Thursday, July 29, 2021

Heavy Metal #305

With 150 pages and the $13.99 cover price, and the Frank Frazetta self-portrait on the cover A, I got this issue from in April of this year.  Photo of my copy:

There's also an interview with Frank Frazetta Jr in the mag.  As I've noted before, there's less Frazetta in HM's history than one might think.  There are a number of instances, but it's kinda sporadic, with the most significant items in recent issues.  I looked and started thinking to go into more detail on Frank Frazetta's entries in Heavy Metal Magazine here, but it may be enough for a post on its own someday.   Good for Frank Jr to trumpet his father's legacy in the interview coming later.  I will not be so rude as to put a number rating on this.

The three big shots put out their editorials, this time about sex, mostly sex in Heavy Metal magazine.  Too bad there isn't all that much of it in this issue.  The masthead is unchanged from #304, including an apparent typo in Justin Mohlman's name, that I did not notice until #305.  Hope they get that fixed.

"Swamp God - Chapter 1" by Ron Marz, Armitano, DC Alonso, ALW Studios' Troy Peteri - 6 - With Tim Seeley and Joseph Illidge getting respective Editor and Co-Editor credits.  Fugitive Confederate soldiers, fleeing an all-black Union squad, encounter a Swamp Witch.  A topless Swamp Witch.  Besides that it's pretty comic-y.

"Vasator and Crunch" by David Erwin, Kevin Molen, DC Alonso, David Sharpe, Morgan Rosenblum - 6 - Mercenary warrior brothers in ancient (Assyrian?) times, one is a golem/robot?  I have enjoyed Molen art in previous HM entries, "The Aftermath:  Big Clean" and "The Savage Sword of Jesus Christ".  But unfortunately, neither of these finished in Heavy Metal Magazine, despite stating "to be continued".  This one does not hint of more, but I'll bet there will be.

"The Rise - Part Three" by George C. Romero, Diego Yapur, DC Alonso, Saida Temofonte, Joseph Illidge - 6 - The scientist pays for the secret he seeks.  This entry's storytelling a bit less cohesive, but it still looks pretty cool.

Interview with Frank Frazetta Jr. by Joshua Sky - 7 - Titled "The Once & Future King", for some reason.  A warm and insightful reminicense of Frank Frazetta by his son Frank Jr.  Jr says he has a novel about the Death Dealer, and wants to get it published, and working with HM seems to be one of his tactics.

"Cryptwalker" by Michael David Nelsen, Jason Danzeisen - 7.5 - The titular character is a Barbarian, looking for answers to his past for thousands of years.  The story has him failing to rescue a captive from the arcane ritual of an unholy cult, but gaining the power they sought.  I quite enjoyed how the art succeeded showing me expanses of mind and space, illustrating a grand scale.  There's some to the story I am missing, but it finishes with an "End Chapter" so maybe there will be more.

"Dark Wing - Chapter Five" by Matthew Medney, German Ponce, Protobunker Studios, Bruce Edwards, Pete "Voodoo Bownz" Russo, Saida Temofonte - 4 - This has lost my interest.  It skipped an issue and I didn't even notice.  It's oozing with wordy balloons failing to expound a contrivance of a story, and unfortunate two-page spreads.  Sorry but I never got into this and now it's starting to rub me the wrong way.  It may get somewhere someday, but I am not optimistic.

"The Grasping Dark" by Mark McMann - 4 - A short prose piece, a rant about humanity.  Pretentious presentation with weird font changes and annoying typos.  An ok premise without an impact.

"The Queensbury Company - Episode 1" by Patrick Smith, Carlos Pedrazzini, Arthur Hesli, Victor Uchoa, David Sharpe, Ismail Nihad, Morgan Rosenblum - 6 - The ragtag group of miscreants needing to coalesce into a fighting unit trope.  This time with "Mythicals" - characters based on creatures of myth and fantasy, in a post-alien-invasion world.  A handful of interesting bits try to raise this from comic mediocrity.  It's Episode 1, so presumably we'll see more.

"Maiden - Neoma:  The Bride - Chapter Four:  The Lord's Sin" by Michelle Sears, Bart Sears, Ilaria Fella - (-4) - My first negative rating.  I might normally give this another 6, but it's getting (-10) points on top of that, since it Actually Went There with child sexual abuse and murder.  Fuck that.  I can handle fantasy murder and mayhem in HM, it's part of what helps remind me of man's capacity for inhumanity.  Sexiness is cool.  Leering prurience, juvenile drooling, sexual assault of (supposed) adults, sexualizing too-young teens, are all unfortunate realities in HM's history, but this shit gets called out.  Reprehensible.

"Savage Circus" Chapter Five by Brendan Columbus, Al Barrionuevo, Candice Han, Dave Sharpe, Joseph Illidge - 4 - I'm starting to feel about this one like I did about "The 49th Key", last seen in issue #281, less than effective storytelling with only slightly better art.  At least if this ever gets made into a movie it'll probably be better than this story.

"Off" by Chris Anderson - 7 - Reports of "little green men" and people seeming "off" distress the populace.  Gratuitous nudity and comically fanciful body horror push this over the top of the "pretty good for HM" threshold.

"Cyberarchy" by Matt Hardy, Clark Bint, Rob Jones - 7 - A delightful commentary on existence, told by robots born to die.  Very nice art that did well to show worlds near and far, despite the unfortunate preponderance of two-page spreads, helping move along the wryly told story.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Heavy Metal #304

 Heavy Metal #304 has the USD$13.99 cover price and 144 pages.  I got the cover A by Andrea De Dominicis, in March, off of ebay since I didn't see it on where I usually go these days.  It's pretty cool and it gets a 6 from me, while I'd think it'd be easier dragging a dragon head first (though I've never tried).  Image I lifted from HM's site:


This image appears lighter than my copy:

A bit odd, though inconsequential.  Also odd is that I noticed, sitting here with my HM collection staring at me, that the logo varies.  Slightly, but noticably, over the years.  Comparing this issue with April 1977, below, the proportions of the "Y" look like the letters are "thicker".  Even ignoring the outlines, it can be seen by measuring the edges and comparing ratios.  Looking back I also saw variations in how the "E" edges are more or less parallel between issues, and some other small differences.  Which blew my tiny little mind, which thought the logo was fixed, and the differences in color or texture or outlines were just applied to the same template.  Perhaps different logos were generated from scratch, with likely variations occuring.  Mostly I'm just surprised I didn't notice until now: 

A quick flip through the earlier years seems to indicate the logo was pretty consistent through the monthly issues, ending with December 1985, and soon after there were more noticable variations, like Summer and Fall 1986, where aspect ratio and perspective differ:

Amusing but inconsequential.  A bit more interesting in light of Peter Kleinman now being credited regularly for the logo.  I'm sure others are more knowledgeable about logos in general and the HM logo in particular.

