Saturday, November 30, 2013

Heavy Metal #265

This one showed up at the bookstore a couple weeks after release, but I got it easy enough, and now I'm just getting to the review.

This is another Dave Elliot Monster Massacre Special, as announced on the table of contents rather than the cover.  There are actually monsters inside.  I haven't been too excited about the Dave E issues, though in this case I liked having a couple returning comics and artists; the familiarity with style and characters let me look past first impressions and find things to enjoy.  I also like serials in this way, so I'd be happy to see a bit more of this.

Cover by Dave Wilkins - 5 - It looks ok, the babe-posing-in-some-getup is nice enough, but the dull tones and plain white logo keep it subdued.  The swords from somewhere else and use of this imagery inside detracted from my impressions.  The tagline is back to The World's Greatest Illustrated Magazine.

Gallery - The Other Dead by many including Mr Eastman - 5 - I'd read some bits about this but didn't look too far.  I'm not so keen on zombies and I'm still kind of baffled about why they're so popular, and zombie animals are less intriguing.  The images and the puffery displayed here don't change my mind much, but I suppose I can see how it could be fun to do.  It is nice to see something from Mr Eastman even if it is still turtles (or are those tortoises?).

Carpe Diem by Rauf, Marcellius, and Yuwono - 6 - This is an example of being able to enjoy this more by being familiar with the, um, franchise.  If I understand that the cartoony look and hokey storytelling are part of its charm I can be less annoyed.  If anything, this story is the cheesiest of all these I've seen, but it's nice to look at, I like creative panel arrangements, and it's a fun read.

The Lottery Party by Richard Caldwell - 7 - An interesting essay on Gladiator, by Philip Wylie.  Mr Caldwell states that the 1930 novel's protagonist Hugo Danner has superhuman strength and is the basis for superhero characters, but that Hugo also differs from them in all-too-human ways.  An intriguing discussion here touching roots of science fiction and pop culture history and myth.  I may need to read this.

Tales of the Buddha (before he got enlightened) by Alan Grant and Jon Haward - 4 - I can imagine this is an idea that could have some humor in it, but I didn't care for this one, to me it was not witty and barely funny.  This is from a book offered at  In the sales pitch it mentions a Bisely pinup in it.  I'll probably never see it.

Gallery by Mark A Nelson - 7 - a handful of richly detailed pinups, with pretty women and mystical themes, and a couple enormous headdresses.

the Garden by Marc A Nelson (syc) - 7 - (not sure what the syc in the credit means) a sample of very different work from the Gallery from Mr Nelson.  In a strange desert wasteland, a small band tracks, wounds, tortures, and kills a woman.  Then that night, she melds to the odd stone pillar she's tied to, and emerges as a warrior goddess, with a giant headdress, and slaughters the band.  She then plucks mushrooms from her body, plants them on their corpses, and they grow into more odd stone pillars.  She then disintegrates and disperses in the wind.  I liked the colored line art, it very much reminded me of Caza's work in style and imagery, and while the story and its telling were less than intriguing to me, I enjoyed seeing it a great deal.

We Are LEGION by Elliot, Gastonny, and Yuwono - 6 - More returning creators.  Every now and then the art has something I'll enjoy, but mostly I don't care for it.  The line drawing is sometimes misproportioned, the coloring and shadowing seems to clash rather than complement the lines.  The backgrounds are spare, and the bits of misaligned pasted-onto-it stuff, like store signs and t-shirt logos, are pretty annoying.  However, I liked the story, so I dealt with it.  Though a couple parts were kind of thin, I liked the storytelling and the way it finished with something of a twist.

Dravn 1805:  From the Depths by Negron, Elliot, Prasetrya, Putch, Aji - 6 - I wanted to like this more, I had a feel for the franchise from previous Dravn installments.  The story has some depth and the telling is dramatic and fast-paced, but there are also thin characterizations and erratic jumps in time.  And I'm letting it bug me that he leaves his mother on the floor as he goes to seek his revenge, I think that could have been done better.  I have similar feelings about the art.  The composition and creative panel arrangement are appealing, but the detail is sometimes sparse and the technique can seem sketchy and unrefined at times.  I did like the last page, after the end, with the montage of old maps and weapons, the change in style helped my overall impression.

Fenris by Elliot and Wilkins - 6 - I liked the story's attempt to mix myths, if I knew more about the myths I might enjoy it more.  There's some good action and mayhem in the art.  I had to read through it a few times to appreciate it as much as I did though.  The art was uneven, it had some spots that lacked detail and perhaps effort, and a few images crafted so lovingly, they were used a couple times (including the cover) that diminished the overall impact for me.  I get some encouragement from the implication of more installments, but I don't know that we'll see them.

depthRadius - Sunstone - 5 - a review/press release about a BDSM comic.  The couple pinups showed some skill, but the text was just fluffing the comic, and this didn't increase my meager interest in the subject.

