Saturday, August 12, 2017

ONIRIA: GENESIS book

Ferran Xalabarder actually emailed me again.  It's always nice when an actual creator contacts me, especially since it happens so rarely.


The fundraising effort to publish his ONIRIA:  GENESIS book had little response and poor results, but he was able to publish the book by "using more regular methods", so it's for sale at his website: 



So good for him and I hope he has better success with this.  I would certainly recommend that anyone with the interest and means to purchase this book, should do so.  I may, through "regular methods" or otherwise, and make a little review sometime.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Romero

So with George Romero recently passing, and the online memorializing, it's an opportunity to remember the HM article about the Dawn of the Dead movie in the October 1978 issue.  Now, I'm not a big zombie fan, I don't get the appeal (I think it's an expression of the innate human fear of the "other" in pop culture form, but it doesn't really work for me), but I will say that Romero's Night of the Living Dead is a pretty good thriller/horror movie, so I can see how that started it.  The article is an excerpt of a story of the Dawn movie, by George Romero and Susanna Sparrow, with a couple movie stills.  It was a nice entry for the mag to broaden it from just drawings, but I haven't seen the movie.  It's also an opportunity to plug one of my favorite HM stories that happens to be in the same issue, Shattered Like a Glass Goblin, by Harlan Ellison (also pretty famous) and William Stout, which I found fascinating.  I do have an early review of this issue on this here blog.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Heavy Metal #286

I will call this The Grant Morrison Issue.  Not only is "Grant Morrison's Epic Article on Chaos Magic Inside!" it's Mr Morrison Hisself on the cover A, in a painting with some magical metaphors by David Stoupakis.  I liked the pen and typewriter myself.  I don't think Mr Eastman ever put himself on the cover, but I don't mind Mr Morrison doing so.  The mag has done pretty well with him running it, in my opinion, so I can handle a bit of self-fluffery.  The image is pretty cool, the tagline is still "The World's Greatest Illustrated Magazine", there's a barcode sticker over the one printed on the cover, and this also has "MΛGICK SPECIΛL" on the front.  I'll give it a 6.


Another actual movie ad inside the front cover, and a Page 2 Illustration "The Magician" by Rian Hughes with a cool image of an astronaut/sorcerer/DJ, a sage for a modern age.  Sarah Deal returns credited as Contributing Editor, and Jett Lucas is now listed as Creative Executive with the other execs.  Hmmm.  Some arcane symbology at the bottom of the contents page, then a two-page ad for HM coffee.  The bag with the 1981 HM movie poster image of Taarna by Christos Achilleos is interesting me enough in maybe actually getting some.


Atomahawk Chapter Three: Berserker by Donny Cates, Ian Bederman, Taylor Esposito, with a special thanks for Nick Derington - 8 - All the blood and flaming dismemberment is with an amusing variety of cartoon warriors, so it's more cool than horrifying.  At least that's what I tell myself.  I liked the frozen-in-action cartoony violence style, and the clever first person dialog, and some depth of expression in the storytelling.  The End, or is it?


The Sword of God by Edgar Clément, JAME, Alberto Calvo - 7 - I really liked the art style, expressive and dynamic, and the sidebar lizards/little dragons reminded me of an earlier HM story (it had a one-eyed soothsayer/narrator but I'm not recalling the name right now).  The storytelling was pretty good too, and the ending was funny if not insightful.


Herald by Diego Grebol and Sebastían Píriz - 6 - A robot museum tour guide blows some little kids' minds with some thoughts of magic and reality.  Looks cool and fun to read, but it didn't really sell me on its premise.


An ad for a Heavy Metal 40th Anniversary art show.  This might actually be cool, but I doubt I will be in the neighborhood during its run, so I'll miss it.  It wouldn't be an HM thing without a couple misspellings or quirks, my favorite is the reference to Cel Art from The Film.  I'm pretty sure it's about the 1981 movie, rather than Heavy Metal 2000, which makes me wonder if they're trying to forget HM2000 ever happened, or how they still have cel art from the first movie but none from the second.  Or maybe they just forgot the "s" after Film. 


The Smile of the Absent Cat by Grant Morrison & Gerhard - 6 - Continued kitty crime capers.  Some compelling storytelling, and a nice "Bedlam" scene reference.  More to come.


The Color of Air by Enki Bilal - 7 - The art is getting even more murky than the story.  Some of our intrepid adventurers continue on, through difficult and ridiculous peril, presumably towards some sort of story development and resolution.