On to the mag, where again the three big shots wax eloquent, on comics.  I never really thought of Heavy Metal Magazine as "comics", since it was "adult" (though I barely was), and it was so far removed from reading Mad Magazine and Peanuts, and Sgt Rock, and G.I. Combat, in my youth (though it did hit some of the buttons hit by my friend's brother's undergrounds like Zap and Mr. Natural).  I realize now, as much more of an "adult", how HM has always been comics-adjacent, at least, and it sure seems to be getting closer to "comics" every day.  I'll give the three big shots credit for producing these editorials and sharing some opinions and viewpoints.

"Maiden - Neoma:  The Bride - Chapter Three:  The Massacre" by Michelle Sears, Bart Sears, Ilaria Fella - 6 - A massacre indeed.  The bride is a demon, filling the panels with blood.

"Azra Alaraph" by Darko Perović - 7.5 - A story of one of the horrors of war.  A gritty black and white style that helps the mystery of the storytelling, seen less these days than in the mag's early years.

"Backup" by Hal Jay Greene, Joel Ojeda, Enrica Erin Angiolini, Bernardo Brice, Sabrina Del Grosso, Zach Howard - 7 - A long-haul space freighter pilot, with her homemade robot companion, are imperiled by a high energy piece of space junk piercing their hull.  She won't make it, and doesn't expect the ship to be found, or the "backup" she made of herself, to be retrieved to be "recorped".  Buuuutt, somehow she is, and her robot buddy finds her immediately.  Despite some of it being on the thin side, I thought this did well to tell a thoughtful story.

"Funeral - Final Chapter" by Emilio Balcarce. H.C. López, Jok, JAME, Alberto Calvo - 7 - God's worms overrun the earth, but there is hope in a new ark and new worlds.  Growing even more busy and far-fetched, I still enjoyed how much ground this covered.  It's noted as from '09 at the end, and with a Color:  Haus Studio credit as well.

Interview with Gideon Kendall - 7 - Subtitled "Between Life and Death" and with Joshua Sky doing the interview.  A collection of delightfully bizarre and meticulous drawings.  Mr Kendall has the required HM-influence name-drop, and it's promoting a HM published book, so good for him.  I like wacky stuff like this, reminding me of some early undergrounds as well as Garbage Pail Kids.

"Story Time" by by Ron Marz, Bart Sears, Andrew Dalhouse, JAME - 5 - Extremely buff Santa from "A Midnight Clear" in issue #297 is featured in a two-pager with Santa not reading stories to kids.  Pretty cool looking art with not too much story.  I'll complain here again about how poorly two page spreads work with the mag's current "perfect" binding.  Without wrecking the binding to spread the seam apart, the continuity between the two pages' halves of the image is non-existent.  The image really suffers. 

"Synap$e" by Blake Northcott, Giuseppe Cafaro, Bryan Valenza - 6 - Subtitled "Corruption(dot)exe" and with Frank Forte and Matthew Medney getting Edits credits.  A wronged woman pays some sort of AI for revenge.  Pretty good art, an ok premise of a creepy data dystopia.  Does anyone pick up anonymous calls anymore?  It ends with a cliffhanger, but no indication of continuation besides that.

"Starward:  Chapter One" by Steve Orlando, Ivan Shavrin, Saida Temofonte - 5 - With Tim Seeley and Joseph Illidge credited as Editors.  I read somewhere that this was going to be a HM YA graphic novel.  It's a comic, complete with superhero outfits and disaffected youth.  The art is pretty cool, notwithstanding a couple more two-page spreads.

"The Wizard's Curtain" by Mark McMann - 6 - An eight-page long prose piece, telling the story of a consciousness time traveler.  It has a "Wonderwerk" mark, so maybe it came from the podcast.  It develops its interesting premise well, that humanity lives on as tank-living organisms able to cast their consciousnesses through human history.  The narrating protagonist prefers ruthless dictators' last moments, but pursues his dreams of a seemingly ordinary 21st century man.  I felt the ending didn't meet the story's promise.

"Viral" by Benton Jew - 6 - A nifty virus/zombie joke, the brevity of its two pages is just right.  The art is ok and the joke isn't new, but I thought this did its job well enough.

"The Last Detective:  Redemption - Chapter Two" by Claudio Alvarez, Geraldo Borges, Arthur Hesli, Maycols Alfaro, Guillermo "Kobayashi" Nuñéz -  6 - A long installment (31 pages) completes the story started in #303.  The broken detective finds the source of the drugs and the cause of his misery, with some droid/transhumanism help.  Some interesting story twists keep this from being just another shoot-em-up cop comic.

"Forgive Us Our Sins" by Mark McMann, Boo Cook, Frank Forte - 6 - A scientist sees the results of his work.  Good art with lots of expression, pretty good premise that perhaps too quickly came to its conclusion.  

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Heavy Metal #303

Heavy Metal #303 has a cover price of USD$13.99, 144 pages, it's the first issue I got in 2021.  Again editorials from the three big shots. They all talk about science fiction, and two of them end on dumb notes.  At least there is actually some sci-fi stuff in the mag.  I got the Cover A by Pascal Blanche, spaceships in orbit, cool and blue, from again.  They usually have them available earlier, and I'm not about to order from HM, not only because of the people complaining about not getting their stuff, but I don't want to be on their mailing list more than I already am (I only gave my email a couple times to comment on articles several years ago, now I'm getting their newsletter, twice each.  hmph).  Here's the image from, I think it's pretty cool so I'll call it a 7:

Heavy Metal Magazine #303A

There's almost no change on the masthead, and they're still crediting Peter Kleinman for the logo.  Good:

"Lucy:  Hope - Chapter Four" by Patrick Norbert, Tanino Liberatore - 8.5 - With Frank Forte & David Erwin noted again as Editors.  Pain and loss, struggle and hope and perhaps redemption, the pre-human characters survive, in this final chapter.  Wonderful imagery and presentation, with the story bridging the gap in time and humanity.  Certainly one of the better HM stories of the post-Morrison era.

