Saturday, March 28, 2020

Heavy Metal #296

Well, I got #296 on the last day of 2019, just making 5 issues I got in that year, including Soft Wood.  As for #295, the cover price is $9.99 and it's got 200 pages.  It's the "Street Art Special".

(As foretold by Heavy Metal Magazine Magazine Senior Editor R.G. Llarena, #297 followed shortly after, and I spent time reading that instead of working on this review.  It's going on three months getting this review out, and now #298 is supposed to be out, but I have not seen it in a store yet.  I'm not sure when I'll be able to get it with everything closing.)

I got the Cover "A" at the bookstore, by Tristan Eaton.  I really wish I could find my 3D glasses for it.

On the contents pages, there's a Guest Editorial by Ron English, he's credited as Guest Editor, and the list of big shots not only includes a credit for the HM logo to Peter Kleinman again, there are changes including Josh Roberston as Digital Editor, and Matthew Medney as CEO.  Brian Witten and Paul Reder are not found, no more Mr Morrison either.  At the bottom is a "Special Thanks to Jeff Krelitz, this issue's Executive Creative Director, and former CEO."  So there's more shakeup at my favorite mag, and an interview gives the new CEO a chance to talk about his vision.  Knowing there's more to the story keeps me from getting too excited just yet.

To the magazine, which I enjoyed.

Ron English's short editorial describes how he learned that street art is more than graffiti on city walls.  Though the contents pages' art is a painted cityscape, which I didn't see a credit for, maybe even Mr English did it. 

"In Charon's Orbit" by Deih - 7.5 - It's noted as # 1 in The Insider Series.  So, did Charon really dump that guy into the river Styx?  Is that why he seems lost in the underworld?  I guess that's why he's so torn up about it.  The story is better than my lame attempt at humor, instrospective and perplexing.  I get some serious Druillet vibe from this one, the characterization, the sense of internal and external space.  I wish we could see more.

"The Rabbbits" by Ron English - 7 - Mr English's wacky story of the 3-eyed 3-eared Rabbbits, and their falling into a hole with other character-creatures, and the creation of Delusionville.  This could almost be the prequel to Mr English's "Combrats" from HM #292.

"Within One Minute Forward, Get the Brightest Days of Fortune" by Faith XLVII - 6 - The title is only listed on the Contents page, and the story includes "Special Appearance by Keya Tama".  A poetic mystical journey into the desert.  To bury a cat?  Art stark and stylized, the story told with few words.

"Graffiti Pulp:  100% True Stories of Art Crime" - 7.5 - Cover Artist Tristan Eaton's tale of 90s Detroit graffiti missions, one in particular.  A fun read accompanied by many examples of the artist's work.

Gallery - "Wynwood Walls" - 6 - Jessica Goldman Srebnik, CEO of Goldman Properties and Founder and CEO of Goldman Global Arts, is interviewed by Hannah Means-Shannon, about Wynwood Walls, an outdoor street art showcase in Miami.  Several pretty photos of the place crawling with tourists accompany Ms Means-Shannon's insightful questioning and Ms Goldman Srebnik's practiced answers.  The photos are not credited, I think they come from the WW organization (though I didn't see them at their website).  It is cool that some of the artists in this HM Street Art Special are also featured at this art park.  I did start to think of the long societal relationship of art with powerful benefactors, a topic more learned persons than myself would be able to discuss.  I also thought the tractor tread benches were cool, and that Ron English is noted as from Decatur IL.

"Dr. Nihil and the Tremendous Blunder" by Corentin Pedro, Mike Owen, Wendie Owen, Eric Ghoste, Jon Tanners - 6 - Oh just your atypical mutant mad scientist animating his android creation.  What could go wrong?  Art that's energetic and abbreviated at once, the cover and story are different but the same, and a short story with few words.  This appears to be a thing, they have a toy.

"How Big of a Dick Are You?" by Olek - 8 - A rambling slightly linear story told in the third person about Agata, a NYC based artist, and a fraction of their personal journey.  Accompanied by snaps of Igram posts.  I found it fascinating.  Is it art?  Is it Street Art?  They say so, and I believe it.

"The Smile of the Absent Cat" by Grant Morrison and Gerhardt - 6 - Titled "chapter five:  the opening of an eye".  This seems like filler in this Street Art Special, but I'm glad this story is being continued.  This chapter extends the story into another institution, for humans this time, where a resident paints on a mirror what he "sees".  The apparent intersection of realities is part of the story, apparently.  It's "eye opening" as well as a little confusing.  This chapter ends with "to be concluded".

Gallery with Hebru Brantley - 6 - Another instance of good art that doesn't reach me, my loss as always.  The kids with goggles and in superhero outfits are pretty nice, but is HM the right place for this?  Hannah Means-Shannon's interview fills in many of the spaces for me, Mr Hebru has a lot to say, in his words and his art.

"The Language of Revolution" by Swoon and Stephanie Phillips - 6 - Photos of really cool street art, dynamic and intense.  The story is an old man lamenting to his son, how his art called him away from fatherhood, to join the revolution.  That rubbed me the wrong way, since even as he expresses regret for his failure to be present, the regret is more about his own pain than about his son's, showing that dad still doesn't get it.

