Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Heavy Metal #285

The Love Special.  I got the newsstand cover A, "Demonheart" by Florian Bertner.  A pink heart valentine.  I enjoyed discerning that the background and the heart shape's border foliage are essentially mirrored images, while the demon is not.  And the bucket of tentacles.  It gets a 7 from me.


Another actual ad for an actual movie inside the front cover, for a movie I actually saw before the issue came out.


The contents page is illustrated by the controversial cover C, "Lapins d'Amour" by James Jean, so it was nice of them to make this available to all who get the mag, even those who got their issue with the cover C.... 


Also a couple new names on the contents page, Sarah Deal as Contributing Editor, and Jett Lucas as Coordinator (this is where I mention that Jett Lucas is in a recent deal with HM to publish a weed "edutainment" magazine.  weed has its place in HM's advertising history, so does booze, and porn.  and comics and t-shirts and posters and movies and albums and turntables and....  I'm not sure what to think about this new effort, so I'll wait to see where it goes).



Mr. Morrison's editoral is but a single page, but with such a breadth of verbal hyperventilation as to equal any of his other efforts in wackiness.  Using food-based descriptions of the mag's entries, allows access to hosts of nouns, as well as adjectives.  I admit I didn't get the abbreviated admonitions at the end, but the semi-literal bleeding heart valentine graphic was kinda neat.


Ai Shiteru! by JD Morvan and Liberatore - 5 - After some anticipation of Liberatore's return to HM's pages, I was a bit disappointed.  Perhaps my own fault for whatever expectations I set.  The Liberatore art and the Morvan story start out interesting enough, a gaijin works up the courage to approach the object of his adoration, a girl working for a "maid cafe", but the ending, of the art and story, seemed sudden and incomplete, superficial, to me.  Maybe I'm just not in the mood for deranged obsession today.


The Color of Air by Enki Bilal - 7 - Still brooding and mysterious, I'm enjoying seeing the various storylines unfold, and wondering how they will tie together.  That and the many lovely bits of art.  Pretty dark in there though.  The terror zeppelin full of explosives and nuclear waste is extra silly. 


Lure by Matias Lázaro and Chas! Pangburn - 6 - (Chas! gets first billing on the contents page).  Unexpected fauna at a deep sea lab site.  This one was a bit uneven for me.  There's some good storytelling going on, and some nice drawing work, but there were some spots that I was less impressed by.  Like why was she still there, alone for weeks in a submerged lab?


Zentropa by John Mahoney - 7 - Though I noticed a few annoying things, like a couple instances of excess pixellation and inconsistent coloring, there's still lots of scrutinizing fun to be had.  Just imagining generating 3D characters and moving them about to create images, noticing creative copying and mirroring, things that aren't noticed until the second or third look, that kind of thing.  What I thought might be an emerging storyline doesn't seem to be, maybe the skeletal character, with some organs and veins but no flesh but his dick, is taking us somewhere.


Artist's Studio by Rubens LP - 5 - With an interview by Rantz Hoseley, and Sarah Deal as contributing editor.  While it's an interesting and appealing style, the poses seem obviously lifted from porn, and diminish rather than enhance the attractiveness of the art for me.


Frankenstein Unrequited by Dean Haspiel - 7 - It's like a monster movie battle royale, with Frankenstein's Bride storming the castle to avenge her love.  I don't know who the bald guy at the end is though.  Sometimes the art seems hasty, and silly (bazooka), but it puts up a furious pace and tells quite the wordless story. 


They Lived Happily Ever After by Fernando Baldo - 6 - This time it's the girl who slays the dragon to enter the castle tower to wake the sleeping prince from his spell, but it's a joke.  A pretty good joke, I'll admit.


Gutt Ghost:  The Letters of the Beast by Enzo Garza - 6.5 - I kinda like this guy from the last entry in # 283, and I'm glad I was wrong about never seeing it again, and this story of meeting a blind date and then his ex is kinda insightful.  But now I wonder about what else is in the story I don't know.  Maybe more is to come.


"Lil Charlie" Part 2 by John Bivens and Omar Estévez - 6 - While the three of god's charges proceed destroying creation, a new being Lilith is created, making this a potentially more interesting story.  I got a bit lost near the end, but it says continued so I hope I get to figure it out.


Tattoo Gallery by Brando Chiesa - 5 - I'm not very excited by a tattoo gallery in HM, but I will say the art depicted is very cool.  Though the images of mostly shaved arms are pasted onto some background, making me wonder about other effects that have been  applied, and after a while they start looking pretty the same, there's some nice skill and technique on display.


Salsa Invertebraxta by Mozchops (noted as Part 5 on the contents page, but I believe it's the 6th and last entry) - 8.5 - Yayyy!  That was fun.  My appreciation of the art and story, and even the poetry, grew as this went on.  I enjoyed the lush style and bright colors and brilliant imagination, and the dark parts too.  I enjoyed noticing there were protagonists, and I enjoyed their hijinks.  I enjoyed figuring out that the creatures depicted were much more imagined than real (angular egg-carrying robot drone!).  I even enjoyed the hokey "circle of life" thing.  Fun to see.  Thanks.


