Thursday, December 18, 2014

HM Dec 84 preview

I don't care for the HM website in its present form.  It seems to be a pile of slightly HM related stuff thrown up all over.  It loads like crap on my dinosaur machine.  There's little in news announcements or updates.  It seems to grab some heavy metal music stuff too.  It just doesn't seem to have any purpose.  There was an "Issues" section when it was revamped, that could have put some focus on individual past issues, but it disappeared quickly.

There are sometimes some interesting bits.  An occasional comic or short story is sometimes nice.

Something I did enjoy, is a preview of the December 1984 issue, billed as a holidaze gift from "30 years ago today", that is available as a .pdf of a scanned magazine.  It's not at all perfect, a couple pages are misarranged or misaligned, and not all pages are included.  It's not one of the mag's finest issues either, as it neared the end of its monthly run.  However, it is a nice opportunity for anyone who doesn't have this issue to see some of it, and it does have a few good parts, including a Corben cover, an interview with Frederico Fellini, an installment of "An Author in Search of Six Characters" by Milo Manara, and some Tex Arcana and Rock Opera.

(it was funny that at first the link for the download went to some sort of web email launcher, instead of the download, but it seems to work now.)

So I'd recommend anyone interested to go to the HM website and grab this free preview, before it disappears in the disjointed mess the site is now.  There's a link on my "Links" page, or you can use the awesome power of the internet to find it yourself.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Heavy Metal # 271

It says "Asylum Press Special".  Frank Forte is credited as Guest Editor.  The Co-CEOs are credited again.

Cover by Aly Fell - 7 - While the pose is a bit stiff, and the background was a bit sparse in contrast to the subject, I liked how the subject itself was so carefully crafted, and was clever enough to gain my interest.  It's so ridiculous it's amusing that such a (very pretty) young woman would be an officer on an airship (that only happens in the movies), and the uniform mashup of Nazi Germany and Elizabethan England, and a peace sign, is so meticulously rendered, that I really enjoyed it.  Someone else pointed out that she's holding the saber in the wrong hand, for pulling from the scabbard it would seem, for me it just adds to the sillyness.  Aly Fell did the contents page art as well, it appears to be from '07, it has a different energy.

An ad for a Batman vinyl bank?  Does "collector quality sculpting" means the molded wrinkles?  Someone might actually buy this?  Now I can imagine Mr West is getting a piece, but what about Robin and the Joker?

Prayer... by Steve Mannion and Frank Forte - 7 - A Fearless Dawn story, referred to elsewhere as an homage to Möbius.  I do like the style, it looks hand drawn and it does resemble an older HM story, it's almost wordless.  It could almost work in black and white, except for the glowing green orb that's almost certainly a lochnar reference, and it tells a light but enjoyable story.  And there are tentacles.

Dangerous Curves by Dwayne Harris - 6 - Post apocalyptic delivery probably isn't nearly as much fun as it looks.  Digitally-aided art works pretty well here, nice details and coloring, it enhances the rather thin story, still liked it.

Pond Scum by David Hartman - 3 - It looks nice enough, but I thought using caged girls for bait was unfunny.

Gallery by Ben Olson - 7 - A few covers and a few portraits, in an almost classic style.  There are monsters and clowns and a few things in between.

Priests of the Black Death by William Broad - 4 - The art is rather flat, and this could be just another example of victimization and wanton abuse, but for a supernatural vengeance twist .

Warlash by Frank Forte and Nenad Gucunja - 7 - This has a subtitle The Transformation of Eduard Yan.  Warlash seems to be a crime-fighter in a decrepit Pittsburgh, but the star of the show is a junkie, perhaps it's Mr Yan.  Junkie gets cut up for a debt and is dumped into the sewers, managing to shoot up one more time before he falls.  Must've been some good stuff, since he turns into a tentacled monster.  So when he attacks some hookers, enter Warlash.  Fight ensues, monster is defeated, but threatens vengeance.  Art's pretty nice, energetic storytelling.

Separation Anxiety by Robert Steven Rhine and Frank Forte - 7 - Love, betrayal, and vengeance, at the Circus.  The art's alright and the storytelling is straightforward but brisk.  The story itself is out there enough.  Freaks gettin' freaky and a horrifying twist at the end. 

Mother by Mark Covell - 7 - Boy robot gets the Mommy Dearest treatment.  The story and some of the art are sort of murky, but I liked it.

Feast by Royal McGraw, Adauto Solva, and Frank Forte - 6 - Blackmailed by yakuza, a chef gets some zombie vengeance.  Pretty nice art with a simple story.

The Green Fairy by Jason Paulos - 7 - Some old school black and white art with some comic-style dot pattern shading.  A fairly involved story for a 7-page comic.  A tortured artist gets the fame and fortune he desires, at the cost of his soul.

Swamp Girl by Frank Forte, Fabio Nahon, and Liezl Buenaventura - 6 - The art is alright and colorful, the story is just another love triangle.  A few strategically placed word balloons diminish the impact.  At least there are more tentacles.

Short Circuit by Elizabeth J Musgrave, Frank Forte, and Beth and Frank - 6 - Rather superficial story but I liked the joke anyway.  Somehow telling it from the stripper-working-her-way-through-college's viewpoint made it more reachable for me.

Evaluation by Hilary Barta and Davpunk - 5 - The art's done well, the story is thin and unclear, though it has a cynical view.

another version of the Heavy Metal dot com ad, less mindblowing than the last one.

Mutation by Frank Forte and J C Wong - 6 - The art has much to recommend it, but the story, while having some imagination, ends up being another victimization, that's not justified by how "she likes it" at the end.  More tentacles though.