"Vandal" by Nick Walker, Joseph Keatinge, Ferran Delgado - 7 - Or "The Vandal" on the Contents page.  "Artists walk the street no longer!  Save one!"  Fighting the power of the soulless city with street art, Vandal enlists the Rogs to lookout as he fills the streets with said art.  Almost quaint in succession to the previous story.

"The Chronicles of Brick Lady" by Lady Pink, Roger Smith, Matt O'Connor - 7 - Through centuries, millenia, ages, a Brick Baby grows and becomes Brick Lady, as generations of civilizations pass beneath and around her.  Adored, worshiped, ignored, moved, infiltrated, shattered, loved, she lives many lives.  The art appears composed of a handful of painted scenes, with drawn art in between to fill in the story.  There are a few historical references I caught, and likely some I missed.  One of the paintings reminded me of a scene in the 1981 Heavy Metal Movie, the woman-shaped nightclub with the entrance between the legs.

"Free Your Mind!" by Nychos - 8.5 - Starting with poetic prose and skeletal drawings; then building-sized paintings.  I marveled at the scope and scale of the work.  Such imaginative depth.  Such impressive detail.  I was mystified:  "Morals", "Scleral Ring", "Banana Skinny 2".  I became grateful to see this in my favorite mag.

Gallery with Shepard Fairey - 7 - Titled "The Art of Dissent" with an interview by Hannah Means-Shannon.  Famous to many from the Obey sticker experiment that became Obey Giant, and the 2008 campaign poster HOPE, Shepard Fairey is now an art and fashion corporate titan.  Mr Fairey tries to seem humbled by it all, and to use his powers for good rather than evil.  I find the art striking and cool, and I don't mind the political stance, but I'm not empassioned by it.

"Murky World" by Richard Corben - 8 - I so enjoyed this Corben installment, it stands out in an old-school HM way in this issue of more modern art.  There's the more violent punching and kicking as promised.  There's some lovely Corben art and humor.  There's some dangling Tugat nads.  And poor Tugat seems to be aging and balding rapidly.  Poor guy, with all he's going through, can't blame him.  Story?  More betrayal and fighting and death.  Is this "The End?  Or Will There Be More?"

"Leap of Faith" by Beau Stanton and Adrian Martínez - 6 - Some pretty cool art, photos mostly of building sized compositions, an almost-collage style of photo-realistic images with splashes of color and texture.  In some ways I thought it was a similar style to Tristan Eaton.  The story is a phone conversation between not-young-anymore friends, that develops a personal feel without explicitly tying to the art.  In some way I can relate, in some ways I can't.

"In the Land of Umbra" by Lurk, Cliff Dorman, David Arquette - 6 - Presented as the product of a visit to "a place in the sixth dimension" known as Umbra, a series of portaits of its inhabitants, with descriptions of them and their roles in this faraway place.  Fanciful and fancy, fun and even funny.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020


So, the guy that runs, identified as R.M. Rhodes, also has a twitter, and last week there was an entry linking to an article with the HM CEO spouting an opinion about, well, you can see it.  And R.M Rhodes comments that HM website ran video streaming back in the mid 2000s.  Honestly I don't remember that, I do remember references in the mag about their website being "The Hottest Channel on the Internet" and that the HM website was for a while, and I recall it as mostly Mr Eastman's playground, with sutff like a photo gallery of Julie Strain called "I Shot My Wife", fun with Simon Bisley like "Biz and Buzz", and links to Eyebrow Tuna (still out there).  But that was around when I got back into HM after years of not paying attention, so I easily could have missed it.

Like I also missed another earlier cbr article,, describing how Hannah Means-Shannon resigned from HM, back in October.  (another example of my myopically poor HM inquisitiveness; half the reason I have my little blog is to gather my links to cruise around the interwebs looking at HM stuff, but I end up not looking outside the sandbox I play in, so I miss a lot.) 

(The FB posting of her description of her resignation and what led to it is here.)

But mostly I'm sad that Hannah Means-Shannon is no longer at HM, helping nurture the production of the flimsy pile of paper I so enjoy, with the interviews that have gotten better and better the more I read them.  I wonder if the issue #296, with some great artist interviews, is the last we'll see of her in the mag.  It's a shame that her work at HM will be done, especially for the reasons implied by the article, and the unsurprisingly shambolic management of the mag it implies.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Heavy Metal #295

Heavy Metal #295, another "Music Special" in the vein of #287 (eight issues and over two years ago) with stories and art inspired by rock songs.  They must have had some success with the previous Music issue, so they're doing it again.  I'm ok with that.  As before, I'm pretty clueless on the music, but I still get to enjoy the frenzy that seeps into the stories.

I got the Cover "A" by Killian Eng at the bookstore.  It's pretty cool, a sorta-samurai guy at a keyboard, and actually quite reminiscent of the Cover "A" for #287, coincidentally also by Killian Eng.  Imagine that.  I didn't see a page showing all the covers in the mag, I had to go to the preview article to be sure which was which.  The cover price is up to $9.99, and there are over 200 pages in this issue, compared to the previous #294 with over 150 pages at $8.95.