Artist Spotlight by James Jean, interview by Rantz Hoseley - 7 - Mr Jean gets some fine praise in the introduction, some nice work is displayed.  An interesting paragraph is a short description of how he came to do the "Lapins d'Amour" Cover C art.


Mythopia by Grant Morrison, Andy Belanger, Omar Estévez, Serge LaPointe - 6 - A rather farcical telling of many SF/Fantasy tropes.  It's pretty nice to look at, and even I got some of the jokes, but its tongue is so firmly in its cheek, it's hard to understand what it's saying.


The back cover is another actual ad for an actual movie, that I wanted to see but was actually out of the theaters before I was able to.







Saturday, April 8, 2017

Forty Years



Forty years, who could have imagined?  A magazine from another time, living in the future.  A bundle of paper that continues to exist, that now stirs not only imagination, but memories.  Thanks.

Only took a couples weeks to get this after it came out.  A review will be several more weeks....


Monday, March 20, 2017

Xalabarder's ONIRIA: GENESIS

Well, the response to Xalabarder's fundraiser for his ONIRIA: GENESIS project has been puny.  It's not like I have any real influence, but I had really hoped he would get a better response, so he'd be able to proceed with collecting all the work he intended to.  At this rate, it'll be a surprise if he even fulfills the few backers he's got.


So come on slackers, there's only a few days left, sign up to back this cool project, you know you want to.


ONIRIA: GENESIS

Monday, February 20, 2017

Heavy Metal #284

It took a while to find a store that had this issue, and when I did, it was the cover B, noted as for comic shops and the web store, and it had a sticker with a UPC on the front, and a sticker covering the UPC on the back.  I got it at a mainstream B&N rather than a comic shop.  When I had a chance later, when I was away from home, I checked an independent bookstore and found the same thing.  It made me wonder, if the cover A (for "newsstand") had more demand than copies and they moved the cover B issues to cover, or if there was some other mixup.  The cover A appears to be still available on the HM web store.  I may have preferred the cover A for the Royo.  For reasons unknown, this is the Mythic Special.  And the cover price is up a buck, to $8.95.


Cover by Ken Kelly - 7 - "The Savage Sword of Jesus Christ" may have been a slightly clever take on the Xmas spirit, but it's a little late for that.  It's a pretty nicely done, if farcical, Conan/Jesus mashup.  Mr Kelly is apparently accomplished in his field.  As I was afflicted with Catholicism at an early age, I was able to note the absence of the stigmata, the nail holes in Jesus' hands, and of the wound in his side, but since it's blond roid-rage zombie-killer Jesus, I won't take any points off.  Conveniently, the cover B goes with the first story in this issue.


The page preceding the contents page has a a title Mythic Special and a credited work, the Call of Cthulhu by Francois Baranger.  Looks pretty cool but a bit on the murky side.


Mr Morrison's editorial is a slightly topical and expectedly unhinged, end-of-year rant, supplanted with the requisite magazine plugs.  I enjoyed the reference to Situationist pranksters, not only timely but something I've read a bit about recently.


The Savage Sword of Jesus Christ by Grant Morrison and the Molen brothers - 6 - I like the Molen brothers' art and Mr Morrison has crafted a wacky Hitler-writes-a-Jesus-screenplay story, that I'm not too sure about.  It's to be continued, so maybe it will gain some traction.


Atomahawk by Donny Cates, Ian Bederman, Taylor Esposito - 7.5 - Wow man, I wanna party like a cyberzerker.  Not so sure about the lust dungeon though, ick.  I'm having fun enjoying this one, I like the style and imagination of the art, and the writing is amusing or outright funny.   The story shows a history of the Atomahawk destroying enemies and smashing barriers.  It ends abruptly, without a "continued", but I hope it does. 


Taarna by Alex De Campi, Tony Parker, Leonard O'Grady - 5 - This starts with an excellent full page image of the title character made of fragments of various depictions with different outfits in basically the same pose.  I found it intriguing and engrossing.  The story that follows had an ok look but I had a hard time following it.  Varying framing implied multiple storylines, but they didn't come together for me.  Hopefully this continues and gets to define things better for me.  I need to admit some misgivings.  When the 1st HM movie came out in 1981, I didn't think the thrill I could get from having my imagination inspired when reading the mag, could be duplicated on the screen, and my preconceived notion was reinforced when I saw the movie.  It was interesting and sometimes fun, but the visual impressions were rarely stunning.  When I heard that a Taarna story was coming, I had a similar feeling, that the character had such a reputation, it would be hard to live up to.  So far, I still feel that way.  I hope this story persists and grows and proves me wrong.


Cerberus Ate My Homework by Dwayne Harris - 6 - called Hercules on the Contents page.  A mildly amusing one-page gag, nice looking with fun stereotyped characterizations of an enormously beefy student and the remarkably skinny graybeard teacher.


