There are only a handful of artists alive today who could be seriously thought of as the world's greatest comics illustrator. One of them just died. Jean Giraud, who worked under the pen name of "Moebius" just passed away. Besides being one of the great cartoonists of his generation, he was an illustrator and designer and a great visionary, whose work has greatly influenced our imagination.
I'll admit that I was more familiar with the myth and reputation of Moebius than his artwork. The sad truth is that a lot of his work is unavailable or prohibitively expensive. Tom Spurgeon, as he so often does, has one of the finest obituaries of the man:
Moebius collaborated with the great Alejandro Jodorowsky on The Incal, one of the great science fiction comics. The pair had previously met working on a film adaptation of Dune that sadly never came to fruition. Moebius worked on a number of other small films that you may have heard of – Alien, Tron, The Abyss, The Fifth Element, The Heavy Metal movie. He also did some conceptual work for Willow, and when his drawings and designs were published online, they were a revelation–much more interesting than the mediocre fantasy film that was created, ignoring most of what Moebius did.
When William Gibson was asked about the origins of cyberpunk, he said that his major influence was French comics and Metal Hurlant. Moebius' cityscapes have been a huge influence on Blade Runner, The Fifth Element and everything in between.
In comics, Moebius was one of the founders of Metal Hurlant, the magazine Americans know as Heavy Metal. There was The Incal, Madwoman of the Sacred Heart (both written by Jodorowsky) in addition to work like the western Blueberry, the scifi Airtight Garage. Moebius also drew a Silver Surfer story written by Stan Lee. Humanoids has done a fine job of releasing the Jodorowsky-Moebius collections over the past couple years. Hopefully Marvel will come through and do justice to the Silver Surfer: Parable series by releasing it in a nice edition with quality paper.
A great artist and a great visionary.