"Savage Circus" Chapter Four by Brendan Columbus, Al Barrionuevo, Candice Han, Dave Sharpe, Joseph Illidge - 5 - With killer cassowarys, a flashback, a yeti and a bejeweled panther.  The art may be getting slightly better, the story maybe not so much.

Interview with Brendan Columbus, by Matthew Medney - 6 - This also includes Chris Columbus, Brendan's father and famous film guy.  Indeed, Chris has most of the story, including the obligatory HM reference.  Maybe not exciting to me, but I liked the enthusiasm.

"The Last Detective:  Redemption" by Claudio Alvarez, Geraldo Borges, Arthur Hesli, Maycols Alfaro, Guillermo "Kobayashi" Nuñéz - 6 - A failed but legendary detective is commandeered back into service, and partnered with an insufferable robot, to find the source of a killer drug.  Okay art and writing good enough to not be too superficial.  Twenty pages and it ends with "End of Chapter One" so presumably there will be more.

"The Rise - Part Two" by George C. Romero, Diego Yapur, Dc Alonso, Saida Temofonte, Joseph Illidge - 7 - The broken professor goes in search of the missing component for his work.  The developing story is interesting, the telling is nice, and I'm liking the art even more, cool black and white and red style, and it does well to advance the story.

Interview with Liam Sharp by Geoff Boucher - 5 - Evan Copp gets an Editing credit.  Again a transcription of a Mindspace podcast.  Most remarkable to me is the transcription "band destiny" of what was so obviously supposed to be "bandes dessinée", that even a lunkhead like me who only has the slightest idea of what that is, could notice.  They were even talking about Heavy Metal!  Sheesh.

"Dark Wing - Chapter Four" by Matthew Medney, German Ponce, Protobunker Studios, Bruce Edwards, Pete "Voodoo Bownz" Russo, Saida Temofonte - 6 - Most interesting to me is the parts where Cell is showing the kids some history, with some convenient story background and nicely put together pages.  Much of the rest is either hard for me to follow or so obvious as to be flat.

"Sides" by Marko Stojanovic, Tudor Popa - 7.5 - I liked the art in style and subject, quite reminiscent of HM's best years, and it tells a nice story, almost a parable.  Not overly long, and my impression is that it has a very good translation.

Interview with Dylan Sprouse by Joshua Sky - 7 - I have not been impressed by the various entries in HM on Mr Sprouse's Sun Eater, but I admire that he is strong enough to discuss the personal side to the "cautionary tale about drug addiction and how it affects families" that he describes this work as.

"Neoma:  The Bride - Chapter Two:  The Wedding" by Michelle Sears, Bart Sears, Periya Pillai - 6 - The Bride is presented to the groom.  A heavy feudal Japan motif, a couple modern-ish bits.  I find it difficult to track characters, and who is talking.  The word/thought balloons are different, apparently to discern different characters, but the speaker is not always in the panel.  We'll see where this goes.

"Dominion" by Dwayne Harris - 7 - Future space archaeologists determine mankind's fate from the evidence.  Perhaps not a new story, but it makes its point well in its two pages, and I like the art, shiny and chrome.  I seem to like Mr Dwayne's HM entries.

"Funeral - Chapter Two" by Emilio Balcarce. H.C. López, Jok, JAME, Alberto Calvo - 7 - "They desecrated the casket!"  The art and text are dense, nicely displaying human stupidity and otherworldly horror.  With sex and explosions too.  I'm enjoying the broad scope and quick telling.

"String Theory" by Steve Orlando, Marcelo Borstelmann, Micah Myers, Morgan Rosenblum - 6.5 - A Soloist warrior fights the ruler of silence.  The art is technically very good in execution and composition, though it's riddled with posing, but the sword turning into a guitar was pretty creative.  And while the story comes across in a familiar manner, I quite enjoyed its ambition.

"Last Planet Other Side of the Sun" by Chris Anderson - 7.5 - Giant-robot driving humans fight a losing battle with an alien invasion, ending with the salvation of both sides.  With giant-robot-extraterrestrial-virtual-sex, wheeee!  Fantastic storytelling, and the psychedelic mind-meld flashback is really cool too.

The back cover is an ad for the "Green Slime" movie from Warner.  A space babe in the clutches (?) of a tentacled one-eyed space monster sure gets one's attention.  This is the first non-HM ad in the mag for a while.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Heavy Metal #302

Heavy Metal #302 has the new cover price of USD$13.99, and again has 152 pages.  I got it from in December 2020.  It was the last of the six issues I got in 2020, the first time in several years that six were published.  And that was after an attempt to go monthly again in September, which didn't quite happen right away, but lately it seems they're getting there.  I miss the long gone days of monthly Heavy Metal Magazine, and I'm skeptical they can make it happen sustainably, but as long as they publish the mag, and I can still afford it, I'll keep getting them.  I got the cover "A", "Battlebot B" by Patrick Reilly (image from

Heavy Metal Magazine #302A

There are editorials from the three big shots, going for more sincerity and some reminiscing.  I'll not do a photo of them, but I will for the Contents page, mostly for the churn in the masthhead:

"Lucy:  Hope - Chapter Three" by Patrick Norbert, Tanino Liberatore - 8 - With Frank Forte & David Erwin noted again as Editors.  20 more pages of really nice art and harrowing action, and uncanny rock-throwing accuracy.  The overlay of contemporary human thought on top of this (technically) pre-human story, is prominent but I'm not annoyed by it, it's clearly part of its charm.

"Taarna - Part Two" by by David Erwin, Matthew Medney, Butch Guice, Chris Sotomayor, Marshall Dillon - 6 - This is indeed a continuation of the story started in #300, where Taarna seeks the source of the sentinels plaguing the planet she has been called to.  Finding the perpetrators, she destroys their leadership, as a popular revolt conveniently erupts.  While Taarna's success is admirable, I found the storytelling fragmented and I wish the art inspired me more.  At least we learn she calls he mount Avis.  Which is something I missed in the #300 entry, Taarna speaks!  The character in the 1981 movie, and the four more recent Taarna stories, written by Alex de Campi (and collected in a 2019 issue that I bought on a whim in a comic store, just to see, and didn't think of reviewing since I wasn't too excited about it, pretty good art but a nutty story that didn't have the mystique I carry for the character from the movie), as well as the entry in HM #284, maintain the character's silence.  I suppose I understand they need to expand the character to enhance its marketability, but it's a pretty drastic change.  I am also amused by Taarna's mount (Avis) getting more pteranodon-looking.  Maybe it's to get closer to the form of Arzak's mount.  Maybe not, but I enjoyed spending too much time looking it up.

