Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Rock Opera news

The Heavy Metal website has a feature about a Rock Opera episode by Rod Kierkegaard Jr in the March 1985 issue.  It's a Star Wars and Beatles parody.  This was the kind of wit and humor, insightful and timely and weird, that interested me about Mr Kierkegaard's Rock Opera and helped keep me buying the mag at the time.  There's been nothing like it since.


The feature not only has some text and scans of the story (and tries to sell back issues they still have of this one!), there are also videos, from Rolling Stone's youtube, of the story, and a brief interview with Rod Kierkegaard Jr himself!  (at least I think so, never heard him speak before.)


This is so neat.  I was a big fan of Rock Opera back in the day, one of the few, judging by the Chain Mail letters that were printed at the time, that were pretty negative.  I'm also a fan of Mr Kierkegaard and his other more recent writing.  I enjoyed a brief period of correspondence with him a few years ago, one of the pinnacles of my meager fanboyhood.


I hope this means Mr Kierkegaard gets a bit of recognition from HM fans who may not be so familiar with him, and some further interest in his more current work.  (buy his stuff on Amazon.)


So go look at the HM website in the news/features section to see this feature and watch the videos.  They are on Rolling Stone's youtube too, but I didn't see anything on their main website.  I'd love to hear the rest of the interview with Mr Kierkegaard.


This was so fun, it almost puts me in the Xmas spirit.  So happy holidays everyone, every damn one of them.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Heavy Metal #277

Billed as a "Horror Special" this issue is guest edited by Frank Forte.  In the credits, in addition to the co-CEOs and Dan Berger as Managing Editor listed, there are a President and a VP Marketing as well.  Here's hoping there is increased success to support the added overhead of these executive positions.


Cover by Luis Royo - 7 - If you're going to have a pinup cover, it might as well be a Royo.  While his depictions are second to none in ridiculous getups, they can always be counted on for a pretty girl and fantastic execution.  The hair, the beads, the frayed fabric details, always fun to look at.  There was even a news feature on the HM website featuring Royo covers through the years.  There is also a special edition cover available somewhere by Skinner, whose work is otherwise featured in this issue.


Inside, an ad for a Court of the Dead statue collection.  Someone must buy this stuff, but I wouldn't.  I don't get it.


There's also a cover spread painting of a witch by Aly Fell at the contents page, looks nice.


Next, an ad for Frank Forte Fine Art limited edition silk screen and giclee prints.  I guess if you're the guest editor you get to have an ad.


The Transaction by Frank Forte and Silvester Song - 6 - A slightly interesting premise of an intergalactic con, and cool graphic style (it's a bit Giger-ish) are muddied by some overly busy scenes that obscure rather than enhance the action.  I also wonder why this was credited as translated by Chris Song, did Mr Forte originally write it in something other than English?


Dirt by Steve Mannion and Liezl Buenaventura - 7 - Space dirt prospectors with an old-school HM look, not too much for a story but I liked looking at it.  The stubby spaceships made me think of Sunpot by Vaughn Bode from the first editions of HM in the 70s.  Credited as a Fearless Dawn story, Mr Mannion also had an entry in HM#271, though oddly his name is misspelled in the HM website cover gallery for that one so it was hard to find.


A Halloween Wedding by Ben Olson - 6 - a knob crashes a mutant wedding.  The artwork is quite nice, and there's funny writing, that made me wish I liked it more.  The creator shows some good ability and technique.  As it is, the busy layout and word balloons and *sword sounds* were kind of distracting.


Ship of Ghouls by Dwayne Harris - 7 -  While this one also has a busy layout and word balloons all over, and the art is perhaps less refined than the previous story, though really good, I liked this one a bit more.  A more interesting premise to the story, even if it is another zombies in space yarn.  The unlikely spacesuit undergarment was fun, but I really thought the headset was cool.  It looked like a design that could actually work.  I won't be too surprised if I see something like that in a number of years.


The 49th Key Part 5 by Erika Lewis, J.K. Woodward, Deron Bennett - 5 - I still have a hard time enjoying reading this screenplay, and the art has just a couple glints of excitement in its otherwise bland execution, but at least there's something developing in the story.  A museum heist with disguises and inside help?  What could go wrong?


Thirst by Katrina Kuntsmann - 5 - A one-pager with a walk in the desert.  Maybe it doesn't have a lot to say, but it says what it says, dammit.


Artist's Gallery by Skinner - 8 - Skinner also did an alternate cover for this issue, which I will likely only seen on the internet.  I like the meticulous execution and striking coloration in most of this stuff.  The "Wretched Whole" has Boschian hints, and there are some thought-provoking posters.


DTOX by Frank Forte and Nenad Gucunja - 7 - Fighting mutant perverts in a toxic wasteland, the title character picks up a fellow traveler.  The story's pretty simple, but with some fun, and it's nice to look at and read.  I recalled an entry of DTOX in the mag, so I looked it up, December 2009, same creators.  I was very interested to see that the story here in #277 appears to precede the entry in 2009!  (inasmuch as there's any storyline anyway).  Six years, eight if you count that the 2009 entry is dated 2007!  I'm quite amused by this, even though any kind of creative license by Mr Forte and Mr Gucunja, or me completely missing the point, could easily explain it.  Likewise the panel of a view of DTOX in the DTank in #277 here on the 4th page of the story, is identical to the second panel of the 2009 story (unless it's one of those "find the difference" comics).  So I didn't add any points to my rating, but looking this up and finding this out was the most fun I had with this whole issue.


