Friday, October 23, 2009

Moebius and Miyazaki

Moebius (Jean Giraud) and Hayao Miyazaki are two of the faces that would be carved in the Mount Rushmore of fantasy comics and animation.

So it's kind of a treat to watch them as they admire each other across the gulf of language. Mr. Miyazaki has the take-home lines:

"I believe one's view of the world and one's technique are indivisible. As far as technique is concerned, we basically use the method learned from European painting, which revolves around light and dimension," and then he goes on to explain that his team discovered unexpected resources as it found its own voice with Japanese subjects like Spirited Away. Mr. Miyazaki continues:

"The 21st Century is a tricky time. Our future isn't clear. We need to re-examine many things we've taken for granted, whether it's common sense or our way of thinking. We need to reconsider each norm in the field of entertainment and children's films, too. We must question the format we've been following. You can't just create a baddie from a mould, then beat him. We must not make a film in the easy way."

About his respect for his audience, Mr. Miyazaki says:

"Inside me I have negativity, despair, or hopelessness; in fact a lot of hopelessness and pessimism. But I don't feel like expressing it in my films, which children see. I'm more interested in what drives me to make a happy film or what makes me feel happy."


Saskia said...

I love that he reflects on the fact that thinking in terms of volume and light is a very european approach.

Haylee said...

This is marvelous, what a great piece on two legends that admire one another from their distant lands. Although uncertain, living in these times are very exciting-and certainly exciting indeed to be apart of this animation/comic era. It's encouraging to hear from Miyazaki that he has a constant pessimism, which is a constant I believe for all of us artists. A never-ending process of discovering and rediscovering how to create something believable to audiences.

Unknown said...

I've long admired Miyazaki, and a lot of that comes from the uplifting tone of his work. I've been working on a definition of art that includes optimism at its core. There is no such thing as negative art, just as there is no such thing as hateful charity... anything outside that simply is not art.

Super Villain said...

awsome post, very inspiring....

and while we are carving faces of fantasy and anime into mt rushmore, dont for get greatness Akira Toriyama!

Chris Roberson said...

Thank you *so* much for posting this!

jeff jordan said...

I grew up on sci-fi and fantasy, but even so, I wasn't prepared for Moebius when I first encountered him in Heavy Metal in the mid 70s. I was blown away! My friends and I studied Moebius very carefully, at great length. And whined endlessly that Heavy Metal only came out once a month.

His influence on me is incalculable. When I began to have some small success in the album cover business, I bought 25-30 of his books and was re-inspired all over again.

I wonder how many people would be doing fantasy/sci-fi art if he hadn't come along.

Shane White said...

This is great.
A friend was in France a few years back and bought me the Miyazaki/Moebius book from the dual show they had. It's great to see how they interpret each others works.

Highly recommended.


Unknown said...

I had the "privilege" to see this exhibition few years ago, and I was vey excited before.
Unfortunately, this was a very disapointed exhibition, with few original paintings or sketch, and few technical explanations. I was quite sad to be disapointed by two of my masters, but I bought the book, and as say shane white, this is a very good and legendary book.
So don't be sad to never has seen the exhibition, but buy the book...

PS : In France, we have to wait 2 weeks to buy last Gurney's book, it's quite frustrating !

Steve said...

Thanks for posting this. It's probably not the case, but I've felt both Moebius and Miyazaki owed a debt to Herge, the creator of TinTin -- who, in turn, could be indebted to Hokusai and the other Japanese print-makers.

Also, as someone who worked for many years with children, I deeply appreciate Miyazaki's priority on working from those optimistic places within himself, mindful that children will be influenced. The reasons for pessimism are abundant, but that doesn't make the cultivation of optimism false.

TienTien said...

THis is awesome! I love it how both marvelous people can get together and be such a great inspiration!

Erik Bongers said...

I thought I didn't know Miyazaki, until in this interview I recognized fragments of this Japanese film that I really loved but had forgotten the title of - "Spirited Away". Indeed a mix of dream and reality just like Moebius' universe.

About the quotes in this post.
Sure, we must question what we do. Not take something for granted. Not just follow a fashion.
But it's a strange remark that "we live in a tricky time[...]where the future is unclear." Logically speaking, the future is per definition unclear of course. Why should it be more unclear in this day and age? The only thing I'm sure of is that in the ages where the future seemed 'bright and clear', the so-called golden ages, the belle-epoques...these periods where followed by war. That's self-inflicted disaster. So, perhaps it's a good thing to be on our guard for the future, to realize that there are many traps on our way...and that paradoxaly, we set those traps themselves, even though they are in the future.

