Summary: The Incal is a comic masterpiece illustrated by acclaimed artist Moebius and written by Alejandro Jodorowsky. Together they present a classic sci-fi adventure featuring John Difool, a private detective. With the great darkness attacking the galaxy, Difool races through the cosmos with his pet concrete bird, Deepo, and the Universe’s greatest warrior, the Metabaron, on a quest to face the great evil.
L’Incal, vol. 1, by Jodorowsky and Mœbius. 6.75
‘L’Incal’ is a French graphic novel series written by Alejandro Jodorowsky and Jean Giraud (under his Mœbius pseudonym). It’s a metaphysical science-fiction adventure that incorporates action and comedy to tell the tale of John DiFool, a low-class private detective who inadvertently becomes the owner of ‘L’Incal’, a mystical object that is sought after by aliens and the rich and powerful.
Our story is set in a benevolent dictatorship that sees the President get cloned regularly to continue his term. His Presidential palace is a floating monstrosity that wanders about the landscape. DiFool lives in Suicide Alley, a rough part of a massive city filled with crime, despair and disinformation. When we are introduced to him, he is getting his @$$ handed to him by three masked thugs.
His life now endangered, he goes on the lam in the seemingly vain hope of figuring out what ‘L’Incal’ is and why everyone wants it so dearly.
After watching ‘Jodorowsy’s Dune‘ and ‘La constellation Jodorowsky‘, in which ‘L’Incal’ is referred to a few times, I was under the impression that this would be a masterwork. Rooted in their collaboration on ‘Dune’, Jodorowsky and Mœbius were said to have created an influential series. And, knowing both of their abilities (Jodorowsky as a storyteller, Mœbius as an artist), I expected this to blow me away.
It didn’t. In fact, I was totally underwhelmed by it. The writing wasn’t at all coherent (and that’s before considering the abstract premises that Jodorowsky indulges in) and Mœbius’ artwork seemed, well, sloppy. While I know that Jodorowsky has difficulty with plot development at times, I remember very well how impressed I had been with Mœbius’ work in the past. So I expected something more.
Aside from grammar mistakes, one of the consistent problems is in the way that the captions and speech “bubbles” are displayed on the page. For starters, there’s the fact that the two are nearly identical, so it’s hard to know which you’re reading. Secondly, both change in form in what seems to be a random fashion, confusing matters even more. Finally, their placement isn’t always logical, let alone intuitive.
The book is divided in 10-page chapters, which suggests that it was initially published as a serial, perhaps for a magazine. It’s filled with all sorts of interesting prescient notions, such as environmental devastation (which produced an acid river at the bottom of Suicide Alley), and technology that we’re just seeing now, such as 3D screens, and the equivalent of smart phones.
But it’s not enough to engage me fully.
Frankly, this first volume of ‘L’Incal’ (they did six together, and Jodorowsky has written well over a dozen other books taking place in the same universe) felt like a good first entry by new authors – not the work of accomplished professionals. It disappointed me enough that, despite some intriguing concepts, I feel absolutely unmotivated to read the second book in the series.
Obviously, I might change my mind, but I’ve shelved the series for now.