Maximum Force by Elliot, Firmansyah, Mashuri - 6 - A couple washed-up superheroes watch a superhero movie.  A lighthearted and slight story, with pretty good art.

Gallery - Zombie War by Eastman, Talbot, Pattison - 5 - a promo for a Zombie War comic.  A couple quotes from Mr Eastman, hinting at this being a re-released color version of something from a couple decades back, are the most interesting parts of this for me.

Back Cover by Mark A Nelson - 7 - another pinup with a large headdress and fine detail.  Nicer than many.

So not much here that will stand out in my memories of Heavy Metal, but overall a pretty solid issue.  Keep 'em coming.   Looking forward to #266.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Heavy Metal dot com

I noticed a couple recent changes to the official HM website (maybe not so recent, but I just noticed).

The obvious development is the offer for all available back issues, 222 magazines, for $890.  Since the current issue is #265, it's apparent this wouldn't get you a complete set.  A quick look shows that there are 3 issues from the 1970s available, of the 33 issues that were produced then.  This would seem to be the biggest gap in this offering.  A few others I can think of are some of the specials like the Best Ofs and the first Erotic Special.  I was glad to see they have all the numbered issues, including #263 which I thought had sold out.

Still, if someone wanted to start a collection, and had the means, this would be a good start.  Some of those early issues are pretty expensive on the open market though.  (while I was lucky to find an almost complete 1977-1985 set in a resale shop for $200 when I started, I still probably came close to the $890 to complete it.  And of course I'm spending $8 each at the bookstore every couple months.)

There are also offers of recent issues as digital downloads.  Perhaps this is "the wave of the future" but it's not something I will pursue.  The paper magazine, the fact that it still exists, and that I can hold 30+ year old paper in my hands to read, is a big part of the appeal for me, as well as the high quality print and imagery it offers.  If HM ever goes all-digital it'll lose me.  I'm not old-school, I'm just old.

I did notice that the archives have been removed, so all the old Biz and Buzz, I Shot my Wife, broken links to Eyebrow Tuna videos, the long interview with Mr Eastman from the 90s, are lost to us.  I'm sure they got little traffic.  Also, I'd seen the link to Gates had dropped off the front page, but it's now in the Just for Fun.  Of course, nothing's happened there for almost a year.

So, things change, some will be missed, some new things will be enjoyed, some will be disdained.  F-book?  pffft.  While the shutdown of the old HM website forums pissed me off enough to start this blog (and what a miserable little thing this is) I know that nothing lasts forever.  Part of my interest in HM, besides the memories of my misspent youth it brings back, is how it still exists, thanks to Mr Eastman, and wondering if it will continue.  Here's hoping, and looking forward to #266 and more Animal'z.

Friday, November 22, 2013

XTIN again

Jeremy Ray has started again on XTIN.  This is apparently to be a sequel to XTIN: The Dragon's Dream World, which I thought was inscrutable and terrific:

It's just a few pages in, but it looks neat and interesting.  It's in color, mostly blues and blacks so far.  One of the things I enjoyed the most about the previous TDDW was the black and white art, which was at once stark and dramatic.  In this case the color makes it look quite different than the previous installment.  I think it demonstrates that Mr Ray has some artistic range to work with, and I'm happy he's sharing it with us.

A disadvantage to being on deviantart is that sign-in is required to view get past the mature content filter.  I'm not sure if I will sign up just to see a couple images.  Besides this minor annoyance, I'm glad Mr Ray has started this again and I hope that deviantart is a good platform that helps provide the exposure his work deserves.  Go take a look.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Heavy Metal #264

So this time was easier, I found the new Heavy Metal a week before I even thought it was coming out.  Hope it's so easy the next time.

Cover by Sperlonga - 4 - This may be my least favorite cover ever.  The cheesiest pose, the lamest outfit, the poorest execution, it was embarrassing to bring it to the checkout counter.  The crotch-wide pose and the goofy straps-and-bullets getup with a cattle skull belt buckle is bad enough, but she's wearing a wristwatch fer cryin' out loud.  I can't imagine how that fits in a Western themed cover.  Sperlonga is such a good artist it's depressing that I've disliked so many of his covers.  The logo has an interesting treatment, with a larger faded shadow behind the fiery orange letters, and the tagline now reads The World's Foremost Adult Illustrated Magazine, a couple interesting differences this time.

Inside the front cover is a public service ad "Reckless Driving is a Road to Nowhere" which has art that's better than some I've seen in HM.  Fortunately, this issue has much higher quality inside than the beginning might suggest.

Animal'z, by Bilal - 9 - It says this is Part 4, hinting that the last three we saw are actually in sequence.  Again the blue-gray and black sketch art entices me.  The storytelling is still opaque but links to previous installments.  Characters interact in mysterious ways but start coming into clearer focus.  It ends with "continued in Issue # 266".  Having a continuing story from one of the titans of Heavy Metal's history is a delight.