Mary Lou by Craig Wilson - 5 - It says from 2012.  A couple thugs assault a farmstead, but get more than they expected from the farm girls.  The art looked ok, and there's some pretty good action.  I didn't care for the storytelling so much, its look at sexual assault and family secrets gave me the creeps.


Caveat Emptor by Kevin Colden - 5 - A girl makes a deal with the devil, no idea why.  Here the art is less precise but expressive, but in this one the way the story depicts extreme abuse is so extreme, that it's easier to see it artistically.  But I really didn't get the ending....


Beware of Dog by Rebnor - 6 - a two pager of a girl and her dog.  Another girl threatened by mutants in a urban wasteland.  The best part is the contrast in styles of the two pages, first busy and wordy, second a single image.


Monkey Business by R.S. Rhine and David Hartman - 3 - A carnival monkey grinder is an excuse for more gore-filled victimization, and little else.


Zombie Chef by Jason Paulos - 5 - ok looking black and white art, the story has humans in a cooking contest to please a zombie chief, for their lives.  A couple bits of wit, like a cooking contest to please a zombie chief, who has slave girls by the way, enhance my interest.  Slightly.


Brutalitie' by Daniel Bradford and Owen Mackinder - 6 - Nicely composed and executed, this looks good.  A man's tortured dreams drive him to action. The story is insightful in its depiction of madness, though it uses it for shock value rather than edification.


Artist's Studio by Christopher Ulrich - 7 - Well executed portraits and scenes in a classical style.  Some western mythology, and a sprinkle of eastern, add to the artist's imaginative depictions.  Indeed there looks like more Bosch inspiration here than even in Mr Skinner's entries in this issue.


Ascension of the Black Death by David Zuzelo and William Broad - 7 - The story of a seeker revealing her true, monstrous form, gaining her muse's faith and an army of the undead, is satisfying enough to enhance the otherwise serviceable art.  Otherwise it would be just another zombie story.


A final ad for Lord of Light posters is followed by a back cover by Steve Seeley titled Krampus.  A three eyed goat with a satyr-ette is cool enough, but one of the goat's horns is wonked up with the shadows and earring, and my annoyance diminishes my appreciation.


So another Forte entry is again an ok issue, though there's a touch more depth and substance overall here.  I'm looking forward to the next issue, pretty soon here, since I again took weeks to put this review together.













Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Kranburn

Ben Michael Byrne put up some new Kranburn, 6 pages this time, first update in almost two months, see the link on my Links page.  They're not for the squeamish.


On the last page, he adds a comment explaining his delays.  It seems he's a forgetful chap, he's busy, and it appears old injuries and medications are making drawing not fun anymore for him.  This partly makes sense, since he keeps busy with other stuff as well (Job Dun, NSEW), but there's also dozens of pages done and printed already (I bought the books) beyond what has been posted on the webcomic, so there's plenty of material for the near term.  I'm not complaining about a free webcomic (unlike some of the knuckleheads commenting on the webcomic) but I'll admit I wish someone could help him keep the Kranburn webcomic moving.


As it is, he mentions that FEC comics has suggested another artist could pick up his stories.  I dunno, they're no better at updating their web presence, and it wouldn't be the same, but Mr Byrne's writing and storytelling is good, so continuing to get that part would be better than none at all.


So here's wishing Mr Byrne all the best life has to offer, and some thanks for what he has freely given us, and my hope that Kranburn can be continued (on its long, torturous path) to completion.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Heavy Metal #276

The cover is an excerpt from "Brahma's Pavilions of Joy" drawn by Jack Kirby and colorized by Mark Englert (I think it's the blacklight version) as part of a new colorization of the Jack Kirby Lord of Light drawings.  I'll give it a 6 for a Heavy Metal cover.  While it's a welcome exception to the typical pin-up babe approach, the image itself is neat but doesn't make a big impression on me.  More on the Lord of Light story later.


Inside the cover, an ad for a set of comics with a beer company tie in.  This might be interesting, though saying "comics don't get any better than this" could be a statement of resigned acceptance as easily as one of enthusiasm.


Julia and Roem by Bilal - 6 - I'm not following the story very well.  The dull pace isn't translating to mystery for me here.  At one point it looks like a cocktail party in the wasteland, then I'm not so sure.  Some undeniably beautiful imagery though.


The 49th Key by Lewis, Woodward, and Bennett - 5 - It's unfortunate this immediately follows the Bilal, the art doesn't compare well.  More chase scenes and bullets flying and wordy dialog balloons.  At least the story seems to be coalescing.