Judas Priest - "Firepower" by Jeff Krelitz, Diego Agrimbau, Agustín Alessio, Taylor Esposito - 6 - Besieged scientists release a robot warrior into spacetime.  It joins some historical battles, laying waste to its finders' enemies.  Kinda cool, if not dramatically intriguing.  It says "To Be Continued".

"Crystal Planet" by Ned Evett, Joe Satriani, Brendon Small, Dan Morison, Dennis Calero, Micah Myers - 6 - A guitarist saves the world from alien invasion.  It spends most of its space on the guitarist's back story, his long-gone father and the guitar he left him.  The art's alright, the story goes pretty well, it seems like it could be continued, but apparently it's not.

HO99O9 - "Master of Pain" by Aaron Gillespie, Arturo Lauria, DC Hopkins - 8 - Pay-per-view snuff gang is destroyed by a bio-android vigilante.  Incredibly violent and disturbing.  The art is all deep purple and neon black shadows.  The storytelling is brisk with an ironic twist to the justice delivered.  It came together for me as a strong HM story.

"The Boss" by Diego Agrimbau, Marco Turini, Adam Wollet - 7.5 - "Story inspired by Dave Correia's cover art for Rob Sonic's Defriender album" which is conveniently located just before this story, and also the Cover "B" for this issue # 295.  Death is overcome in a hostile takeover.  I like what I've seen of Mr Turini's art in previous stories, but I didn't recognize this as his right away.  Maybe it's the depictions of Death and demons instead of hot babes in improbable space suits.  I still like it.  The story gets a lot out of the one picture that inspired it, more than I could do, and makes strong reference to some present-day societal issues.

An ad for a Tenacious D tour, that was done by the time this came out, is followed by "The Metal" by Ryan Browne, Aaron Conley, Vladimir Popov, Taylor Esposito - 6 - Caricatures of urban musicians accidently summon The Metal and unite to send the demon back to where it came.  They fail.  Quick, fun, and a bit funny.

High on Fire - "Spewn from the Earth" by Phil Hester, Matt Allison, Frank Cvetkovic - 6 - The battle of gods and the suffering it brings.  Greys and browns and quoted lyrics.  The power and emotion it carries can't break into my skull.

Slipknot - "We Are Not Your Kind" by Corey Taylor, M. Shawn Crahan, Alex De Campi, Jonathan Wayshak, Fares Maese - 5 - Some guy wallowing in regret, wearing a mask, some book or game?  The story may be unclear to me, the art is frantic and shattering, setting a stage for something maybe, since it says "To Be Continued".

Gallery with Grimes, and an informative interview by Hannah Means-Shannon - 6 - The musician is able to grow her art into visual space.  Of course I don't know the artist's body of work, and though I get a high-school notebook feel from the art, I can also feel it trying to extend into fuller emotion and awareness, as well as technical execution.

Mastadon - "The Czar" by Jeremy Haun, Shane Patrick White, Nick Filardi, Micah Myers - 7 - Spelled "Mastodon" on the Contents page.  I rather enjoyed this one despite my lack of familiarity with the music, I got into the epic though fragmented storytelling.  A woman is betrayed at the heist of some alien monolith, or something, and is transported to another reality reincarnated as some sort of superwoman.  Befriended by a local tribe, she's forced to repel an attack on them that leaves almost no survivors.  The art is good enough, and does a great job driving the action of the story, with some fantastic imagination.  And the storytelling drew me in, with few words, of which many were in an alien tongue, even though little is resolved.

Code Orange - "The Hunt" by Cullen Bunn, Andy Belanger, Tatto Caballero, Micah Myers - 5 - Told mostly without words.  A car theft and chase in an urban wasteland.  With Murder.  If I had a clue about the song this is based on I probably would've gotten more out of it.

Def Leppard - "Hysteria" by Jeff Krelitz, Leah Moore, John Reppion, Simeon Aston, Moramike, Fabian Cobos, Zoar Huerta, DC Hopkins - 6 - Social worlds collide when a biker kid jumping over a ravine for a gang initiation, almost hits a bored socialite escaping her mum's snooty party.  Of course she's smitten, and he leaves.  But it says "to be continued" so we might get more from this story.

Amon Amarth - "The Berserker at Stamford Bridge" by Alex De Campi, Tony Parker, Carlos Cabrera - 6 - This story has some ambition and some success weaving the tale of a Beserker into the story of the Norman invasion of England.  It tries to tell his origins and makes a nice reference to the Bayeux Tapestry.

Megadeth - "The Skull Beneath the Skin" by Justin Jordan, Rob Prior, JAME - 7 - A tale of personal anguish in a world full of evil.  Cool art effects and the power of the storytelling was made plain to me.

Iron Maiden - "Legacy of the Beast - Night City Preview" by Llexi Leon, Ian Edginton, Kevin West, Richard Friend, Keith Champagne, Raúl Manríquez, Jacob Bascle - 5 - The long list of creators is not noted on the work, an apparent preview of a video game.  HM is getting a lot of mileage out of this collaboration with Iron Maiden.  I'm not a fan, but good for them.

"The Ghoul Screamer" by Dan Fogler, Burney, Justin Mohlman, Matthew Allison - 7 - A rather cool story about a band gaining possession of the guitar pedal of "Jimi Hyjinx".  Reminiscent of "The Legend of the Magic Tone Box" by Angus McKie from the October 1980 issue of Heavy Metal, and with a layer of Spinal Tap.  Derivative perhaps, but also funny, and I liked the art.  And it also says "to be continued..."

