Monday, March 12, 2012

Moebius on the Virtues of Discomfort

Saddened by the loss of Jean Giraud, a.k.a. Mœbius, I went back to the December 1987 issue of The Comics Journal to reread an extensive interview with the famed French comic artist. There's naturally a lot about how he broke out of many molds in his long career, and let his creativity run wild. But it was interesting to see that he also acknowledged the limits of that wildness.

For example, after becoming known for drawing fantastical crystals in many stories in the 1970s, many "crystal people" contacted him with the desire to hire him for projects that he never would have come up with on his own.  He said:
I try to judge the proposals made to me with my heart, to see if they resonate. Sometimes they don't resonate but make me very uncomfortable, and sometimes that's almost a good sign. "This is taking me into an area I don't like, where I don't want to go. That's interesting, let's go see." I know that sometimes the areas you don't want to get into are the ones where there's the most work to be done. So sometimes I accept crazy jobs over which I sweat like crazy, taking an insane amount of time, not because I'm a masochist, but because I know it will do me good, bring in a new element.

...That's another piece of advice I'd give young cartoonists. Don't avoid trials; seek them out. Seek out uncomfortable situations. Now there's a really good piece of advice [laughter].
This is why I look forward to participating in things like the April A-Z Challenge, or last year's September of Short Adventures.  Not just for the specific topical constraints that can foster creativity, but also for the external "constraint" of accountability -- committing oneself publicly to accomplishing something. Like it or not, that can be a great prod to actually showing up and getting the job done.  (Which is why I never understood the psychological advice about keeping one's New Year's Resolutions to oneself, as a means of making sure you'll keep them. It's just all too easy to let yourself off the hook if there are no repercussions...)


  1. That's the interview I was trying to find. Thanks! I don't think I still have the hard-copy any longer, so I'll have to go look for this online.

  2. FYI, I only own about 4 or 5 issues of the Comics Journal, and this happens to be one... :-) I've been meaning to get more of their more recent "doorstop" editions, but the darn things seem to go up in price with age! More like the comics and graphic novels they cover than other types of used books and magazines...