First Impressions – The Incal

The Incal


I have been busy switching back and forth between reading two things lately: Guardians of the Galaxy to prepare for my LitFlix, and the item that showed up like magic from a library in Pennsylvania: The Incal.

I found out about this comic thanks to the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune check out my review of that here. The crazy and visionary mind of Jodorowsky never really returned to film after his attempt at Dune – he turned to comics. And his great saga, along with artist Jean Moebius Giraud, is The Incal.

I’ve read up through the first part of the collected edition I got, so through what was called The Black Incal. It’s been an interesting read. I have a deadline to get through this that’s stronger than the ones even for my LitFlix – it’s a library book! It has a due date! So I thought I would share some initial thoughts on the comic, as I continue on my way to the ding of “Achievement Unlocked: You Read The Incal!”

The Introduction

For me, the ambiguity started in the introduction to this volume, by Brian Michael Bendis. At first, he delighted in being able to write the introduction – he got an excuse to go back and read one of the most important comics he’d ever read.

Then, when he was actually reading it, he found what he was expecting – and then some. He remembered that it seemed like a lot of things he had seen/read since had drawn on The Incal for inspiration, but in re-reading it, he describes his anger at just how much of this comic has been used by others in their work.

Bendis closes by challenging the reader to read careful – to read on, and not copy what they see and read in the pages that follow!

I knew going in that there were issues like with The Fifth Elementwhich they sued (and lost) for being too close to the comic. I also know that I regularly watch things and respond “It’s Just Like Dune! (TM)” No, I don’t know why there isn’t a blog post by that name yet. Or a series. I just don’t know. But see, I am beginning to think that so many things are “Just Like Dune” because they’re like not only the novel, but Jodorowsky’s vision, which has touched so much of science fiction as well.

So it is with trepidation that I read this comic, both in wanting to avoid copying it, and to avoid feeling like I know it too well, from the things it is similar to – despite coming first!

The Comic

The comic itself has been pretty good so far. Possible aliens, mutation, class differences, a mystical artifact that provides prescient powers… the makings of science fiction (and of Dune!).

The art is good. I’ve seen a few of the scenes that I recognize from Jodorowsky’s Dune – of things they dreamed up for the film that never happened. Buildings, mostly. The fun thing with the art, though, is that each page (almost) is signed at the bottom “Moebius” – the artist marking his work. They’re more than just comic panels, they’re art.

While I haven’t actually felt too much of Dune yet, other than some of the really basic frame type stuff, I am getting a lot of Fifth Element vibe – starting with falling from flying cars, towards a lower city where no one really lives or can live. John DiFool might be no Bruce Willis, but a lot of the scenes do track. Not in the same order, necessarily, but they do.

In Conclusion

The hard part reading The Incal: I’m just so busy comparing it to other things, then trying not to, then doing so again. It’s hard to read a lot of it at once. But I’m enjoying it, and definitely want to see where this is going – because there’s a lot left! And we’ve only just barely met the Metabaron, and he seems like an amazing, Dune-like character, for sure!

I think I can already say, if you’re interested in the way this comic has shaped what came after it, definitely give it a look! I mean, I guess, start with Jodorowsky’s Dune to see if you’re interested, but then yeah, The Incal for sure.

There hasn’t been a printing of this in a while, it seems, nor is there a digital copy. That means it can run close to $100 on Amazon from third parties, so I would suggest hunting it down like I did – through the library! Your local library might not have it (my local consortium only had The Black Incal), but through Interlibrary Loan you should definitely be able to find this. Don’t believe me? Here’s a link for The Incal on WorldCat:



9 responses to “First Impressions – The Incal

  1. Great introduction to the series, I’m glad you found a library with at least the Black Incal!

    I have Incal 1 and Incal 2, which now I have to re-read. I have a lack of Meta-Baron, I think. Reading the Incal can fix that.

    Thanks for mentioning the 5th Element, I had read my Incal stuff long before the movie, and I remember when watching it, thinking “this is super-Heavy-Metal Moebius.”

    (Another reason to go back and re-read.)


    • Oh, I got the whole big collected edition… had to look outside my local system because they only had The Black Incal. I am really kind of amazed at how limited the printing seems to be for this title, especially with something like the documentary out to potentially boost sales.

      Also, from what I was reading on Wikipedia, it sounds like Moebius was involved on the art design for Fifth Element, which probably makes it harder to win a case suing them for copying…


  2. Sounds like it’s about as hard to track down, and as expensive, as Nikopol. Been trying to get a copy of that for a few years. Sadly library borrowing here isn’t really an option.


    • I’m finding a few copies available wherever I look for The Incal… One other thought would be recommending it to your library, a lot of libraries are moving towards user-driven acquisition, a fancy way of saying that you buy the stuff that people want to read! Just a thought 🙂 Or just me shamelessly promoting libraries…


  3. Will read if I can locate a copy! I frequent three different library networks, so surely it’s somewhere.


  4. Pingback: Reading Makes Us Better People? | Comparative Geeks

  5. Going back to the source that inspired so many others (or that others ripped off) is always odd. I’m a little behind on posts so I hadn’t seen this before I posted on the “Reading” post. Pride and Prejudice is actually a pretty good example for the contemporary romcom and romance story (at least in heterogamous, and, let’s be honest, heterosexual) pairings: boy meets girl, they hate each other because of a misunderstanding, they fall for each other, third act problem that drives them apart, and then marriage woo! But the thing is (and I need to dig up this article) that it was revolutionary for the time, especially that none of the women died or ended up badly for refusing men or for breaking with social norms.

    I would like to see some partial “masterlist” of things from Jodorowsky’s canon that appear in other movies here if you ever find time. I can do the Japan ones, haha.


  6. Pingback: The Incal – A Comics Review | Comparative Geeks

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