Milk Run, by Burnham and Englert - 4 - The art isn't too bad, and there's lots of death and dismemberment (that's ok, they're just Steezers).  The story is about space pirates who attack a drug-running freighter and kill all the Steezer crew, and find the source of the drug is - women!  Naked women hanging from weird contraptions sucking their bodily fluids.  Naturally they convince the women to reward their rescuers with sex, so they never get any clothes on.  Cripes, what dreck.  I thought this kind of juvenile and vacuous objectification went out of style in the 80s.  It reminds me of the HM 2000 movie, and some of the reasons that it stunk as well.

Gallery, by Sperlonga - 6 - Here Sperlonga's ability shows through.  The pinup poses with fantastical outfits are not so interesting to me, but his technique and skill are clear to see.  The Odalisque is the most lovely to look at.

Trial and Punishment of Nathan Bort, by Xalabarder - 7 - Xalabarder uses his ability and imagination to tell a story of sexual abuse and retribution.  I'm not sure how to view this, I need to rethink my perception of his work.  The bad guys get their punishment, but using the images and themes of sexuality and domination in this story of abuse makes me wonder what I really like about Xalabarder.  A full page with an insect-woman hybrid sucking the soul from an evildoer in engrossing but disturbing.  Kind of like some H.R. Giger I've seen.  The ending panel with notable World War I themes indicates, something?  Plenty of evil and inhumanity then too, that's for sure.  Some characters may recur from previous installments, but I still think we are seeing a fraction of this story.

Agent 88, by Millgate and Millgate - 6 - Perhaps a promo of Mr Mesch's creation, a film apparently.  I've seen some f-book chatter about it.  Adequate art with a mindless story.  Hope the film is better.

Iron First, by Cardoselli - 7 - A bit better than last time.  The furious mayhem is a little less pointless and is enhanced by the addition of a couple interesting portraits of the Queen and another pretty woman, and it ends with a fantastical destruction of the world.  I like Cardoselli's art and I hope he continues exploring emotions in his stories.

The Age, by Ozkan - 6 - Another mail-order robot wife story, ending with a cave man looking at a cave woman's butt.  If it was that easy everyone would be doing it.

Tales of Dead Earth:  Helvete, by Christian Krank - 7 - Well whaddya know, another Cthulhu reference in HM.  And zombies!  It's kind of neat, and it's hard to beat a line like "oily black semen wandered through colon".  Maybe it's a series we won't see again, again.

Titan Grave, by Sharam and Woodhead - 7 - I like the CG graphics, but it's hard to see the detail this medium provides when it's so dark.   The story rescues a princess, and wonders who is using whom.  It says Fragment A, makes me want to think there's more, that I don't think we'll see in HM.  It'd be great to be wrong here.

Battlefield X, by Forte - 5 - Lots of guys getting blown up, and an attempt at a statement about the futility of war.

Fiendy, by Becks - 7 - It's such a thin and contrived story, but the telling is so much fun.  Cam-roaches coming soon to a foodstand near you.  It's nice to see this again, wouldn't mind seeing more again and again.

Artist's Studio, by White - 6 - It's just a pile of fantasy pinups, but they're done well enough to be nice to look at.

The Vapor Cloud, by Terry - 6 - Zombies, but this time, they're space zombies.  Perhaps not an imaginative premise, but there's a lot of effort in the story.  It's worth seeing.

Orcland, by Calle - 7 - A monster fantasy cooking show, but no zombies.  Energetic storytelling and stylish art make this an enjoyable read.

An enjoyable issue with more inside than the cover indicates.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Walking with Cthulhu

In HM #262, Richard Caldwell's The Lottery Party mentions this book, "Walking with Cthulhu - H.P. Lovecraft as Psychogeographer" by David Haden.  I sought it out and found the author offered it for free in a secured .pdf on his website.  I got it and read through it and thought I'd mention it here.

The book discusses H.P. Lovecraft's time in New York City.  I only know Lovecraft from HM references, such as the H.P. Lovecraft themed issue October 1979, and a couple other stories like "Rats in the Walls" by Corben in March 1999, (and the deified monster Uhluhtc in Den).  I was aware of his reputation as a writer, but I don't know his work well.

The book is written for those with a much deeper interest in Lovecraft and his history.  It makes plain its focus on his time in New York and speculation on how the environment affected his work.  It presumes a depth of interest and knowledge of Lovecraft in the reader that I don't have, and I was often lost in the references to other work and other studies of his life and letters, and the footnotes upon footnotes, sometimes taking more of the page than the text itself.  I admit it's a bit amusing to me the level of devotion demonstrated by the author and other Lovecraftian scholars, but my interest in the even more obscure and trivial Heavy Metal is certainly no more noteworthy.

