Sunday, August 5, 2018

Heavy Metal # 290

This is the Deadly Special.  I got the cover "A" at the bookstore, with "Hydra" by Dan Quintana, which I liked, with the three faces similar but unique, and the wrinkled gold look of the logo, so I'll give it a 7. 

Issue #290 Cover A - Dan Quintana

The other covers are noted on the contents page, but not shown, so I would have had to see them on one of their media feeds, but I don't remember that.  I looked at the HM shopping page, (where I got the image for "A") and saw the covers "B" and "C", but not the "D".  I'm not much of a fan of the multiple covers thing anyway.

I'll pause here for a moment to moan about the HM website.  I've had snarky complaint about it before, but it existed and made improvements and helped me out over time, even through the transition across the Eastman to Morrison eras.  But it's been months since it's been touched, anywhere I could see, and I lament the stagnation of the Cover Gallery for the last couple years.  The Cover Gallery is especially missed.  For me it complemented Lostboy's Heavy Metal Magazine Fanpage and its Magazine List as a reference, and it picked up the slack for a while when Lostboy stopped doing updates (and thanks Lostboy for keeping your site up still), to help me enjoy my little HM thing of reading all of them and the growing endless chances of connections of stories and creators.

But it's been a while.  I know the media landscape is dynamic, and nothing lasts forever in this world, and stuff happens.  For me it's worrisome to think how much this reflects on the status of the operation, along with the paltry nature of their media feeds, and this being only the second issue this year.  It makes me think "what's going on?"  Fortunately it's not about me (except for this blog, this is about me) and maybe things are just cruising merrily along as one does in these times, producing a mag that I have quite enjoyed for the most part for the past few years.

So, done with whining for now, on to the mag.  Inside the front cover is an ad for the Taarna books, which may be interesting if I ever come across them.  They should really have more of this in the mag to promote it.  The contents page has a novel bit of art, with a collage of scenes from inside the mag in a skull motif, that seems uncredited.  There's a Justin Mohlman listed as a Contributing Editor, and that Jett Lucas guy is still there as Creative Executive.  Mr Morrison's editorial finds the humorous path meandering among the stories in no particular order, describing their miserable and/or fanciful deaths.

"Queen of the Crawlers" by Vincent Kings - 6 - prefaced as "an atomic fairy tale".  Starting "In the end, there was no one but the woman..." she is shown burying a skeleton with a bashed-in skull.  We are left to speculate the cause of her solitude with only few clues, but she soon takes to training the Crawlers, insects that resemble giant hissing cockroaches, building their short-lived generations into powerful civilizations in their own right, until her own end.  While I thought the concept could possibly been told as a more engaging story, there are several aspects that impress.  Painting the pages must have been time-consuming, and left me with less detail than I may have liked, but it had some really nice effects, like mottled shadows through her tattered shawl, and the radiant glow fitting the sentiment when "She felt a parent's pride in beng surpassed by her children."  Overall much to like.

"The Savage Sword of Jesus Christ" Part 2 by Grant Morrison & the Molen Brothers - 6 - There's some sophomoric sarcastic fun to be had, and I am curious how the Jesus Christ - Superhero movie concept by and for Hitler, will turn out, since it is "to be continued."

"Murky World" Part 3 by Richard Corben - 7 - Our dimwitted hero Tugat stumbles from saving an escaped slave to mourning his master's death to being enslaved himself.  The story seems to imply nefarious doings beneath the surface, and the strangely morphing proportions in the art, make me even more confused than usual.  But I am still enjoying the lovely Corben-ness of the thing, and the mere fact of having more of his stuff in the mag at this time in its history.

"The Door" Chapter 2 by Esau Escorza & Michael Moreci - 7 - Our young protagonist keeps up her search for herself in the confusing world not of her making.  Some introspective dialog and nice looking and perhaps a bit less pervy, this may go somewhere, or may just go in more circles.

"Edbook" by Irvine Welsh & Dan McDaid - 7 - A killer reminisces.  The story is mostly about how his childhood survival of an attempted murder-suicide made him the man he is today.  A big feature that is maybe even noir, the art is stark but not detailed, and the story considers human nature and mental illness, in a similar fashion.  Are they not the same?

"Near Death Experience" by John Bivens - 6 - An addict wakes up in what must be a seedy drug den, since there's a poster peeling off the wall that says "Heavy Metal" on it.  She flees a hallucination, only to see more, little green anthropods, that seem attracted to death.  Death that surrounds her. 