Allison by Frank Forte, Timothy B Vigil, and Joe Vigil - 7 - While satanic rituals to bring back the dead don't interest me much, this one had more to the story.  Drug overdose, love triangle, vengeance and surprise, all this and more.  Well, a little bit more anyway.

an ad for Girls and Corpses dot com.  looks like it might be an actual magazine.  it might be funny, but I don't think I'll go there.

Incident on Alpha Proxima by Frank Forte - 5 - monsters in space is kind of cool but there's not much to this one.

Artist's Studio by David Lebow - 8 - Lots of nice looking painting with fantasy, and fantastic women, and skull-faced robots.

Sacro Profano by Mirka Andolfo and Roberto Branca - 6 - looks nice but it's just a joke, might be one of several stories of angel-devil love.

back cover by David Hartman - 6 - kinda neat, way better than I could do for sure, but rather sketchy for my liking.

A great number of stories in this issue, with Mr Forte's tentacle-prints all over it.  I may not like everything he's done, but there's so much that there's quite a variety, so there's something for everyone.  Recurring themes are pain, vengeance, victimization, and tentacles.  There wasn't anything that really excited me, but many enjoyable entries.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Heavy Metal #270

Figured I'd better get the review in before the next one comes out, scheduled for next week but I probably won't see it until mid-November.  Here goes...

Cover by Pascal Blanche - 7.5 - A more imaginative take on the chick-in-some-getup.  The woman's form, and the coloring and lighting, do evoke a Corben feeling.  It's quite lovely.  The getup is so ridiculous it's amusing, the cross-head screws are just goofy, and the weapon is silly, the sight looks setup for a left hand shooter, but that's not how she's wearing it.  There's a slight interference in the model, the sight on the belly, but mostly it's very well done.  There's detail in the paper cover, the screws and the giant nips for instance, that I just didn't see on the screen in preview images.

An ad for TMNT Minimates?  Ugh.  I wonder how long they'll let him get away with pimping the kid stuff.

The new owners are each credited as "Co-CEO", and this issue's cover as well as last issue's are credited on the contents pages.

Animal'z by Bilal - 8 - And so the story concludes, as obtuse and ethereal as ever.  A polar bear honor guard, the last nihilistic duel, riding or swimming or flying off into the sunset, if there was a sunset.  I won't pretend this had deep emotional meaning to me, or that it was spectacular or action-packed, but I've enjoyed it tremendously.  Seeing Bilal in the pages of Heavy Metal, 37 years after I first did, has been a delight.  And what do you know, there are previews saying another Bilal, Julia and Roem, will start in #272.  Looks like the same art style, I wonder if I'll like it as much.  Something to look forward to.

Surefire Means by Brandon Barrow - 6 - Pretty nice looking art, and a somewhat interesting, though not necessarily original, premise of being lost on an alien planet, but the ending just struck me as dumb.

Artist's Studio by Chris Compston - 6 - I can't say that guitar art interests me much, but he does have some nice ability.

Brom Kah by McCleary, Garret, and Bolt - 6 - Another story with nice looking art, arcane but ponderous storytelling, and a less than inspiring ending.

Sexy World by Enrique Pilozo - 6 - I didn't like it much, but I can appreciate how the sentiment of loneliness in a superficially sex-crazed society, can appeal to the pimply-faced basement dweller, typing alone in a darkened room, in all of us.

Vampire Vixens of the Wehrmacht by Emperor and/or Lex and Campbell - 7 - Despite my relative disinterest in vampire stories, and some really dumb things, like 6 year old Hitler has a toothbrush mustache (I mean, I get ya have ta show it's him, but c'mon), I was able to find some things to like.  Some of the photo-copy/realistic art was enjoyable enough, some of the compositions were really nice, and parts of the often over-the-top story were humorous enough.  There's a promo at the end, promising another story called "Arses High".   I'll try not to get my hopes up too much.

Biological Warfare by Jeff Dyer and Mauro Balloni - 3 - I actually disliked this one.  Even the pedestrian art is better than the clumsy character stereotypes and stupid execution of a simplistic premise.  Sorry guys, but the bad Middle Eastern Terrorist bit really struck a nerve with me, that kind of shit pisses me off.  Better luck next time.

Two Peas in a Pod by Wren - 6 - Y'know, at least these clumsy character stereotypes (nice muttonchops) are in a bit more fanciful story, and are more funny and less offensive.  The story is sparse, a spaceship captain looking to release her ship from an asteroid, discovers a hidden world and sparks upheaval.  I enjoyed the art, though sometimes it's less than precise, it's nice to look at.  And speaking of coincidences, of course the giant space suit can hold two women, who of course take a fancy to each other, supporting another slightly less offensive clumsy stereotype.

Just One Feeling by Christian Endres and Christian Krank - 7 - Just one page but it has a story.  I like the art style, and there is a feeling.  Would you feel sympathy for orphaned alien zombie kids?

A full page ad for Heavy Metal dot com, with art someone actually worked on, another HM logo treatment with slotted screws, and a dorky-on-purpose tagline.  The cosmic confluence of meaning and superficiality, of brilliance and stupidity, of the incredibly crappy mess the HM website is now, and the paper in my hands, blows my mind.

Close Call by Sytse S. Algera and Apri Kusbiantoro - 5 - a somewhat interesting premise, of disease-fighting nanobots rescuing beach-goers, enhances the ok storytelling and art.

Oskar Ed by Branko Jelinek - 6 - I really liked the animal, it's drawn well.  The story tries for mysterious and imaginative, almost gets there.

