Friday, December 28, 2012

Kranburn #5

I got the .pdf of Kranburn #5, I'll wait for one more before I order paper copies.

The cover is another enjoyably detailed pose.  The outfit is especially silly, I'd bet it would weigh 80 lbs at least, with all the stuff hanging on it.  Not that I'm complaining, it's fun to look at and I imagine it's lots of fun to draw this.  I wondered how the chainsaw cut anything with those smooth teeth, until I saw the mangled end of the branch.

The story picks up in a sort of flashback, a young Brand makes his way through his increasingly horrible neighborhood, to find even greater horror at home.  Vicious assault, rapes, stabbings, dismemberment, death, all ensue.  Good God.  The story holds nothing back in showing an awful and formative moment in Brand's life.

And it was all a dream.  No, really, it's the nightmare Brand awakens from ("been a long time since I last had that dream") after hiding to recover, after absorbing the vicious beating from Brutus.  Two Nong make the mistake of finding Brand, he makes them pay with their lives, and begins his next assault.

During this, the Nong continue to torture Lawton, sending bits of him to taunt the residents of Kranburn.  The Kranburnites are fearful of action, and a frustrated Silvia storms off on her own to search for her parents.

We see Lord ordering increased pressure on the Lawtons and on Kranburn, time is running short for them.  Then suddenly Silvia encounters a Nong scurrying back from dropping a "message" to Kranburn, and a chase ensues.

Certainly this is one of the strongest chapters in the story.  The action, drama, and emotion shown are unsurpassed here.  I really like the artwork, it's easy for me to overlook inconsistencies (BMB's obviously not a cyclist, never seen a bike like that before...) because I enjoy it so much.  The raw black and white is perfect for depicting the unflinching brutality people are capable of.

I'm curious about what the future holds for Kranburn.  The books have run about mid-40s pages long, there are about 18 pages on the webcomic after the last page of this book, and there are about 9 weeks until the beginning of March, when I thought the 5th book would come up, so I don't see how there would be enough pages by then.  I'm sure I'm missing something, and I'm not too concerned, the comic seems to be going strong so I can look forward with anticipation for its conclusion.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Season's Greetings

Happy Apocalypse!  And happy all the other damn holidays too!

The world ended and I didn't even notice.

Looks like Issue #260 is out, in two covers, one for subscribers by Horley that looks nice and one for newstands.  Time to look for a store that has it.  On the website, you have to look for it in the HM sales pages, but there's a free sample pdf that looks nice.

There are some other new digital downloads, including Sinkha Episode 0 and Episode 1.  There's a sample from the Episode 0, it supposedly is the original "3D Computergraphic Novel" from 1994, and it was interesting that it looks more like a comic than the slick-for-the-mid-90s computer graphics that were in the magazine (in 1996, 2004, and 2010).

Pax Vobiscum

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

and ... ?

So, if I'm counting right, #259 was the fourth issue of HM in 2012.  Ever since the specials were stopped, there were still supposed to be six issues a year, so supposedly we should see two more yet this year.

The internet doesn't tell me anything about #260 being in the works, so I'm pretty skeptical we'll see it in 2012, let alone #261 to get in all six.  Good thing I don't have a subscription, else I'd feel pretty ripped off by now, instead of just annoyed and disappointed.


I stand corrected:

That might count for 2012, but ...

and #261?  It's encouraging, but I'll believe it when I see it.

(edit again)

this is the letter to fans by Mr. Eastman, that was the editorial in issue #259 (with a few small edits):

I'll try to remain patient.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


After months of delay, another issue at last.

Issues will now simply be numbered, distribution was changed, it'll be great, we are told.  We get a note from Mr. Eastman, describing the changes, thanking Dave Elliot for guest-editing, and directing our attention to the official web site for future updates.  Meanwhile, my favorite local bookstore never got this issue, so I got it, bagged, at a mainstream store.  The web site only shows this issue on the sales page, the 4 Horsemen still dominate the main page.

