2: A brief chronicle of times past



... [Jerry] sighed. ‘I thought I’d remain comparatively static while my surroundings were in a state of flux. But I appear to have been caught in the flux...’ 


(Michael Moorcock, The Final Programme p.130)



The pages that constitute these “Excursions and Excavations” are formed around a rereading of Le Garage Hermétique, as it began appearing in 1976 and was brought to a conclusion in 1979; but a brief chronicle that sets out the sequence of related works, published between 1974 and 2011, may serve as a basic orientation for anyone who cares to read them:



1974: Le Bandard Fou (24pp.) was Giraud’s first album published under the name “Mœbius”. It has been translated into English as “The Horny Goof”. It doesn’t feature Major Grubert, but several details in this story were later appropriated for use in the Garage.



1974-1976: “Le Major Fatal” (13pp.) The figure of Grubert, mutable and whimsical, appeared in five stories before he joined the cast of the Garage. Only “Le Major Fatal” belongs, more or less, to the same narrative continuum. It was published in Metal Hurlant #6, March 1976. Grubert (as “Le Major Gruber”) was also featured on the cover.



1976-1979: Le Garage Hermétique de Jerry Cornelius (97pp.) was a serial that started in the same issue. It was published in thirty-six consecutive issues, ending in Metal Hurlant #41, June 1979—and consisted of 97 black & white pages.

     As it was brought to its end, the serial was collected (along with five shorter pieces featuring Grubert) in the hardcover volume MAJOR FATAL. For the book, one page was added to the story, the order of two chapters was reversed, and some revisions—mainly textual—were made.



1977-1980: The Airtight Garage of Jerry Cornelius began appearing in English in Heavy Metal #7 (October 1977) and ended in the thirty-seventh issue, dated April 1980. (It wasn’t in every issue, but some issues featured two or three episodes.) Based on the unrevised text, and appearing when it was still a work in progress, the Heavy Metal translation is in some places wayward and clumsy, yet in other places more faithful to the original than...



1987: The Garage Hermetic of Lewis Carnelian (99pp.), the second English translation. Based on the revised text as it appeared in French in 1979 and 1981, it was published as a softcover book—MŒBIUS 3 THE AIRTIGHT GARAGE—by Marvel, under their “Epic” imprint. (The magazine from which the imprint took its title was Marvel’s attempt to imitate and compete with Heavy Metal.) One further page was added, and this was the story’s first publication in color. It was preceded in the book by the thirteen-page “Major Fatal”, from which the French collection had taken its title.

     The 1987 version was also reprinted by Marvel in 1993 as a four-issue comic-book series, with three additional splash pages. None of the pages added to editions in English are of any consequence to the narrative.

     (The page added in 1979 to MAJOR FATAL may be justified on presentational grounds that were not, however, respected in either the second French edition of 1981 or Marvel’s 1987 version.)



1983-2001: The World of Edena (312pp.) is a sequence of five books—Upon a Star, The Gardens of Edena, The Goddess, Stel, and SRA—collected in one volume by Dark Horse. Though it constitutes one of Giraud’s major works as Mœbius, it is mentioned rarely in the notes that follow. This despite a connection to the Garage:

     The first book was an entirely independent science-fiction fantasy, spun out of a promotional comic done for the car maker Citroën; but when Giraud produced a sequel, he introduced the mysterious figure whose name echoes and reverses “Grubert”: [Maî]tre Burg. In an editorial afterword to “The Airtight Garage” in 1987, it was explicitly stated that “Grubert makes a startling reappearance, thousands of years in the future, in The Gardens of Aedena.”

     But the editorial conception at that time, of the world of the Garage as “a huge multi-dimensional universe, the story of which is still very much incomplete” (my italics), was ultimately at odds with the manner in which Giraud’s creative process fulfilled itself. Master Burg may be a further iteration of Grubert—and/or a further projection of Giraud’s own relation to his created worlds—but a narrated connection is very much absent. It’s legitimate to consider them different stages of the same character, but I’ve felt neither an obligation nor an inclination to join the dots. The extended Garage and the Edena books may be approached separately, and I’ve been content to view their connection as no more than a tangent.



1987-1991: The Otra was the title of a proposed sequel to the Garage. In the editorial afterword to the 1987 translation, Randy & Jean-Marc Lofficier wrote that Giraud was “currently plotting” the story, which would address “[a] number of loose ends, such as the role of the mysterious Erik Carnelian.” In an afterword to the first publication of The Gardens of Aedena (MŒBIUS 5), Giraud referred to a


cycle of books devoted to [Grubert’s] story... on which I am working right now. The first in that series, entitled The Otra, is a direct sequel to The Airtight Garage and should be finished next summer.


     Evidently, something got in the way.

     In 1995, Giraud told Lewis Trondheim he’d written a script called The Otra. A script is only one component of a graphic narrative—in this case, a graphic narrative that was never realized. To this extent, The Otra is the title of a “phantom” work. I don’t know how full the script was; but, as Giraud later wrote,


my plans have a great suppleness: at every moment, I’m ready to change direction, because I can never be sure my conscious plan corresponds to my unconscious plans.