Avis, from #302:

Taarna's mount from #300:

Taarna's mount has a brief appearance in the 2019 series, and it's not even really hers:

Taarna's mount from the original movie:

Arzak's mount, from Heavy Metal April 1977 (#1):

For me, I wouldn't mind if they went over-the-top pteranodon, like in the old Jonny Quest episode #15 "Turu the Terrible" (I really liked Jonny Quest growing up):

That was a lot of fun.  Back to this issue.

"Angel of Detroit" by Timothy E. Bacon, Grant Fraggalosch - 6 - With Daveyabbo and Xurge3D getting special thanks, and Frank Forte getting an Edited By credit.  Transhumans, humans hybridized with technology, struggle against human fear and oppression.  Great-looking art, and I felt hints of Ghost in the Shell, and it packs lots of storytelling in a few pages, but I think there was more that could be told.

"Savage Circus" Chapter Three by Brendan Columbus, Al Barrionuevo, Candice Han, Dave Sharpe, Joseph Illidge - 5 - It's losing me in a predictable story line and uninteresting presentation.  Hope it gets better.

Interview with Wayne Coyne by Geoff Boucher- 7 -  With a subtitle "Somewhere Over the Psychedelic Rainbow".  An excerpt from Mr Boucher's Mindscape podcast, half of it seems to be Mr Coyne interviewing Mr Boucher about his interview with Mœbius in HM #300.  Which is probably why this is in HM in the first place.  It's still pretty amusing, even with Mr Coyne's sketchy memories of HM ("There's the one with Mœbius and Corben, Richard Corben.").  I once came across a video Christmas on Mars that was the Lips', which may not have been great but it was pretty fun.

"Dark Wing - Chapter Three" by Matthew Medney, German Ponce, Protobunker Studios, Bruce Edwards, Pete "Voodoo Bownz" Russo, Saida Temofonte - 6 - There is some interesting presentation of a youth accessing "Cell" to learn what a spear was, and about hunting for food in earlier human history.  And I liked the character name "Professor Quest".  But this mostly misses the mark for me.  I went back and read the preceding two chapters, and I can't tell who the funeral service was for, one of the crew of the lost A-113 gather ship from Chapter One maybe?, nor why the head pilot and the head mechanic are in bed together, besides setting up some relationship conflict.  The chapters seem barely linked to each other, and the colorful art hardly advances the story.  And they'll show a guy's nipples but not a gal's?  Is this Heavy Metal?  Hoping it gets better for me.

"Funeral - Chapter One" by Emilio Balcarce. H.C. López, Jok, JAME, Alberto Calvo - 7.5 - An archaeologist is summoned to the corpse of God.  Told as reminiscing while awaiting his death, the story begins with a space object detected on a collision course with earth, and its sea landing reveals an enormous casket.  Human conflict ensues.  I enjoyed how much the drawing told the fantastic story and the text supported it with accessible adornment.

"Sun Eater" by Dylan Sprouse, Carlos Magno, Saida Temofonte - 5 - With Joseph Illidge getting an Executive IP Editor credit and Matthew Medney getting a Short Story Editor credit.  It is short.  An elven alchemist in his oh-so-quaint lab.  Flirting with his assistant, or something.  It doesn't say To Be Continued, but you know it is, somewhere.

"The Rise - Part One" by George C. Romero, Diego Yapur, Dc Alonso, Saida Temofonte, Joseph Illidge - 6 - Set against the Cold War, a scientist loses his family and is pressured to continue his neurological research, this time for the military.  I think we know where this one is going.  Cool black and white and red art.

"Cobalt-19" by Mark Bodē - 7 - Continuing in the style of Sunpot from HM #301, Mark Bodē has some fun with space procreation, and comments on the more current pandemic.  Pretty and sad.

An Interview with Mark Bodē by David Erwin - 8 - Subtitled "Cheech Wizard's Heir Apprentice", this is interesting, informative, and enjoyable.  With some fun name dropping and more, including more info about Mark Bodē's coloring of Vaughn Bodē's Zooks for Heavy Metal, in July, August and November 1979, and January, March, and April 1980, when he was in his teens, and working for (the now ghosted former HM owner) Kevin Eastman. 

"Onslaught Prodigy" by Mark McCann, Peter Duncan, William Simpson, Frank Forte - 6 - With R.G Llarena getting an Edits credit.  Lifer Terror insurgents breach the Prescient Edge Chamber, to kill the oppressive Shapers and their Seer.  They are thwarted by their own questions.  Very cool and colorful art, with four of its six pages as two-page spreads, which unfortunately works poorly with the mag's edge-glued ("perfect") binding, with the image disappearing into the fold and hampers the effect of a single larger image, which diminishes the impact and disrupts the storytelling.

"Matter Jerry" by Edgar Roggenbaun, Patricio Delpeche, Mauro Gianetto - 7 - Cocky corpulent keyboard jockey Jerry, is selected as the only ideal specimen on Earth, to join the Guardians of Matter in the galaxy's War of Wars.  He leaves a note for his mom.  Some warmth and humanity rise from the cliché.

"The Tea House" by Mikael Lopez, Lem - 7 - In Tehran, a man visits a tea house, wanting to forget the horrors of war, the horrors he perpetrated.  Instead of the tea that makes him forget, the shop owner gives him the tea that makes him remember.  I liked the simplicity of the story, and how it uses historical and poetic references to give it complex mysteries.

"Maiden - Neoma:  The Bride - Chapter One:  The Dream" by Michelle Sears, Bart Sears, Periya Pillai - 6 - As if in a dream, plucked at by the undead, as if in a nightmare, confronting their demons, as if in a mirror.  And then they woke up.  This does a nice job of setting atmosphere, as it prepares for "Next:  The Wedding".