David Haden has produced several other works, including others about Lovecraft.  I did admire his effort and diligence in seeking his resources and researching his subject.  There are many interesting connections he attempts with the field of "psychogeography", apparently the study of effects of location on the psyche, as well as other work and movements.  Frank Boas, surrealism, the Situationalists, the occult, and comic books, are all wound in.

What interested me most was descriptions of New York in Lovecraft's time.  NYC only became more interesting to me when someone I know moved there.  I've visited a few times since.  Having grown up in a big city I'm less than excited about the crowded dirty smelly aspects, but I know that a big city has a lot to offer.  It's so active and kinetic that it's easy to forget it hasn't always been so modern.  Knowing that NYC has been big and getting bigger for a couple hundred years, and the frankly amazing way millions of people have existed in such a small area, learning a bit about its history was interesting to me.  The transportation was transitioning away from horses, and the car had not taken over.  The subways are often nasty but fantastically effective at moving many people at all hours.  Learning they were only more crowded and dark and disturbing adds to my perceptions.

Also interesting were description of his night walks, the basis for the discussion of psychogeography.  Apparently Lovecraft and some groupies would wander the city and gather impressions of mystery and fear.  Some of these impressions are believed to have been digested into some of his work.  The thought of wandering the streets of NYC at all hours may seen ridiculous, but even in Lovecraft's time, as now, there are parts of the city that are active and bustling at any hour.

So I enjoyed reading through this and learned a few interesting things.  The piles of footnotes and references to other research were excess scholarship to me, but I'm sure there are many who would find this valuable and insightful.  People with interest in Lovecraft and some of the back alleys of history of  New York may find it enjoyable as well.

Saturday, August 10, 2013


I finally got #263 about a week ago.  I was looking for almost a month.  First I misinterpreted the release schedule so I was looking before it was released July 10.  Then it was in none of the four bookstores and five comic shops I got to in the next couple weeks.  The best they had was still #262 on the shelf.  Then it just disappeared from, though they still have #264 and now #265 advertised.  I was getting worried I'd need to order it from somewhere, or worse it sold out before I could get one.  At last, I stopped at one of the B&N again and there it was.  Now in a couple weeks I get to start looking again for #264.  I don't really want to subscribe or order online, but I hope it won't be this difficult next time.

Was it worth it?  For me it was.  I want to keep getting the printed magazine, for as long as it exists.  If HM ever goes electronic-only it'll lose me.  Flipping though pages and perusing the details on the printed pages is one of the things I really enjoy about reading HM.  I need glasses to do it now, but it's what I like.  The experience of reading on a screen does not compare.  I'm behind the times, and I can't argue with the power of electronic media, and I do miss the free .pdf samples, but the paper mag is what I like.

I will say I like the ad for t-shirts on the website, "the most incredible T-shirts in this galaxy".  It's reprised from the magazine ad in the 70s, which also used to say the HM logo was "flocked as thick as your little finger."  On this version they replaced the logos on the photo with a newer chrome version and did it pretty nicely.

With that, to the review:

Cover - 7 - This looks better on paper in my hands than it did on the screen.  A somewhat classical composition, angelically gazing skyward, flowing robes, drawing a sword.  And a toned and ample abdomen.  Michael C. Hayes also has a gallery in this issue and he seems to like this part of a woman, and I don't mind it a bit.

Inside the front cover is an ad for a Star Trek action figure that "Features Interchangeable Parts!" (it's Spock).  Funny that there's no indication of price or even how to get one but for a small website address at the bottom.  I guess if you have to ask you can't afford it.  Contrasting is the opposite ad on the next page for HM subscriptions with numbers and dollar signs all over, and even a cut-out order slip.  Does anyone actually still do that?  How many of these could HM receive in a year?  (Though people did.  It happens that the bulk of the mags in my collection are from a nearly complete set I came upon soon after I started collecting them.  Every so often one of them is missing an order slip.  Usually the other side of the cutout missing isn't a big deal, unless it's Rock Opera or something.  Argh.)

Animal'z - 8 - After over a year, another installment of this Bilal creation.  It may even be continuous with the first two we saw in HM.  This story seems to have been released in a book in French.  I like the sketchpad art even more than before.  The storytelling is even more obtuse.  People on boats, half zebra horses, a flipper for a foot.  It says continued next issue again.  Be still my heart, I can hardly wait. 

Project Sefiroth - 5 - A couple geared-up people in a post-civilization wasteland fighting inhuman creatures, with the text as some poetic lament.  It's incomprehensible enough for me to like it, but I don't care for the art.

Gallery - 7 - Michael C. Hayes shares some more of his work and a nice autobio.  Excellent technique, a bit static sometimes, but I do like the warrior angel women.  But the arrow is usually on the other side of the bow.

Beginning and Ending - 7 - Parts One and Two.  Pretty nicely shaded black and white line art, and a story of power and supernatural intrigue.  A setting resembling feudal Japan, a monk and lost child and warrior, a confrontation with dark forces.  It says to be continued.  These guys don't know about having the arrow on the other side of the bow either, but they seem to be pretty good shots anyway.