Dotty's Inferno "The Ex" by Bob Fingerman - 7 - Love and romance and fascism in the 2nd Circle of Hell.  Actually pretty fun, and maybe part of a series.  And I'll admit I like seeing some dicks hanging around with the tits and butts, a whiff of the old days of the mag, and a bit more equal opportunity exploitation.  Though erections are still hard to come by...

Artist Spotlight:  Matt Bailey - 7 - with an interview by Rantz Hoseley.  Some nice looking woodcut-like art, with skulls.

"The Color of Air" Part 7 by Enki Bilal - 8 - The characters come together, confused and disoriented.  I feel the same way, I'm hardly making a bit of sense of it, and I'm so enjoying it.  Compelling use of light and dark and color.

"Murder House" by James Harvey - 7 - After a murder is done in her house, woman builds an empire selling tours.  Told briskly with lots of exposition, I enjoyed all the words and fine lines.

"Tohko" by Peach MoMoKo - 7 - Gruesome death, fantastic rebirth, ironic death.  Pretty.  Arty.

Gallery with Dan Quintana - 6 - With a brief interview by Rantz Hoseley.  Some obviously nice work that doesn't excite me much.

"Lead Feet" by Tómas Wortley and Rodrigo Lujan - 7 - A guy jumps off cliffs, for fun.  To try to fly.  He's the last one that didn't fly away during "The Ascension".  The art and storytelling are ok, and work well together, though I have misgivings about logical gaps and the somewhat gratuitous upskirt.  Despite that there's enough emotional weight to be satisfying.

Gallery with Rob Prior - 6.5 - With an interview by the busy Rantz Hoseley.  More obviously nice work that is maybe a little more exciting for me, with all the blood and/or fire.  Though sometimes splattery or drippy paint seems to add the effect of literal gravity, when maybe it's trying be more kinetic?  Hmmm.  But it was amusing to see the first image titled "Jeff Krelitz's Dream".  Hmmm again.

Inside the back cover is an ad for The 49th Key in a trade paperback, which I didn't enjoy when it was in the mag.  The back cover is an ad for the Iron Maiden Legacy of the Beast games, which I will likely never see.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

One Such Partner

One Such Partner is a story by Stoya and Dean Haspiel that was in #281, the Sex Issue.  It fit the theme and I liked it mostly, but a little thing annoyed me about it.  My review is here. 

I found out that a guy says it's based on a true story about him.  I have no reason to not believe it.  He's known as Rev. Mitcz and the story is in two parts, and  They're pretty fun reads.

Now before you start clicking on things, get to a safe place since they're pretty NSFW.  I admit that's part of the fun, in a prurient way, but they descibe life in a world I'll never be, in a place that I mostly avoid.  Kinda like HM, sometimes I like to pretend, but it ain't me.  Seems to be him though, and her, and more power to them.  Rev. Mitcz appears to be a comedian with an attitude I would have called punk in the 80s, and his writing evokes actual feelings in the midst of the mayhem.  Similarly Stoya writes and speaks, as well as performs and acts, with what seems awareness and purpose.  In fact they collaborate,  I can find things to admire in both of them.

While the stories themselves have much to find interesting, the bigger picture for me is finding stories about a story in Heavy Metal, and how it informs and even improves my view of the one in HM.  That was fun.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Blues Ratz #1

Blues Ratz #1 is a story about three brothers in a punk rock band, who live with their mom.  It's by Attila Kiss and Greg Woronchak, and published by Scattered Comics.  The band, the Punk Bratz, is struggling, as their drummer has "lost his rhythm", and the story gets complicated fast.  The mom has recruited their Canadian cousin to manage the band, and bringing him up to speed is used to tell some backstory.  She explains that her two older sons have the same name since their father was so drunk he forgot he used the second's name on the first.  The oldest son, the rhythm-less drummer, has the "Hungarian Blues", an obsession that consumes the mind until it's satisfied.  Their father had the "blues" too, his obsession was to see the Hungary soccer team beat England.  And when it happened, he was killed for celebrating by his banned hooligan neighbor.  And then it gets complicated....