Saskatchewan by Lee Nielsen - 6 - I think I know the despairing self-awareness that I think this is trying to convey, but I think I'm missing some of what it's trying to say too.  The art's pretty cool, I like the writing, but there seems to be more put into it than what I get from it.

Autopsy by Gonzalo Ruggieri - 7 - simple but funny, "no sign of intelligence" indeed.

Gallery by Pascal Blanche - 7 - A lot of this looks really nice, very well executed digitally composed portraits.  Some of them look very much like digital models, rather than an actual character, but I suppose that's ok.  There's not a lot of personality or emotion available, but they look nice.

M19:  Secret Agent Daphne in "An Awesome Weekend" by JD and JMB - 6 - Nice looking one-page spy story.  A "See you in sixty days, metalheads!" suggests this will be a recurring entry.

Back Cover by Pascal Blanche - 7 - nice looking and radiantly colored, it looks better on the cover than in the Gallery.

So, there were a few good things to recommend this issue, and a couple not so much.  My sentiment is on the positive side, I've seen a lot worse.  Next up is an Asylum Press issue, so we'll see what that brings.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Job Dun

A while back, Mark Hobby contacted me, and asked if I would review Job Dun, Fat Assassin, which he did with Ben Michael Byrne, of Kranburn fame, as well as Noelle Criminova and Dave Evans.  I was quite flattered to be asked to review an actual comic on my meager blog.  Despite my warnings of infrequent posts and tiny audience, he sent it to me anyway.  After having it a number of weeks, I'm finally putting up a review.

Now, I'm not the first nor only one to be asked, and of course others responded in a more timely manner:

Clearly these are regular comics readers with broader interest and experience than mine.  Their blogs are cooler too.  My interest is mostly limited to Heavy Metal magazine and related items, but since I got hooked on BMB's Kranburn when he shared the beginnings on the departed HM website forums, I'm interested enough in Job Dun to actually write about it.

Basically, I liked Job Dun.  It's got cool drawing, a fun and wacky storytelling style, and a crazy futuristic setting.  It's thought-provoking but doesn't take itself too seriously.  In fact it's so nutty, it has its incomprehensible moments.  In some of the other reviews, it evokes references to Heavy Metal magazine, I suppose I can see it.

This one seems to be titled "Body Shitta."  The fat assassin, in a grimy urban jungle, plugged in and hopped up on Khem-Kola and pineal implants, takes an assignment from a red-head black-clad bombshell.  Perhaps letting his infatuation get the better of his judgement, such as it is.  "Spray" addled hilarity and some fantastical violence ensues.  Jokes are made, imaginations are tested, and social norms are disdained.  An ending with more than a couple loose ends.  A "Next, Whut is 2B Dun?"  So perhaps there will be more.

I hope so.  I like Mr Byrne's work, I liked Mr Hobby's story, and the bright colors and lettering added up to make a fun read.  Job Dun appears to be available on the same bigcartel site that offers Kranburn from FEC Comics, so I'll suggest seeking it out and spending less than a buck (AUS) for a digital copy.  They have print for $6 as well ( ), though getting Kranburn shipped to me was a challenge, I hope it would be easier for you for Job Dun.

thanks again to Mr Hobby for the kind offer of a free comic and letting me write about it.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Native American Classics

A little while ago, I indulged myself and bought a copy of "Native American Classics" at a resale shop.  It's an issue of Graphic Classics, Volume Twenty-Four.  I haven't picked up any of these I've seen before, but I'd read some collections of Native American stories when I was younger, like "Indian Sleep-Man Tales", and this looked a bit interesting.

It's a handful of stories written in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, by or about Native Americans, and illustrated by contemporary artists.  A wide range of styles and tones makes this very enjoyable for me.

I was quite pleased when I discovered later as I read through it, that it includes a story illustrated by John Findley, of Tex Arcana fame.  It may not be the best-written story in the book, but Mr Findley's work is just terrific.  It isn't hard to recognize as his, once I look at it.  His fine line drawing is enhanced by some really nice coloring, a departure from the Tex Arcana black and white line drawing style I so admire.

Since this was just published in 2013, it's my hope this shows some of the paying work Mr Findley referred to, when he was kind enough to respond to my inquiries about Tex Arcana, that he was too busy to spend time on it.  (indeed, since then he's actually produced a few new Tex Arcana pages, that I referred to earlier this year.)

So I'm pretty happy I came across this.  Mostly since it has Mr Findley's work, but also because I enjoyed most of the other stories.  These Graphic Classics appear to be readily available online, and I may need to seek out "Western Classics" as Mr Findley is referenced to have adapted a story "El Dorado" in the credits (as well as a mention of "best known for his graphic series Tex Arcana, which ran in Heavy Metal magazine ...").  I certainly recommend it.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Kranburn #10

I picked up the digital Kranburn #10 early, then went ahead and got #8, #9, and #10 in print.  They are awesome.

Digital is great, easy and cheap.  Everyone should do it.  Getting them in print was again pricey and a bit challenging, but thanks to the efforts of fec comics and my actually having dollars I can squander on them, I can get slick bits of paper with these cool pictures on them.  I like that.

Image of Kranburn 10 Digital

(I lifted the picture from fec comics, they sell Kranburn, and other stuff.  You should go there and buy stuff.)

The cover of issue #10 is again a scene from the inside, nicely colored.  It might be the most fun picture in the whole of Kranburn, the enormity of the thighs, the horror of the shorts, the pot on his head, the lobster claw mitts, I wonder what the "KSB" on the belt buckle is for.

The story picks up immediately with Lawton and his captor.  Then quickly shifts to Brand preparing for his last "big swing".  In both cases, the tables are turned and horrifying violence ensues.  Lawton brutalizes his tormentor.  Brand is caught in Nong territory and is chased by a mob of crazed thugs.

