The Incal (French: L'Incal) is a French science fiction comic book series written by Alejandro Jodorowsky and illustrated by Jean Giraud and others. The Incal, originally released as Une aventure de John Difool ("A John Difool Adventure"), introduced Jodorowsky's "Jodoverse", a fictional universe in which his science fiction comics take place. Published in installments between 1981 and 2014, The Incal has been described as a contender for "the best comic book" in the medium's history.
List of main characters
- John DiFool, protagonist: a P.I. and occasional bodyguard. DiFool is reluctant to assume the role of hero, and suffers mood swings, self-doubt, and temper tantrums. He has a fondness for cigars, "ouisky", and "homeosluts" (gynoid prostitutes).
- Deepo, DiFool's loyal and good-hearted "concrete seagull"; generally smarter and more resourceful than John himself. Early in the story, the Light Incal gives him the power of speech.
- Animah and Tanatah, two sisters charged with guarding the Light and Dark Incals, respectively, whereof Tanatah hired the Metabaron to kill John DiFool and obtain the Light Incal. Animah, who originally safeguarded the Light Incal, has psychic powers. Tanatah is also the head of the rebel group called the Amok.
- The Metabaron, the greatest bounty hunter, mercenary, and fighter ace in the known universe, and the adopted father of Sunmoon; originally sent to kill John DiFool by Tanatah. The Metabaron returned John in a frozen state without killing him, knowing that Tanatah would betray him.
- The androgynous messiah Sunmoon, the adopted child of the Metabaron and the biological child of Animah and John DiFool. Like Animah, Sunmoon has immense psychic powers.
- Kill Wolfhead, an anthropomorphic wolf mercenary in Tanatah's employ. Kill holds a grudge against DiFool, who pierced his ear with a bullet near the beginning of the story.
Plot and setting
The story begins in the dystopian capital city of an insignificant planet in a human-dominated galactic empire, wherein the Bergs, aliens who resemble featherless birds and reside in a neighboring galaxy, make up another power block. DiFool receives the Light Incal, a crystal of enormous powers, from a dying Berg. The Incal is then sought by many factions: the Bergs; the corrupt government of the great pit-city; the rebel group Amok; and the Church of Industrial Saints (commonly referred to as the Techno-Technos or the Technopriests): a sinister technocratic cult which worships the Dark Incal. Animah (an allusion to anima), the keeper of the Light Incal, seeks it as well.
Themes and tone
The series mixes space opera, metaphysics, and satire; a counterpoint to the grandiosity of the events is always DiFool's base, even cowardly nature. Every major character in The Incal is based upon Tarot cards – for example, John DiFool is based upon The Fool with his name being a pun upon "John, the Fool". (A small friendly companion, like Deepo in The Incal, accompanies the Fool on his journey.) Animah's name is based on the Jungian concept of the anima, the feminine part of every male's psyche.
The Incal was the first comic set in what became the Jodoverse (see list or related works) or Metabarons Universe. The ones translated into English are John DiFool avant l'Incal, a prequel to The Incal with artwork by Zoran Janjetov; La Caste des Méta-Barons, with artwork by Juan Giménez, which relates the history of a dynasty of perfect warriors prior to The Incal, leading up to the Metabaron from the Incal stories; Technopriests, with artwork by Zoran Janjetov; and Megalex.
Moebius and Jodorowsky sued Luc Besson, director of The Fifth Element, claiming that the film borrowed graphic and story elements from The Incal, but they lost their case. In a 2002 interview with Danish comic book magazine Strip!, Jodorowsky actually claimed that he considered it an honour that somebody stole his ideas. Jodorowsky believes that authors do not create the stories they tell as much as they make personal interpretations of mythemes shared by the collective unconscious.
In an interview given to Chilean newspaper The Clinic, Jodorowsky claimed that neither him nor Moebius actually sued Besson, but that the editor of the comic book was the one who did so. He further claimed that he lost the case because Moebius "betrayed them" by working directly with Besson on the production of the film.
- L'Incal Noir ("The Black Incal") (1981)
- L'Incal Lumière ("The Luminous Incal") (1982)
- Ce qui est en bas ("What Lies Beneath") (1984)
- Ce qui est en haut ("What is Above") (1985)
- La cinquième essence – Galaxie qui Songe ("The Fifth Essence – The Dreaming Galaxy") (1988)
- La cinquième essence – La planète Difool ("The Fifth Essence – Planet DiFool") (1988)
Before the Incal
- Adieu le père ("Farewell, father") (1988)
- Détective privé de "Classe R" ("Class "R" Detective") (1990)
- Croot! (1991)
- Anarchopsychotiques ("Psycho Anarchist") (1992)
- Ouisky, SPV et homéoputes ("Vhisky, SPV and Homeo-Whores") (1993)
- Suicide Allée ("Suicide Alley") (1995)
- A prequel series to the first Incal series, published after it.
After the Incal
- Le nouveau rêve ("The New Dream") (2000)
- Les Quatre John Difool ("The Four John DiFools") (2008)
- Louz de Garra ("Luz De Garra") (2011)
- Gorgo Le Sale ("Gorgo the Foul") (2014)
The Incal in English
The Incal was published in three volumes by Epic Comics (a division of Marvel Comics) as a part of their Epic Graphic Novels line, in translations by Jean-Marc Lofficier and Randy Lofficier, and later by Humanoids Publishing. The more recent Humanoids Publishing version was recolored in a more modern style and had the nudity censored. Humanoids also published The Incal prequel Before the Incal in its first English edition, initially as a twelve issue limited series and later as two graphic novels. In December 2010, Humanoids released a limited edition oversized hardcover edition of The Incal. There were only 750 copies of this comic printed. In 2011 more hardcovers were released by Humanoids Publishing in the USA and Self Made Hero in the UK. Smaller than the oversized hardcover edition they resemble it in that they restore the original colouring and remove the censorship.
In 2012 Humanoids Publishing released Before the Incal with a foreword by José Ladrönn, artist on the upcoming book Final Incal.
- Parkin, Lance (2001). The Pocket Essential: Alan Moore. Pocket Essentialsl. page 7.
- "Moebius perd son procès contre Besson". ToutenBD.com (in French). 2004-05-28. Retrieved 2007-01-20.
- "Jodorowsky y el estreno de "La danza de la realidad" en Chile: "Si renunciaran todos los jurados del Fondart, iría"". TheClinic.cl (in Spanish). 2014-06-10. Retrieved 2014-06-11.
- Booker, M. Keith (ed.), Comics through Time: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas, Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 2014: "Incal, The".