Now, like I said, I'm not a big comics fan, and this isn't something I would normally review.  But Attila Kiss, known to me as Intone Flux from the old HM forums, asked me to, and he sent me something else I'll get to later that I liked a bit more, so I agreed.  While I found this work uneven, with some parts not very interesting to me, there were some things that I did like.
The characters are anthromorphic rats, and there's a reference to cats in their world, but otherwise it doesn't seem to have much relevance in the story.  The art is nicely appropriate for a comic, and there are some flashback parts where the images are grayer and softer focus, which is effective but can be kind of murky and hinder the storytelling.  The story itself has several interesting aspects, like past experiences defining characters' present actions, and some funky names, and it has an energetic pace that can be at once engaging and dizzying.  The setting of a London punk band living with their mom, and the subtitle "Never mind the puberty, here's mid life crisis" is both a bit clever and sadly ironic.  The gang tries several ways to cure "the blues" which don't work as intended, and require getting bailed out of jail more than once.  This story ends with a surprise offer of help from someone in their past, and it's to be continued in #s 2 and 3.

So it was fun to read this, and nice of Attila Kiss to think of me and send it.  I'm sure there are plenty of people who would enjoy it, and that may include some who come by here.  So here's where to get it:

Here is the publishers link to Blues Ratz:

Issue #1 available at:

Blues Ratz #2 Trailer:

Issue #2 available (for now only) at:

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Attila Kiss

Back in the late 00's when the Heavy Metal magazine web site had a forum, there was a participant who went by Intone Flux, who was active and prone to frequent comments and long posts on HM, and other topics that could be somewhat related (some were impressively long and supplemented with images and research), and who also started the idea of rating issues and their stories on a 1-10 scale.  I joined in with some regularity, and some others also added to the mix.  When they shut down the forums in 2011 (They suffered from inadequate moderation and multiple spam attacks, and pulled the plug instead of trying to save it.) I was so saddened and annoyed I started this little blog.

I liked IF's forum comments for the insights that were displayed, and despite the use of language that made me think English was not learned first, the fearless enthusiasm for the topics, related to HM or not.  I enjoyed participating in a public opinion forum, and IF's reviews were a chance to join a conversation.  Being a part of something like that, and missing it when it was gone, is why I do this now, so in some part I owe it to Intone Flux.

Since then, Intone Flux has commented here a few times, and contacted me about some other things, including work on actual comics.  Indeed, he's outed himself as Attila Kiss, a contributor to a handful of published comic works.  He's even asked me to review some of them, and I have once, it was in You Are Not Alone in January 2014.  At the time, I hesitated to include a review of YANA, since it wasn't really HM related at all, but because it was such an important topic of resisting and surviving abuse, I agreed, and the post got a good deal of traffic for being on my puny and insignificant blog.  I declined another time ("It's All in the Moon" in Grayhaven Comics "The Gathering"), but, undaunted, he's contacted me again, and this time I agreed to review a couple stories, since I quite liked one, and since I'm impressed enough with his determination and success of actually being published, to show him the respect of an honest review of the work.

So shortly I will put up reviews of The Heart, and Blues Ratz #1, from Scattered Comics, for your interpreting pleasure, and thank IF for thinking of me from those early days of the new millenium, so long ago.  Until then, Attila Kiss exists elsewhere in cyberspace and beyond:

Attila Kiss Fbk

Attila Kiss Twtr

Scattered Comics Profile

Monday, April 30, 2018

Heavy Metal # 289

After excess putzin' around on other topics and things, I'm finally getting to this review.  I noted there were almost three months between this and the previous issue.

Noted as the "Sci-Fi Special", I got the newsstand cover A, "Frontier 2600" by Jonathan La Mantia, a sort of western landscape with a bunch of vector-graphic elements, reminding me of the cover A for # 287, Mass Ritual by Kilian Eng, with some similar elements (as well as a console video game that I think was Battle Zone from the early 80s).  Some interesting features and not embarrasing to take to the store counter.  I'll give it a 6.

This issue is tied to the Heavy Metal AR app, advertised on the inside front cover, where an app-enabled device will bring up "augmented reality" versions of select images in the mag.  I did not get the app, I don't feel like being tracked that way, but there was a short video on the HM Fbook.  As someone who grew up when the phone had a rotary dial and you had to get up to change the channel on the tv, today's tech is astounding, and walking around with hand-held supercomputers is the coolest.  And the graphic techniques available now, compared to the previously mentioned video game for example, are amazing.  But an app that grabs pre-set imagery when it recognizes a picture, isn't too exciting to me.

Mr Morrison's editorial embarks on an intergalactic journey of reworn references and aggressively asserted happiness.  His capacity for word extrusion is astounding, as is his persistence.