Quick note that all the ads are for various HM Products, Virus comics (still hard to believe they went with that name in 2020), Fishkill and Brooklyn Gladiator, Starward, Heavy Metal Elements, etc.  I guess it beats funko pops or statues.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Heavy Metal #301

This issue #301 of Heavy Metal Magazine comes in with 152 pages and the new cover price of USD$13.99, as of the stated aim of going monthly, announced in September 2020.  I got this issue in November of 2020, from, where I also got the below cover image:


It has the Cover "A" by Issac Escorza.  It's cool and silly at the same time, in some ways perfect for our favorite magazine.  I'll give it a 7.

Again we get Editorials from Heavy Metal's "Big Three", I get a little bit more sincerity from these.  Mr Seeley comments on older HM stories not having the context of our pandemic times.  I see the converse, where I see the context of times past (especially mine) in my view of the present mag.  It's likely unfair of me to compare today's HM with the past, for much the same reasons.  I still do, it's my point of reference, but it helps to not take myself seriously.

The Contents page has a few more names, including Peter Kleinman credited for the logo again, and I am amused by the inclusion of Hannah Means-Shannon again, as a Contributing Editor, a year after her resignation.  My hope is that they are at least giving credit where it's due, and perhaps patched things up somewhat.

A couple photos:


And to those Contents:

"Lucy:  Hope - Chapter 2" by Patrick Norbert, Tanino Liberatore, Dan Berger. - 8 - With Frank Forte & David Erwin noted as Editors.  Continuing with Lucy, after her clan deserts her, with harrowing drama and dramatic violence.  I'm enjoying the brilliant artwork and exciting storytelling, which is good since we get over 20 pages of it.

"Dark Wing - Chapter 2" by Matthew Medney, German Ponce, Protobunker Studios, Bruce Edwards, Pete "Voodoo Bownz" Russo, Saida Temofonte - 6.5 - Continuing with many bright colorful images of blazing suns and energy surges and space 'splosions, and the made-for-the-screen storytelling, this picks up some speed, perhaps soon we'll see where it's headed.

Richard Corben Interview by Matthew Medney - 8.5 - Another fantastic score inteview by Heavy Metal of one of the Titans of Heavy Metal Magazine history, made even more precious by the tragic passing of the great creator, weeks after this publication.  There is more to say about Mr Corben and his work in HM, than I can put into words.  This interview is entertaining and informative, with moments of coy humor.  It made me remember an earlier Corben interview in Heavy Metal.  I looked it up, it's by Brad Balfour, credited as a Contributing Editor then, and it's in three parts over the June, July, and August 1981 issues!  19 pages including pictures!  Even more, it's followed by a letter from Mr Corben to Mr Balfour, in the September 1981 issue, expressing some discontent with the interview, and his inability to see them until after they were published.  A Classic Heavy Metal Magazine Moment.  He may have a point.  Most of these interview parts are informative and insightful, but there are parts where Mr Corben's statements can seem off-putting, which seems to come easily to him (I can relate).  Several would be viewed negatively these days.  I won't put up all the interview pages, since the good folk at MuutaNet have already done so (richard-corben-interview-part-1/, richard-corben-interview-part-2/, richard-corben-interview-part-3/, and the bonus letter), but I'll include a photo of his letter in my copy here:

Likewise in this interview in this issue #301, Mr Corben seems amiable but perhaps a bit prickly, very sure of his opinions, as much as he shares them.  Clearly Mr Corben was still eagerly creative, he states "I have many projects I'd love to do.  Retirement is not one of them." which makes his untimely passing an even greater loss for us.

"Murky World" by Richard Corben - 8 - Tugat's travails only continue, in this last installment of this lovely gift of Corben in today's Heavy Metal Magazine.  A trite denouement ("It was me all along!") doesn't detract from the delight of this HM adventure.  Corben's abilities of coloring and perspective and framing shine through the changes in technical tools and societal viewpoints over the 40 years since Corben's contributions to the first HMs, and this realization of the passage of time, puts a brighter light on my views.

"One Sole Love" by Diego Agrimbau, Pietro - 6 - A man, charged with preparing a new paradise for his brethren returning from war, laments his failures to complete his tasks, save one, the creation of android women for their companionship.  Fortunately, the android Ingrids prove capable of righting his wrongs, save one.  Some clever storytelling and comicing, but the mannish dumbness that's critical to the premise overshadows the otherwise well-told tale.

"Bigfoot Attraction" by Dwayne Harris - 7 - A Bigfoot Attaction operator tries a publicity stunt, and it goes predictably wrong.  While the jokes are pretty obvious, I had a good time enjoying them, as well as enjoying the art, cartoony but energetic and descriptive.  Dwayne Harris has been in HM at least a half dozen times, going back to 2014 it appears.

"Fear & Loafing in the U.K."  An Interview with Dan Fogler" by Joshua Sky - 6 - I'm only familiar with Dan Fogler's name from his comic work being promoted by HM.  He contributed to a story in #295, "The Ghoul Screamer", which I liked at the time, but nothing else in the mag I have seen since.  But if it's not in the magazine I'm not likely to see his comics.  Most interesting to me is that he is asked about celebrities getting comic work because of their celebrity, as he is one.  That and the use of "turned onto" rather than "turned-on to", which is how I think of it, from the times of "turn on, tune in, drop out".  Times change.

"Thirteen Deathless" by Charles Fetherolf - 6 - An assassin from The Nine trails his assignment, whose mistake does the assassin's work for him.  This looked nice and was interesting to read, it works well.  I could have used a bit more of the details and reasons the story hints at.

"Sun Eater" Chapter One by Dylan Sprouse - 5 - A continuation of the preview from the previous issue #300.  I feel the same way about this installment as I did the last.

"Savage Circus" Chapter Two by Brendan Columbus, Al Barrionuevo, Candice Han, Dave Sharpe, Joseph Illidge - 6.5 - Well, the hoodlums manage to crash into the Savage Circus train while making their escape, loosing murderous circus animals on the town.  Despite the story's efforts to personify characters, I'm not getting excited by what it's telling, but there's sure lots of action to be had.

"Invisible Touch" by Jok, Mey-Jok - 7 - An invisible guardian visits the Temple of Heaven, to protect order in the invisible world.  Effective art with better writing.  Cool story.