The Nature of Things - 6 - In a future civilization, a candidate Drwn from the citizenry meets the ruling elders, for a chance to join them.  In a surprising way, Drwn "evolves" into a ruler.  The art is just ok.  The story is just better.

The Eternity is Only an Instant - 7 - In this story a guy is killed in an accident, then searches eternity for God to find out why.  He does but he doesn't.  But he gets to wait for his beloved for eternity, but it's only an instant.  This manages to cover a lot of ground in just a few pages.  The art is ok, some of it is nice.

Megarobot - 5 - Giant Killer Robot and not much else.

The Axe - 6 - Told pretty well, the art is mostly ok.  But it's such an absurd perspective for a protagonist (and not in a good way).  Like she's really gonna wanna just do ya right after you revive her from death?  Again?

Artist's Studio - 6 - Rafael Rivera displays his abilities with some of his work.  I like some of the absurd and surreal stuff.  The caricatures look well done but are less interesting to me.

The Asencion - 7 - The art looks good.  The story tells of humanity's majority selling their lives, to alien enslavement, by degrees.  Might be some social commentary in there too.  I thought Asencion in the Contents was a typo again until I saw it was spelled that way in the story.

The Nephthys Chronicles - Star Light, Star Bright - 6 - Interesting but thin, but pretty.  Might be more of them, don't know that we'll see any though.

Not too bad, hope it's easier getting the next one.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Kranburn #7

I got the digital copy of Kranburn #7 a couple weeks ago, and I just ordered paper copies of #5, #6, and #7 too, so I'm looking forward to seeing them.

Since the comic releases are now almost a full issue ahead of the webcomic, I was concerned about writing a review that would spoil too much for webcomic readers, so I'll be even more vague than usual.  I will say that the story embarks in such a new direction that it makes me think Kranburn will be going on for a long time, instead of wrapping the story up in a couple more issues.  Now I sure could be wrong about that, but so much is added to the story that could be built on, it could go on for many more months.  I hope that's a good thing, we'll see.

The cover is another scene of a heavily geared-up post-apoc warrior, more straps and studs and buckles, and giant knives.  I'm odd in that it makes me think it must take forever to get dressed to go out in the wasteland, and it's funny to me that there's an "Alright, let's gear up and be on our way." in the story.

The story starts with a neat overhead view of a barricaded compound, noted as "Berrik, nine days ago."  Interesting way to start, and it was my first clue that this was not the last issue.  It's a nicely detailed scene that's actually rotated for the landscape page view.

From webcomic comments this is apparently based on an actual place in an actual town (Berwick?).  There are some things in the depiction of the town that get me thinking about how they could do that in the barbarous time of civilization's end in this story, like put up reinforced concrete wall panels for the barricades.  I shouldn't worry so much about this, or where they get fuel or ammunition, and giant knives, and just enjoy the story.

Brand is just leaving Berrick after some trading, apparently part of his travels prior to the eventful return to Kranburn that started Kranburn #1.  On the way out of the compound he meets John, who's a scout for Berrik just returning on his motorcycle, with giant face scars.  As they part company, and the story moves beyond the webcomic postings, I'll just say that there's quite little of Brand in this story, and much of characters we just meet, or hardly know.  The story proceeds with some of these people showing us yet another sleazy underworld market in this miserable future, and explores yet another way to show humans' capacity for cruelty to other humans.

The time shift to before the series' beginning was surprising but it makes me think there's potential to enrich the story overall (also potential to muck it up).  There are interesting ties to previous issues, that present some answers and even more questions about the story and where it may go.  I liked this issue a great deal for its usually nice aspects of stark art and brutal storytelling, and for the expanded scope of what it's trying to tell.

The unfolding of this expansion of the story could be excellent, or it could confuse and complicate things such that it may be impossible to write an ending.  Maybe even both.  I'm leaning towards excellent, hope I'm right.

Monday, June 10, 2013


Some significant changes in my HM multiverse.

Happily, Tex Arcana was recently updated, the 4th book is now up to 346 pages.  In that Mr Findley indicated he may not ever work on it again (too busy with actual paying work) I am thrilled to see even this addition of a couple pages.  Mysterious and foreboding pages they are, too.  It's wonderful to see.  I hope there will be more to come, but even if not Mr Findley has my gratitude for sharing this work.  You should go to and seek out Book 4, and read it, all of it, really you should.

Unhappily, Jeremy Ray seems to have pulled the plug on XTIN.  The web page and the SmackJeeves and Comic Fury pages it linked to, and his Deviant Art pages, have all disappeared.  While he completed the posting of XTIN The Dragon's Dream World, his attempts at XTIN2, first as comic, then as prose work, displeased him and he quit them, and now seems to have quit altogether.  He made statements about wanting fame, and it seems the small audience he was able to reach was inadequate.  I have more regrets about this loss.  I thought XTIN's art was excellent and the storytelling fascinating, but Mr Ray's complaints stirred feelings in me more of pity than empathy.  I hope he finds what he wants and gets what he needs from his work and his life.