"The Door" Chapter 1 by Esau Escorza and Mickael Moreci - 7 - also with Adam Woller and R.G. Llarena.  My impression is mostly favorable, with pretty and technical renderings of a post-something-or-other urban jungle, and a dynamic-reality plotline and a young protagonist who brings to mind some Alice in Wonderland feelings.  In this time of evolved/improved gender and power awareness, the frequent teasing of an up-skirt perspective of the young girl is uncomfortable, especially in the context of her getting misdirection from and misled by the supporting cast of characters.  Her willful resourcefulness may redeem the story, so we'll see if and when Chapter 2 comes around.

"Ten Sounds that Represent a Kind of Person" a Historical Parody by Grant Morrison and Ben Marra - 7 - Ambitious and fanciful, the deification of Bowie continues apace.  Referenced as a mashup of Bowie material in Mr Morrison's editorial, I enjoyed the fuzzy awareness I gained from the transgressive presentation of snippets of Mr Bowie's life and work.

"Neon Wasteland:  An Abstract Manga" by Rob Shields - 6 - I liked the whiffs of Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell, and the pizza delivery car plopped in the middle was fun to examine.  Overall the digital imagery looked simplistic to me, even unfinished.  This is noted as one of the HM-app-able stories, so I'm missing out on some of its intent.  It's "to be continued" so I'll be interested to see if it's still app-licable in future installments.

"Murky World" Part 2 by Richard Corben - 7 - our protagonist's misadventures continue, in a world where things aren't as they seem.  Which seems ... familiar.  Still great fun to look at, and to look forward to more.

"The Color of Air" Part 6 by Enki Bilal - 8 - The characters inch closer together as their world keeps transforming itself, and the story flirts with parable and allegory, and with more color.  Having Corben and Bilal together seems to add artistic and historical weight to this issue.

Artist Spotlight - Beeple - 7 - With an interview by Rantz Hoseley.  I liked how the art showed various styles and settings with consistently strong execution.  Beeple refers to making a picture a day, which sounds like a lot of work.  Some are pretty dark, I bet those are faster, but I can imagine he's done all kinds of stuff.

"The Chimeran" by Paul Goodenough and Ben Oliver, with Simon Furman and Annie Parkhouse - 7 - I liked the art enough, on the sketchy side for me perhaps, but it was nicely composed and succeeded in showing action and introspection.  The premise is kinda out there, an experimental community of man and chimeran, where a chimeran appears to be a humanoid-canine hybrid or such.  The chimeran we see is charged as a child's companion, but suffers abuse from others, as well as from feelings of inadequacy.  The storytelling is painfully compelling.  It's impressive how well it conveys emotions from the view of a creature whose humanity is perhaps less than ours?  Or is it?  This installment finishes with "The Start of the End", so perhaps there's more?

"The Womb" by Tony Leonard - 7 - Near as I can tell, this is about some space-future-time proto-human transdimensional birthing facility.  With art that looks hand-drawn and made me think of Druillet sometimes, lines like "proto-embryonic flux, maintained!" and an abundance of sound effects, it puts on a frenzied pace.  Pretty fun though.  And it ends, "A new adventure, in the psycho-verse.." and I can't tell if we'll see more or not.

Gallery with Rob Shields - 6 - More app-fodder here apparently.  There's much to like, some imagination, some retro-future street-punk aesthetic, certainly some neon colors.  I think the rather static style of the digital art works better here in a gallery than in the creator's previous story.

An ad for the Taarna comic.  Don't know if I'll ever see this one.  Maybe I should actually go look.  Did you see the Frank Cho "Arzach meets Taarna" on HM twitter?  Now that was funny, on several levels.

Happy!  An interview with Grant Morrison by Rantz Hoseley.  Mr Morrison talks about a tv show he wrote.  I haven't seen it and may not ever, and essentially interviewing himself in "his" mag about "his" tv show is kinda self-serving, but I guess I won't let it bother me.

An ad for a "49th Key" book is followed by an inside the back cover ad for the Iron Maiden video game, followed by a back cover ad for Mr Morrison's Happy!  None of this interests me, but I suppose more ads is better if you run a magazine.

I see I'm mostly staying in my lane as far as my ratings of this issue.  I mostly liked most of the stuff, every now and then something stands out that I enjoy more.  I think that goes to the relative consistency of the mag and its content over these couple years of the Morrison era.  Hoping the future brings us more like it.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Richard Corben's Neverwhere

I saw this on Rod Kierkegaard's twitter.  I had heard of this early Corben work but here I got to see the actual short film for the first time:

Richard Corben's Neverwhere

It's certainly remarkable.  I can marvel at the look back almost 50 years ago, and imagine what it took him to make this at the time, be amazed by the amazing hand drawn animation, and see where his Den came from.  I can also find amusement in things that were uneven or clunky or silly, and overlook things that weren't even funny.  That, and that it's come to my attention in my advanced years, right when there's Corben in the mag again.  Wow man.