"Murky World" by Richard Corben - 7.5 - I'm glad this is continued in this otherwise Rock-oriented issue.  Our hero Tugat continues his murky quest, through a desolate landscape, encountering an old foe.  Still more murky than mysterious, but it's fun and I still like seeing the wonky Corben art.  "More violent punching and kicking" is in store.

Artist Spotlight by Gerald Scarfe - 8.5 - With a lengthy interview by Hannah Means-Shannon.  Gerald Scarfe is a widely known cartoonist and illustrator (except my me) who did the art for Pink Floyd's "The Wall", so this does fit well with this Music issue.  The artist is not shy expressing his opinions about his work or his politics in his art over his long career, and I admire the mag for displaying these opinions on its pages.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Twisted Holiday Horror Tales #1

"Twisted Holiday Horror Tales #1", as advised to my humble blog by Attila Kiss, is now available for purchase, digital on comiXology:, and digital + print-on-demand at IndyPlanet:  Some of his other Blues Ratz work is available too.  I'm happy to plug my old internet buddy Intone Flux's real-life comix work.  Order now for the Holidays!

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Soft Wood

Soft Wood is labeled "America's New Comedy and Parody Magazine" and "From the People That Bring You Heavy Metal Magazine".  First surfacing as an April Fool's joke, then announced as a real thing in June, I got my copy (with the Cover A "Gepetto" by Cedric Peyravernay, which is also the inside cover art) in a comic shop in September.

I'm annoyed this thing exists.  If this had come out as a Humor Special or other HM publication in the course of a normal year, I would have felt better about it.  But this year, when HM only publishes 4 issues, including this attempt at a new magazine, I felt the effort would have been better spent getting Heavy Metal Magazine published the stated 6 times in a year.  (HM just announced #296, but it's just up for pre-order yet, so no way it comes out this year.)  Most all of the stories, and there are many, would have fit just fine in "regular" issues.  It's been disheartening these past few years that the mag hasn't been able to keep up a regular pace, pretty much since the end of the Eastman Era (which may not have been flawless, especially around the time issues started to be numbered.  Hard to think that was 7 years ago).

I was almost annoyed enough to not bother with a review, and treat this as an aberration, but I figured the creators' work is worthy of attention (heck, they probably thought they were submitting to Heavy Metal, and I bet plenty are happy to be in something at least HM-adjacent), and I need to be able to take what I can get, with HM and everything else, 'cause nothin' lasts forever, especially not me.  So here goes, then I can get to #295 before the end of the year.

First off, the logo is credited, "Heavy Metal & Soft Wood Logos by Peter Kleinman" right at the bottom of the first contents page.  I had read before about the original logo on Lostboy's but it's cool he was able to provide the Soft Wood logo too, and get the credit.

"Camp Micro-Penis" by Shannon Wheeler - 6 - A boy at camp tells the story of another boy's "Super Tiny Penis".  This tries to rise above the joke by telling of the unfortunate lad's grace and sacrifice, but with only moderate success.

"Blue Haiku" by Marc Koprinarov and Scott R Miller - 5 - A series of illustrations in an inspirational poster style, but with subjects I can describe as sarcastic, accompanied by haiku-like verse with often sexual tone.  The art and verse have little to do with each other, perhaps trying for a sharp mystery but I'm only getting a sense of murky confusion.  If I liked it better, that might have been part of its charm, but...

"Jake Likes Onions" by Jake Thompson - 6 - There are a few of these one-pagers by Mr Thompson in this mag, with some decent black-and-white illustrations and a single joke, some are better than others.

"Suicity" by Osmarco Valladao, Manoel M, Carlos Cabrera - 5 - A citizen of a future-noir city jumps off a building, and is stopped by a security drone in mid-fall.  Berated for law breaking by a clown-faced screen, including unauthorized suicide attempt.  The penalty for which is death, so it lets him drop.  Doesn't seem as funny as it may have been intended.

"Cartoon" by Shannon Wheeler - 4 - Angels in heaven, critiquing an angel rock band.

"Star Cycles" by Tom Pinchuk, Denis Medri, Troy Peteri - 5 - The story of a human interstellar hero, told as a tv retrospective with snippets of interviews of associates.  It looks good and has some good lines. 

Another "Jake Likes Onions" - 4

"Newsflash" by Krent Able - 6 - A tv news program seems to take its data from personal intimate measurements of the personnel.  This is notable for the graphic depictions of the intimate measurements.  There's a Readers' Survey at the end, I am apparently "just too thick to get it".

"Comix" by Alex Jenkins - 5 - A handful of one-page jokes.  Wordless with simple art, they may not say a lot, but they do so with a certain amount of naïve charm.

"Watchmensch" by Rich Johnston, Simon Rohrmuller, Matthew Vega, John Higgins - 4 - Apparently a parody of Watchmen.  I haven't read that, and but for a bit of recent internet jabber about Alan Moore and superhero comics, and apparently a tv show, I am clueless.  I catch a couple cameos, Ozzy, Comic Book Guy, Krustofski, is that Mr Morrison?  And there's some article parody in the middle that is not continued overleaf.  I don't know from mainstream comics, and not knowing the inside jokes, I did not have fun reading this, my loss I'm sure. 