Art Gallery with Andrew Brandou - 6 - subtitled N the Garden of the Surrealist (or In, I suppose), with an interview by Rantz A. Hoseley.  I found a few bits of the "fine art" interesting.


The Simulationists by Duncan Trussel, Donny Cates, Andy Belanger, Lee Loughridge, Taylor Esposito - 6.5 - It says Adam Belanger on the contents page.  An interesting update to the door-to-door proselytizer story, they're using VR goggles to tell their story of repent or perish.  Some enticing big images are shown in their presentation, and some weird mixing of religious themes.  There's a joke or two in there too.  It even says to be continued, maybe it'll stay good or even get better.


The Color of Air by Enki Bilal, translation by Jessica Berger - 7.5 - It appears we get a third Bilal story to complete the set, with the previous Animal'z and Julia & Roem.  While there may be less of the sheer thrill of seeing Bilal in HM again, than the first time, this looks to have another part of the same broken world, and more mysteriously obtuse storytelling and marvelous art.  Since I wasn't paying close enough attention to know this was coming, it's a pleasant surprise to see more from a titan of HM's early history, and I'm looking forward to seeing how this fits together with the other stories.


Zentropa by John Mahoney - 7.5 - I'm having some pretty serious wow going on here.  It's fun for me to examine the plentiful detail, and I'm starting to notice perhaps some characters and story trying to emerge.  Or maybe not, and that confusion is fun for me too.  Even finding that amusing is amusing to me.  I guess that's part of the fun I get from doing this.  This doesn't say to be continued either, but I hope it does.


Lil Charlie by John Bivens and Omar Estevez - 6 - Three of God's creations, Lil' Charlie, Death, and Duncan, are charged with cleaning up the Universe.  Most of this is fun to read and entertaining to look at, but so far it's not quite grabbing me.  There may be more, it doesn't say to be continued, but with only parts of two of the three's stories told and an uncertain ending, it seems it may.


The Last Mortician by Tim Hall and Dean Haspiel - 5 - I wish I liked this one more.  Not only do I like the changing color schemes for different timelines, like The Last Romantic Antihero by Dean Haspiel in HM #281, but it has an interesting premise, that aging and death have been eradicated.  It goes to thoughts on love and death, but I couldn't follow it well.  The stories and timelines were confusing to me, and not in the amusing way where I like to infer possibilities, but in the frustrating, what the heck? way.  Add a liberal dose of suicide, and I didn't have much to enjoy.  I know I'm missing out.  I would have been helped if this one was a bit longer and gave itself more time to address the depths of emotion I thought it was trying to explore.


Concept Designer Gallery - Angelarium by Peter Mohrbacher - 7 - or Artist Designer Gallery on the contents page.  The project is about illustrating the "thousands of named angels throughout multiple mythologies" according to Mr Mohrbacher.  While I'm not big on poster type art of costumed posers, even I can see that these are imaginative and well-crafted.  The concept itself sounds pretty cool, I like some mythology, but I'm not motivated to explore further.  The back cover appears to be part of this project as well.  I will say it seems that fantasy art has a lot to offer to, and to be thankful for, the games industry.  It's provided an avenue for this type of skill, where digitization may have otherwise diminished it, it seems to me.


Salsa Invertebraxa by Mozchops - 7 - Our pesky little protagonists' hijinks continue, in often colorful and terrifically rendered ways.  I'm enjoying this one a bit more, maybe the text is even a bit less annoying.  I think there's one more left.


Snow Blind by Kong and John Bivens - 5 - Bullies in winter avenged by snowmen?  Besides the story being a bit unclear, it's drawn and composed nicely.


The Rabbi by Jok and Carlos Aon and Alberto Calvo - 6 - Subtitled "Tatele" translated as grandfather.  It appears a rabbi saves a condemned man, by constructing a golem of clay.  It's drawn and told well.


The inside back cover hints #285 will be the Love issue.  Besides an ad for a Dean Koontz book on the inside front cover (a book!) the ads are all for HM books.  So far I'll give the Morrison era a thumbs-up.  I'm not often thrilled but there appears to be some consistency in the quality and direction of the mag.  And I can still buy a paper copy to read in my grubby little hands, and for me that's the whole point.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Ferran Xalabarder

I received an email from Ferran Xalabarder!  An actual HM contributor of stories such as "Saving Poor Elsy Shelby" and "Heaven's Inferno"!  The HM cover gallery says he has been in HM eighteen times, I've reviewed a handful.


It's a rare thrill for an actual HM contributor to contact me on my blog, for any reason.  In this case, he wasn't writing to admire my incisive review work or eye-opening viewpoints (no one does, or would), but to share his funding effort for his Oniria: Genesis project, collecting many of his stories into a four volume mini-saga for publication:


igg.me/at/oniria-genesis


More than once I have expressed a desire to see the rest of the story, when making a review of a Xalabarder story.  It seems this may be my opportunity.  I'm considering signing up.  I'd like this to happen, and having a collected printed Xalabarder would be pretty cool.  I suggest that anyone who reads this should consider it also.