Mr. Corben is still around too.  Check him out and buy his stuff whenever possible.


Sunday, February 25, 2018

Dean Haspiel

So you may know, as I do, that Dean Haspiel is a creator who's been in a few HM issues recently, #281, #284, #285.  Perhaps you know, which I didn't right away, that he's a busy NYC based award winning artist, with a great deal of work out there, including some free web series about New Brooklyn, The Red Hook and War Cry (it looks like The Red Hook is getting printed too). 

But did you know he's also a playwright?  Late last year Haspiel's "Harakiri Kane" was produced at the Brick Theater in Brooklyn, he's called it an "existential gore noir".  This year, his "Last Bar at the End of the World", "with a twist of metaphysical, and is about troubled people reckoning with lost love and the sages in their lives" is coming to life this spring.  This info and a good deal more is on his website

It's notable that in both plays, Stoya is featured.  She and Mr Haspiel collaborated on "One Such Partner" in HM #281, apparently they were introduced by one of the HM execs.  Ms Stoya is an accomplished performer and creator as well, with much of her work of an adult variety.

It sounds kinda interesting, I might even see it if it wasn't in effin' NYC.  But there's an indiegogo fundraising page, so one could throw money that way for a piece of the action  But for now I'll just enjoy these and other flimsy connections to HM magazine as they touch the little world around me.

Friday, December 22, 2017


This story appeared in May 1977, the second issue.  It was the first story in the issue, credited to Tardi, Jacques Tardi I believe, who appears to have had other entries in the early years of the mag, including Polonius, as well as a distinguished history of other work.  A story of space love and pirates, I liked it much, but I never knew what the Russian dialog was.  I'm sure others have figured it out before me, but I didn't see it online anywhere.  Now, with the awesome powers of the internet at my fingertips, I can figure it out.  After slightly tedious text entry, the space-age telecommunications system all around us gave me the translations in moments.  I left the translations mostly alone, only a couple slight edits. and I thought the garbled syntax and word selection was fitting, with the long tradition of humorous translations in HM's history.  I further amused myself photographing the pages (no scanner) to place here.  What fun.  Clearly, this is another pinnacle of my Heavy Metal Magazine fanboyhood.  Enjoy!





Очи жгучце очи страстные ... Очи красные и прекрасные ... Как люблю я вас

The eyes of the burning eyes are passionate ... The eyes are red and beautiful ... How I love you





Светлана, как чувствует себя наш сын, первый ребёнок шпации ... Ну, расскаж ...

Svetlana, how our son feels, the first child of the space ... Well, tell us ...

Всѐ хорошо!  Он совсем нормально развивается.  Через несколько часов, он имеет взрослый рост.

All is well! It is quite normal. A few hours later, he has adult growth.

Отлично!  Мы сможем вернуться домой.  Тебе нравилосъ бы покидать твои контроли несколько минут?

Excellent! We can go home. Would you like to leave your controls for a few minutes?

Согласно, Никита ... А, пожалуйса, не слишком долго.

I agree Nikita ... And, please, not too long.

Наше свадебное путишествие оканчиьается, ребёнок растёт, миссия наша-успех ... Светлана, я тебя люблю!

Our wedding journey ends, the child grows, our mission is success ... Svetlana, I love you!

Всё чудесно произошло!  Надеемся, что приято вернёмся!

Everything happened miraculously! We hope that we will return!





В то же время ...

In the same time ...

Надеемся, что Светлана и Никита прожили чудесное свадебное путешествие и что нам приносят прекрасного ребёнка шпации ...

We hope that Svetlana and Nikita have had a wonderful wedding trip and that they bring us a beautiful space baby ...



Sunday, December 10, 2017

Heavy Metal #288

This is the Weird Issue.  While the theme is emphasized in the editorial, and some of the content does qualify as weird, I still think it's weird that Jett Lucas is noted as Creative Executive on the Contents page, with the other executives.  I wonder what's going on with that weed "edutainment" magazine they were working on.  None of those Contributing Editors this time.