As far as readers of the webcomic are concerned, I realized I can't help but drop spoilers in reviewing something that won't hit the webcomic for more than a year.  Rather than wait a year, I'll again encourage more of you to go to fec comics and buy Kranburn when it comes out, at least the digital issues.

Brand is in deep trouble.  Unprepared and outnumbered, he's running for his life.  He realizes they want him alive, and decides to die while killing as many Nong as he can.  Holing up in a building, the only escape is off the roof.

This issue is one of the most action packed and brutally violent of the whole story.  If you're not interested in furious depictions of the brutality people are capable of inflicting on each other, then Kranburn is not for you, especially this issue.  But if you're reading this, chances are that you might enjoy the artistic capability and the gonadular fortitude BMB displays with this work, like I do.

The cover picture, it turns out, is edited.  I really almost bust out laughing when I saw it in the story.  I wore shorts like that back in the day, but not quite like that.

A scene I didn't get, that I think might be important to the story, is when Brand looks out a window up in the building, at Brutus standing out in the rain, and flips him off, Brutus smirks, looks away like something hit his face (besides rain?), then looks back in shock.  Maybe it's nothing or it's just a bit of creativity in the timeline, maybe it will be explained in the webcomic.

I wonder what happens to Lawton.  Can he make it back to Kranburn?  I wonder what happens to Brand.  Does he survive, or is this the rare story that continues after the demise of its protagonist?  I wonder about Syliva, I wonder about Egon, I wonder how or if that Berrik slave trade story is going to reappear.  It's almost a cliffhanger.  Hopefully in a few weeks another issue tells me more.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Heavy Metal #269

bein' my lazy self again, slow on the draw with the review, but here goes .....

Cover by Eben - 7 - I didn't see it credited in the mag anywhere, but it's noted on the HM website.  An unenergetic pose and composition is improved by the nicely executed coloring, and she's got a rather imaginative getup.

an ad for TMNT vinyl banks?  puh-leeeze

Animal'z by Bilal - 8 - more exposition, only a little action, the cast of characters makes a feeble trek across the wasteland.  Now it might as well be an art film.  It says "concluded next issue!"  I can only imagine that it will remain mysterious.

Bul & Bal by Marko Djesta - 7 -  a fairly imaginative story of two reptilian space pilots is greatly enhanced by a parallel story of two kids playing in wartime Croatia.  Lively art and storytelling with a not-too-heavyhanded message, nice.

Gallery by Renee Robyn - 7 - a handful of enhanced photos with a fantasy bent.  Often too dark to see their detail on the pages, but many are quite lovely.

The Age by Tayyar Ozkan - 5 - not very interesting but it appears he's getting better at his coloring technique.

Apocalypse Chef by Chris Beukes, Greig Cameron, and Clyde Beech - 6 - a reality cooking show in a post-apocalyptic war zone.  Silly but fun.

E.V.A. by Marco Turini - 8 - still fantastic to look at, it attempts to wrap up the story with some success and some stones yet unturned, it still reminds me of HM days long past.  what fun.

and ad for HM Warriors video slot game?  I saw the announcement a while back, I still think this is really dumb, and now I see it's not available in the US.  seems pointless, and not even fun.

TK-47 by Spyros Verykios - 8 - another apparently painted art story with wonderful telling and mystery.  People are turning into giant bugs.  I hope we keep seeing more from Mr Verykios.

Into the After by Nate Furman - 6 - a digitally manipulated photo story.  Somewhat cool to look at, it's so mysterious that I can't even tell what the story is supposed to be.

Artist's Studio by Jeff Brennan - 6 - digital art including a bunch of blue robot girls, I bet he likes Tron.

Lena Gets a Hobby by Jurgen Speh - 6 - there's a bit of fun to be had, wacky sadistic chick takes up arts and crafts.  The comic art is pretty good, the story wasn't all that interesting to me.  This appears to be part of a series, from Germany, from '95(?).

I Was Looking at Things by Tea Strazicic - 7 - a stylized art story, about loneliness in the big city.  It may not be for everyone, the art can be a bit messy in places, the story is rather simplistic, but I liked how it made an impression on me.  It's kind of introspective.

MI9:  Secret Agent Susan Coby by John Dakin and John M. Burns - 7 - a one page spy story, it's pretty simple, but I liked the old-school-looking art, reminded me of Gray Morrow or something from the old days, but it says 2014.

Back Cover by Renee Robyn - 7 - looks like it's from a video game.

A few nice things and a couple I really liked.  I've liked how the mag has been going lately.  I know it's going to change again before too long, but I hope it's for the better and keeps coming.  Apologies to the authors that I can't get the proper accents on their names.

Monday, July 28, 2014

wdv dot Heavy Metal dot com

I'm dawdling with reviews, Kranburn #10 and HM #269, and a couple other things, await time and motivation from me.  Maybe I'll still get one out this week.

However, it's noteworthy that HM has significantly changed its website layout and format, so I thought I'd drop a couple thoughts. 

The www. link on my links page is directed to a wdv. site.  I haven't figured out the wdv thing, but the format appears adapted for mobile/tablet type viewing, and the layout looks more f-book-y.

It seems the change was timed for the SD ComicCon, and there's a couple features on the Con, including some from Steve Ringgenberg, who did a few years of the return of Dossier in the mag (it's been a couple years since it last appeared though).  There's also some features with some video, TMNT trailers (yawn) and something about heavy metal music going soft (?).