Waiting for the next Kranburn, should be any day now, and the next HM in a couple weeks.

(edit) Mr Ray has indicated that he will try again to publish XTIN.  I'd really like that, but I'll believe it when I see it.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


"Full Issue Super Special Featuring Dravn", more like full issue Dave Elliot special, again.  It seems Mr Elliot is building another layered and well crafted story line, but will we see more of it in HM?  I'm not optimistic.  I may be in the minority, but Heavy Metal is pretty much the only comic I buy, besides Kranburn since I like it so much, and the occasional resale shop find, so I'm not likely to get other mags to follow this story.  (though I admit that BiLL's link to Metal Hurlant issues has intrigued me, I'm thinking about seeking these out.  they're similar and somewhat related to HM.)  Anyway,

Cover - 7.5 - I like the flip cover, the front graphic has a lot to offer, it's more than a pinup, it does a lot with a watercolor-ish look, and they drive giant robots.  The back looks nice and promotes one of the inside stories.  Both have logos, the front shiny metal with flat head screws, and the back has a heat convection effect that fits with the scene.  I'm letting "The World's Greatest Illustrated Magazine" tagline bug me though.

Dravn Creedo - 4 - Pompous, and it's spelled "credo"

Dravn History - 7 - kind of cool dossier type presentation

Dravn Gallery - 5 - I'd rather be shown than told.  And there's a Dravn 1942 but the story is Dravn 1918, more on my confusion later.

Dravn 2001:  Girl of Sorrows - 6 - In two parts, art's ok, like all these the writing is pretty good, this story doesn't offer me much though.

Dravn 1918: Two Masters - 7 - I like the art since it reminds me of Rod Kierkegaard, even though some of the perspectives are a bit off it's still rich and intriguing.  I'm confused though, the story looks like it's WWI , but it ends with a pretty neat looking 1943 newspaper headline about D-Day Lost!  It's such an unexpected time span, and D-Day was in 1944?  Apparently his history is not ours.

Dravn 1541: Brotherly Love - 5 - a few nice bits but the "I Love You Mother" and the 60 ft in the air battle scenes seemed hackneyed.

Dravn 520: Kingdom on Earth - 3 - the art is nice looking, but the writing has too many cute humor attempts for its remaining quality to overcome.  And the Citizen Behavioral Mandate was terrible, it looked nothing like a written pronouncement and everything like a kid playing with text fonts. Center justified?  sheesh.

I was very amused by the announcement of 4 Horsemen winning Best Orginal Graphic Novel.  Spelling errors in HM are nothing new but I found this one funny.

Dravn 1604: Above All Names - 4 - I'm not fond of the art.

the lottery party - 7 - two entries.  I like how this offers a break from the Dravn, and the one about the book on H.P. Lovecraft in New York was interesting to me.  NYC only got more interesting to me when someone I know went there and I've visited.  I don't like it, but like all big cities it has a lot to offer and a deep history if you care to look for it.  I'm not a huge Lovecraft fan but I'm amused by fans' depth of interest.  Turns out the book author's blog has the book for free.

Dravn 2169: I Am - 7 - I think I like this story the most, maybe it's the sentient robot gaining awareness.

So I thought this was an ok issue, a few nice parts and a few poor parts.  I'll be disappointed if we get many more of these Dave Elliot specials that do little more than promote other work, but I might change my tune if we get some repeat installments of some stories, even a serial or two.  The internet thinks we may see some Bilal again soon , I hope so.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Kranburn #6

Got this a few weeks ago and just now getting to a review.  I still haven't ordered paper copies, I may wait until the next one, but I did get a couple electronic copies of another work FEC puts out, Seven.  It's pretty good, the black and white art isn't as energetic as Kranburn, but it's nice, and the writing is somewhat mystical.
My curiosity about how Kranburn would progress beyond the pages posted on the website was answered simply, the pages are done and the books are ahead of the website now.  As of now there are just a few pages in this book yet to appear on the site.  If the book is published in June like I thought it would, only a couple of the pages will appear on the site before the book comes out.
The cover is another detailed portrait of some guy decked out in post-apocalyptic bohemian chic.  A skull for a belt buckle and lucky rabbit's foot (and a big rabbit it was) complete the ensemble.  Pretty cool.
This issue picks up with Sylvia driving down on the Nong they came across in their search, but they're unable to capture her.  Back at the hideout, one of the captors decides it's time to get his rape in, but it goes "really badly".  This is one of my least favorite parts of Kranburn.  While it's another gleeful depiction of nasty (really nasty) violence, it's told in a plodding and even nonsensical manner.  It may be that the violence is so horrible that I can't view it in a detached enough manner, or maybe it's just so ridiculous.  Anyway, it's a minor issue with the storytelling, not so much the story.
The end of this part is interspersed with scenes of a Nong search party walking through a run-down city, wondering what is the deal with Lord and Brand, and reminiscing about times before the plague.  Their stroll is interrupted, of course, by Brand's ambush, leading to their and the book's end.  There's some silly humor here, and more ridiculousness.  For example, the concrete cinder block with spikes driven through, points out, generated some website comments about how it could be done, but I just don't think it could be done without breaking the block.
My pointless annoyance at such minor bits doesn't detract from the overall quality of Kranburn.  It's excellent.  I still look forward to the next book(s?) and I will certainly get all of them on paper, as long as they come out before our own little apocalypse.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