I got the Cover "A" from the bookstore, with Death Dealer by Frank Frazetta.  If ever there was a piece of fantasy art that qualified as Classic, this would be it.  It's older than the recently 40 year old Heavy Metal magazine itself.  You might think Mr Frazetta has been all over HM in its 40 years, but it appears he's only done a couple covers, November 1990 and the #286 Cover B, and a couple other interview features, besides (according to the HM website cover gallery, which I really hope gets updated and maintained, it doesn't seem to have been touched for a year).  So it's highly cool that HM has this famous work on its cover.  This issue also has an article about Mr Frazetta by his son about the painting, much like the article in #286, and an ad for the museum in the back.  I think it's nice Mr Frazetta is getting some regard in HM.  Once I actually saw an actual Frazetta in an actual museum, it was cool.  I won't pretend to be qualified to apply a quantitative rating to this work.

The Table of Contents art is "Berenice" by Natalie Shau, who also did the Cover "B" and has a gallery in this issue.

Mr Morrison's editorial begins with an homage to Len Wein, whom Mr Morrison considers an inspiration, and who contributed to HM a few times in the early years.  It continues with some comments about weirdness, and a handful of mentions of this issue's works.  I noted no mention of Mr Frazetta though.

But he did note the return of Richard Corben, with what seems to be the beginning of a story, "Murky World!".  Anyone who knows about HM certainly knows about Mr Corben.  He's been in dozens of issues, known best for "Den", one of the iconic first stories, and many, many, others.  While he's been working for decades, it's been almost 20 years since he's been in HM.  This story feels quite familiar, not only Mr Corben's lovely and familiar style, but also the setup of a lone wanderer put on a quest.  I am unnerved by the image at the bottom of the first page, I can't tell what the blob of flesh in front of the "Fairy Godmother" is, a foot, a boob, unborn twin?  And the lone eye, eek.  But it's great to have Mr Corben's work in HM again, it's fantastic to see and appreciate the effort and ability displayed.  Such as the shadows of the clouds of dust as the round door closes on the last page, a touch of realism in a fantastic world.  Coming across as a bit irreverent, it makes me think more of Neverwhere than Den.  Especially the last panel with "... he is confronted with a gay masquerade."  We'll see where we go with this one, I'm hoping it'll be fun.  I'll give this one a 9, perhaps inflated for sentimental reasons.

"Where Vices Lead" by John Bivens, with Art Assistants Alex Conkins, Iris Monahan, Hannah Jerrie, & Virgil Franklin - 7 - Dommiel the Gatekeeper confronts a wayward Lord to return him to his circle in Hell.  The art is dynamic, if a bit frantic, and the story, with the implication of more, was enticing.  If we really get entries for the rest of the Lords/Deadly Sins, it'll be cool.

"Frank Frazetta:  The Creator of the Death Dealer" by Frank Frazetta Jr.  Where the famous illusrator's son writes of the history of the iconic painting, how it could never be improved, how Mr Frazetta was convinced to produce more of the series, and how Jr is going to write the story, to be featured in Heavy Metal magazine.  I'm impressed that HM has forged a relationship with the Frazetta franchise, though I will wait and see how this plays out.  No number rating applied.

"Shaman Himiko" by Peach Momoko - 7 - A shaman fortuneteller responds to a supplicant's pleas, by seeing through his lies and condemning him to the misery he inflicted on others.  Pretty to see and does well with its two pages.  I'd like to see more of this creator.

"The House of Heart's Desire" by Grant Morrison and Dominic Regan - 7.5 - A philosophical adventure, a guy finds the door, to the house without a door.  Existential hijinks ensue.  The art style is a bit jagged but evocative, and the story is told energetically and with a joke.  Makes ya think.

"Mouth Baby" by James Harvey - 6 - Young urban parenting, sort of.  This one is certainly weird, and there's much to like in the art and storytelling, and I got at least some of what it tried to say, but it wasn't something I enjoyed.  Maybe the pain is too close to home.  Maybe that's its greatest success.

Gallery - Natalie Shau with an interview by Rantz Hoseley - 6 - A good number of images with plenty of evidence of the artist's great ability.  They can be quite pretty to see.  Though they may not excite me so, there's much to offer to those who are excited by this style.

"The Color of Air" Part 5 by Enki Bilal, translated by Jessica Berger - 8 - Turmoil is coalescing to its unreal apex.  Our intrepid adventurers tumble towards their intersection.  The art gets even prettier and more self aware.  It is yet to be "continued next issue."  My delight continues apace.

"New Madonna" by Grant Morrison,  Menton, Adam Wollet - 5 - More parenting in "Fallen Times."  Weirdness to spare, and I kinda liked to art and the unpaneled image sequence style.  This one didn't grab me like "Mouth Baby" did.