It's interesting that the "Shop" button directs to the "old" website shop pages.  Otherwise it appears all links to the past site are gone.  It was intriguing to see the "Issues" button, it does appear to contain a page for each issue of the mag, with a list of contents and artists.  (I didn't count them, but it looks like all the "regular" issues are there, but none of the Specials.  It's almost hard to believe it's been three years since they stopped producing those Special issues.)  There's also a "review" box that caught my attention, but it's a farcebook thing so I'm not likely to join. 

There's so much crap going on with feeds and crawlers on the site that it really bogs down on my cheap notebook.  It appears more deeply tied to f-book and other trending/tracking stuff, so maybe that has something to do with it.  The changes are kind of interesting to me, if not very exciting.  We'll see how it goes now that the Con is done.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Goodbye Gates

I'm finally giving up on Gates.   Billed as HM's first webcomic, and launched with a bit of hype by Hal Hefner in the beginning of 2011, I was very the premise of transhumanism described in some dystopian future.

The story started slowly and never recovered.  The art was ambitious but underachieving, colorful and with broad vision, but annoyingly misproportioned and static.  I wanted to like this more than I did.  Mr Hefner was often more dynamic and entertaining in the blog posts and comments on the pages, than the comic page presented.  I was impressed with his determination but disappointed with the comic itself.

The link still exists on the HM website, in "Just For Fun" but I'm dropping it here.  Hints were dropped of some sort of animation, and extending into "Transmedia", and the last entry on the Gates site is a promotion for the published book, but very little has happened in the past year.

I did grab the pdf of the compiled comic that Mr Hefner is kind enough to offer.  It can be found at The Serpent Seed site, where it seems Mr Hefner is/was trying to expand Gates:

So best wishes to Mr Hefner, and thanks for your efforts.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Heavy Metal #268

Certainly took my time getting and reading and reviewing this one.  There's some pretty good stuff in it, though, and I enjoyed it and I hope you do too.

Cover by Isidore Koliavras - 7 - Nice looking example of the babe-in-some-wacky-outfit, this time some warrior.  I liked the detail the most, the software-assisted rendering allows a lot to look into.  Funny how the breastplate seemed to get a lot of attention, with the shaping and layers and textures, but the axe has blunt edges.

Animal'z by Bilal - 9 - So now it's a soap opera, with polite fisticuffs, nihilistic duelists, and awkward dinner conversation.  People coming together and pasts are reunited.  Dreams and departures.  All the dialogue with much exposition, tells more about how things got where they are.  It may be less mysterious now, but it seems even more strange.  I'm really looking forward to more.

Gallery by Dominic Harman - 6 - Some of it's pretty good, some of it's fairly good.  Looks like he got a bit in The Other Dead.

A Pressing Position by Andrew Wislocki - 7 - A light but fun one-pager, a Giantess named Vavoomica, loses her ring in the forest.  Those mushrooms look funny, but I think I can see why.

In the End, There Will Be Hope by Martinez, Llarena, Bilbao, Cobos, and Jame - 7 - A nice collaboration here.  An interesting consideration of artificial intelligence, the writing increases focus as the story goes on, the art is done well, and the style fits the story.  I've liked much of Llarena's work before, and I liked how he's part of this group, though it's odd he's not credited in the Contents page.  Hopefully just an oversight.

E.V.A. by Marco Turini - 8 - This looks so much like it's from earlier HM, I'm entranced.  The nicely drawn ridiculous outfits, the cool techno-future environment, the neat watercolor-ish coloring, it's all so reminiscent.  This entry is huge, 21 pages, with so much fun stuff.  The devil-headed Nachzehrer with a full page of expository dialog, so much that it got me thinking he couldn't talk like a human with those teeth and no lips, but I don't care.  The completely stupid but so cool looking but it can't be comfortable motorcycle.  Platform-high-heeled armor, future torture, the failure of over-reliance on technology.  And with all this, it's to be "concluded next issue".  Oh Boy!

Among by Stefano Cardoselli - 7 - I can simultaneously like and dislike Cardoselli's style.  The action, the colors, the enthusiasm, it's so very exciting, but sometimes it's so flat and mindless.  It's part of his charm I guess.  Looks like he learned (in 2007) to directional splatter paint so we're treated to even more death and dismemberment than usual.  He does fit in some social commentary.

Blood Feud by Martinez, Cobos, Sobreiro, and Jame - 5 - I wish this was better, there are a few good bits of art and storytelling peeking through an otherwise flat and disconnected exercise.  It has some ambition but doesn't succeed like some of Martinez's other work.

Artist's Studio by Richard Pace - 6 - Some nice looking stuff, much of it swords and dragon type.  An interview by Richard Caldwell reveals that Mr Pace was influenced by HM, of course.  The little story is kind of funny.

Tales of Dead Earth: Descent by Christian Krank - 7 - A kind of cool art style, a tale of scavenging turns to zombies then quickly to sex and Martian black markets.  Mr Krank appears with his comic on Fbook and appears to have more of this.  Couldn't help but notice the HM Contents adds a "the" to the title.

The Dirigible Affair by William Bourassa Jr - 5 - A slightly funny one-pager.  The art doesn't have to do much more than sit there and look pretty, while the dialogue takes up the page with some banter, that has some funny parts, but some has a creepy distaste to it. 

Death From Above by Darren Koziol and Federico de Luca - 7 - I liked the art and composition, very striking, and I seem to enjoy stories of people enduring hells they have created.

Little Red Riding Hood Grows Up by Horacio Domingues - 5 - The art is sketchy but I liked much of it, the action or the boobs perhaps, but the story of a goggles-wearing Grandmother putting her granddaughter at risk to earn a living, and enticing a switch to bait for vampires with a new wardrobe, was just too dumb for me to enjoy.