"Baphomet Ad" by Krent Able - 6 - A rather fun two-page magazine ad parody, for a remote-controlled Baphomet toy.  Some of the jokes were pretty funny, I liked the "omni-directional death mound" myself.

"Who, MD" by Tony Lee, Dan Boultwood, Adam Wollet - 6 - A family struggles to accommodate Grandpa's peculiar demands, starts off-the-wall and dials up the crazy from there, with a twist at the ending.  Fun modern art with a fast-paced story, it's got some things to offer.

"BLARGH the Creature from Kraaka-5" by Rafer Roberts and Robert Sean - 7 - A scientist Dr Gravely and his assistant Billy encounter BLARGH in his hunt for his enemies on earth.  Made to look like old comic dot-shading on tattered pages, it plays up the fun of sarcastic nostalgia.  Maybe not pretty, but enjoyable.

"Evan Dorkin's Fun Strips" by (um) Evan Dorkin and Charo Solis - 6 - Sixteen Fun Strips, providing varying amounts of Fun.  I liked the Socket Ghost in Busy Body Grandma, and the Extry the Quisp-looking alien in Science Fiction Theatre.

Another "Jake Likes Onions" - 4

"Doctor Gravely and Billy in:  Lord of the Fruit Flies" by Sean Frost and Rafer Roberts - 7 - Doctor Gravely helps Billy with his Science Fair project.  Classic.

"Food Fight" by Jesse Blaze Snider, Steve Kurth, D.C. Hopkins - 7 - A take on civil unrest in the context of an "uprising of anthropomorphic mutant animals".  Nicely drawn with some bits of humor, and the writing had enough insight to find it enjoyable.

"Attack of the 50ft Fred" by Shannon Eric Denton and Benjamin Lackey - 6 - A horny 50s guy is abducted by aliens after getting shut down by his girlfriend at the makeout spot, and improbably survives mortal combat to emerge victorious.  Moderately funny with nicely energetic art.

Another "Jake Likes Onions" - 5

"Blue Haiku 2" by Marc Koprinarov and Voodoo Salad - 6 - More perverted verse with a different artist's work accompanying.  The art is stylized portraits with no relation to the verse, but I thought it was a bit more imaginative and interesting.

"Demonopolis" by Bob Fingerman - 7 - Sewage worker demons join their boss for dinner.  I like Mr Fingerman's Dotty's Inferno, seen in HM #s 290 and 291, the art is fun and the jokes are funny, happy to see more of his similar work here.

"The Furious Friendship Goats" by Tony Fleecs, Celor, Vladimir Popov, Micah Myers - 6 - So, three magic goats have to throw verbal abuse at each other, or else the world stops spinning.  The art is sparkles and pastels like a kid's comic, and the premise can be amusing, but the jokes are juvenile bro humor that I can find tiresome at my age.  In conclusion, get off my lawn.

"The Second to Last Seal" by Sean Chen and Dee Cunniffe - 7.5 - Death comes for an unready man.  I haven't really seen the Seventh Seal movie this is referencing, But I think I got the idea, and I quite enjoyed the storytelling and the jokes as the man delays his fate.  And it says "To be continued..."

"Cartoon" by Shannon Wheeler - 5 - Another joke with Death

Another "Jake Likes Onions" by Jake Thompson - 5 - "If People Had Tails", more funny because it's more true.

So there is some Heavy Metal Fun available in this mag, and it would not be the worst Heavy Metal Magazine ever, by any estimation.  Trying to get over my annoyance, I'll just sit here and quietly hope that HM will continue publishing and I will continue to be able to buy them and express my little opinions into the ethereal void.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Dean Haspiel interview

So it's been over a year since I wrote about Dean Haspiel and his play "The Last Bar at the End of the World", and this flimsy connection with my HM fanworld.  I recently figured out that an interview with Mr Haspiel about this play back then, was done by Hannah Means-Shannon, now HM's Senior Editor.  So that makes it worthwhile to me to post about it.

Foreshadowing Ms Means-Shannon's interviewing prowess, as now on display in (both of...) this year's issues, she gets some in-depth answers from Mr Haspiel, and from some real-live New York performers from the show, Philip Cruise, Ed Miller, and Anna Stefanic.

It makes me wish there was more Mr Haspiel in HM.  He seems busy, as noted on his website and his other internet outlets, with his success with his Red Hook series.  But this was a pleasant diversion from waiting for the #295 issue of the mag, and trying to decide how annoyed I am that Soft Wood exists.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Heavy Metal #294

It says "Industrial Special", I can't say for sure why, maybe it's because many of the stories have some technology.  I got this year's 2nd issue of the mag in the 8th month of the year.  It's a hefty issue at over 150 pages, and I enjoyed reading it.  But it's hard to understand why they can still sell subscriptions for 6 issues a year, when they haven't produced more than 5 for a couple years, maybe since the Eastman era?  I'm finding myself annoyed that they took the trouble to publish "Soft Wood", which seemed to start as an April Fool's joke (which I did finally find, maybe I'll make a review, dunno), when they can't publish a full year of bimonthly issues.  It doesn't seem like lack of material is the problem.

