I Wanna Be Literated #244

I Wanna Be Literated #244

Sunday, 19 December 2021

The Incal
by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Moebius

It’s still strange for me to think about how the documentary Jodorowksy’s Dune changed my life. It made me appreciate Dune and Jodorowsky as a filmmaker. Now, I’m a fan of both and I have that little documentary to thank. As the film made me start a slow deep dive into Jodorowsky, I knew that eventually I would have to come to The Incal. I dove in with high expectations.

The big thing to take from The Incal is just how influential the comic has been to sci-fi and fantasy films. There are whole sequences and ideas that were lifted in films like The Fifth Element, Blade Runner, Heavy Metal and the Matrix. This came out in the early 80s and was incredibly ahead of its time with its story telling, futuristic elements, and plot. The other thing to take away from it is that it’s incredibly dense. There is a lot going on, lots of characters, and complicated dynamics which can be hard to keep track of. Even the font, for some unexplained reason is tiny and plentiful on each page. Perhaps this was a way to keep Moebius’ art front and center. Because of this, it’s certain that the Incal would benefit from rereads.

The artwork is, of course, another highlight. Moebius’ style is simply high art. His characters are uniquely designed and his settings and background sucks in the reader. He builds a humongous world (or galaxy) that is immersive and looks really great. His style is detailed, dynamic, and as dense as the story and is maybe a bigger highlight than the story itself.

So with that out of the way, I have to say the Incal is a little bit of a disappointment. I was truly surprised by how much of a fantasy story it is, so full of magic and unexplained phenomena. That stuff can add a lot, but in the Incal, we don’t get a clear explanation of what the Incal is, what it can do, and what everyone’s powers are. So, as the story develops and our heroes are met with obstacles, we find out that someone had an unrevealed power or solution which is just kind of senseless. It really lowers the suspense because we know Jodorowsky will just make something up which only makes sense to him to help his heroes. The idea and the setup of the Incal is great, but it creates a payoff that’s memorable for how outrageous it is, not satisfactory. So the Incal is really kind of hollow.

Of course there’s a lot to enjoy in the Incal (like the amazing artwork) and I do believe I’ll be revisiting the series in the future, but I’m in no hurry.

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