Marked by Gonzalo Ruggieri - 7 - Nice looking and somewhat funny, I'll inflate my rating since Mr Ruggieri was kind enough to comment last time.

Back Cover by Richard Pace - 7 - Black and white line art of Legionnaires fighting for their lives atop a mountain of corpses.  It's downright old school.

So overall I enjoyed this issue, with some good and very good stories, not too many flat spots, and more sex than has been in the mag for years.  It seems to have found a groove again, and may even be improving.  Here's hoping it keeps up.  And I hope I spell everyone's name right, since I'm trying to note the creators' names now.  I like to point out typos in HM but I'm not perfect myself.

Thursday, May 15, 2014


H.R. Giger is reported to have passed away, at 74, surely too soon. 

Mr Giger is best known for the Alien movie and his work on the Alien and set design.

He was featured in HM in the 80s in some movie promo and galleries, as well as a couple covers, including the December 81 with Debbie Harry in a Giger outfit.  Giger's work was at once sophisticated and twisted, and made quite an impact at the time.

(it's quite unfortunate that Lostboy's fan page has lost its search capacity, apparently the service has shut down.  makes research more difficult, waaah, poor me ... )

I came across a "Baphomet - The Tarot of the Underworld, by Akron and H.R. Giger" set at a street sale a while back.  It's a Giger Tarot card set, which is pretty cool, and a CD with some sort of dirge metal, that's pretty bad.  I'll have to look it over again.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Kranburn #9

I got Kranburn #9 in digital in February (which means #10 might be appearing in a few weeks), and again I took my time putting up a review.  #8 is just in the first few pages on the webcomic.  I read the webcomic for the occasional slang translation or comment from BMB, and it's sometimes amusing to see reader's comments, guessing wrong about what's happening, or remarking on actual places depicted.

BTW, Mr Byrne commented on the current webcomic pg 4 that he has a new facebook, though the webpage still has the old dead one.  Updating his web page is not his strong suit, though drawing and building model tanks sure are.

Also interesting is that #9 was offered in a .cbz format, which was apparently requested by some, but doesn't appeal to me.  fec comics was nice enough to provide a .pdf when I asked.  I'm interested to see what #10 comes in with.

The cover is again colored, an attacking Nong mob.  This time, it's even a scene from the comic.  That's a hint, not a spoiler.

Kranburn #9 starts with a scene of gloom and despair.  Pouring rain, a search party walking through it (was that Egon?), Brand is wallowing in his despair.  Unsure if he's been doing the right thing, he decides on "one last swing" at the Nong.

The scene shifts to Lawton, still held captive by Nong, just one of them this time.  The Nong is getting ripping drunk, taunting and threatening Lawton.  In this, Lawton sees an opportunity.  I kinda wonder why he hasn't tried before, but hey, it's not me getting carved up and seeing my wife butchered by murderous thugs.

Scenes go back and forth between Lawton and Brand.  Does Lawton make his move?  Does Brand make his big swing at the Nong?  A bit of suspense.  This issue is a lot of setup for what follows, with a couple nice developments.  While perhaps light on the brutality, the art has plenty of horrifying graphic detail, and the rain scenes are deeply moody.

Another fine issue.  It seems like it might want to reach a climax soon, but there's still the Berrik slave trade side of the story to develop, and more, so I think there's a way to go.

If you're reading this, read Kranburn.  It's better than this, and better than lots of other stuff too.

Monday, March 31, 2014

More Tex Arcana

Yippee!  Mr Findley has produced a few more new pages of Tex Arcana, for his fourth as-yet unpublished book.  After a couple years of inactivity, this is the second addition in several months, and I hope it means he'll keep working on it.

They're another terrific installment of his "now-quadfurcated tale" that I highly recommend you go see right now.  Mr Findley's style of finely hatched line drawing and otherworldly doings in an Old-West setting was some of my favorite work to appear in Heavy Metal.  I'll even link right to the new page, though I really think you should navigate the whole site and read through all of it:

I'm very grateful to Mr Findley for continuing this story and sharing it with us.  I hope he keeps at it, but even if he doesn't he still has my gratitude and admiration.  My only lament is that I don't expect to ever see these in print.  Sometimes Tex Arcana was published in the mag on lesser-quality paper, but it's still better seeing it on paper than on my crappy screen.  I would like for HM's new owners to bring Mr Findley back in and publish the new Tex Arcana serially, in hopes that it would be worth his while to continue, and to give me something to look forward to in the mag besides Animal'z.  I'm not holding my breath.

Thanks again Mr Findley.  Hope to see more soon.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Heavy Metal #267

Heavy Metal #267

Cover by David Millgate - 6 - a nice looking cover with a scene that's interesting on the surface, an explorer dude encountering giant tiger women, but loses depth the closer you look.  Looking for interesting detail I only find afterthoughts, and lower resolution than I'd wish for in a cover. 

We are gifted with a Publisher's Note, from Mr Eastman himself.  It's been a while, a couple years he says.  He makes references to the times good and not so good the mag has experienced, has a mention of the new ownership, and offers praise for the staff.  He promises more from himself and the new owners in the coming months.  It's a statement about upcoming changes with hints of goodbyes.  Like all things HM, especially from Mr Eastman, I'll believe it when I see it.  Mostly I hope for the print mag's continued existence, and continue to wish for the spark of imagination and mystery that brought me to Heavy Metal fanhood in the first place, and keeps me buying the damn thing.  Perhaps the occasional glimmer we've seen in recent years can grow to a gleam or even a glow.