As always, my whining gets me nowhere, and I'm better off finding the place where I can be grateful for what we do have.  Working on it.

I got the Cover A, "Sorrow" by Donato Giancola - 6 - Two robots appear to comfort or caress a limp naked human form.  Perhaps evocative but obtuse.  This artist has a gallery in the issue.

Inside at the contents page, the art is from the Cover C, "Poursuit" by Tom Hisbergue, which I liked with its mashup vibe of Thelma and Louise meets Bladerunner.

"If/Then" by Genevieve Valentine, Agustín Alessio, Adam Wollet - 6 - A woman with a spear seems to be warily moving through a forest that appears patrolled by robots, when she encounters a robot dog trapped by a rock.  She frees the robot dog, which then appears to bond with her.  It's hard to say if this is simply a girl meets robot search dog story, or if we should find more to it.  The title as program logic statement, makes me think the robot dog made the logical decision to protect the woman, based on her kindness in freeing it.  But that makes me wonder if that would be a bug or a feature in the robot dog's programming.

"1NF3RNO" by Thom London, Curt Pires, Antonio Fuso, Stefano Simeone, Micah Myers - 7 - This seems to start as a future-religion morality play, then has the deaths and afterlifes of two people apparently mixed up.  It mostly follows the deceased young woman's path through Hell and representations of the seven deadly sins, to try to find her way out.  She was maybe successful?  It's not surprising I could be a little confused, but I found enough intriguing questions in this to interest me.

"Smile of the Absent Cat" by Grant Morrison and Gerhard - 7 - Subtitled "chapter four: the whole of creation", and referred to on the contents page as "The Smile Absent Cat".  Mr Catkins is convinced to join the "cult of science" that has been manipulating the world around him.  Glad this chapter appears after "only a few" months (two issues) after chapter three, instead of a year and a half like the last time.  And also glad for the conspiratorial plot exposition, though it seems our poor protagonist is being taken advantage of in his mentally unstable state.

Gallery by Nick Pyle - 7 - With an interview by Hannah Means-Shannon.  From comics consuming youth to noise-rock musician to self-taught artist, Mr Pyle has a unique and recognizable style, heavy on armored and/or robot humanoids, with lots of colored lights and squggly wiring.  I can imagine the lights blinking, though I can hardly imagine this style animating well.  My untrained eye seemed to see the untrained means to the artistic ends, and I was more amused than annoyed by inconsistencies in perspective or anatomy.  I think it's because I get the feeling he's having fun with it.  I also enjoyed the imagination displayed, where the style doesn't get in the way of the story the images seem to convey.

"Caretaker" by Matt Emmons - 6 - A robot, apparently the "Caretaker", makes its way through what appears to be the decrepit remains of some sort of human space colony settlement.  I liked the art style and execution, and the storytelling was good, but I got lost in the details, like who designs a robot with a fragile glass skullplate?  And it had a fruit stolen by a raccoon-looking critter, but it had another one stashed to give away later?  Just another day apparently.

"(Inspired by the Song...) Thieves by Ministry" by Aubrey Sitterson, Andrea Mutti, Vladimir Popov, Taylor Esposito - 6 - A complicated title, noted more simply as 'Ministry's "Thieves"' on the Contents page.  I don't know the song, so I start disadvantaged.  I liked the art style, ragged yet colorful and energetic, and the storytelling builds nicely.  The story itself doesn't grab me, maybe I'll look up the song to see if that fills me in.

Gallery by Donato Giancola - 7 - With Hannah Means-Shannon with the interview.  The HM website recently produced a News article with Giancola's work, many of which appear in this Gallery.  The article calls this the "Empathetic Robots" series, oddly not mentioned in the interview here.  I liked the realistic-ish classical-y art style, which helps display the Empathy the images are apparently meant to convey.

"Into the Black" by Keith Grassmick, Nick Philpott, Dennis Calero - 6 - A dark near-future cop thriller with several broken-down-cops tropes.  It does have a knack for presenting contrivances as intriguing perspectives.

"Glitch" by Dwayne Harris - 6 - A simple future society-VR joke, this tells its joke well in just a couple pages.

"Murky World" Chapter 8 by Richard Corben - 7.5 - A search party seeks the kidnapped daughter of Lod Phatuus, finding instead the escaped slave Moja with Tugat waiting in ambush.  Still terrificly Corben, and with some fine gratuitous nudity, I'm a bit miffed this one doesn't follow up on the old prophet's proposition to Tugat.  I'll get over it, especially if this continues like this.

"Machine Age Voodoo" by Frank Forte, Michael Duplessis, Moramike, Carlos Cabrera - 6 - A disaffected mad scientist, as a musician, seethes at society's inability to recognize his genius.  Energetic writing and furious art sustain the storytelling, despite flat characterizations and a disconcerting misalignment of the color register in some of the images.  It seems intentional, and adds to the frenzy, but it made it a challenge to process some of the scenes.

"I am Your God" by Homero Rios, Davi Augusto, David Ocampo, JAME- 7 - A society where humankind is extinct, replaced by the "Synthetics" who "emulate their behavior for a better life experience".  Until one starts questioning their existence, just like those flawed humans.  The art has a nice style and the story unfolds apace.  I thought this did a good job with the telling of this old modern story.