The second quote intrigues me more.
It basically says: "To create a vision of hope and happiness out of hopelessness and pessimism."

I think these are recognizable sentiments for all artists. But each artists finds another way to deal with the despair.
You have those who create for example "holocaust art" to confront the audience with the despair.
And you have those artists that create a beautiful vision - a utopia (I'm not giving an example here).

Which artist is right? The confronting artist or the utopian one?
Put like this, I think most people would say they both have their purpose. The confronting artist will guards us from naivity while the utopist protects us from cynisism.

Perhaps a new view to look at the current polarisation between the "New Classic Artists" and the "Contemporary artists". (although of course not all modernists are confronting and not all new classisists are utopian)

Truce then dear artists?

e v a n said...

Oh man thanks so much for posting this! These are two of my favorite artists!

Randall Ensley said...

You know the graphic novel Nausicaa, is filled with far out b&w images and much more in depth than the movie. I check volumes of it (comes in 7? volumes)out every once in a while for inspiration. Miyazaki is great!
Love the interview. Thanks for the post and the success of you new book. People are plugging it all over the internet.

Tyler J said...

I liked the interview and although they are fairly different in subject matter, I am a fan of their work (much more familiar with Miyazaki).

Erik, I agree with your comment about the "tricky times." I remember reading Cicero in college and thinking that people have been saying, effectively, "these kids today and their rock-n-roll music! They don't know how good they got it!"

I cannot imagine a time when people didn't think that they were living in "tricky times," it must be part of the human condition. Perhaps that's what the cave paintings are really about, as my dad would say.

I am not sure that I would go so far as to assign a rightness to a particular outlook or voice in art. Clearly you state that optimistic and pessimistic viewpoints are equally valid, but I would respectfully submit that even past that there is something pretty deep about a piece that works, regardless of its viewpoint.

That is what, to me, is what separates the good from the great. If a piece has appeal, no matter what the subject, then that is powerful art. When it has that something special, that je ne sai quoi, I don't know what it is, that makes you want to look at it just that little bit longer (or a lot bit longer).

And not to suck up too much here, but Jim's work has that elusive quality. A simple sketch of a bird that captures the not only the proper bird proportions and lighting information, but really captures the life, the very birdness...I think that's where you can start tossing around words like brilliant and genius.

I for one, am very glad to live in this "tricky time" so as to hear Miyazaki's thoughts on art and life, to see great works of art and engineering, and to be able to talk art and life with someone on the other side of the planet ;-)

Roberto said...

To pick up on Ryan, Steve, Erik and Tyler’s comments…
I think that the creation of expressive art is by nature optimistic. It implies a connection between the artist and an audience, and a desire to share one’s impressions with the world, no matter how much angst or neurosis or self-indulgence it indulges, but simply expressive art is not necessarily ‘good’ art, and even good art is not necessarily high art.
I think it is much easier to nock something down than it is to build something up… and easier to create something ugly than to create something beautiful. But even something beautiful can be saccharin, naïve and formulaic. Harder than expressing the sublime beautifully, is to express the sublime in the horrific and the terrible. There is a word for that kind of beauty of the monstrous, but alas I can’t remember it. Maybe I’ll remember before all Hallowed’s Eve.
Happy Halloween and Dia de los Muertos everyone! -RQ

BB said...

Yeah without a doubt Moebius is one of the great comic book illustrators that have been around.

Erik Bongers said...

"Burlesque", Roberto?

Nice to see all those opinions on optimism vs. pessimism and 'tricky times' :)

Steve said...

Tyler makes a great point about the wonders of living in these tricky times -- including the capacity to conduct this kind of global dialogue. I also value his and Roberto's attempt to put into words than elusive quality in some art that keeps us looking.

As to optimisim/pessimism, I want to emphasize that it is in the context of respect for an audience of children that I feel optimism is essential. Children (especially adolescents) don't need an always-blue-skies-everyone-happy set of images and stories. It's not always as simple as good vs. evil, but I think much of the power of the work of such artists as Miyazaki (and Tolkien or Rowling) is that they can immerse the audience in a world in which cruelty, negativity and despair exist -- often dominating -- but ultimately a sense of light prevails over darkness. Miyazaki's pessimism isn't absent in his work -- I feel it deeply informs it -- but it's tempered by something he seems to prefer would prevail in not just his work but in his life, and in our shared life.

Alicia Padrón said...

Oh this is wonderful! I find Miyazaki so intriguing. I enjoyed the last part about the optimist very much. Thanks so much for posting this. :o)