Beyond the Word and the Fool by Grant Morrison - 7.5 - with illustrations by David Stoupakis (including an image I recognized from a previous Gallery entry).  Subtitled Heavy Metal's Mag!c Primer, this is Mr Morrison's "Epic Article on Chaos Magic" as declared on the cover.  Skipping this issue's editorial, Mr Morrison spends ten pages outlining his views on Mag!c and including some of his own experiences.  I enjoyed reading this, more than I was afraid I was going to.  I was going to get tired of different spellings of magic pretty soon, but Mr Morrison harnesses his logorrhea to the greater good of producing an actual Primer on Mag!c, with some basic activities after some orientation and instruction.  I liked how along the winding path of his discussion, some of his views of reality, consciousness, and meaning, would intersect with mine.  His effort is light on pretention and even expresses compassion for the reader and others.  I'm not too interested in actually trying new things, but it was interesting to learn some ideas from a different perspective.  Also I think this is the longest prose entry in the mag for quite some time, so I liked that too.


A Magician and The Wooden Boy by Z. Pahek - 7 - So a circus magician brings a wooden puppet of a boy to life, so he can kill him for his act, but surprise!  This time the boy kills him.  It's pretty creepy when you think about it, but it's a pretty well executed piece that brought me in.  And I thought "Blade Hell" as an exclamation was humorous, "bloody hell" perhaps?


Frank Frazetta Reign of Wizardry by Frank Frazetta Jr.  A two page article about some history of one of this issue's covers, written by the son of the renowned fantasy artist.  I decided to not apply a rating for this, but it is pretty cool that HM scored this image and the article.


The 1000 Deaths of Harry Houdini by Neil Kleid, Michael Avon Oeming & Taki Soma - 6 - I won't reveal the Secret of Houdini's success, but I thought this had an interesting premise that could have gone farther, and the art is probably pretty good but I wasn't too excited about it.  (But Kleid was the name of the demon in the sheets in John Findley's Tex Arcana in HM back in the 80s...)


"Lil Charlie" Part III by John Bivens and Omar Estévez - 5 - The story continues, of the destruction of Creation by God's creations, but it's a flashback?  There's some interesting bits in this one, the two-page spread on the universe coming into existence, and I kinda like the infinite-headed depiction of God, but I'm not following this one well.  No sign of the Lilith character introduced in the past installment, I'm hoping she can spice things up.  And Mercy Sakes, there seems to be a pageorder mixup, I haven't noticed one of these in the mag for a while.


Art Gallery - Ars Goetia: Demonic Tarot by Jim Pavelec - 6 - Depictions of named demons presented in Tarot card form.  Some nicely conceived and executed images, I liked the two-page spread at the end the best, but it felt pretty contrived to me at times.  But it's got the word magic in it.


Air by Diego Agrimbau and Martín Túnica - 7 - Searching for the old magic in a wind-swept post-apocalyptic wasteland.  Tells a nice story in just a few pages.


Zentropa by John Mahoney - 8 - This last installment includes an "Origins of Zentropa" essay by Mr Mahoney, which includes some description of an illness and producing Zentropa during his recovery.  While my thoughts of a story emerging were fruitless, the essay set me free of my expectations and helped explain some of the imagery seen in the story.  He gives credit to HM for inspiration and support, but I didn't see the word "magic" anywhere.... But again the scrutinizing and imagining the process were fun for me, and the spliff'n sistahs returned.  The ending is almost minimalist.  A delightful journey to nowhere in particular.


Gallery with Clive Barker and Interview by Rantz Hoseley - 6 - I'm not familiar with Clive Barker, though I've heard the name, and I didn't look it up.  Some interesting images and viewpoints are presented.  I imagine the interview was conducted over email since the dialog seems to be written rather than transcribed, so I found amusement in the interviewer asking about "Magick" but the answers respond with "magic".


Lighting the Way by Mark Alan Miller, Christian Francis, Ben Meares, Gonzalo Ruggieri, Omar Estévez, JAME - 7 - Based on a painting by Clive Barker, indeed the painting is included in the previous Gallery entry.  They sure got a lot out of that painting, there's a lot of action and scary implication in the story that I didn't see in the painting, but the art and writing tell a brisk and gruesome tale here.


The inside back cover has an ad for the Frank Frazetta Art Museum in Pennsylvania.  The back cover is an ad for a show on the Starz network.











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.