Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Incal

9 Oct


Today, we’re celebrating a legendary collaboration between visionary storyteller Alejandro Jodorowsky and acclaimed illustrator, Jean Giraud (R.I.P.). Better known under the pseudonym, Mœbius, Giraud was lauded for his creative talents by the likes of the inimitable Italian cinematic maestro, Fedirico Felini, super hero movie cameo-whore (I joke, I joke) named Stan ‘Excelsior’ Lee and Hayao Miyazaki, creator of parallel world eco-apocalypse anime, Princess Mononoke, among others.

Jodorowski, no slouch himself, managed to set the bar in the world of independent Avant film making and his approach to film making is evident in his approach to graphic narrative. It’s no surprise as both are visual story telling mediums. One informs the other and vice versa.

Similar to his Avant American contemporaries like Kenneth Anger, Terry Gilliam and David Lynch, Jodorowsky overturned the stones to get a look at all the things that crawled beneath. Occult. Eroticism. An mélange of psychedelic fever dream imagery. Dark satire. Check out his brain bubbler, The Holy Mountain (see preview clip below). Certainly, he is a visionary and like most artists of his caliber, he has often been copied but never duplicated.

The Incal is a satirical space opera that centers on the many (mis)adventures of private investigator, John Difool. Difool is given the light Incal from a Berg—which looks like one of Jim Hansen’s Skeksis from the film, The Dark Crystal—and is pursued to through the galaxy by a number of factions (Techno-Technos, Bergs, Amok and Anima) who want the Incal and the Incals power to use for themselves.

Many of Jodorwosky’s characters are associated with figures from the Tarot, rather than dive into that esoteric realm, suffice to say they are archetypal. DiFool is charged with saving the universe. The unauthorized “borrowing” of The Incal narrative and character arc can be seen in the film, The Fifth Element. This point is debatable, with outliers claiming Hollywood ripped off the maligned auteur Jodorowsky for a quick buck that basically ended up being Die Hard in Space with Aliens co-starring Smoky from Friday.

Look, I am a fan of the Fifth Element. Milla Jovovich is captivating and the SFX are pretty decent by late 90’s standards. 

The Humanoids hardbound version that I own went through a recoloring and unfortunately, subsequent nudity censoring prior to release. Aside from the puritanical imposition of North American standards on a work of art, the book is beautiful, the narrative engaging and well worth seeking out.

He recently screened his new magic-realist film, La Danza de la Realidad in Cannes.

Follow the 84-year-old director on Twitter @alejodorowsky

Pick up a copy on Amazon at

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