CCI: Geof Darrow Remembers Moebius, Talks Animated "Shaolin Cowboy"

A casual crowd joined Geof Darrow at this year's Comic-Con International in San Diego for a moderator-free panel spotlighting Darrow's work and career. Before the acclaimed artist/writer could get started, a representative from the Comic-Con arrived and, with very little fanfare, awarded him the Inkpot Award. Darrow simply said, "Thanks", set the award aside and started his panel.

"I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for one person," Darrow said. "A gentleman named Jean Giraud, who also went by the name Moebius." The crowd enthusiastically applauded the mention of the late artist, who passed away in March of 2012. Darrow said that his own art was deeply inspired by the work of Moebius.

Darrow told the story of his first meeting with Moebius, who had come to Los Angeles to work on the Disney movie "Tron." Through a few connected friends, Darrow tried to arrange a meeting with Moebius just so he could "shake his hand." Darrow was shocked when his friend called back and said, "We're going out to dinner with him on Saturday night."

"We talked, and I didn't really tell him what I did. He finally asked and I said, 'I draw,'" Darrow recalled. Moebius eventually looked over some of Darrow's work and enjoyed it. "He said we should do something together. So I moved to France. We did this thing called 'City of Fire' together, and that put me on the map."

Moebius eventually introduced Darrow to artist/writer Frank Miller. The two became friends and after some time, Miller asked if Darrow would be interested in doing a story with him. "I said sure -- what do you want to do? And he said, 'I don't care what it is, as long as it's action-packed!'" Darrow laughed. "The first thing we were going to do was a Daredevil story, but Daredevil wasn't even in his costume in the whole thing and I said, if I was going to do it, I want to draw him in the costume. So Frank said we'd do something else." The next project Miller pitched was "Hardboiled."

"I don't do it on purpose, but I'm like a remora. I attach myself to this bigger White Shark killing machine in the industry and I just ride along, sucking off their nutrients."

Years later, Darrow got a call from Warner Brothers to see if he would be interested on working on a new science fiction film. The movie was "The Matrix" by then unknown directors, Larry and Andy Wachowski. Darrow said that the Wachowski brothers were impressed that he would not agree to work on the film unless he could read the script. "I read it and loved it," he said. Darrow was asured that if the movie was a success, his contribution to the film would be known. "They fought for my credit... I got a full title card for the movie," he said. "None of that would have happened if not for Moebius."

Next, Darrow showed the crowded footage for an aborted animated version of "Shaolin Cowboy." The footage featured the Shaolin Cowboy fighting a giant crab monster and teaming up with a talking poodle. Despite some sequences being nothing more than penciled sketches and the clip having no audio, it was clear that it was a story heavy on action and humor and the audience enjoyed it immensely.

Darrow said that the Japanese animators who worked on the abandoned propject had a hard time working with of the ideas and imagery in "Shaolin Cowboy." "They did not like the way he looked. At one point, they turned him into -- I swear, he looked just like Avatar from the TV show. I said, 'That's not him,' and they said that the way I draw him, he looks kinda heavy. I said, yeah, and they told me Japanese people were not ready for that." He also said they took issue with the way he drew woman, since they he did not draw them with the aim of making them all look young and attractive. "They don't all have those cantaloupe, melon-sized breasts. I drew them like real people."

Unfortunately for everyone looking forward to the final product, the project fell apart after the American financers backed out. "They need like three million to finish it. Maybe they'll get it, but I kinda doubt it at this point."

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