Jack Kirby and the Art of Reality Reconstruction by Geller, Kirby, and Englert - 6 - This Lord of Light series had gotten a bunch of hype on the HM website.  For me, the story of the drawings, that they were concept drawings for a movie and theme park pitch, and were then used in a CIA mission to free hostages in Iran in the late 70s, is more interesting than the art itself, and the colorizing.  One can certainly find more detail on the story with use of the internet.  For the art, to me the drawings are more like sketches, appropriate for a concept pitch, rather than fully executed drawings showing the depth of Kirby's abilities.  More learned scholars than me could assess more fully the place of these Lord of Light drawings in the scope of Kirby's work.  The colorizing likewise doesn't thrill me, it seems to be lots of big blocks of color dropped into the empty spaces, with little subtlety or color gradation.  There are blacklight versions that are sometimes even garish.  Still, I think it's good that HM is giving this some attention, and I think I will seek out the Zelazny novel Lord of Light these were supposedly based on.


The Aftermath:  Big Clean Part Three by Matt & Kevin Molen - 7 - The story takes an odd diversion from the theme park theme, to a helmeted bar-boaster spinning his tales and the annoyance of a fellow patron of the establishment.  I can't make any sense of it, but I had fun looking at it and enjoyed the journey.  It says "Continued in #278", so I get to look forward to finding out where it goes next.


Too Much Fantasy On Motherflower by Massimiliano Frezzato - 8 - A forty-three page spectacular from Frezzato.  I would say Frezzato was one of the better contributors to the Eastman-era HM.  First appearing in '93, he had a number of stories through the early '00s, perhaps most notably "The Keepers of the Maser" series.  This entry is a sprawling shambling mess of styles, techniques, and innuendoes.  I love it.  Part of it is about female space miners and their problems with their sexbots, part is some sort of existential dilemma, it's loosely narrated by some sort of snail with arms and legs and a bird's beak.  The story is told with imagination and a sense of humor, the art is done a few different ways, and he can sure draw a pretty girl.  What fun.  It's dated as 2007-2010.  Maybe it was never meant to see the light of day, but I'm happy to see it here.


Another "more metal for your eyeholes" ad for the HM website is bland enough to almost not mention, but looking at it, I realized I hadn't looked at the cover gallery in a while, so I did.  And so I finally realized that I could use the search function on the HM website cover gallery for author and title research, which is good since the search on Lostboy's excellent HM fan page has been broken for a while.  Strangely, the covers for the various Special issues (they got pretty frequent in the Eastman years) are not shown on the cover gallery pages, but they are in the database.  Regardless, this ad actually helped me, and did its job driving traffic to the HM website, and so it is not worthy of my scorn, but my gratitude.  Well done.


Narcopolis:  Continuum Preview by Scott Duvall, Ralf Singh, Nicolas Chapuis - 6 - Followed by an interview with the director of a movie for which the comic is a promo.  A somewhat interesting premise, of a dystopian urban future dominated by legal recreational drug corporations, is diminished for me by an angular art style I don't find too appealing.  The movie might be interesting, if it ever sees the light of day.  It looks pretty blue.


the bus by Paul Kirchner - 9 - Extra points for the return of an old-time Heavy Metal regular.  Last seen in 1985, when HM was still a monthly magazine, the bus was (and is again) a half page comic with a bus theme and a perhaps zen perspective.  Two entries here.  One is great, a man waiting for a bus finds he's on the only road in his universe without busses.  The other is slightly more than weird, a man uses a streetlight as a transporter ray to get on the bus.  the bus was a regular from almost the beginning of HM, and Mr Kirchner had a few entries besides the bus as well.  His non-bus work didn't often interest me much artistically, but it usually had plenty to offer in the story.  For the bus, the art works great, and the stories he could tell in six (or fewer) panels were fantastic.  A look to the internet tells me Mr Kirchner has plans to bring back the bus (and some other non-HM work), so I hope we see some more new work from Mr Kirchner in Heavy Metals to come.


The back cover is an ad for the next issue, a Horror Special it says.  We'll see how that turns out.





Friday, August 21, 2015

Heavy Metal #275

Advertised as available is Spanish also, this had some hype as the first bilingual Heavy Metal.  The Espanol version is called Metal Pesado #1.  It has several contributions from Mexican creators.  RG Llarena is the guest editor, and there was a news feature on the HM website in June about it.  As well as the now-standard "The World's Greatest Illustrated Magazine" tagline, there is a "Cyberpunk Meets Magic Realism Special" subtitle off in the corner.  I don't think the words cyberpunk or magic realism appear anywhere inside the magazine.  Perhaps it's the return of the nonsensical special issue titles of years past.


Cover is uncredited in the magazine - 8 -  My appreciation of this cover grew as I examined it.  While it's the typical "chick in some getup" format, it almost completely ignores the babe aspect (no offense, I'm sure she's perfectly fine under all that) in favor of iconography and busy artistic execution.  A nice first impression of a giant Central-American-looking headdress, reminding me of a character in the first Den, and also a Gallery entry in #265 with Mark A Nelson.  I happen to like looking closely and seeing things that aren't apparent at first glance.  Here there is opposing red and black, skulls and fanged serpents, snakes, wires, and roses.  I know little of real Mexican history, but I believe some of these symbols have relevance.  The subject's gaze at the viewer is also intriguing, the pupils may have something to do with it.


Just inside the front cover, is an ad for Heavy Metal dot com.  Fairly simple with a few current images, a list of stuff to do on the site, and a tagline More Metal For Your Eyeholes.  This is better than earlier ads for the website, but somehow still uncomfortably bad.  Strangely, I'm enjoying overanalyzing these ads.


