"Grubert is a quasi-legendary being! He's the Creator of this world... he has allied himself with the twenty-three generating divinities who are the sacred pillars of the Tar'hai Mythology... with the help of thirteen expansion generators using The Grubert Effect (the patents of which he had just filed the previous day), he could transform any insignificant asteroid from somewhere within the belt, into a vast and complex world, with several levels if need be..."
Jean Giraud, aka Moebius, aka Gir (for the Blueberry series), is also a quasi-legendary being: born in France in 1938, died just last year, co-founder of the magazine Metal Hurlant
(known to english-speaking audiences as Heavy Metal), one of the most influential of comic artists, drug lover, New Age philosopher, deadpan humorist, devious postmodernist, genius.
it is probably pretty pointless to give a synopsis to this collection of tales but i'll give it a try. so Major Grubert crosses time and space and travels throughout various dimensions. he and his lover Malvina have unimaginable powers although we get to witness very few of them. he has a rival who appears to be Michael Moorcock's character Jerry Cornelius. he has created a world - his own "Garage Hermetic"
. that world wants to grow on its own and no longer be Grubert's private fantasyland. revolution! but a very odd, minor note one. various personages (Engineer Barnier! The Archer! Samuel Mohad and his giant robot 'The Star Billiard'!) assemble and travel throughout this world's three levels, and to other places as well (poor Lark! stuck in the Old West!). they have various agendas and have various adventures. Major Grubert and Malvina also get involved, with varying degrees of effectiveness. and then... Not the End! adventures in the Garage Hermetic rarely end. characters die but hey they may be robotic avatars so no big deal. the whole world is a moebius strip so the last page is never the last page.
here's poor, smitten Lark after finding that a kiss from Malvina will send you... elsewhere:
this is one of my 5-star books that i find hard to recommend to most people. the narrative manages to be quaintly charming, nearly impenetrable, and to feel rather similar to that of a classic children's fantasy novel like one of the Oz books. it can be interpreted as a parody of colonial attitudes. it can be viewed as a wink in the direction of Moorcock's Multiverse. you can enjoy it as a series of rather adult Boy's Adventures. any specific "meaning" to be found is probably ephemeral at best and that meaning will most likely change by the next page. transformation, irony, pastiche, stylishness, psychedelia, non-linear, and whimsy are all words that can be seen as hallmarks of the various Airtight Garage tales. there are countless references, most of which i can barely understand. the art is by turns delicate, eerie, hallucinatory, and just plain lovely. very Yellow Submarine. very Fifth Element. very Art Deco. very original. very Moebius! his very name evokes the image of a particular kind of style, a particular sort of sensibility.
in one of the interesting pieces included in this collection, Moebius explains his modus operandi:
"Every month, I would try very hard to recreate a coherent story from the existing elements. Then, I would break them apart again in order to create again a feeling of insecurity, so that, the next month, I would again have to pick up the pieces and do it again, and so on until the end of the story."
when i think of Moebius, i think of something that is both surreal and playful. the fizzy champagne version of postmodernism. Moebius juggles styles and ideas and homage and makes it all look so easy and fun. don't expect to find resolution or to even have an Aha, now I finally get it!
type moment. but do expect to find things that you won't expect.