French Comics Legend Moebius Dies at 73

UPDATED: The artist, whose real name was Jean Giraud, created the French comic "Blueberry," drew "Silver Surfer" and did storyboards for "Alien," "Tron" and other movies.

The legendary French artist Moebius, whose real name was Jean Giraud, died at age 73, according to the BBC.

Giraud's career spanned more than fifty years. His most famous creation was the Western anti-hero Blueberry, which first appeared in 1963 in France. Blueberry was a loner who traveled the post-Civil War American West after being framed for a murder he did not commit. The character started out as a racist but came to oppose discrimination of all kinds.

To American comics fans he is probably best known for a two-part Silver Surfer mini-series he scripted with Stan Lee, which won an Eisner Award, the comics equivalent of an Oscar, in 1989.

Giraud also worked on the concepts and storyboards for numerous science fiction films, including Alien, Tron, The Abyss, and The Fifth Element.

In 1982, he also co-created the feature-length animated science fiction film Les Maîtres du temps, which was released in English as Time Masters.

In 2010 the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art in Paris staged a retrospective exhibition of his work.

Giraud was born in the Paris suburb of in Nogent-sur-Marne in 1938. The BBC reported he died of cancer. Information on survivors was not immediately available.

"Lieutenant Blueberry is an orphan ...," wrote French newspaper Le Nouvel Observateur.

"We've lost two great artists," the French cultural minister said of Giraud and his alter ego Moebius, adding: "Through his influence and his dazzling images, he made comic books the 9th art form that has stayed with me throughout my life."

"France has lost one of its most well-known artists in the world. In Japan, in Italy, in the US, he was an incredible star," artistic director of the Angouleme comic book festival Benoit Mouchart said.

"The whole profession is still in shock, totally collapsed, even if we knew he was gravely ill," French association of comic book critics the ACBD's Gilles Ratier said.

See the cover to Silver Surfer: Parable no. 1 below:

Rebecca Leffler in France contributed to this report.