"Sunpot - Part Two" by Vaughn Bodē, Mark Bodē - 8 - With a brief editorial and a briefer letter from Harlan Ellison from 1995 to start, this is the finish of the "story" of Vaughn Bodē's Sunpot as resurrected by Mark Bodē.  It's confusingly nonsensical, like shouldn't it be "Nectar Nipples"? but in a good way, and lots of fun.  

"The Ancient" by Marko Stojanović, Milorad Vicanović Maza, Aljoša Tomić - 6 - An old warrior battles the ogres of an old enemy who narrates the scene.  Pretty good art, and the story tries for profundity.  It works, but I could have used more showing than telling.

Malcolm McDowell Interview by Geoff Boucher - 6 - This is described in a note at the end with "This article is comprised of commentary that Malcolm shared with Geoff for his new interview podcast MINDSPACE."  It's mostly Geoff Boucher writing with bits of quotes from Malcolm McDowell, mostly about "A Clockwork Orange", and why not?  It's a nice read for the mag, but I'm not likely to podcast much.

"Tuonela" by Hannu Kesola, Alex Medellin, Tatto Caballero, Jame - 6.5 - A Finnish warrior begs Tuoni the Ruler of the Underworld to let him return to battle against the blaspheming Christian crusaders.  A nice little story with suitable art and writing.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Heavy Metal #300

Heavy Metal #300 is noted as the All Star Special.  It has 160 pages and a cover price of USD$9.99.  I got it in Sept 2020 from someone on ebay, I didn't see it where I usually look.  This was the third issue I got in 2020.  Right around the time I got it, HM announced they were going to monthly issues again.  A bold move with the rest of the other stuff they were pushing, and as we saw, the pandemic hit the fan again late 2020, and made a bad year even worse.  And while the issues are still not coming out every month, I did manage to get six issues that year, which was better than only getting five a year for the past couple years.  Here's hoping they can pick up the pace, and that 2021 is a better year for everyone.

I got the Cover A "Taarna" by Claudia Ianniciello of Magnus Arts, it's a pretty nice rendition of the brand's primary character.  Image lifted from the HM shop):

The Contents pages start out with editorials, "Insights from Heavy Metal's Big Three", Matthew Medney, Tim Seeley, and David Erwin.  This appears to be descriptive of the new direction of the mag.  At this point I will say they provide varying perspectives on the approach, with varying combinations of sincerity and pomposity.  With these editorials, and the continued developments in the staff listings, we have some interesting prospects coming for the mag, which I hope remains the focus of the operation.

Some informational photos:


"Lucy:  Hope - Chapter One", by Patrick Norbert, Tanino Liberatore, J.S. Berger, Dan Berger. - 7.5 - With Frank Forte & David Erwin noted as Editors.  A story of pre-humans in the struggle to survive.  I found Liberatore's art terrrific, with excellent use of his ability to render detail and action.  I liked the story just fine, and the storytelling is done quite well.  I was mostly able to suspend my disbelief of the characters having very human emotions and perceptions, expressed with narrated complex sentences.  The better for our "developed" human brains to apprehend, I suppose.  Looking forward to more.

Jean-Pierre Dionnet Interview - 8.5 - Interview by Joshua Sky.  A fantastic score for Heavy Metal to get this interview with a seminal character of the mag's origins, for issue #300.  Not overlong, 4 pages including 2 of mostly photos, but with a bit of history and a story or two.  Seeing that Mr Dionnet is around 75, he's looking great, and getting his insight at this time is a real plus for the operation.  One point I had, is that Mr Dionnet refers to the relatively short lifespans of Metal Hurlant, and other HM  knockoffs like Epic or 1984, but states that since HM changed over the years, it could continue, but this glosses over the major reason HM continued to exist.  That is Kevin Eastman's ownership.  Without Mr Eastman, and his making the mag his own plaything, HM would likely have faded away by the early 90s.  I think it's important to remember that.

"Savage Circus" by Brendan Columbus, Al Barrionuevo, Candice Han, Dave Sharpe - 6.5 - The story starts with a flashback of monster hunting in Southeast Asia, leading to the "Savage Circus", then lands in a small town at Xmas time, where hoodlums steal the fundraiser pig.  The setup is complex but formulaic, and we'll see where the story goes.  Some pretty good execution going on here, and at over 20 pages we get a lot of it, but it's not grabbing me at the start.

"Mœbius:  The Last Interview" by Geoff Boucher - 9.5 - A stunning opportunity for Heavy Metal, to be able to publish this interview from 2010 by Geoff Boucher, on this issue #300, in addition to the previous interview with Jean-Pierre Dionnet.  Rather than a simple question-and-answer format, the interviewer gets to write a paean to the great creator, who was at the center of the creation of Heavy Metal magazine, seasoned with lengthy quotes by the subject.  Lovely pictures of words are told.

"Memories" by Mœbius, Albert Patin De La Fizeliére - 9 - With translations by Michael Du Plessis and Josh Robertson and with edits and letters by Frank Forte noted.  Noted as unpublished in Mr Erwin's editorial, this is certainly a delight to see.  Apparently from '95, this has lovely Mœbius drawing, diverse and evocative, and delightfully unhinged and lewd dialog, making this something I quite enjoyed, not the least of which for old times' sake.  A blessing to us to be able to have this late work from an acknowledged master of Heavy Metal magazine history.

"cradle" by Kent Williams and John Ney Rieber - 7 - A perhaps metaphorical look at life and relationship.  I liked the art style and how much was shown on two pages, and I liked the obtuse but clearly stated text, and I liked what I thought it was saying, even with the slight whiff of a guy pouting about not getting enough attention.  Figure it out.

"The Dawn of The Rise" by George C. Romero - 7 - Mr Romero gets to geek out about being in HM, and briefly discuss growing up as the son of George A. Romero, famous for the "Night of the Living Dead" movies.  While I don't recall just what or when "The Rise" will be from what little I have heard, I did enjoy this essay from Mr Romero, for the enthusiasm he has for having a famous father, and how he saw the opportunities it brought him, while making his claim to being his own creator.  

"Cold Dead War" by Justin Jordan, Kelley Jones, Brennan Wagner, Jaime Martínez - 5 - Zombies on a Pacific island in WWII.  I wasn't excited by how this one looked or read.