I think this is the most direct communication to the magazine's readers from Mr. Eastman in a couple years.  It's interesting that he is pictured with an apparent turtles sketch in front of him.  My impression is that his attentions have been, um, divided, and as such he hasn't given my favorite adult illustrated fantasy magazine the attention I think it deserves.

However, Mr. Eastman can do what he wants, and if the changes allow the print magazine's continued existence then I'm all for it.  We'll see what the future will bring.

For this issue, difficulties are apparent, and I think I'm lucky this one even made it.  Ad for SDCC events in July, page announcing back cover contest winners for the "three different front covers for this issue" (as far as I can tell there's only one), more 4 Horsemen stuff.  At least it says "Monster Massacre Special" and there are actually monsters in it.  The promotion of DeviantArt and inclusion of some prose work may be signs of good things coming.  I do miss a couple things, like Animal'z by Bilal and Metal Media, that I had hoped would continue.

Cover - 6 - It's ok, hope it sells.

The Weirding Willows:   Where Dwell Monsters - 6 - The Horley page was good, the rest of it was ok.  Too bad it was just a small part of the story.

The Empty Sisters - 6 - It tells such a horrible story in such a sparse way.  I like the idea of the occasional written piece with a picture or two, this one was a bit flat.

Ira Gershwin Monster Puncher - 7 - The monster fight is fun, the story is pretty funny, it's not exactly thought-provoking, but that's ok.

Odyssey - 6 - Tries to tell me something but I'm not quite getting it all.  This is an origin of a Captain America redux?  The art doesn't draw me into it.

The Weirding Willows: Russell's Son - 6 - Badgers and weasels and, what - irresponsibility?  oh my.  Too bad it's not a continuation of the first part of the story we saw.

The Meeting - 7 - I like black and white, I like the execution, it's a nice little story told with just one word.  It says Chapter One, it'd be nice if we actually saw the next ones, but I enjoyed this one just fine if we don't.

Cthulhu is still calling - 7 - Short but intriguing essay about this guy's view of fear of the "other" and how he thinks Lovecraft's character represents an example of a universal mythos.  Picture's pretty cool too.

El Zombo Fantasma - 5 - A couple moments of fun don't really make up for how little this appeals to me.

Pair of Rogues - 7 - Pretty good, looks ok with a bit of imagination and fun.  "I'll have my way with both your corpses!"  now there's a threat for ya.

Odyssey - 7- This one's a bit better, the art is more sketchy than I like but it does well to bring me to the story by the way it's shown to us.  Not needing to look realistic it can convey more immediate emotion.

Weirding Willows:  The Uninvited! - 6 - More uninteresting critters, the story told in the story was pretty good though.

Bandits - 7 - Nice to look at, pretty silly story. 

Back Cover - 5 - Not bad, not great.  I think I would have preferred one of the others.

other reviews

So while looking around the internet for something, I found this guy who wrote a bunch of HM magazine reviews, he called them "recaps", starting with the first issue.  He made it through about a dozen of them.  It's amusing to me that his first impression of HM appears to be the 1981 movie and how it colors his viewpoint, especially how he seems to read them from a present day perspective (he wrote them a couple years ago), without considering the context of the time they were produced.  
He hates Barbarella and doesn't get 1996 (I enjoyed Barbarella, though it was often dumb, and I thought 1996 was hilarious, and it seemed so far in the future then).  
However, they are thorough and well written, and even have scans of pages and covers.  It's an admirable effort, and I think it's worth looking at.  (link starts at the first review and you can go backwards from there):

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Jeremy Ray has been producing XTIN - The Dragon's Dream World, for a while now.  Link is on the "Links" page of this blog.  I signed up for the Donations so I am getting the pages as they are produced.  It appears to be nearing its end.  There have been challenges but it has persisted.

He posted some images and links on the old HM website forums, which got my attention, and I continued to follow it.  Over these many months it's had success and attention on his site rise and fall.   It's my impression that he's been frustrated by its inability to grow its success, which seems understandable given my impression of his considerable ambition for this project.  If one goes to the beginning of the webcomic and reads through it, and also follows the comments, one could see the sometimes wandering nature of how this has been presented.

