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, .  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.