Wednesday, October 21, 2015


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.