The work itself appeals to me with its spectacular draftsmanship and mysterious storytelling.  To be honest, some of it I just don't get, but in this case that adds to my interest.  The art is fantastic, I happen to like black and white, and he has some great technique.  Often there are depictions of horrible cruelty and violence, that I'm sure many would find offensive.  Though the fact that much, certainly not all, of the violence is shown with female victims is scary, it seems the intent is to show the horror that people (so to speak) are capable of, rather than to arouse perversions.  Again, the presentations are often obtuse, and the deeper meaning I think it contains can be obscured by the images that are first seen.  This reminds me in several ways of the early days of HM magazine, where powerful stories were told in ways beautiful and often incomprehensible, and sometimes vicious and unsettling.

I'm looking forward to seeing it completed, then looking at it over and over to try to find more of what's inside it.  I was encouraged to hear that he has a line on publishing it, I'm really interested in owning this on the printed page.  I'll believe it when I see it, but there's something for me to look forward to.

If you're able to read through some renderings of horror and incomprehensible meanings, I'd recommend this, and if you're interested in supporting a struggling artist you should consider donating to his cause.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Kranburn #4

I got the digital copy of Kranburn #4 a little while ago, and I also managed to order the paper copies of #3 and #4.  Looking forward to getting them after their journey halfway around the world.

The cover is something of a change of pace.  Rather than a fairly detailed piece with a pose, the art is a stark portrait of a shadowed Brand, and it's also a page in the comic.  It does grab your attention.

Kranburn #4 is noted as the start of chapter 2.  At three books a chapter, and I'll guess a few more chapters, we may be at this for a while.  That's good, the webcomic is maybe a full book or so ahead, and it looks like there's still a lot of story to tell.

Brand starts his assault on the Nong in revenge for the kidnapping of Lawton and his wife.  (It seems to me it's more personal than that.)  Immediately the nasty violence begins.  An ambush, a trap, then Brand absorbs a vicious beating and barely escapes.  Meanwhile, the kidnappers terrorize the Lawtons, and deliver the digit to Kranburn, to terrorize its inhabitants.  Finally, we see Lord, and the guy who beat up Brand, Brutus, who took a few lumps as well, presents Lord with Brand's machete.  Lord is quite pleased with this.

This is a bunch of fun to read.  There's loads of action, some drama, not a lot of exposition but a few foreshadows.  The art has more breathless renditions of nasty violence, and some nice composition.  I'm anticipating what I've seen coming in the webcomic as I read the story, and it actually adds to my enjoyment of it.  Though it almost looks like it's building to a climactic battle, it seems to me there are other parts to the story that will grow more significant.

You should really check out Kranburn.  You can see it for free, and own it for cheap.  Check the Links page on this blog and see for yourself.

Friday, October 5, 2012

tick ... tick ... tick ...

it's quiet, too quiet

the new issue #259 was said to ship in late September, now there's eff-book jabber about it just coming off the press and getting checked.  incomprehensible.  I wonder if my favorite local bookstore will ever get it.

I did find that many new books that are offered on the HM website as digital downloads also have free .pdf samples.  better than nothing.  the Llarena Divergent Dimensions appear to be mostly reprints.

I did get Kranburn #4 digital, I'll put up a review soon.  I'm trying to buy the paper books but now they are sold via their effin-book and it's not cooperating yet.  oh cruel fate.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


I waited long for something to come of Gates, it seems that I will remain unrewarded.  While it continues to be linked on the HM main page, and the Links page of this blog, pretty much nothing is happening.

An interesting premise of transhumanism and hints of a great deal of background work, led me to anticipate a rich and interesting story and imaginative artwork.  After more than a year of plodding storytelling and underachieving art, it stopped.  Now it appears Mr. Hefner is working on a prequel to Gates involving visits to his roots and more background development, said to be presented as "transmedia".