Speaking of the website, it's growing on me a bit.  There's still lots of uninteresting junk on there, it resembles a tumblr page that I think the kids do these days, but there's a bit more focus it seems on finding things actually connected or relevant to HM.  Like the rotoscoped movie Spine of Night (same technique used in the first HM movie) that is looking pretty cool so far.  And links to actual cool comics and work, like Djeska's Bal and Bul, for example.  A story about an HM exhibit at a tattoo place in Chicago caught my eye, but I probably won't get there in time.  The timelapse cover painting is pretty neat. So there's still guitargetpractice and other things I'm not interested in, but there's a bit more for me to enjoy.  I'm starting to feel like this resembles the old Dossier sections of the paper mag, at least as far as it was sort of the news aggregator of its day.


After the credits pages, an actual ad for an actual movie, The Gift.  I'm less interested in the movie than that there is an ad for something in HM.


New Moon Rising by Alberto Calvo, Omar Estevez, and FG Dr Stain Ortiz - 6 - Omens of the Gods in near-future Mexico City.  Straightforward art and a somewhat flat story, but interesting enough.  I wouldn't normally think fratricide is an answer, but...


The Eyes of Itzam by Martinez, MoraMike, Aburtov, Fdz, and JAME - 6 - a teched-up gringo is a one-man online hunting show, stalking a river god.  The dialog is full of hashtaggery, but it's a bit interesting and the story has a unique resolution.


Gallery by Jose Quintero - 7 - I liked it more as I looked at it more.  He shows a nice range of style and technique.  I might like it more if I learn more about the context of Mexican folklore.  Maybe I'll even go to his planetabuba sites to see more of his stuff.


Taxi by FG Dr Stain Rivero, Omar Trucu Estevez, and Alberto Calvo - 5 - A taxi picks up a fare late at night in a rough neighborhood.  The art is nice and it looks pretty good, the story has a couple gags about how precarious life is, but I thought the ending was just another gag that didn't match the depth that the rest of the story seemed to be trying to tell.


Trees Feel No Rage by Bef and Alex Medellin - 6 - Police raid a bunch of hippies, fighting cybercrime.  Of course it goes zen.  Butterflies are another relevant motif it appears.

Another movie ad, for Agent 47, followed by an ad for HM #276 with the colorized Kirby Lord of Light.  Almost like a real magazine.


The Data Mule by Jorge F. Munoz and Santiago Casares - 6 - Data smuggling in the disinformation age.  There's collateral damage, and butterflies.


Isel by R.G. Llarena, Oscar Bazal, Raul Manriquez, Charo Solis Fdez, Felipe Sobreiro - 7 - Birth, death, and rebirth, of art.  Told in a story consisting of the beginning and end of a musical career.  Death and butterflies.  Interesting to me that this issue guest-edited by Llarena, has only one story with him.


Untopia by Enrique Puig, Mario Guevara, Emmanuel Ordaz, Charo Solis Fdez, Felipe Sobreiro - 5 - Some techno-future revolutionaries try to take down "the system", apparently they are thwarted and assimilated.  Art looks all right, and a few bits of wit exist in the dialog, but expressions like "eldritch" and "stygian" fall flat.  The gaps in the storytelling are filled with murky confusion instead of mystery.


The Outsider by Homero Rios, Salvador Velazquez, Renato Guerra - 6 - A techno-prophet tries and fails to save a dying human colony, foiled by the residents' mob ignorance.  The android's masters lament their mistakes and plan for improvements, but Willie Nelson their leader has had enough of the humans' stupidity, leaving them to their fate.  Harsh judgement if you ask me.


Artist's Studio by Enid Balam - 7 - A handful of carefully crafted scenes and/or fashion studies.  I like them for their imagination as well as their technique and precision.


Th 49th Key by Erika Lewis, J.K. Woodward, Deron Bennet - 4 - more chase scene, more unfired bullets flying about, another "letter" from the past, more expository blather.  It's a good thing so much of the uninspiring art is covered by wordy dialog balloons.  It seems to be trying to have something to say, but it's not doing it for me.  To be continued, maybe something good will happen.


An ad for Hoax Hunters.  I've never seen one of these, not that I've looked for it.


Motorcycle by Fernando Gonzalez - 5 - A motorcycle is really a man, held captive by a woman.  He's freed by another woman, but is next seen as her husband, captive again?


An ad for Mechanism.  Not too likely I'll see one of these either.  It's kind of funny that I've got my eyes out for copies of the Heavy Metal Pulp paperbacks in the resale shops (found one, it's not really very good, but it's one fragment of the HM multiverse I'm interested in), but I'm not interested in some of these other HM offshoots.


And the back cover is another movie ad, for Terminator Genisys.  It would appear that HM is pursuing advertising with more effort, or at least more success.


Overall this issue is ok, some good parts, and my appreciation will likely increase if I familiarize myself with Mexican cultural references.





Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Rod Kierkegaard Jr

I owe Rod Kierkegaard Jr an apology.  I have for a while now.  Sorry sir.
Mr Kierkegaard is known to HM fans like myself as the creator of Rock Opera, a series that ran in HM from January 1980 through the last monthly issue of December 1985.  What started as a half-page fantasy of a space traveler marooned on a foreign planet, grew into a multi-page juggernaut of invective and satire, targeting popular culture and societal perceptions, often funny, sometimes biting, sometimes poignant.  The art grew and developed too, from rather detailed black and white, to extravagantly montaged spreads of copied images and original parodies, if there is such a thing.  Not always precise, it was usually intriguing or amusing.
Though Rock Opera was often the target of scorn in the Chain Mail letters section, I found it greatly enjoyable.  It was one of the features that kept me buying the mag as it devolved in the 80s after the first movie came out.
A number of years ago, when his blog appeared, and I then learned about it, I volunteered to be a beta reader of his writings.  I was rather excited to be in contact with an actual HM creator, and be provided early versions of his works.  I very much enjoyed reading it.  Sometimes I even had the temerity to offer some feedback.
At the time, his blog ran a story he was working on, Death Dance.  I really liked that one.  About a trained killer trying to avoid being killed in a Middle Ages setting, it was sometimes fanciful enough to approach  absurd, with some action and sex, and often vividly descriptive text.  Much of his work has these characteristics, I really liked how this one put it together.  It ran a long time, then disappeared.  It could have gone on, I think he said he needed to do more research, but that was it.  There was also a serial written as an autobiography, of his life as a vampire and of his growing up.  I only believed bits and pieces of it, but it was fun to read.  It's long gone too.  Something else great about his blog that is still there, is some Rock Opera - and before - era art, with commentary.
When more of his stuff started appearing on Amazon, I promised to put up some reviews.  I failed to do so, and for that I apologize.
For some measure of atonement, I bought all the paperback versions of his work I could then.  I'm pretty happy I did, I like having them in paper, and now some are not available, and others are pricey.  Obama Jones and the Logic bomb remains one of my favorites, it's a near-future thriller and love story.  He's shown a fondness expressing how pleased he is for having made accurate technological or societal predictions in it.  The Department of Magic is pretty good, so is The God Particle.  All these are fanciful and/or futuristic to some extent, and I enjoy the vibrantly descriptive style that exists in much of his work.
Fortunately for him, he seems to be doing just fine without me.  He has many more books out, some in collaboration with a JR Rain, some just on Kindle, and he seems to be enjoying some measure of success.  I hope it's working out well.
His blogspot hasn't been updated in a couple years.  He's been a bit more active on twitter, twitter.com/rodkierkegaard .  Both are now on the links page on my blog here, so go look.
So once again, sorry Mr Kiekegaard for not following through on the reviews, but thanks for creating more cool stuff for mortals like me.  And for the rest of you mortals out there, go to amazon and look up Rod Kierkegaard, and buy some of his stuff.  He'll be glad you did.

Monday, July 13, 2015

New and Old at Heavy Metal

A number of breathless announcements on the HM website, timed to the SD Comic Con, inform us that Grant Morrison will be Heavy Metal's new Editor in Chief.  Mr Morrison is apparently well known as a successful writer of successful movies and stuff.  None of his success penetrated the rock I live under, so I had not heard of him before. 


I was amused by an article headline indicating HM is getting a punk rock facelift, since punk was big in HM's early years, so long ago that punk can qualify as oldies.  I can be more charitable by seeing some of the punk rock aesthetic living in today's DIY/maker/hacker attitudes.  Punk was almost as much about taking charge of your own destiny, as about wailing about the hopelessness of it and the rage that feeling generates.  But I disdained punk back in the day since it was co-opted into another disposable fashion trend, so my opinions can be worthless.


In any case, it's another sign of the new owners working to generate some energy into their new property.  Other articles describe some of the creators Mr Morrison is trying to bring in, and also some of the new owners' projects for tv and movies, as well as the other HM branded comics.


Included in the hubbub, is an effort to elevate Mr Eastman into some kind of Publisher Emeritus/Village Elder.  Articles are careful to credit Mr Eastman for keeping HM alive and kicking (I share in this gratitude) when it perhaps should have expired.  There was often plenty to dislike in Mr Eastman's tenure, but there was often much to enjoy as well, and the fact that the mag still exists is a pleasant surprise to fans like me.


Mr Eastman is also provided space to credit Jack Kirby with his success with TMNT.  I found this article to be pretty interesting, in the specific details of Mr Kirby's influence and support for Mr Eastman and Mr Laird.  Of course this article is directly related to the "Lords of Light" promotion of Jack Kirby art with new "black light" coloring (for me the story of the art is more interesting than the art itself), but I enjoyed learning some about the personal connections that were there.  I'm not a fan of TMNT either, but I can appreciate how their success allowed Mr Eastman the means to keep HM alive long past its expiration date.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Heavy Metal #274

My life of luxury allows me to be leisurely about my reviews.  I got #274 a number of weeks ago, and read it soon enough, and I'm taking my sweet time reviewing it.  It's taken weeks.  Here goes nuthin'.


Cover by Michael Penn - 5 - Credited as "Steampunk Pirates".  I'm not into steampunk.  Some of it seems like it could be cool, but buckles and gizmos for style rather than purpose aren't interesting to me.  Plus the pose is so contrived, it's an action shot, but of course the boot is right there as the skirt opens while she swings past.  Still way better than I could do.


An ad for a Goblin Vinyl Figure Bank?


