If you’re looking for a case of the heebie jeebies, The Eyes of the Cat should deliver. Originally created in the late 1970’s for Les Humanoides Associes’ Metal Hurlant magazine, this comic was the first collaboration between artist Jean Giraud, aka Moebius, and writer/director Alexandro Jodorowsky. In few words, those words a lurid monster/child’s sinister soliloquy, Les Yeux du Chat, as it was originally titled, offered a succinct but substantial commentary on the nature of life.
It also evinced an important event in comics history – the synergy between Moebius and Jodorowsky. While the story is indeed gruesome, it’s the holistic presentation – Jodorowsky’s vision and Moebius’ execution – that make it so effectively horrific. Lavish pen and ink drawings carry the weight, but everything rests on Jodorowsky’s pithy, deceptively spare technique. The fruits of their collaborative labors are the stuff of legend, and this strange piece was the harbinger.
In some ornate and squalid city, somewhere between reality and surreality, this monster/child has lost any trace of humanity. Murder is a game, and unthinkable depravity, a casual affair. Nature is indifferent. Evil is inevitable and enduring. And, in this story, there’s no sign of a hero.
Perfectly complementary to the anxiety inducing plot, and to the precariousness of life to which it attests, Moebius‘ ink work is delicate and artful, but also nervous. The characters, a raven, a black cat, and the monster/child, play out their roles under Jodorowsky’s unmistakeable stage direction. Allegory and omen abound all the while, and the story disturbs the depths of consciousness.
Originally distributed for free, but in very limited quantity, Les Yeux du Chat, along with the other highly regarded Moebius/Jodorowsky works, have been highly coveted and even harder to come by. Beautifully reprinted on bright yellow paper in 2013, the Humanoids Edition of The Eyes of the Cat is finally accessible to the rest of us. Yay égalitarisme!