Wednesday, July 19, 2017


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.