"The Bleeding" by Kevin Eastman, Simon Bisley, Ryan Brown - 7 - It says "inspired by the Song..." by Five Finger Death Punch.  Makes me wonder if there wasn't enough room in the previous Music Special #287 for this one.  Anyway, more HM alums reappear.  Mr Eastman contributed art to the mag a number of times in his tenure, as well as some editorial, and Mr Bisley a bigger number in that time.  (I didn't find Ryan Brown credited in any.)  A song about love, or the opposite.  Multiple settings for multiple facets of the story, in multiple worlds.  I've said it before, Mr Bisley sure can draw.  His portions of this show a familiar and welcome dynamism, ridiculous detail, and inflated rage.  Maybe more to come?

"Preview:  The Heroin Diaries Graphic Novel", Nikki Sixx interview by Rantz Hoseley - 6 - So I think it's a good thing Mr Sixx is using his story to help others (as well as himself), and he seems passionate about life in the interview.  I doubt I'll see this book, but I hope it works out for everyone.

"Hellraiser - The Test" by Ben Meares, Christian Francis, Mark Torres - 6 - Apparently a promo for a Hellraiser book.  I never saw the movie or any books, so I'm missing some background here, but it's a nice little bit of storytelling, and I like the art style pretty well.  Alternate realities with torture and chains?  Perhaps not so much.

So a great deal of stuff for me to like in this issue.  Even with stuff I am less fond of, there's plenty variety in the things we're offered.  I hope the mag can keep on keepin' on like that for a while.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


Why do I do this?  What is it about Heavy Metal that's made me some sort of fanboy, that makes me write stuff and throw it into the void?  I ask myself this, as my time passes and my life happens, as I seek the mag out and try to think about it enough to have something to say, why?

For one thing, a big part is so I can have all my stuff and links in one place.  I check my blog often, check my Links page for new things (my Links page is in need of a tune-up though, it's getting stale) and see who's been visiting, usually just a couple hits a day.

But why am I interested in Heavy Metal Magazine, after so long, for so long?  It's often good, sometimes not.  Some things I think I can explain, some things I'm no so sure of.  It's like a combination of contrived amusement and innate affinity.  There's some history and early exposure, some good timing, and some desire or need for some illicit thrills in a tiny dark corner of my existence.  I'll try to have some fun figuring it out.

I read some comics when I was a kid, but I wasn't a big comics buyer.  Newspaper comics were cool, I read things like Mad Magazine and Peanuts collections.  I remember reading a Buck Rogers collection at a friend's (big book, I actually found this at a resale shop in more recent years).  I also saw some actual comics at an uncle's, war comics like Sgt Rock, and G.I. Combat with a story about guys in a Sherman tank (around 1970, war was big, Vietnam was happening, Korea and even WWII seemed almost just yesterday) and those could have a real emotional impact.

I liked sci-fi, a few books but mostly movies, mostly old ones on the black & white tv on rainy Saturday afternoons.  Also my dad took me to 2001 in the theaters when it came out, I was maybe 9.  That was really something.

Then in 1977, I was in my first year away at college, someone showed me the first Heavy Metal magazine.  I liked it enough to start buying them from the second issue.  The attraction was an otherworldy depiction of fantasy worlds, where stories didn't have to be told explicitly, or even understandably, with art that was so much more than comics, and with more vicious violence and overt sex than a young lad had seen at the time.  The tagline for a long time was "the adult illustrated fantasy magazine" and it lived up to that.  The party-dorm environment probably had an influence on my perspective at the time as well.  I was still at an impressionable age, and it made an impression on me.

Over the next few years as I went through school and got myself out and employed and otherwise pretended to be a grown-up, I kept buying the mag.  I saw new stuff, watched stories come and go, or go on and on, and learned about some art and artists.  The mag was an actual cultural force for a while, when magazines were one of the more sophisticated media around and could cater to limited audiences more easily than they might today.  People knew about HM and its place in fantasy art.  It could have sword and sorcery, or sci-fi, or humor or horror, and it could be quite "adult" (though perhaps in immature ways).

It got big enough to spawn a 1981 movie, that got some serious hype in the mag as it was being developed.  I wasn't too excited about it, since I was skeptical that a movie could do justice to how I felt the magazine could inspire imagination with printed images that could be ingested and processed to fill the spaces in my mind, as well as how well the images and styles could be replicated with the animation technology at the time.  I didn't even see it in the theaters during its short run, I did finally see it on HBO, and my opinion was reinforced.  It has its high points and a few not so high, it went for humor more than wonder, and I understand it was a staple at college midnight movie nights.  I have a copy now and I've watched it a few times.