Julia and Roem by Enki Bilal - 7 - Some exposition and serious angst going on here.  Pretty busy for a wasteland.  I don't know Romeo and Juliet enough to get all the nuances I think the story is trying to tell me.


The 49th Key by Erika Lewis, J.K. Woodward, and Deron Bennett - 5 - There's a story that's trying to be told in there.  Then suddenly, a bullet in its casing flies through the window.  Who threw that?


Things in Real Life by Daniel Suarez Perez - 7 - I liked the art a lot, it looks like it's drawn from photos and that reminds me of Rock Opera.  Nice story for two pages too.


Gallery with Diana Knight - 6 - totally fine babe into some serious dressup cosplay.  Not really my thing, but good for her.  I did like how the Vampirella bodypaint and the metal corset with the long dress looked.


Homo Bonum Est? by Tessandro and R.J. Lages - 5 - In ancient Rome, a woman seeks to avenge her father.  Consisting of little more than two fight scenes, it looks ok, but has miserable storytelling.  It barely tells what's going on, let alone shows us.


the ad for Heavy Metal Dot Com is not snarky or ironic at all, dull maybe.


The Aftermath:  The Big Clean Part Two by Matt and Kevin Molen - 7 - The thrill ride ends, new lives begin.  More murky and perhaps a bit less engrossing than the last entry, it still makes good with the commentary and detail.  It says continued in #276, I hope so.


Matryoshka S.A by Emilio Balcarce and Gonzalo Ruggieri - 7 - A new miniturization technology becomes a plaything for the rich, and a tool for the corrupt.  An interesting idea turned into a nice little story.  Mr Ruggieri's art suits the story and supports its telling well.


The Last Laugh by Hannu Kesola and Steven Bagatzky - 6 - and the moral of the story is that the tin foil hat people are right, and they (and the ones barricaded with lots of ammunition maybe) will be who survive to repopulate the world after the zombie apocalypse.  (Not too inspiring).  That part of the story is pretty funny.  The rest of this entry is adequate if not too exciting.


Miss Necro by Damascus Mincemeyer - 6 - I'm not as interested in zombies as it seems others are, and flying body parts is the lowest form of zombie humor, but this one tells the joke well in two pages, and it looks like it was a lot of fun to do.


Artist's Studio by Kari Christensen - 6 - it's nice that the artist illustrates her lifelong impulse to draw with a drawing done when she was 6.  She likes to draw monsters, and that's my favorite part of what is shared with us in this feature.


Oskar Ed by Branko Jelinek - 7 - I like how our noseless protagonist takes us through his richly detailed imagination, it's almost Moebius-ian.  He finds his dad, but which one is it?


Initiation by Estevez, Rivero, and Sobreiro - 6 - Looks nice, and it does a good job of telling its story.  I kind of get the part about the oppressive society stifling our true selves, but I'm not convinced by the premise this constructs.  It's hard for me to imagine how a culture could survive by routinely maiming or killing its maturing youth, just to instill loyalty.  Maybe it's not enough of a war metaphor for me to grasp it.


The Sadmen - Water Hell by Victor D. Cantu - 7 - With what looks like actually painted art (watercolor?  or not, I could be wrong) with some great imagination, and a story that was incomprehensible but drew me nearer still.  Some of my favorite HM stories feel like this.  Yet I was more frustrated than moved, unsatisfied.  I didn't get to where I thought I got it enough.


Mia by Fabio Ruotolo - 7 - A traveling merchant is observed abusing his pack animal, and an enormous-haired woodland spirit helps him see the error of his ways.  This looks nice while it takes a few pages to tell its little story.


MI9:  Secret Agents Daphne & Mildred by JD & JMB - 6 - Not one but two sexy secret agents this time.  Dumb but funny.









Friday, June 12, 2015

Tex Arcana

Some new Tex Arcana pages appeared a few days ago.  A bit more than a year after the last new entries.  This time I'll let you go to texarcana.com and find it yourself, it's easy.  Enter the site, proceed to the book listings and go the the fourth one (click on the stars), the new pages start at 352, and there are eight of them.  There are now over 80 pages to the fourth book.


It's terrific to see this new work from Mr Findley.  It continues with the fine line work and hatch shading, and gruesome mortifaction and horrifying mystery, that I so enjoy.  The story continues, near and far in time and space from Hangman's Corners.  I don't know that there's anything comparable out there.  I can't express enough gratitude to Mr Findley for continuing with this decades-long project and sharing it with us.


I still think HM should engage Mr Findley to serialize Tex Arcana in the magazine.  It would be at least as cool as having new work from Bilal.  I can only hope that I, and the paper mag, live long enough for it to happen.


thanks again Mr Findley.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Lostboy's fan page

The Heavy Metal Magazine Fan Page has been down for more than a week now.  Lostboy was kind enough to respond to my pestering about it.  Since the same hiccup often happens at renewal, he decided to change hosts, and it's taking even longer than usual to get back up, though he expects the new host will be an improvement.  I hope so.


Even though he stopped updating the site years ago (except for updates til last year on the War of the Worlds - Goliath movie, which maybe I should review someday), and the search function broke when the provider expired, I still visit it frequently for research or to satisfy some curiosity.  The 10+ years he put into building the site makes it the most comprehensive HM magazine resource out there.