I admire the effort and passion he brings to his work, but the results continue to leave me wanting more.  Often the blog posts beneath the webcomic page were more interesting than the story.  His defiant attitude to naysayers and his commitment to his craft earn my respect, but the results in this story have not satisfied me.

I'll go take a look occasionally so you don't have to.  I'll let you know if something comes up.  Until then go look at Kranburn, or read some Rod Kierkegaard Jr.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

free pdfs

There are a few free pdf downloads on the "official" HM web site.  A Bisely Bible excerpt, some 4 Horsemen, an Azurek that's mostly a reprint, a TMNT thing, a Descur reprint, and a small Claudia story.  The Claudia is the most interesting of the bunch.  They're all pretty nice in their own way, for free even, but they hardly fill the widening gap between magazine issues.

Nothing on the next magazine issue, but for a note on the f-book about July being out in late August, and how it will be number 259, and issues will be numbered from now on, and something about a change in distribution as the cause of the delay...

Odd that War of the Worlds - Goliath has been off of the HM web site for a while now, but that Gates remains though the story stopped months ago.

The madness behind the methods of the HM multiverse remain a mystery to me.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Thanks Again

Lostboy linked this blog on his excellent fan page and the visits to this blog increased dramatically.  Thanks again Lostboy.

Though he stopped updating the magazine list last November (regrettably, though I accept it), his fan page remains the best resource for the HM magazine fan.  I frequently visit for info and research on past issues, and there are many other links and pages of information.  There are more than enough reasons to make frequent visits worthwhile.

Chances are, if you're reading this you already know about his fan page, but I recommend exploring it to find his views and opinions, as well as all that stuff in the collectors' lists.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Kranburn #3

I got this one in the electronic copy (via, and I got #1 and #2 as well) and I plan to buy the print copies of #3 and #4 at the same time to save on shipping.  Digital is a lot cheaper and easier, and I really recommend getting Kranburn, so this is a good way to do it, but getting print copies of this is worth it to me.

The cover is again enjoyably detailed, and silly.  She must not be able to sit down with all the knives strapped to her butt.  Must take forever to put all that stuff on…  The covers are one of the benefits of buying the copies rather than just looking at the webcomic.  Supporting an artist whose work I like is another.

The story picks up with Brand and Egon cleaning up after the forage mission gone wrong.  We learn a bit about how Egon got here, Brand brings him to Kranburn and shows him (and us) around and hopes he joins them.  Kranburn’s lower level self perpetuating security system is not for the squeamish.  Brand wonders (as I do) what Egon’s reaction is, but we’re not shown.

A dramatic turn of events is told in a convoluted way.  Duncan’s widow is distraught, and decides to go to another settlement.  While Brand takes her, a kidnapping breaks Kranburn’s security and blame is pointed to Brand.  Fearing a traitor, Brand leaves on a suicide mission telling only Gerald the doctor why.

While this chapter is a bit light on the action, at least in comparison, some good exposition helps deepen the story, and again the art is raw but still compelling.  Knowing what’s coming, from following the webcomic, I’m really looking forward to getting #4.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

May 2012

Man, it took forever to get this issue.  The local bookstore never got it.  I never found it in a mainstream bookstore.  I went to a comic store I’d never been to for it.  They only had one of the covers.  Fortunately, it was the Tariq Raheem, which is the one I’d decided to get, if I didn’t get the original Nicollet.  Then, it took me forever to write this.

The four covers idea might have been a good one, but I didn’t like the result.  The new ones didn’t approach the energy of the original, and reprinting the original seemed to lessen the impact that is its legacy. 

The original cover set the tone for what HM meant to me.  “wow, it’s two robots, fighting … man, that’s one’s beatin’ the crap out of the other one … and it’s a girl!  whoa.”  (C’mon, I was a teenager.)  It promised wild action-packed fantasy and in the early days the mag kept that promise.  Using this cover reprint for a 35th anniversary cover version, while using it as a template (sort of) for the other versions, hinted at not having many new ideas to choose from.

I suppose printing the original cover gives more people the opportunity to have this one in print.