more other reviews

so I'm cruising the internet looking for issues of May 2012, the one with four covers, and finding it is surprisingly unavailable.  I started looking when I noticed that even HM doesn't have it for sale on the website.  there are probably some out there but I haven't found it yet.

while searching, I came across porporbooks blog, which has posts about SF books and stuff from the 80s and such.  there are many posts on HM magazines from the late 70s and 80s, maybe thirty, and several others on stories from HM.  not only are some of them about some really fantastic issues of HM, but the 80s were the time of my fondly remembered misspent youth (the memories are good, the crap I seem to have forgotten), much of it misspent reading Heavy Metal  magazine.  while they often start with references to popular songs and movies, they are light on commentary and heavy on scanned images.  I have not read them all, yet, but I find them quite enjoyable.  I hope you do too.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


It took a while to find this one.  My favorite local bookstore no longer gets HM.  The two closest comic stores didn't have it ("we could order it ... "), had to get to the big city B&N to get it.  I guess that will happen when they print half of the magazines they used to.  At least it still exists.

Cover - 6 - It's the newsstand cover of course, both this and the "Diamond" cover are Bisleys.  This one is so outlandish, the hair, the clawed glove, the barbed wire, the multitude of dangling crosses beneath the tubelet top, makes it almost like Bisley doing a parody of a Bisley cover.

No editorial, but they had some fun with the personnel titles.

Journey Into the Dark Side of the Moon - 6 - Space explorers find something unexpected.  There are some nice aspects to the art and the story, but I like this more for what it's trying to say, people have choices, than how it actually says it.  One of three Abraham Martinez stories in this issue.

Dave Wachter Gallery - 6 - I think he likes wolves.

Choose Your Own Misadventure - 5 - Some prisoners are given choices for a chance to escape, but they choose a false choice.  I noticed a bit of classism in how the choices were presented.  Would they even know what Megalodon is?  I like Llarena's writing but this is not my favorite example, but the art is nicer than he often gets.

War Pig Necrosoldier - 7 - A soldier's short story that's kind of funny but also shallow.  Cardoselli's art reminds me of Druillet in the old HM more and more these days.

Star Bride - 6 - Neat story of ancient Central American culture meets traveling aliens, again.  The art is flat but colorful.  Peoples' selfishness transcends time and space.

An ad for a Free Comic Book Day event features a Kevin Eastman sketch, of a Turtle.  What else?  At least he gets to draw more now, good for him.

Divide to Conquer - 7 - Xalabarder again displays the imagination I so like about his work.  I really liked the two stories told together, but they never really join like I hoped they would.  It's more apparent that these are part of a series, that we only see parts of, too bad.

Do You Hear the Sedna-3 Mermaid's Chant? - 8 - Even loyal android servants can't save us from evil aliens.  The art's pretty nice, the writing is even better.

17 pages of ads later ...

White Threat - 7 - Someone's lost in the woods, finds a cabin that offers no shelter.  I like the black and white art.  The story is rather simple but it's told pretty well.

Artist Studio - Andy Kuhn - 6 - nice stuff

The Tide is Coming! - 6 - An organic plague threatens, will humanity survive?  Don't know.  Looks nice, nice telling, but doesn't tell very much.

Treacherous Bullet - 6 - Crime and betrayal in the American Old West.  Nice looking art, pretty nice story.  No one gets the girl.

Back cover - 7 - Dave Wachter, I like it, it's contemplative.

A pretty good issue, variety and imagination, I still hope for more.  I'm led to believe that some editorial content and other stories will continue, hope so.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Tex Arcana

So, I finally got the complete Tex Arcana book (from Amazon).  I'm quite happy with it, I'm happy I finally got around to getting it, and I really enjoyed reading it over.  Not only is it very good, it brought back some nice memories of the times this was in HM magazine.  I guess that kind of thing happens when you are old.