Nothing lasts forever in this world, and I'm grateful for some things we have while we have them, and this fan page is one of them.  Hope it's back soon, I'll often check via my Links page.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Hoax Hunters sample

Your lazy reviewer just noticed there's a free .pdf Hoax Hunters sample over at the Heavy Metal website shop.  It looks ... ok.  Hard to tell with just 10 pages including the cover and a blank, and not knowing where this is in the story.


getting a lot of russian and ukrainian bot traffic these days, hope they don't wreck anything.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Heavy Metal #273

Cover by  Marco Turini - 7 - Titled "Homage to Frazetta" in the credits.  A change in direction from the chick in some getup.  It's subdued and evocative and maybe ambiguous in its intentions.


An ad for a "Mechanism" comic.  If it was going to be in the mag, I would be interested enough in seeing it, but it appears it will be a separate comic, so I'm not so sure.


Julia and Roem by Enki Bilal - 7 - I'm immediately thrown by the guy with no hair, but I recover enough to see some exposition and development.  And coincidence.  The art style with hazy greys and browns is perfect for the post-apocalyptic wasteland we are shown.


The 49th Key by Erika Lewis, J.K. Woodward, and Deron Bennett - 6 - The art style was less than precise, but the panel framing and composition briskly tell the story.  I was put off by the look of the "letter" from 1556, but it set up the story nicely.  People communicating by sound without words?  How do you get nuanced sound with tuning forks?  To be continued?  I'll look forward to how it develops.


Gallery by Abrar Ajmal - 7 - You might think that once you've seen one demon warhouse festooned with skulls trampling the undead, you've seen them all, but this hardworking artist has more to offer.  Some of the other work doesn't even have skulls.  But many of them do.


Women's War by Fabio Celoni and Adriana Coppe and Marco Turini - 7 - A perfectly ridiculous premise is complemented by a nutty story with an exploration of a real depth of emotion, and Turini's terrific art.  Separating men and women in a bid to save the human race in the face of alien invasion?  Well, at least the womens' wasteland excursion outfits have bare midriffs.  I still enjoyed reading and looking at this again and again.  Turini produces scenes that always have something new to see.


Ymir by Joseph Kelly - 7 - It's just a joke, but it's a little funny, and it looks cool.  The art simultaneously reminds me of the "Pyloon" stories from 1979, and "Rock Opera" from nearer the end of its run (from 1980 to 1985, it started as a half page black and white and grew dramatically to a multipage color extravaganza, spewing invective and satire, and was one of my favorites, can you tell?), drawings from photos with some fuzzy focus.  Unrequited love, or something.


The Aftermath:  The Big Clean by the Molen Brothers - 8 - Boy, this was fun.  Murky but detailed art that rewards scrutiny?  Scathing commentary on corporatism and consumer apathy?  That's the stuff for me.  Continued next issue?  Sounds great.


Exile by Mislav Tomasinjak - 7 - It starts with an inventive approach to setting the story, ends in a more conventional manner, and has a circular path to its story.  The art has some nice stylistic effects and the story is textured and almost subtle.  And it has a seahorse starship.


The Lost Girl Preview by Michael Mongillo and Rob Ten Pas - 6 - Appears to be a handful of disconnected scenes from a new graphic novel.  Nice enough art and hints of  a story of a girl and monsters she encounters.  Doesn't make me want to go buy it.


The Souvenir by Daniel Hugo and Jayson Geland - 8 - Nicely done art with terrific scenes, and an interesting, almost unique story, told with fancy fonts and not-too-pretentious dialog.  Trailing a fugitive to retrieve a souvenir.  It tells its story with subtle details as well as a bit of exposition.


Temptation by Made In Ona and Christian Krank -7 - I'm glad we're seeing more of Mr Krank's work, I like the art style and his ability to tell a story in a single page, here almost without words.


Artist's Studio by Myka Jelina - 5 - I'm pretty uninterested in Bratz-doll fashion pinups, but I will say the artist shows some pretty nice technique.  Interesting that the artist's favorite medium is stated as acrylic on wood panel.


MI9:  Secret Agent Susan Coby by JD and JMB - 6 - This entry shows a small bit of wit along with the unclothed secret agent.  These are kind of fun though insubstantial.





Saturday, February 14, 2015

Heavy Metal # 272

Well, I sure dragged my ass putting this review together.  The next issue will be out in days.  Good thing no one but me gives a crap.


Cover by Ron Leary - 7 - Titled "ASTRUD:  How to Slay a Snake" in the credits, apparently made just for this cover, judging by the empty space at the top.  More than just a babe in some outfit, this is well composed and kinetic.  The snake's fangs look more like a dog's, and its scales are a little wonky, but it's a nice axe and she's really working it.  But what's up with the pig snout cape and belt ornaments?


Julia and Roem by Enki Bilal - 7 - With a look and feel very much like Animal'z, this starts right in with lost souls and their existential despair, and their hair.  I'm not quite as much in awe of the return of one of HM's titans as the last time, but I'm very interested and looking forward to seeing how this one develops.


Khulan by Katie Houghton-Ward and Sacha Bryning - 7 - This one grew on me in re-reading.  Gods berate their captive for information.  Art and story evoke wonder and mystery, and it takes a dim view of man's, and gods', self importance.  I can dig that.