Gallery by xsullo - 7 - Hannah Means-Shannon interviews the artist, AKA Nick Sullo.  Portaits of techno-fear, with strong colors and disturbing imagery, which I enjoy despite the visceral fright.  The HM website also has a News article with more of this artist's work.

"Dance, Death, Dance" by Kevin Eastman, Esau Escorza, Tato Caballero, JAME - 6 - A robot has life, love, loss, and death.  Starting with a lightining strike through a future-modern city, to the waste dump at its base, a Terminator-looking robot is animated into a Bisley-looking character, to experience his ghost-lover, to lose her in a zombie attack, and to die to give her "life".  The art is vibrant and enjoyable, and gives the story its all, but I found annoyance that Mr Eastman's writing consisted of Hamlet's "To be or not to be..." soliloquy.  I'm sure the writing of this story also included telling the artist what scenes to draw, and this is the most Eastman content in several issues.  I guess I was hoping for more.

"The Second Rider" by Jesse Lonergan - 6 - A motorcycle riding assassin, the "second rider", fulfills his mission, and then some, replacing his target to rule in their place.  Oh and he's a "shape shifter" and is last seen impersonating the ruler in the ruler's bed with a concubine.  I liked the art and styling, the storytelling was effective, even if unexciting to me.

"Planet Carnivore" by Philippe Caza - 8 - Rating may be inflated for sentimental reasons.  I greatly enjoyed Caza's work in the earlier years of the mag.  The art was a delight, colorful and intriguing, finely executed, plenty sexy, and he could tell a story with wit, humor, and grace.  The most recent instance of Caza's work in the mag as far as I can tell, was on an inside cover in #281, and that was apparently from 1983.  Besides that I believe his last appearances were in 2001 (the January and Summer issues).  Having newer work in the mag is a delight.  For a long time, a link on Lostboy's HM fan page went to a Caza site, in French, but there were some items for sale, digital work and some printed.  The link is long gone, and I regretted not acting on procuring some of this stuff, but I actually looked and found a link.  Maybe I'll actually do something.  Oh, and the story?  A marooned space traveler, describing the native fauna trying to eat them as annoying downstairs neighbors (a perspective often used in Caza's HM stories), is plucked from the peril, but not to be saved.

Thursday, August 29, 2019


Attila Kiss, known to me first as Intone Flux from the old HM website forums, has taken to creating his own work, I've noted his Blues Ratz #1, #2, and #3 previously, and other things, and he (not so) recently alerted me to a new project.

"Twisted Holiday Horror Tales" #1 is taking form and he is posting regular updates here.  It looks promising and I will look forward to seeing its release in time for the hollydays.

As always I wish him the best in his projects and his life, and express my admiration for his determination, and my apologies for my lack of timely response.


Saturday, June 1, 2019

Heavy Metal # 293

Noted as the "Beyond the Darkness Special", I got this first issue of 2019 in the 5th month of the year.  While I would be happy to be wrong, I think there is no way there will be six issues this year.  I'll be surprised if we even get five like the last couple years.  I try to be grateful for what we get, a printed magazine still being published for over 40 years, but it's pretty annoying.  At least I don't have a subscription, I'd be pretty disappointed if I did.

The big changes in staffing previously announced are noted.  Tim Seeley as Managing Editor, Hannah Means-Shannon and Justin Mohlman join as Contributing Editors, and Grant Morrison is now listed as Advisor.  I'll take this opportunity to thank Mr Morrison for his time as Editor-In-Chief (and Kristan Morrison as Contributing Editor) as I have enjoyed the mag over the last several years.  I felt his time stabilized the magazine's form and content, and my hope is that these editorial changes have laid the foundation for its continued existence for years to come.  I also enjoyed Mr Morrison's fanciful editorials.  Best of luck to whatever projects you'll be working on, that I will never see.

The editorial page illustration is by Denis Zhbankov.  It looks like a gryphon-demon with their young picking at a bloodied corpse.  The Cover "A" which I got from the bookstore, is "Family Dreams" by Flavio Greco Paglia, and is noted as for "Buenos Aires Rojo Sangre" which is apparently a sci-fi etc film fest.  Each artist has a Gallery in this issue.

"S.O.L.U.S." by Timothy E. Bacon - 7 - The creator gives special thanks to Antfarm, SolCommand, Parris & Stonemason.  A lone space traveller near the dead earth seeks memories.  The art is nice looking, though the excursion suit looks pretty ungainly, and the storytelling turned out well, using first-person narration and the computer giving unheeded warnings.  The "of course it's a girl robot with metal boobs" moment hardly detracted from its impact on me.

"DoppleDämons" by Emilia Pedrazzoli, Emiliano Pinto, Facundo Percio, Omar Estévez - 5 - From suicide to sacrifice to flesh-eating demons to a roiling hellscape, I couldn't keep up.