The book itself is fine, while the pages are a bit smaller than the magazine pages, and the paper is not the high quality in the magazine (at least the beginning, through the years HM used a variety of paper stock, sometimes a mix, and sometimes Tex Arcana was on even lesser paper in the magazine than in this book), and there are unfortunate instances of fuzzy images in it, it's still 276 pages of John Findley awesomeness.  I was bemused by the fact of a date at the back of the book, indicating it was printed a day before it was shipped to me.  It appears to be produced on demand rather than from stock.  Apparently that can be done these days.

I really enjoy Mr. Findley's work, the high quality of his line drawing, and the convoluted imagination of his storytelling.  When this was in HM magazine, it seemed to go on forever (it was in six years of the mag) which was fine with me.  It was one of the stories that kept me buying the magazine as its focus and quality varied during those years after the 1981 movie came out.

The book has the revisions Mr. Findley made and are posted on his website, less the few bits of color he tried (if you have not seen it, go to the links page right now for the link to his website, it's all there for free).  Mostly the ending of the "Tex Arcana Meets the Toast of Europe" is extended and expanded, which is good.  As I mentioned in my review of December 1985, "the Last Monthly" the ending of the magazine story seemed rushed compared to the meticulous telling of the rest of it.  The ending in this book doesn't quite tie up every loose end but it does add more detail and makes for a more enjoyable finish.

(Mr. Findley has also started a fourth book, available on his website also, which continues a story with some of the same characters, but it remains unfinished.  He's indicated he may or may not restart work on it.  While I wish he would, I won't complain if not, he's given so much he doesn't owe me a thing.)

At $24 plus shipping, it was rather expensive, but it was worth it to me.  I really enjoy reading on the printed page more than a screen, it's more fun to flip through pages and usually the image reproduction is better and I can see more detail, which is one of the things I like about Mr. Findley's work and HM in general.  I feel fortunate that this is available and that I can afford such an extravagance.  If you are able and interested, I certainly recommend it to everyone who is actually reading this.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


Cover - 4 - I got the newsstand cover, I think it's too far towards a simple comic cover, and though it does relate to a story inside, I'm not a big fan of that story.  The subscriber cover by Horley looks nicer.  I'm not a big fan of the multiple covers.  I'm unlikely to subscribe, and even less likely to seek out different covers to "complete my collection".

Emily, Almost - 8 - mysterious and moody, and makes a good point.

The Lottery Party - 7 - So this is perhaps another editorial like Dossier or Metal Media, with a review or something?  I'm ok with that, we'll see if it returns.  This one had a nice review of Fahrenheit 451, which I had only recently read, that I enjoyed as the writer made the case that we live in the times of that story now.  There was also a story about Dax Riggs of Acid Bath.  I didn't know about them, but I enjoyed the article and that it made me recall past HM music reviews from the 80s etc.

The Matron - 7 - written by the author of the previous editorial, an interesting story about a tribal outcast's growth from child exile to matron, in a changing world.  It has a descriptive and imaginative writing style that I enjoyed.  For this and the previous article I wonder if the uncredited art is actually by the author.

Gallery - 5 - the one I liked was Light It Up, just because I like that kind of line drawing.

Carpe Diem - 6 - pretty nicely done, bright and full of action, and there's some fun in the writing, but it just doesn't make a big impression on me.

The Weirding Willows - 5 - another random episode with more critters and ....  mini robots?  In HM it's not unexpected to have gaps in storytelling or episodes, but this was more annoying than usual.  There are some good art examples, though the contrived ways to keep it PG-13 were more annoying than alluring.

Odyssey - Part Two - 6 - a continuation from #259, I think it's ok but not great, at least it goes somewhere.

Elephant's Graveyard - 6 - I want to like what it's trying to say, and the glowing comm-orbs are interesting and offer weird lighting opportunities.  Doesn't really grab me though.

Daniel - 8 - I really liked this, even though the art isn't really precise it is very successful telling me this story.  I imagine the Bible offers many potential illustrated fantasy stories.  (I do have R. Crumb's Genesis)

Dante's Inferno - 6 - interesting and short essay about Dante and his Divine Comedy, and recalling some images it projects as subjects for art.  less interesting to me were the theological implications, though it provides an offer to discuss online for those interested.

Deep Six Odyssey - 7 - Big story with lots of action.  Seeing Suydam credited with coloring caught my attention, and I thought it added a great deal (he did a bunch of stories like Mudwog back in the 90s etc).

Sharky - 6 - the Johnson gallery and Horley art are pretty cool, looks like the story is trying to have some fun.  I'll wait to see if this ever shows up in HM again.

Battle Beasts Preview - 3 - some of the art is good, but seeing a promo for little plastic bits makes me think I'm watching Saturday morning cartoons about 20 years ago, and not in a good way.

There were a couple nice things in this issue, and some things that I wasn't too fond of.  Some of the blatant merchandising and the PG-13 approach are unappealing.  Note the removal of "adult" from the new tagline "The World's Greatest Illustrated Magazine".  Previews on the internet give me a couple things to look forward to, and as long as the print magazine continues to be produced I'll keep trying to find something to like.