Superman Lives: Sylvain Despretz' Skullship concept art
for the unmade Superman Lives

a) The Skullship
Sylvain Despretz designed this enigmatic version of the Skullship for Tim Burton's unmade Superman Lives in 1997. 

It contains elements of machinery and the a crumbling skull face, with a window in place of an eye.

It would have been a spaceship for the Superman villain character Braniac to travel around in.

This one becomes fascinating to me because because of my interest in Giger's biomechanics and this has a certain amount of that in it with its organic forms, its machinery and pipework.

Sylvain Despretz' Skullship (before colouring)

Sylvain Despretz' Skullship
Sylvain Despretz' Skullship (complete image but dark)



e) See:  References Giger's National Park?

f) Sylvain's response
f. i.) Sylvain Despretz's response No.1 : "It's a bit far fetched, but I understand how people who don't work in an art department can look for connections retroactively by looking at a small selection of published work. The one thing I can say is that Jacques Rey was working not far from me on Superman, and no, the Mondoshawan was not a point of departure for this image. I was actually thinking of the barnacles on the hull of a ship when I did this; more like protuberances made of an organic parasite that would have grown on the belly of the skull ship. You have to keep in mind that none of these designs are arrived at spontaneously, but rather, are part of a continuum of evolving images done over several weeks and feeding into one another, often subjected to commentary by either the director or the production designer. Advice like "make this larger", "have spikes at the top", etc. It is often impossible for us to even recall how many drawings it took to get to the one which was picked. I don't think Jacques Rey knew anything about the Egyptian Book of the Dead in 1992, by the way. If he had, he and I would probably have gotten along better. " ( See thread on Facehook, May 27th 2017)

f.ii)  Sylvain Despretz's response No.2 : I am sure that you draw fascinating parallels between images, much like a psychiatrist looks for patterns, and I am sure that some of it makes for interesting hyperbole. But I have to say that it's easy to conclude you're not an artist yourself because if you were, you'd immediately understand that this "left-brain" approach to analyzing correspondences in relatively unrelated works doesn't resemble the way artists themselves usually approach their process of creation unless they are actively plagiarizing or paying homage. Of course, there are instances of unconscious "lifting" that also occur and must be taken into account, but for creative people, these musings are often a bit convoluted and labyrinthine: it's easy to wind up nowhere fast and be stuck, when we could instead do more creating.

I cannot speak for anybody else's work, but I have told you before regarding the Superman Lives/Brainiac ship that you are mistaken about my references: in that specific instance, I was not in any way thinking about HR Giger's vagina-like tubular entrances but rather, trying to emulate the works of a photographer who shot pictures of gas factories (Bernd & Hilla Becher: Hochöfen (Blast Furnaces). I had such a book with me at the time, you see. I know this is information that you don't really want to process, since you have a theory in search of a validation, but sometimes, things happened in ways that we are simply unwilling to conceive of. It doesn't always mean we're right.

You're work seems academic, and I'm sure it has a value from that viewpoint, but as we knoa about art criticism, and the intellectualization of the creative process, one comes before, and the other behind. The map is not always the territory.

(Source: Jean Giraud Moebius Facebook group, January 13th 2019 (NB. I didn't compare his spacecraft to the entrances of Giger's Alien derelict ship, and I appreciate the photo that he sent along with this. (See l. for image of the gas factories), and am happy for Sylvain to have his view on the matter, whether it has anything to do with anything I'm writing about here and I suppose that I shouldn't take what Sylvain said to me personally, he might have something completely different to say about the subject next time equally disconnected or perceived from a completely different perspective that he might be seeing things from at a different point in time. If he started completely agreeing with me, it might even be worse, especially as I'm simply tying all these things together with suppositions. Yes, please hurl another custard pie in my face!)

g) See: References  Hochöfen (Blast Furnaces) by Bernd & Hilla Becher?

h) See: References Chris Foss' Dune Guild Merchant Ship?



j) See: Sylvain Despretz's Skullship (near enough Biomechanoid) for Tim Burton's unmade Superman Lives in 1997. references The Jabberwocky for Lewis Carroll's "Alice Through The Looking Glass" (published 1871) by John Tenniel?


See also: Right panel from Luncheon of the Boating Party triptych (1985) by William Kentridge references H R Giger's National Park (work 271) (1975)?


  1. I'm continuing to re-arrange this "Superman Lives: Sylvain Despretz' Skullship concept art for the unmade Superman Lives" and break sections down into their own pages. Perhaps something else can be further understood

  2. Dang that won't get published will it? An artist's opinion

    1. People who adore the piece might like to know something that the artist has said. The things that artists say about their art don't always make that much sense, but one hopes that there's something that can be said

    2. Obviously I've got to add the comparison between this Skullship illustration and Occator Crater on the Ceres planetoid to make my explorations even more unpublishable just to make everyone feel happy