AN ORIGIN OF SCIFI: RACHEL ON THE INCAL
Moebius (Jean Giraud) is one of those artists that influenced the comics of all the creators you love. His work is rarely found in the US, and when it is, it’s often horribly expensive. This second printing of the Classic Collection of The Incal is a hefty $44.95, but it is flying off the shelves of your local comic book store and off the virtual shelves of the internet. And for good reason! You can see the influences of this book all over science fiction. The Incal is a visual and imaginative masterpiece. Written by Alejandro Jodorowsky and drawn by Moebius, it builds fantastical worlds and weaves a story of universal and reality-shattering importance.
The story itself is hard to encapsulate. John DiFool, a Class R Private Detective in a degenerate urban human city, stumbles into possession of the Incal and starts on the road to galactic importance. The White Incal he obtains is a small luminescent pyramid which is actually half of a whole - the Black Incal is in the hands of the Technopriests, who are using it for their own sinister purposes. John’s bumbling journey to combine the two Incals, followed by the quest to save the galaxy from an overpowering Darkness, brings John in contact with the legendary bounty hunter the Metabaron, the aptly named thug Kill Wolfhead, the two sisters who guard the Incals, Animah and Tanatah, his unknown androgynous son Solune, and his loyal friend and concrete bird Deepo.
It seems to be generally accepted that Jodorowsky’s story is a bit misshapen and occasionally feverish, moving from point to point with little hint at an overarching grand scheme. The characters sometimes seem to speak with the same voice, and there’s not much time spent on the interests and desires of anyone other than our protagonist, John DiFool. The writing is filled with brilliantly unique ideas – an interior sun within Center Earth, crystal forests that sing when even one crystal is touched, a planet entirely made of ocean where the inhabitants survive by allowing giant medusa jellyfish to encompass their bodies. The sheer multitude of concepts packed into this book can be almost overwhelming at times, but those ideas make the universe of The Incal as expansive as it is.
The Incal’s underlying emphasis on the seeming power of the androgynous is one of the most interesting themes in the book. While femininity and masculinity are certainly explored and addressed through different relationships, The Incal implies that androgyny is either a result of or a prerequisite for power and wisdom. Even John DiFool, normally drawn as very base and even ugly at times, takes on a more androgynous look when he is inhabited by the Incal.
Something that I found extremely interesting was the subtle change in pacing that happens in the last third of the book. For the most part, the paneling of The Incal is very compressed – large panels and splash pages are reserved for important moments which make for a greater impact to the reader. In the last third of the collection, Moebius takes his art to the bleed, right to the edge of the page. It’s almost startling how much this opens up things up. And within the setting of the story, it’s perfect timing. For me, the last third of the story was the most engrossing, as you see the battle for the state of the universe unfold while John’s spinelessness clashes against what seems to be a grander destiny. This is all magnified by the decompression of the last act, and the increased amount of art for each page as it goes to the bleed.
The Incal is a beautiful book. Jodorowsky’s writing is frantic and discombobulated, but the quality of the ideas that make up the universe is overwhelmingly great. Moebius’ art continues to stun and amaze, as each page sculpts breathtaking worlds and stunning expression of the psyche. The Incal was inspiring when it was first published in the early 80s, and it’s a testament to the book itself that it still continues to serve as inspiration nearly 30 years later.The Incal Jean Giraud Moebius GIR Alejandro Jodorowsky Novi Rachel rachelvice
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