Moebius is coming. There are few living illustrators whose name possesses a true mystique, and near the top of that list is Jean Giraud, a.k.a. Moebius, the 78-year-old artist whose work has rippled throughout pop culture and influenced several generations of filmmakers and comic-book artists — as well as fashion designers, musicians, video-game creators and pop artists of every stripe. He also worked for Hollywood with memorable concept or design contributions to “Alien,” “Tron,” “The Abyss” and “The Fifth Element.” The French creator hasn’t been stateside in more than a decade and a half, but on Nov. 20 he is a featured speaker at the CTN Animation Expo, a three-day event at the Burbank Convention Center. We caught up with a key expo organizer, Tina Price, via e-mail to talk about the international visitor and the event as it goes into its second year.
GB: Moebius is a name that, for many people, has an almost mystical aura around it. What can you tell us about his participation in this event and what the reaction has been so far to the news that he will be coming in from France?
TP: Last year we were honored to launch the CTN animation eXpo with the featured endorsement from legendary cartoonist Ronald Searle. This year I can’t begin to tell you how proud I am to be able to include both Isabelle and Jean Giraud Moebius in what is an exclusive U.S. appearance at the 2nd annual CTN animation eXpo. Having not been in the U.S. for over 15 years, Jean will be featured during the three-day event in drawing demonstrations, exclusive limited-print signings and in a very special interview and presentation about his career in “An Evening with Moebius” moderated by award-winning animation director John Musker. A wide range of students, professionals and fans are eagerly awaiting his arrival.
GB: It’s amazing to track Moebius’ influence in film, animation, comics, illustration, design and even fashion. What do you see as the most special gift that he has?
TP: With a career than spans five decades, two identities and crosses over a variety of mediums, Jean Giraud Moebius combines everything and more that is in his creative tool box to become the most complete artist and seminal visual storyteller of this century. One of a kind.
GB: Moebius is only part of the program. What else can we expect? Perhaps you could cite one or two things that you are most enthused about?
TP: The CTN animation eXpo is really the only event of its kind that puts the talent center stage, not the T-shirts. Over the course of the three-day event we have over 50 panels with 80 top talent artists and industry-leading presenters. You will never see these people together ever again quite in this way. An exhibit floor that includes artists, studios and industry-focused vendors and suppliers. Live drawing demonstrations, recruiting, raffles and portfolio reviews. Additional event presenters include New Yorker illustrator and character designer Carter Goodrich, master designer and illustrator Tadahiro Uesugi from Japan, Sergio Pablos, co-creator of “Despicable Me,” the independent talents from Headless Studios from Spain and over 60 additional artists and industry leaders from some of the highest-grossing films in the history of animation. The highlight of the event is the event.
GB: Can you talk about the event’s growth from last year and the trajectory of this new tradition that you’ve started?
TP: I launched the Creative Talent Network (CTN) in 2004 after a successful 30-year career in this industry and am proud to say that CTN has gone on to become the premiere online community for top talent animation artists to showcase their abilities and meet and connect with other professionals. As a natural progression, I have hosted a variety of intimate face-to-face events featuring these artists over the past four years ending with a tent in the street with 50 artists and 575 attendees. This has all led up the inaugural three-day event in 2009 appropriately named the CTN animation eXpo and affectionately known as CTNX where the City of Burbank has additionally shown their support of the artists by proclaiming CTNX to be the anchor for what is now officially “animation week.” CTNX represents the best big small event of the year in the animation epicenter of the world, Burbank. I was thrilled at the success of last year’s event and we will continue to bring world-class animation talent together each and every year under the CTN umbrella during animation week at the eXpo. Our simple motto of “Putting The Talent Center Stage” will remain at the core of the event presenting an inspiring picture of what it not only takes to create these amazing films but what it takes to be a successful creator in this ever-evolving medium we call animation.
GB: The conversation about animation for many years was dominated by hand-drawn versus computer animation but it seems we have moved past that rigid and overly simplified view of what the “art” of animation can or should be. You must sense a lot of excitement in the field as it pushes into what might be a new golden age.
TP: This is a very timely question. The event this year is appropriately themed “The Renaissance Has Begun.” Having experienced the animation transition of the ’90s, I can honestly say that animation today is not just 2-D or 3-D. Animation plays an enormous role in the both the creative and business success of the film and video industry — from feature films like the stellar vision of James Cameron’s “Avatar” to classical animated films like “Princess and the Frog” to cartoons and episode animation on television for both children and adults to the huge impact of video games and VFX to award-winning commercials. Animation in some form or other is in almost everything we see today and is being designed, drawn and animated into the future, developed and created by those talented artists and industry leaders whose passion it is to tell stories visually. Historians tell us that the most important ingredient for a renaissance is an openness to new ideas and external traditions. In this same spirit, CTN-X 2010 embraces a cross-section of technologies and talent that all came together to create the medium we know to be animation. This event demonstrates the value of keeping your mind and eyes open to the many opportunities that are ahead because this is a great time to be a part of the animation industry.
— Geoff Boucher