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.