there was only MODEL BY DAY, THE GIRL, some pin-up books and a few self published books, but it was still a shock. By now I noticed people on line peering to see who I was and trying to read my name tag, but I was thinking "Hey, screw you, pal. this is the moment of my life." And the "piece de resistance": Moebius summed up his thoughts with the five finger kiss. You know, that french thing where a person likes something so much they join the tips of their fingers of one hand, kiss them, then open them up like a budding flower. I thought "Okay, that's it. This is someone in a Moebius mask." But it was the real deal.

I went back to the Rip-Off booth and they were all eager to know how it went, so I told them. I then gathered all the new stuff I had and brought them back to Moebius and I was given a copy of all the stuff at his table, including prints. This all happened on either a Friday or Saturday, and I don't remember whether I made any money at that show, but meeting this man more than made the trip worth while. The very next time I saw Moebius was in France at the International Comics Salon in Angouleme, an incredible salon, and he pretty much greeted me the same way. Since then, whenever we would meet we would exchange any new products and chat for a bit and it was always a treat for me. It's been a while since I've met with him and I hate that I missed the opportunity in Barcelona, a place that I know very well. But I'll try to make the next Angouleme show and see if he's there, if only to say hello. I would go on to try and describe what it's like for an artist to meet one of his heroes, but it would be pointless. I've told this story over the years to anyone who would listen, and sometimes I got the feeling that people thought i was bragging. But how could you not sound like that if it happened to you?

I thought for a long time whether or not I should tell this story, for fear that it would sound like I'm full of it. But a friend summed it up by saying to me, "No one else is gonna tell it for you".

So, there it is. Moebius is a Taylor fan. How do you like that?