The Age by Tayyar Ozkan - 5 - Modern man lets himself go, just like a cave man!  While this may not be just a retread of one he's done before, and I think the techniques are well-refined, the story is barely one-dimensional.


Red Sails by Christian Krank - 7 - Saved from romeros in the nick of time.  I like the comic-y but grim style, and for a single page there's a nice little story.


R.I.P. by Matthew Farrell and Mario O.M.G. Gully - 6 - I welcome the return of the text-with-illustration format, it was more common way back in the day.  It's a nice change of pace and offers another means to tell an illustrated story.  It's not easy to do well though, excess wordiness or disconnected illustrations are common pitfalls.  In this case, Mr Gully's illustrations are on the mark, looking good and fitting the story, and the vagrant with the HM shirt is pandering but funny.  Mr Farrell's writing is wordy but not to excess, and there's much about the method and energy I enjoy.  Unfortunately, here and in a couple things by him featured on the HM website, I get the impression of a delight in some of the terrible things humans are capable of inflicting on each other, with little to make me think he sees that people are capable of more, much more.


This touches on a question I have asked myself:  Why?  Why do I like HM magazine despite all the horrible and gruesome and even obscene things that it's contained?  Why do I like Ranxerox and accept the inhumanity it displays (along with its wit and vitality) but complain about things like Mr Farrell's story with a son killing his father and the otherworldly revenge he gets in return?  Why do I enjoy some displays of some of humans' worst impulses?  I've thought that I like to be reminded of man's capacity for hatred and violence, to be reminded of how far we have come, and how far we have yet to go, but I'm not satisfied that this is the whole answer.  I don't know why, but maybe I'll explore these thoughts further another day.


Gallery by Dan Chudzinski - 7 - An accomplished sculptor who credits TMNT for discovering the Italian Renaissance masters?  Well of course he gets a spread in HM!  My snark aside, some neat and interesting stuff is displayed, and his growth and achievement is described.  A bunch of images of some really detailed and imaginative work are provided, and anyone with more interest than me should probably go look him up.


Deviant Strain by Jim Webb - 7 - A zombie superhero?  Why hasn't anyone thought of this before?  On second thought, I expect it's been done and I just haven't seen it.  Now that I've spoiled it for you, the art's pretty good, but the story is really quite good, telling an awful lot, and leaving some mystery, as it reaches its inevitable conclusion.  Mr Webb's also had a Deviant Strain entry in HM's issue #267.


the Giver by Homero Rios, Jose Carcia, and Renato Guerra - 6 - A boy is helped by a mountain sage, at a cost.  It's not bad at all, and a few bits of the illustration were really neat.




Robeo and Ruliette by Zelkjo Pahek - 6 - A robot love story, with some intricate and/or busy illustration, that really could have fit in the mag 30 years ago, or any time in its history.  The story has an odd feature or two, that makes it more mysterious and/or confusing.  Though I'll never know why the human arm appears, I still liked this one just fine.


Moth by Vitorrio Astone - 6 - Humankind falls to alien invaders, and a lone human sacrifices himself, to make a point .... and it works (?).  Looks pretty cool with some non-traditional panel framing and some explosive sound effects.


Another Heavy Metal Dot Com ad, this time the trite slogan falls flat for me.  Does this count as a continuing series?


Artist's Studio by Rebecca Yanovskaya - 7.5 - some lovely imagery with detail and depth, and lots of feathers, made more interesting by reading that the medium is ballpoint pen with gold leaf.  This artist also does a nice back cover.


Heavy Bone by Enzo Rizzi and Nathan Ramirez - 7 - Pretty cool black and white art with a rock and roll story that could have been written 20 years ago, and could easily have fit into HM when rock music was more of a reference point.  A fun imagination of the origin of a Black Babbath song.  Besides, I like Zappa.


Ensign Haley by Wren - 7.5 - I really like how the art's watercolor look adds to the space travel and non-terrestrial characters.  And how the pretty space girl manages to get nude and use sex as a weapon, and her intelligence, and escapes to a life of happy space wandering.  I wish it was really all so simple.  Wren also featured in HM #270 with something similar, and I seem to have liked this one a bit more.


MI9: Secret Agents Abroad in "Kiss Me Honey Honey"by JD & JMB - 6 - the return of the one page sexy secret agent story.  "Are you sure you don't want any clothes Daphne?"  Of course not ...


A pretty nice issue, I got some enjoyment from the stories and some interest in the art.  A couple stories with color themes, and a couple Romeo and Juliet references.  I think the mag's in a pretty good groove, for the most part, and I'd be fine if it kept on this way for a while.  Which it might not.  I'll see what the next issue brings, pretty soon here.  Hope I'm a bit more timely in the next review.







Monday, January 19, 2015

HM September 79 sample

There's a new HM September 1979 sample on the official HM website.  If you like, use the Links page on this here blog, or consult the internet yourself to find it. 
Since the previous December 1984 sample is nowhere to be found, if you want this one I'd suggest you get it soon.
As before it's not the complete issue, with no complete stories, but for "Soft Landing" by Dan O'Bannon and Thomas Warkentin, which was adapted as an opening in the first HM movie.
It's too bad they take such a haphazard approach to page selection, but it's better than nothing I suppose.
Enjoy, as best you can.