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The Incal by Alejandro Jodorowsky and Mobius

1/10/2011. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy The Incal in the USA - or Buy The Incal in the UK

author pic

pub: SelfMadeHero. 308 page graphic novel hardback. Price: GBP29.99 (UK). ISBN: 9781-906838-39-3.

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This is an English translation of the six-part ‘Une Aventure De John DiFool’ by writer Alejandro Jodorowsky and artist Mobius, first published by Les Humanoides Associés back in 1981 and 1985. Looking at the info, it’s been reprinted in France seven times over the years.

Private Detective John DiFool, in the course of ensuring a woman under his protection gets home before midnight and failing, comes under attack when its discovered that he has come into possession of a small sentient called the Incal which a lot of people want and prepared to kill him for. Aided by a talking Cement Seagull (I think the ‘cement’ gets lost in the translation), he discovers the Black Incal which he hands over to Animah, without realising quite what he’s done and apparently living up to his name. DiFool keeps ahead of everyone until he encounters the Metabaron, forced into hunting him down by the Queen of Amok as his own son, Solune, is held hostage. However, when the Queen wants all three of them killed, sides are changed and all pursue Animah.

This consequently leads them off-world and into a planet of…well, yes it is, in the literal sense of the word. DiFool even takes a back-seat to the other players for a while but this is soon reversed when it’s revealed just who the father of Solune really is and what Animah is really up to. Things aren’t helped when a pursuing TV monitor mechanoid chases after them.

The gap between the first four chapters and the last two looks like it was used by the creators to think about the meaning of everything and where it’s leading. Focus is put back on DiFool and their attack on a warstar and rescuing a planet. Along the way, they aren’t very happy with DiFool after trying to get them to rally against the Darkness enemy and discovers it was his genes that were used to propagate these people in the first place. At least, I think that was the complete gist as that’s a lot of pages for two plot elements without going too spoiler.

In some respects, one can see elements of a French farce in this story. It is also handled extremely well, mostly because the people involved aren’t quite aware of what is going on and are capable of doing idiotic things. Mobius, typically, brings this future city and the worlds to life with incidental detail and a variety of creatures. He’s one of the few artists I know who can drawn in a linear pattern – that is so you’re looking in on events level with the panel rather than varying angles all the time – and not feel too jarring. His colourists, Yves Chaland, Isabelle Beaumeney-Joannet and Zoran Janjetov, contribute to this by using a secondary colour scheme so nothing is coloured in primary colours and complements Moebius’ work.

A rather quirky story with a variety of characters that still holds up well after thirty years. If you haven’t seen any of Moebius’ work before then this graphic novel will give you that opportunity. I’m sure those of you who dwell over every art panel will have a field day with the detail he goes to. Don’t jump out of any buildings.

GF Willmetts

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