After the movie, the mag sales declined, and it stopped issuing monthly at the end of 1985.  In my opinion this was the end of the "classic" age of Heavy Metal Magazine.  My interest waned as well, as it went to quarterly then bimonthly distribution, and the stories were less compelling to me, and by 1990 I had lost interest and had given away my (not quite complete) collection.

About fifteen years later, in a resale book shop, I came across an almost complete collection, and remembrance of my misspent youth, and extra cash from being an employed grown-up, led me to buying the collection.  I started reading from the beginning, enjoying fond memories of wonder and excitement, and noticing some new things in what I'd seen before, and took advantage of the new-fangled internet and searched out and bought the rest of the issues to complete the collection.  I have since read them all, though some only once, and have kept buying and reading them.

Not too long after I re-started my interest, I came across Lostboy's Heavy Metal Magazine Fan Page (I thought to search for the Timothy Leary interview in the October 1983 issue, to see if anyone else had something to say about it) and it came up near the top of the list.  It's still linked on my Links page, even though it hasn't been updated in several years, it's still a great resource.  He had a forum once, that I enjoyed contributing to, and that's where I started with issue reviews.  There has also been an official HM web site for years, having gone through several iterations and revisions, there was also a forum there for a time, where I picked up on reviews in a 1-10 format started by a contributor known then as Intone Flux.  When that forum was closed in 2011, I was annoyed and disappointed enough to start this little blog.
I was able to salvage some of my old reviews and post them here.  I notice that my early style was spare and short, compared to how I do reviews now.  Before I'd go for a few words to express an opinion, now I try for more substance.  I try to include the title and creators (for credit and to be found in searches better), the number rating, a description of the setting or type of story, and an opinion or two.  Early I was just making snarky remarks in an online discussion, now it's just me so I have more room to rant.

So that's how I got here.  But again, why?  There's the part that's a conscious choice, being a collector, making the effort to gather the mags and gather my thoughts, making this something I do.  I do stuff, grownup stuff, and some other things for fun too, and all of them are more important to me than HM, but I'm choosing to spend a few hours here and there on something inconsequential.  But it's neat, I have a nice pile of paper going way back, I get some satisfaction from having them all, and keeping up with it, and now I get to have my own web log on the world wide web that all the world can see (though hardly anyone does) and be an internet fanboy.

I do this myself, this blog is the only way I share it.  That's part of why I'm questioning this.  There's the part where keeping it to myself gives the illicit thrill of a secret, but there's also the part of being embarrassed.  Heavy Metal Magazine stopped being cool in the 80s.  It has a well-earned reputation for being a tits-and-ass comic book, it's often degrading to women and people in general, and readily displays high levels of gruesome violence.  It's not fit for polite company.

I like the sexy parts, there was more of it in the early days, and it was more than just girls and their boobs.  There was boy parts and girl parts, some pretty explicit parts, and enough variety to titillate and offend almost anyone.  Some of it has been exciting, even inspiring, plenty of it has been crude and juvenile, and much of it would be rightly criticized now for the objectification and exploitation displayed.  The violence is another kind of "adult" content, there's been hardly any limits on the ways and means of assault and battery, death and dismemberment, that the mag would show.  Plenty has been offensive, but mostly it can be fun.  I know people are capable of causing terrible harm to their fellow people, but it mostly seems appropriate on an adult comic level, to me this means accepting it as fantasy and being able to separate it from reality.  Comic sex and violence offer a way to experience "bad" things and thoughts without causing actual (physical) harm, and that separation lets me extract some enjoyment from the mental exploration of things I wouldn't do in real life.  I can only speak for myself, I can imagine where some could use comic violence to develop and encourage violence in their own lives, and I bet others have written better about the juxtaposition of comic fantasy with real morality.

With all that, I still buy it.  I enjoy that the magazine still exists in paper form, and it can be fun to hope it will get better and better, though over the years that hasn't always been the case.  I have my collection, I have my little blog, and I have space in my life to indulge myself on something that's trivial but that I find fun.  I like knowing that my interest in HM spans more than half my time here, and since nothing lasts forever, least of all me, it's nice to have something like that in my life.  Like I said, almost everything else in my life is more important than HM, but I feel fortunate to be able to have all that and HM too.

So, over the weeks it took to put this together, it's been fun to reflect and consider HM's place in my life and my interest in it.  My thoughts are a bit more organized but I didn't gain any great insights.  I guess I'm stuck with it's silly and fun and cool that I have all these mags from so many years.  And a blog.  And I should really get on that #288 review....