"Mad Moby" by Tater7 - 6.5 - With Frank Forte on the Letters and Edits.  A Moby Dick telling in a Mad-Max-looking desert wasteland.  An interesting approach with some payoff, and it's "Not the End..." so maybe there's more even better fun coming.

"Taarna" by David Erwin, Matthew Medney, Butch Guice, Chris Sotomayor, Marshall Dillon - 6 - Taarna again responds to the call.  A few bright spots, like a rendition of the temple from the first movie, and a guy with sun and planets for a head, but I found myself wanting more engagement with the art and story than I got.  Hoping I find more in the "to be continued".

"Taarna:  A Woman" by Stephanie Phillips, Jim Terry - 6 - Credit where it's due for a prose piece to develop the brand, by a woman (apparently, with the man doing the couple artworks).  Like the previous story, I wish I got more out of it.  And maybe like the previous story, there may be more.

"Dark Wing - Chapter One" by Matthew Medney, German Ponce, Protobunker Studios, Bruce Edwards, Pete "Voodoo Bownz" Russo - 6 - A space story of a nomadic space people, seeking the perfect planet home, and surviving for the hundred generations it's taken so far in their quest.  Fast paced and colorful, this starts out looking like a screenplay treatment to me, with witty banter and explosions with life in the balance.  And with a dumb sexist joke to start.  There is more coming so we'll see if it expands its appeal.

"Murky World" by Richard Corben - 8.5 - I'm enjoying this greatly.  The story (!), the humor, the dynamic perspectives, sequences, shading, the weird fish-eye view when he meets Old Mag again, the Corben-itude.  What fun.  Tugat continues to a familiar place.  Such good fortune for this to be here for us.  And next, "the Thrilling Conclusion!"

"Not Today" by Mark McCann, Paul Fry, Adam Brown - 8 - With edits and letters by Frank Forte.  A black shadow dragon overruns the countryside, threatening the city.  A crew of comic stereotypes band together to thwart the scourge, futilely, until the 5th wall shatters.  Ok premise and execution, extra points for an apparently sincere metaphor for depression.

"Prism Pastures" by David Erwin - 7 - Part of the WonderWerk podcast series.  This struck me as a nice inclusion into the prose work that has been in HM over the years.  An android servant contemplates the passing of his aged master.  Android existentialism may not be a completely original idea, but I thought this was well expressed.

"Synapse" by Blake Northcott, Giuseppe Cafaro, Bryan Alvarez, Northworld - 6 - With edits by Matt Medney and Frank Forte.  In a dystopic future Toronto, ravaged by chemical pollution, the finish of a story of revenge and closure, with small hints of the story's beginning.  A timely quarantine analogy, with some bright spots in the art.

"Sun Eater" by Dylan Sprouse and Diego Yapur - 5 - Apparently a prose story preview for a comic series.  There have been social media mentions about it.  This was not interesting to me.  I didn't engage the story, and there were little things about the presentation that bugged me, incongruous use of language that didn't evoke a different time or place for me, and the ragged-paper edges with the modern fonts.

"Sunpot" by Mark Bodē - 8 - With an introductory page lauding the contributions of Vaughn Bodē to comic art and Heavy Metal, and a reminiscence by his son Mark, who extends the legacy with his own contribution (which he has apparently been doing since 1980 with "Zooks" in some early 80s Heavy Metals).  Sunpot was a feature in the very first issues of Heavy Metal Magazine, and this Sunpot reprise, subtitled " Dr. Electric Meets the Repo Man", is as close to generating the feel of reading the mag at the earliest days, as I've experienced.  

Comparison samples:

April 1977:                                                                



The art and hand lettering have the look, and the story and writing have the gleeful sexism and creative insults, that so titillated me and countless other het-male barely-adults back in the day.  What fun, and it's "continued next issue."

"At the End of the Day..." by Duke Mighten - 7.5 - with edits by Frank Forte and Josh Robertson.  A Godling of the Sentinels of the New World Order, cracks up trying to reconcile the consequences of his actions.  The terrific art paints a finely detailed futuristic picture, and comes with a fantastic shocker panel.  The story itself is small but imaginative, with much more hinted at.  Though this ends with a "Fin", there could easily be more to this story, if the creator wanted.

So I found that most of what I really liked in this issue had strong links to the magazine's past, and I was a bit less excited by the newer stuff.  But it's starting to seem like the mag is picking a direction and building on it, and it'll be up to me to decide what I like about it.  If they really pick up the pace to publish monthly, I'll need to pick up my review game to keep up.  If you're still there, thanks for reading.

Friday, February 19, 2021

That time I was in Heavy Metal Magazine

I was thinking about this recently, thinking I should dig up the issue and post a photo of it.  But quite conveniently, R.M. Rhodes just put up the page on his site, saving me some digging.  Thanks man, for the info and the image I lifted from it:

Yup, that's me as "Fred", in the Septemer 2009 issue.  HM had letters sections going way back, and by this time they were just pulling posts from the (now long departed) HM website forum for them.  This was from a forum thread someone started that got some traffic, though I don't recall if Mr Eastman actually commented in the thread.  He did sometimes.  

Interesting to me, is Intone Flux prominently featured.  He's my old internet buddy from the HM forums, and the numerical rating reviews I do was originally his idea.  Intone Flux has contributed to my fandom and this blog, and has also produced some comics of his own.

I also believe the "BMB" is Ben Michael Bryne, who started posting his Kranburn on the HM forums back then (which is great by the way), but has unfortunately disappeared from the internet, as far as I can tell.

So thanks for the timely excavation of this issue, R.M. Rhodes.



Wednesday, January 13, 2021

RIP Julie Strain

Julie Strain, go in peace.

I gotta admit, it wouldn't have been Heavy Metal without you.  I may not have been the biggest fan, but her babe-i-tude, and the impact she had on the mag in the Eastman years, is undeniable.


Monday, January 11, 2021

Heavy Metal #299

 Heavy Metal #299 is called "Mythical Worlds Special".  I got the Cover C version, and the below image, from again, in July of 2020.

Heavy Metal Magazine #299C

This cover is called "Fiddler Crab on the Roof" by Sean Andrew Murray, and I liked the scene, reminding me somewhat of "Sacred Geometry" by Michael E. Bennett, which was subtitled "The Re-Education of Baron Edwin G. Krambiss", with the Baron on his tortoise-mounted villa, in #298, as well as the attention to detail, and the translucent treatment of the logo.