(Moebius/Giraud, histoire de mon double, p.166)


For this reason—because Giraud would have exercised a full creative liberty in bringing it to fulfillment—even a complete script, if it should still exist, may be viewed, at best, as no more than an indication of something that once had the potential to be realized. In the context of the Garage, this seems fitting.



1990-1992: The Elsewhere Prince and The Onyx Overlord were two limited-series titles, set in the “world” of the Garage, published by Marvel in 1990 and 1992. I ignored them at the time, and shall ignore them quite thoroughly now. As a critical decision, this is not inescapable. Indeed, it may seem reprehensible that I not only decline to acquaint myself with these works, but choose to consider it an act of fidelity to the Garage, and to Mœbius, to discount them. The reasons are simply set out:

     First, Giraud didn’t draw them. This might appear to render them less attractive without invalidating their claim to be part of the corpus hermeticum, but, in all other major developments of the Garage, Giraud’s investment was total: he was responsible for the writing and for the drawing. Though he engaged in collaborations throughout his career, this totality of creative effort was an important part of the development of Mœbius as a creative identity. In The Elsewhere Prince and The Onyx Overlord, to the contrary, “Mœbius” is credited only as co-writer.

     It may be argued that, as originator of the Garage, Giraud was entitled to authorize the incorporation of the efforts and inventions of others into his fictional world; but I’ve no interest in that world as an autonomous fictional entity, only as an expression of Giraud’s creative effort. Since his working method as Mœbius involved spontaneous narrative invention, responsive even at the point of illustration to fresh inspiration or a change of direction, something he didn’t draw may be judged successful or otherwise, but I’m inclined to think it has little claim to be an authentic work by Mœbius.



1991-1994: L’Homme du Ciguri (50pp.), a direct sequel to the Garage, was begun in 1991. Concerning this, Giraud told Lewis Trondheim, in 1995, that,


the desire was present for a decade... I’d already written a script for a sequel to the Garage, called “the Otra”, but I thought that an intermediate episode merited an album. This obstruction might have persisted for a long time, but in ’92 J. M. Lofficier suggested to me the publication of the sequel to the Garage in Cheval Noir...

(Le Lézard #11, January 1996)


Giraud, at the beginning of Mœbius/Giraud, histoire de mon double (1999), would excuse himself by pleading that, “Me and dates, it’s a catastrophe” (p.7). I mention this because the first three-page installment of the sequel was published in Dark Horse’s Cheval Noir #26, dated January 1992. If Lofficier first suggested it in 1992, everyone involved was very quick off the mark.

     Thirteen installments, a total of 34 pages, were serialized—in English, in black & white—in assorted issues of Cheval Noir, as The Man from the Ciguri. When the thirteenth part appeared in #50, January 1994, the story was not yet finished.



At the end of 1995, the sequel appeared as a hardcover album in France. The story consisted of fifty pages. Five of the original pages had been redrawn, and it had been colored. In French, Grubert was now known as Gruber. About six months later, the story was printed in English (where Grubert remained Grubert) in a smaller, softcover edition.

     The book, as it stands, constitutes an episode that demands continuation. A further seven installments (22pp.) were subsequently published by Caliber, in Moebius Comics #1-3 & 5. These pages date from 1993 and 1994, when the continuity appears to have petered out without resolution.



In his conversation with Trondheim, Giraud stated that, “in the sequel to Ciguri, ‘the Otra’, the world [of the Garage] finds its coherence, but it’s the Major himself who comes back unable to perceive this reality” (Le Lézard #11). It would appear that if L’Homme du Ciguri, as collected in the book, was the “intermediate episode” of which Giraud had been thinking, the unfinished fragment published by Caliber was perhaps the beginning of a realization of The Otra—but I advance this proposition without certainty.

     It may be noted that “Laotra” is the name by which Random Earth 6793 is better known. This information is offered on the last page of...



1996-2008: Le Chasseur Déprime (52pp.), a further adventure of Major Gruber. Its earliest narrative pages appear to date from 1998. Completed ten years later, it also incorporates images dated 1996, but these are not narrative panels, and do not feature the Major. The story was published in 2008, as a luxurious comic album, by Stardom, Giraud’s own publishing company. Its does not follow in a direct line from the two earlier books, and has not, at time of writing, been translated into English.



2000-2009: Inside Mœbius (662pp.) Before Le Chasseur Déprime was published, Gruber(t) had played a supporting role in a series that provides a revealing insight into the indignities Giraud’s characters were obliged to suffer at his hands. Begun in 2000, it was published originally in French, in six volumes, between 2004 and 2010.

     If not for Dark Horse’s three-volume translation of the series, published in 2018, I wouldn’t be writing this note.

     (By the way, my page count in this case may be open to debate, depending on how one decides whether certain pages ought to be counted. It won’t make much difference if you’d rather discount some that I’ve counted, or count some that I haven’t.)



2001-2009: Le Major (147pp.) Giraud, in the meantime, had also been tormenting Gruber in his notebooks. A sequence of whimsical and probing chapters begun in 2001 were brought to a conclusion between 2006 and 2009, and published in 2011—the year before Giraud’s death—in an edition of only 1000 copies. Le Major has since been reprinted, and an English translation has been scheduled for publication.

     (In the French edition, the art is printed on only the right-hand pages. Potential readers are assured that the above page count does not include blank pages.)