The other three new covers disappointed me.  The Sperlonga, the outfits, the posing, the composition, none of it worked for me.  He’s a really good artist, but I don’t care for this.  The Stanley at least was slick, and the obvious stiff posing and gazing at the viewer gave me some intrigue as well as boredom.  The Raheem shows the most imagination and mystery of the bunch, she might be getting put back together instead of taken apart, and is the robot head going on or off?  The giant monkeywrench and falling sparks were just goofy.

Moving on, the content has much to recommend it.  Excellent use of the early editorial.

Burton and Cyb, and Sataka, were unique as these were not reprints, though some of the Sataka looked familiar (interesting that Sataka appeared first in the mag in the late 00s though these are from the mid 80s ( some of these pages are even on ).  I like them, though they are dated.  7s for them both.

H – 8, just cause it’s nuts.  I like a good descent to madness.

Daymares/Nightdreams – 8 - because it’s old and tells a story I like.

Fragments – 7 – A strong story about fear of the unknown, from the early days, and it looks nice.  Things may not be what they seem.

Little Ego – 7 – yeah, well, good thing for that Green Sheik anyway…. These were always nice to see if not at all deep.

Willy’s Garage – 7 – nice looking and some drama.  And that was that…

The Last Century – 7 – nothing surprising but still compelling.  A very different future view than the later Children of the Future.

Sax Blues – 8 – A classic, not because of the fantasy (tho this would be a fantasy for my life) but for the telling.  Of course now he’d be checking his farcebook page instead of looking at a paper letter…

Pilatoriam – 7 – Ooops, that rebellion against society didn’t work out too well for you.  Better luck next life.

Children of the Future – 8 – Love this story, with some nice characterizations, and a real range of emotion, and a quick telling of a good story.  I’m sure I reviewed it once (but didn’t find it) and said something about a mixture of tenderness and disgust that you don’t see often, unless it’s Serpieri.

Dear Enemy – 7 – There’s a lot to like about this, all the futuristic gizmos and wearable technology, pretty cool for ’88.  There’s a nice story too, if you look for it, it took me a few times through.  I didn’t recognize this as a Frezzato right away either.

The Warrior’s Repose – 7 – An interesting story, all the trouble he goes through to cheat on his wife, cunning and cruel, even evil.  There are some inconsistencies but the storytelling and the art are busy enough to keep my interest.

A smattering of ads and a few old cover reprints fill in some space.  The Snail Factory ad was intriguing enough for me to look it up, but a quick view didn’t show me much.  While I’ve liked how the mag has looked for the past months, clean and concise, there’s some uncertainty of what the future holds for the print magazine.  I remain hopeful for its continued existence.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Kranburn #2

Getting this was just as expensive and challenging as last time, I'm happy I did just the same.  The cover shows BMB's ability for close detail.  It's interesting that the guy's body tattoo is some sort of comic background art, pasted in.  He's got a nice approach to using digital image copying in the comic, sometimes making small changes between sequential panels, or more separate panels, or like this.  I think it works well.

The plot thickens.  A love interest, family / social conflict, a bit of reminiscing, a forage run turns bad.  Told with the words and thoughts of the characters, and with some real ranges of emotion.  And with the same raw style and gleeful depictions of nasty violence that we love about this comic.  I realize I have the benefit of seeing the online version first with BMB's slang interpretations, and some of the comments, and it really helps me see farther into this comic.  It's still there, you should go look.  I knew what a dinger was before we saw it. 

Did I mention the violence?  Man, it's nasty.  Looks like he likes to draw this type of thing, and I like it too.  If a story of the vicious struggle for post apocalyptic survival drawn with raw black and white emotion appeals to you, it's worth it to look at this online, and maybe even buy it like I did.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Tex Arcana

John Findley was kind enough to reply.  He said he's too busy doing other work that actually pays, and won't get back to Tex Arcana until later this year, if at all.  As much as I'd love to see more, I can only wish him the best.  He's already given us plenty and doesn't owe me anything.  I think I'll buy the book with the first three stories collected.  Maybe you should too.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

(crickets chirping)

it's been pretty quiet in my corner of the HM universe.  the new issue hasn't shown up at my local bookstore yet.  I'm looking forward to whining about it, the four cover versions is an idea that might have been good but didn't turn out that way.

