Jean-Claude Mézières is a French comic strip artist and illustrator. Born and raised in Paris, he was introduced to drawing by his older brother and influenced by comics artists such as Hergé, Andre Franquin and Morris and later by Jijé and Jack Davis. Educated at the Institut des Arts Appliqués, upon graduation he worked as an illustrator for books and magazines as well as in advertising. A lifelong interest in the Wild West led him to travel to the United States in 1965 in search of adventure as a cowboy, an experience that would prove influential on his later work.
Returning to France, Mézières teamed up with his childhood friend, Pierre Christin, to create Valerian and Laureline, the popular, long-running science fiction comics series for which he is best known and which has proved to be influential to many science fiction and fantasy films, including Star Wars. Mézières has also worked as a conceptual designer on several motion picture projects, most notably the 1997 Luc Besson film, The Fifth Element, as well as continuing to work as an illustrator for newspapers, magazines and in advertising. He has also taught courses on the production of comics at the University of Paris VIII: Vincennes—Saint-Denis.