"The Door" Chapter 5 by Michael Moreci, Esau Escorza, & Adam Wollet - 7 - Well, in this final chapter our protagonist persists and resists the constraints of the constructs of the artificial world holding her captive, and successfully finds her way back to herself.  The art is again lovely, and contains a scene of bodily disintegration so arresting as to rival my favorite shocker in my favorite story from the October 1978 issue, "Shattered Like a Glass Goblin".  I'm a bit dismayed by the returning pervy smell, with more of the art toying with upskirting the poor girl, and I'm either annoyed or amused by, when she emerges naked from her own immersion tank, they get coy about nipples.  Eeesh.  C'mon, it doesn't need to be like that.  Yeah, HM has a long history of crappy-ass sexism and objectification, and sexy is part of the fun, but nowadays shit like that gets called out.  There's still a lot to recommend this story as a Heavy Metal delight.

Gallery with John Kenn Mortensen - 7 - with an interview by Hannah Means-Shannon.  Line drawings of horrors that surround us.  Apparently Mr Mortensen came to fantasy art from another life, and the art seems to have such an untrained skill, as to make me fantasize it's something I could do (but I couldn't, it's much better than I would do), which seems part of its charm.  And such a visceral charm, certainly willies-inducing.

"Mother Death" by Homero Rios, Nephtali Leal, and Jame - 7 - Mother Death gives the damned their rest.  Almost a throwback to HM's early days, with art with expression that exceeds the execution, and the translation giving the story a different perspective from what its original language may have had, telling a supernatural tale of shit and death.  I think I missed a few things.  The unfortunate mirrored background images and the extremely long hands in the last panel confused me, but the skull-headed cherubs were eye-catching and had some good lines.

"Little Green God of Agony" by Stephen King and Dennis Calero - 7 - A wealthy man, crippled in an accident, enlists an exorcist in a desparate bid to end his pain.  Primarily told from the perspective of his very skeptical nurse.  I have read little Stephen King, but I'm not surprised that this is a well-written, engaging read.  Which is good, since it's pretty long, 15 pages, and it has lots of torsos surrounded by word and thought balloons.  The art seems deliberately subdued, a darkened room with mostly stark shadows and muted hues.  It ends abruptly, but happily, for the wealthy guy at least.

Gallery with Flavio Greco Paglia - 7 - With an interview by Hannah Means-Shannon.  Some nice imagery from a successful fantasy/commercial artist.  While I found some of it on the dark and murky side, the artist comments about working with contrast and learning to use light to tell a narrative, and I managed to see that.

"The Guest" by Manuel D. Montesinos - 7 - A lone survivor of a disastrous mission from Mars recalls the anniversary of the incident.  It makes a pointed statement about humans destroying their worlds, and ends with a not-too-shocking surprise.

"Holy Wars ... The Punishment Due" by Tim Seeley, Ignacio Calero, Carlos Cabrera, Micah Myers - 7 - An excerpt from the Megadeth: Death by Design graphic novel.  A lone techno-vigilante wages bloody vengeance against the corporatist machine.  I'm not especially excited about the HM mag collaborations with heavy metal bands, my loss I'm sure.  It does make sense in some ways, with HM's many music references over the years, and obvious marketing potential.  And I did enjoy much about # 287.  And if it works, good for 'em.  This entry benefits from energetic art and some pretty good storytelling.

Gallery with Denis Zhbankov - 7 - With an interview by Hannah Means-Shannon.  Some nice personal art from a professional artist.  Some was pretty dark and murky, but I did like a couple a good deal, the smoke break and the night catcher, they were imaginative.

"Murky World" by Richard Corben - 8 - Chapters 6 and 7 back to back. Lots of furious action and escape, and recapture, and ... is the old storyteller coming on to Tugat..??  Whoa.  Maybe we'll get to see what's up with that abdomen.  Or ... Could be yikes either way.

"Green Grower from Rigbadal" by Z. Pahek - 7 - A marooned space captain tries to survive with his robot companion, landing on wild Rigbadal looking for something to eat.  A little mix of Star Wars and Little Shop of Horrors.  It's colored well and looks nice but I think I like Pahek's work in black and white just a bit more.

"White Death" by Diego Agrimbau, Eduardo Risso, Alberto Calvo - 7 - Rebelling slaves in a failed revolution in the Andes.  Told by one of the rebels, as he remembers his late father and the voodoo he taught him, this story appears to be placed in certain historical time (I started looking and General San Martin is known as a hero for his role in South American independence from Spain, there's a lot I could learn about that) which lends weight to the tale.  I thought the art was dynamic and engaging, fitting the storytelling.

So I liked this issue fine, and I'll look forward to the next, which is already being promoted for pre-sale, so when I saw that I got working on this post.

Friday, April 26, 2019

#293 preview

In the first new "news" entry on the HM website in over a year, there's a preview of #293:

It announces this issue is now for sale, but I haven't seen it in a store yet.  We're just getting the first issue of the year at the end of April, jeez.

But it's a pretty nice preview, touching on many stories I'm looking forward to, especially The Door and Murky World.  There are cover images too.  I expect to get the cover "A" at the store:

Though I was struck by the image for the cover "C", "REMANENT HEAD 2" by Wanjin Gim:

It's pretty fantastic and strikingly similar to the Spring 1987 cover by Jim Warren:

(this image is from Lostboy's Heavy Metal Magazine Fan Page, and my Covers post from a while back)

I just hope I come across this new issue soon.