Lostboy's HM fan page hasn't shown an update for months, not that I really expect one.  Gates has stopped, Rod Kierkegaard has been quiet, though I got his Mirrorland and I'm reading that slowly, xtin has fallen off the page but might be somewhere else, he was complaining of needing to do something else, but I hope it gets done.  Kranburn continues, and I did get the second issue so I suppose I could put up a review.

I did email John Findley to ask if Tex Arcana might continue.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Moebius, pax vobiscum

It wouldn't have been Heavy Metal without you.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

March 2012

Cover - 6 - The more I look at it, the less I like it.  I like Bisely, the new logo treatment is kinda cool (flat head screws are practically archaic), it's plenty gruesome for a cover, but it seems such a mishmash even for a promo cover.  I can imagine someone saying "I dunno, let's put an explosion... here."  It doesn't help that I'm confused by the print mag touting Requiem #10, while the website image announces "World Premier of Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" and, there's only 3 horses...but I'm easily confused.

Gallery - 8 - To me a curious move to publish old Classic covers for the Gallery (and Artist Studio), but I really like the old covers, so I'm good for now.

The Bogey's Dictionary - 6 - Pretty funny and sometimes clever

Metal Media - 7 - I'm not into movies as much as this guy, Drive doesn't look as interesting to me as it does to him, and it's pretty New York - centric, but it's still a fun read.

Requiem - 8 - Spectacularly rendered as usual.  The selection of Hiroshima as the scene of the earthly atrocity is admirable.  Reading multiple two page panels across the crease was challenging for me, the storytelling was ok but there were some good lines, and the censorship was lamentable and clumsy.  I still enjoyed it.

Animal'z - 8 - It's obtuse and absurd, I think that's why I like it.  It might be trying to say something, that I don't get.  The art is sketchy, but it's still sharp, and maybe it adds to the mood.  I think I'm lucky to see it.

In the Trenches of Oniria - 7 -This isn't my favorite Xalabarder, still like it, but less enchanted.  There is a lot to look at, and indeed, "what a lugubriously furnished mind the poor devil has."

Fiendy - 7 - Though the story is light the telling is fun.  DP's lettering adds to it.  I do like the art and its energy.  I'm totally diggin' the recumbent machine gun cycle.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Kranburn #1

Kranburn is a webcomic (link on my Links page) that I first saw on the departed HM forums.  The author and artist BMB is rather prolific and pretty talented.  I recall he said he was trying to produce this ridiculously quickly, he puts out a page a week and for a while it was two pages.  The style is raw, and the story is of a vicious post apocalyptic near future set in suburban Australia.  Yes, Mad Max does come to mind, which is fitting as I think HM and Mad Max / Road Warrior influenced each other at their times.

He successfully got #1 published, so I bought a copy.  It was a bit challenging and expensive getting this from AU, but the company (fec comics) was responsive.  The book itself is rather small, less than 7" x 11" but it's very good quality with nice shiny pages, and I really enjoy a physical magazine like this, holding it and being able to flip back and forth between pages easily, so taking the trouble to get it is worth it to me.

I think this first installment of the story does the best of all I've seen so far.  It sets up the environment, only shows a bit of the background story, and grabs your attention with a car chase, brutally violent action, and wild swings of emotion.  This kind of gripping presentation is exciting.  The art is spare but with enough detail and range of perspectives to keep me interested.  Knowing how it progresses from watching the webcomic, I see that it's well thought out and appreciate how he tells the story.  Following chapters have more foreshadowing and exposition than this first one, which works to this one's advantage as a visual thrill ride and horror show.

Future installments are planned, and I will buy them for the sake of having the paper copies, and giving a bit of support to a comics creator that I like.  You should too.