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The Incal is a set of science fiction comic book series written in French by Alejandro Jodorowsky and illustrated by Moebius and others. The Incal takes place in and introduced Jodorowsky's "Jodoverse", a fictional universe in which his science fiction comics take place.
The story begins in the dystopian capital city of an insignificant planet in a human-dominated galactic empire. (The Bergs, aliens who resemble featherless birds and reside in a neighboring galaxy, make up another power bloc.) 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 and decadent 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.
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 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 (artwork by Juan Giménez), which relates the history of a dynasty of perfect warriors prior to The Incal leading up to the Metabaron is 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 a recent interview on a Chilean newspaper, Jodorowsky claimed that neither him nor Moebius actually sued Besson, but that the editor of the comic book was who did so. And that he lost the case because Moebius "betrayed them" by working directly with Besson on the production of the film.
The Incal was published in three volumes by Epic Comics (a division of Marvel Comics) as a part of their Epic Graphic Novels line, 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.