Peter Kleinman is again credited for the logo, this time in the contents.  There's a bit more churn in the chain of command:  No Chris Chiang, a Joseph Illidge noted as a Managing Editor, R.G. Llarena now a Managing Editor too, Hannah Means-Shannon now a Contributing Editor (hmm), and it's now Joshua Sky for the Digital Editor.  Are they ever going to stabilize to coalesce into something?

There's something at the bottom of the contents page, in white on a gray background, written backwards and fading to nothingness.  Hard to see but I've decided to think it says "welcome to the roaring void."  Odd.  Opposite the contents page is a nice illustration of someone on a tall ladder peering from an open portal, looking like it's for a book, called "Lumen 6" by Michael Whelan.

 A couple photos are in order here:

"A Faerie Tale Wedding" by Robert Randle, Enrique Alcatena, Arthur Hesli, Jame, R.G. Llarena - 6.5 - A bride on her wedding day, as she prepares to enter the church, is approached by a mysterious intruder into her chamber.  Spirited away into a world of the fae, she tarries too long, returning far too late for her wedding.  Pretty and engaging, also ponderous and nonsensical, in a fun way.

"Les Fleurs de Mort" by Steve Mannion, Jose Ladrönn, Frank Forte - 7 - Our pretty young woman superheroine-outfitted protagonist, communes with nature, and vanquishes the fascist-lookin' demon, with a flower.  Lovely.  I like how Mr Mannion's drawing looks like it could be from HM from years back.

"Wedding" by Philippe Caza - 7 - with translation by Michael Du Plessis and letters by Frank Forte.  The guy certainly has reason to remember his wedding day.  Not dated, but this looks somewhat recent to me, can't really say just why, yet it appears clearly as Caza's work.  Which is certainly a good thing.  Besides a somewhat recent appearance in #294 in 2019, Caza had last been in HM in #281 in 2016, with something from 1983.  Before that was in the 80s, so it was very nice HM could have more Caza here now.  Too bad his name is misspelled in the Contents, in a way I have done so more than once.

Gallery with Sean Andrew Murray - 7.5 - with an other insightful interview by Hannah Means-Shannon.  It's good, (it's really too bad HM failed to keep Ms Means-Shannon, their and our loss), and many of the images are so small that the delightful details are less apparent, helping the text stand out even more.  The art had imagination that I enjoyed.

"Confess" by Peach Momoko, Frank Forte - 7 - A tattoo artist offers absolution for the remorseful, though it is not limitless.  Beautifully stylized, arcane, simply written.

"Dogma Resistance" by Herø Projects, Matthew Medney, Morgan Rosenblum, Santa Fung, Bryan Valenza, Voodoo Bownz, RIOT (DJ Group) - 5 - An evil ancient mecha-demon is awakened, somehow.  Not liking this, the premise (?), art, storytelling, they're just not coming together for me.  Will it redeem itself as it's "to be continued"?  I hate to guess.

"The Highwayman" by Cliff Dorfman, David Arquette, Armitano, John Rauch, Adam Wollet - 6 - An armed robbery at a diner goes wrong.  There's a lot to like here, the art, story, and writing, all have bright moments of energy and insight, but I ended up disappointed that the whole seemed lesser than the sum of its parts.

Gallery with Michael Whelan - 7 - with another fine interview by Hannah Means-Shannon.  There's much good in the art, apparent skill and imagination, though not all of it excited me.  Frankly I enjoyed the interview even more, Mr Whelan tells some good stories.

"Murky World" by Richard Corben - 8 - In this, the 13th chapter of this lovely gift of Corben to our modern brains, our hapless hero Tugat is once again relieved of his horse Frix, as he is seduced by promises of wealth, demonstrating again that he's really not all that sharp.  He is then trapped in a cyclopian beast's lair, and I don't even care that I don't know why.  A wonderful story that can go anywhere it wants, and it does, as long as I get to follow along.

"Vices Lead:  Lust" by John Bivens - 6 - This appears to be a continuation of "Where Vices Lead" from #288 (2 years ago now), where Lust is the topic this time, but I struggled to make any sense out of this.  It took a few looks to figure out the pages that were set up as two page spreads, which are rare in the mag these days, and that helped me follow along better, a little bit anyway, and the more I looked the more I wanted to like it.  But the storytelling isn't very cohesive, and the art is sketchy to the point of distraction.  Maybe if we saw more of these "Vices Lead" stories, it would help.  My opinion is that reviewing some early Druillet would have helped with some of the background sex action.  (from "Urm" March 1978):

"Redemption and the Cicatrix" by Conor Boyle, David Baillie - 6 - With Hannah Means-Shannon getting an editing credit.  I feel I'm barely scratching the surface of what this story is trying to tell, going from comics to news to defeating and dethroning god.  The art and framing are more impressive, but on repeated readings I hardly improved my opinion, compared to how the previous story affected me.  And it's really too bad about the misspelling on the contents page.

"See What Thou Wilt" by Kyle Strahm, Matthew Mitchell, Jake Smith, Crank! - 6 - A disaffected punk kid seeks arcane tattoos to give him the power he lacks, but he only too late sees the price he pays, and that satisfaction eludes him.  I wasn't too excited by this, it's a little funny sometimes, but at least some dick appears.  I usually think some equal time cheap sexual exploitation is appropriate.

"Americon Dreamin'" by Scott Duvall, Ralf Singh, Cristian Docolomansky, Ilaria Fella - 6 - With Hannah Means-Shannon getting an "Edits" credit, and some thanks to Taylor Esposito.  With a reference to a more contemporary tyrant, and some nice T-Rex drawing, and lots of 'splosions, the end of civilization as we know it.  Did Einstein really say that World War IV would be fought with sticks and stones?

"Familiaris" by John Reppion, David Hitchcock, Matt Soffe, Simon Bowland - 7 - The King's Witchfinder General in mid 17th Century England, gets found by the witches.  Some pretty good storytelling and art tell a harrowing tale with horrifying imagery, showing glimpses of what it implies in the mind.

Friday, December 11, 2020

RIP Richard Corben

Richard Corben, pax vobiscum.  It wouldn't have been Heavy Metal without you.

Corben was responsible for so much of what Heavy Metal became.  From "Den" in the beginning, to the recent blessing of "Murky World".

My post about his early "Neverwhere":