Animal'z by Bilal - 8 - Part 6, it's actually a continuing series, a story seems to actually be developing.  It's still obtuse and sketchy, but some "good" guys come together and fight some "bad" guys.  There's butchery and action.  I'm amused by a translation of a semiautomatic pistol as a "revolver".  It might go on forever, and that might be fantastic.

Deviant Strain by Jim Webb - 7 - I guess we can't have an issue go by without some zombies.  An ex-cop takes out some zombies in a church, one of them brings back horrible memories.  She's so shaken she makes a prayer to a god she stopped believing in long ago, and inconveniently forgets to free some victims.  Stylish art and a decent story.

E.V.A. by Marco Turini - 7 - This feels like it could have been in the magazine 30+ years ago.  A dystopian techno-future shown with nicely composed art and a sometimes incomprehensible story.  Electromechanically augmented humans fight, characters appear and disappear, rebellion against the established order, this and more.  I wanted to like this more than I did, I wanted it to be more intriguing than confusing.  I still enjoyed it though, and it says to be continued.

Gallery by DPI Studios - 5 - Not bad for a couple "self-taught artist" guys doing game cards, but not so interesting to me.  Some neat technique but poses for cards can be kind of static.  I'd bet they could do some neat stuff in a story format, but why should they bother if they like what they're doing?

Heaven's Inferno by Scott O Brown and Ferran Xalabarder - 8 - Continued from the previous issue, this is also the story's conclusion.  The protagonist searches for his lost son and endures scrutiny from inside and outside himself.  There are references to gods and the heavens, and I'm even more intrigued by the depictions of seraphs and wheels upon wheels.  This is a touch better than the previous installment, and makes me wish all the more that the whole of the story was available.  I did some exploring and found no indication that's it's been produced, though I did come across what looks like Xalabarder's website,

Thracius the Seeker by James Hudnall and Mark Vigouroux - 6 - A slave of the Romans is a scout sent to investigate the slaughter of Roman soldiers.  He encounters a conjurer and his demon, and with wit and luck escapes.  The art's pretty nice, the story is told well but it's not very substantial.

Mia by Fabio Ruotolo - 7 - Wordlessly told in style and tone very reminiscent of a Mobius or Caza.  A traveller encounters a floating rock and reacts poorly to its entreaties.  Another visits the rock in a more friendly manner and fares better.  We're left to imagine much of what's actually happening, and that's part of the fun.

Artist's Studio by Frank Turco - 6 - a few digitally composed images of models in spacescapes, nicely done.  Some may like them more than me.

Drifting Wolves by Jonathan Jay Lee - 6 - A man and a boy traverse some sort of wasteland.  They encounter corpses, jungles, and ... babes (!) by a stream.  The man hits on the babes, the boy goes swimming, a giant fish eats the boy, man fights fish, babes leave.  The art looks pretty nice with an interesting and colorful style, the story is barely there and doesn't match the art.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Kranburn #8

Well, I thought I'd finally get around to putting up something for Kranburn #8.  I've had it in digital for a few months, and I've even been stalling while I waited for #9 to come out (it's running a bit late according to  Mostly I'm just not in a hurry since the webcomic is falling so far behind the issues that it seems what I could actually review would be limited without spoiling it, not that I get into detail so much.

The webcomic is more than 3/4 into #7.  There's a bit more to go, but the main story of the Berrik slave trade is out, and the twist, that the slavers missed a victim, has been shown.  At this rate, #7 won't be done on the webcomic for a couple months.  #8 wouldn't complete for more than a year from now.  I've been trying to review the issues as they came out, and I guess my hesitation is since I try to write to the perspective of someone who has read it and wants to comment, as opposed to telling someone what I think they would like about it.  Maybe I could try to add a bit of fluffing ....

So, let's try #8. 

If you're reading this, you probably like Kranburn for its vicious portrayal of a post apocalyptic wasteland and the stories of the degeneration of humankind.  Years after nearly all humans are killed in a horrifying plague of disease and violence, bands of survivors struggle with bands of marauders.  Lead character Brand is one of the "good guys" who also uses murderous violence to inspire fear in his enemies. 

I really enjoy the black and white art with some graytones, and how it's so well suited to starkly portray the violence humans are capable to "other" humans.  I also enjoy the story's telling, it's pretty straightforward, with a few twists and turns, but not too much convolution or confusing sub-stories.

#8 has another rather detailed cover, this time with some color, some yellow, and lots of red.  Smears and splashes and puddles of blood, on the tiled walls, the floor, and an almost naked guy with another enormous knife.  Looks like break time in the torture chamber.  This may or not be part of any of the story we're told, but it does fit in with the world it's created.

Inside, the story departs from the Berrik slave trade, to the Nong.  The Nong leader Lord is annoyed at Brand killing his troops.  Along the way we see examples of Lord's brutality but not so much about why he got that way, besides Brand having taken his leg and nose already.

We see back at Kranburn, the Nong deliver another message of body parts.  Sylvia is overcome with grief.  And that's all.  Maybe we'll see more of her in another issue.

Brand re-enters the story and sees (another) example of the Nong demonstrating how inhumane people can be.  A chance encounter leaves him overcome with grief.  And that's all.

This issue is at once superficial in its portrayal of the horrible violence people can do to their fellow humans, and obtuse in how it tries to show introspection.  Enticing gratuitous violence, and morose despair, don't mix as well here as I might like. 

I still like it.  I like what BMB does with this B&W style, and how the story explores the darker reaches of man's desperation.  In general I try to be optimistic about humankind's achievement and potential, but also be aware of our frailties and shortcomings, and how our life of webcomics and blogs, and food and shelter and safety even, can disintegrate rapidly.  We're our own worst enemies.

