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Concept art for the ragtag ship Moebius aka Flattop Ship
Written by Marcel Damen   
Friday, 11 March 2011

In 2009 Marcel Damen bought this blueprint of concept art of the ragtag ship Moebius aka Flattop Ship for the Battlestar Galactica 1978 series. The art isn't signed and stylewise this could be either Joe Johnston or Martin Kline. On the bottom part more sketches of this ship and something that looks like Battlestar Galactica's shuttle were added.

The art for the "Moebius" aka Flattop Ship (as nicknamed by fans in lack of a real/better name) was made early on, for Battlestar Galactica's "Saga of a Star World" pilot. The model that was made from this concept art by modelmakers like Lorne Peterson, can be seen in the pilot in various forms, since it was very common to add elements through the course of filming. In the new Battlestar Galactica series the model was digitized and reused. In that series it's known as the Foundry Ship or Hephaestus.

 

Concept Art 'Moebius' aka Flattop Ship, a ragtag ship on Battlestar Galactica

Concept Art 'Moebius' aka Flattop Ship, a ragtag ship on Battlestar Galactica

Concept Art Moebius aka Flattop Ship, a ragtag ship on Battlestar Galactica

 

When I bought this concept art the Moebius name immediately caught my attention. As a comic fan the Moebius name was very well known to me. Moebius or Jean Giraud is a well known French comic artist. Born in 1938, Jean Giraud started as a professional comic artist at the age of 18. In 1962 he started the comic strip Fort Navajo on the American Civil War, which later spinned-off in the Western serial Blueberry. It became his most popular character. Jean Giraud's prestige in France and Europe – where comics are held in high artistic regard – is enormous.

The Moebius pseudonym, which Jean Giraud came to use for his science fiction and fantasy work, was born in 1963. In a satire magazine called Hara-Kiri, Moebius did 21 strips in 1963–64 and then disappeared for almost a decade. In 1975 Métal Hurlant (a magazine which he co-created) brought it back and in 1981 he started his famous L'Incal series in collaboration with Alejandro Jodorowsky. Moebius' famous serial The Airtight Garage and his groundbreaking Arzach also began in Métal Hurlant.

Moebius work and art was also well known and loved in the television and film industry. George Lucas used one of Moebius' designs for the Imperial Probe Droid in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. Lucas' later Star Wars films also share many visual characteristics with Moebius' work, particularly the depiction of the city-planet Coruscant. Jean Giraud also became a very successful conceptual and storyboard artist on films like Alien (1979), Tron (1982), Willow (1998), The Abyss (1989) and The Fifth Element (1997), to name just a few.

 

Concept Art 'Moebius' aka Flattop Ship, a ragtag ship on Battlestar Galactica


Concept Art 'Moebius' aka Flattop Ship, a ragtag ship on Battlestar Galactica

Concept Art Moebius aka Flattop Ship, a ragtag ship on Battlestar Galactica

 

Having this knowledge, you can imagine that reading the name Moebius-1 on the side of a ship, drawn in 1977, caught my attention. I just knew it had to be related to the comic artist Moebius, but finding the relationship would be looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. Two years later I found the needle -- a short, 8 page scifi comic that ironically was called "It's a Small Universe" (small universe indeed!) by Moebius. The comic was published in Heavy Metal #6 (the American daughter of Métal Hurlant that Jean Giraud helped create) in September 1977, when production on Batlestar Galactica had just started.

 

Ship by Moebius in 'It's a Small Universe' from Heavy Metal #6, September 1977


'It's a Small Universe' from Heavy Metal #6, September 1977

Ship by Moebius in It's a Small Universe from Heavy Metal #6, September 1977

 

It's clearly the same ship and by naming the ship Moebius the designer of the concept art clearly didn't hide its real creator and even paid hommage by naming it after him. There are several more drawings/sketches of this ship, made by the same conceptual artist, that come directly from It's a Small Universe too. In the gallery below I added the complete 8 page comic by Moebius for those interested. As mentioned earlier Moebius did do concept art in the late 70s, but in comparing Moebius art with the Battlestar Galactica concept art, I have no doubt it was done by two different artists (sadly I might add, since it would have been great if Moebius did work on Battlestar Galactica).

Somehow during the modelmaking the name of the ship was lost. This may be due to the fact that the modelmaker didn't know the ship's name actually paid hommage to the scifi comic artist Moebius and his art from It's a Small Universe. The images below show the model being made (by Lorne Peterson) and being prepared to be filmed in front of the bluescreen.

 

the ragtag ship Moebius aka Flattop Ship on the Battlestar Galactica series


the ragtag ship Moebius aka Flattop Ship on the Battlestar Galactica series


the ragtag ship Moebius aka Flattop Ship on the Battlestar Galactica series

the ragtag ship Moebius aka Flattop Ship on the Battlestar Galactica series

 

As mentioned above, the ship slightly changed its appearance through the course of the Battlestar Galactica series. The images below show the current state of the Moebius aka Flattop Ship as can be seen on the BattleBuck.com website. Check it out, since a great private collection of the original screen used Battlestar Galactica models (including the original screen used battlestar) can be found there.

 

the current state of the ragtag ship Moebius aka Flattop Ship on the Battlestar Galactica series

the current state of the ragtag ship Moebius aka Flattop Ship on the Battlestar Galactica series

 

 

To view a larger version of these images CLICK THE IMAGES BELOW! to open up the gallery browser.

 

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