I recommend getting Kranburn, all of them.  I might even order the print #8 and #9 soon.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Heavy Metal #266

Cover by Dave Seeley - 6 - The art is pretty nice looking and well-composed, the jetbike is pretty cool even though the windshield placement and some proportion issues are annoying to a nerd like me.  The sidebar list of contents is interesting but detracts from the art's impact on the cover.

Animal'z by Enki Bilal - 7 - The art may be getting a bit more refined, and the story might be getting a bit more wordy, and I am getting more confused by the number of guys in wide-brimmed hats.  More story details about what may have happened and what might be for lunch are provided.  This may already be the kind of convoluted tale that will never get all the loose ends neatly tied up by the end, if it ever even ends.  I'm still interested to find out.

The Pugilist by Greg-Michael Follender, Rick J. Bryant, and Wilson Ramos Jr - 7 - A story that brings an ancient myth of a golem to a dystopian future with exploitation video.  Art that is mostly good and sometimes spectacular, with furious action scenes putting great expressions together with some neat digital type effects.  The story is quite horrifying, holding only the slightest hope.  This appears to be the first story in a series, with no indication of it showing up in HM again.

Gallery by Dave Seeley - 6 - While certainly miles better that I could ever do, the art is only sometimes interesting to me.  Often stiff poses over fuzzy backgrounds, there are a few points that I like, and more I don't care for.  It looks like he has more on his website but I didn't look.

Space Rats by Gonzalo Ruggieri - 4 - Not bad but not so good.

Fate by Homero Rios, Joe Sanchez, and Renato Guerra - 5 - Art and story both ambitious and underachieving, though I do like lines like "We've taken control of the Mega-Arc and destroyed its Patriarchate."

The Age by Tayyar Ozkan - 5 - At least this remake of a story he's already done is different enough to generate a bit more interest.

Artist's Studio by Alicia Hollinger - 6 - For CG pinups, there's a fair amount of personality in these.  There's some unfortunate photoshopping and some figures seem hollow, but there's much to like about her work.

Heaven's Inferno by Scott O. Brown and Ferran Xalabarder - 7 - Much of this is merely good, and some of it is quite fantastic, especially near the end.  I often enjoy Xalabarder's art and its ability to inspire imagination, and the story is able to put this ability to use once the character enters another world.  This installment appears to be in the middle of a story, but at least it says "to be continued."

Water Hat by Spyros Verykios - 8 - A very well-told story of the fate of a Conquistador, with a fine twist and some very nice looking art.  It may even be actually painted.  I think this is my favorite in the whole issue.

in the end was the word by Mauro Balloni - 6 - Short with simple art. It tries to ask what would happen if all the letters left, but doesn't come up with much of an answer.

A couple ads that weren't selling HM mags, were for a resin cast bust of the 60s TV series Batman (seriously?  someone makes this and someone might actually buy it?  Does Adam West know about this?), and a public service spot for trying to keep kids in school (nice gesture).

Overall getting and reading this issue was nice and not too difficult, and a few stories I quite liked made it enjoyable.  Advance notices about #'s 267 and 268 on make me think there will be more of the same coming, for the next couple issues anyway.

Some interesting news about Mr Eastman selling HM and staying the publisher appeared on Variety a while ago:

(comments about this on CBR are amusing: )

I get the feeling Mr Eastman got some guys to pay him to make HM into the mega-media conglomerate he always wanted.  But what do I know.

I do hope the future plans of continuing the print magazine, albeit quarterly, will hold true.  I won't hold my breath for movies or anything, so much has been said before that didn't happen  to get hopes up (Fistful of Blood movie anyone?  and what ever happened to War of the Worlds - Goliath anyway?).  I will wait to see what really happens.

Monday, January 13, 2014

You Are Not Alone

You Are Not Alone is a comic anthology from GrayHaven Comics.  GrayHaven Comics gives budding creators an avenue to publishing with its The Gathering anthologies and other comics.  You Are Not Alone was created in a response to the recent mass shootings in Colorado and Connecticut, as a way to address bullying and alienation experienced by kids.  It was presented as a Kickstarter project in 2012 to generate funds to publish copies to distribute in schools.  Advance copies were made available late last year, and it's planned to be published soon.

It's a noble and worthwhile effort.  With over 40 stories by dozens of creators, I won't try to review them all.  As a contribution based anthology, there is a wide range of style, content, and quality.  They are grouped in topics of Depression/Suicide, Homophobia, Racism, Abuse, Violence, and Bullying.  Each section is followed by a list of support resources.

The stories and art vary widely, from simplistic or incomprehensible, to rich and evocative, but it covers so much ground in topics that growing kids can relate to, and use to integrate their experiences into their growing lives, that I must recommend it.  I have high hopes that this will be a continuing effort to raise consciousness of people to the needs of young people, and indeed all people.

A couple stories I liked stand out.  Elaine's Story by Elaine Will is a deeply personal account of the author's struggles with depression, and her success.  Story from the Desert by Ronald Montgomery and illustrated by Lars Kramhoft was a frightening story of flight from abuse, with barely a happy ending.  Here's Looking at You by Ebersole/Gable was nice to see and read, with a more nuanced look at its topic than many others.  Forward was a well-crafted story spanning decades linking good deeds.

Many more stories are good, and all of them have valuable qualities.  This deserves more attention than I give it.  I hope my simple words can encourage others to seek this out and use it to help themselves and others to grow as individuals and societies.  We have come so far and have so far to go.

YANA was brought to my attention by Intone Flux, like myself a former denizen of the departed HM website message boards.  Thanks for the tip IF.