Saturday, June 1, 2019

Heavy Metal # 293

Noted as the "Beyond the Darkness Special", I got this first issue of 2019 in the 5th month of the year.  While I would be happy to be wrong, I think there is no way there will be six issues this year.  I'll be surprised if we even get five like the last couple years.  I try to be grateful for what we get, a printed magazine still being published for over 40 years, but it's pretty annoying.  At least I don't have a subscription, I'd be pretty disappointed if I did.

The big changes in staffing previously announced are noted.  Tim Seeley as Managing Editor, Hannah Means-Shannon and Justin Mohlman join as Contributing Editors, and Grant Morrison is now listed as Advisor.  I'll take this opportunity to thank Mr Morrison for his time as Editor-In-Chief (and Kristan Morrison as Contributing Editor) as I have enjoyed the mag over the last several years.  I felt his time stabilized the magazine's form and content, and my hope is that these editorial changes have laid the foundation for its continued existence for years to come.  I also enjoyed Mr Morrison's fanciful editorials.  Best of luck to whatever projects you'll be working on, that I will never see.

The editorial page illustration is by Denis Zhbankov.  It looks like a gryphon-demon with their young picking at a bloodied corpse.  The Cover "A" which I got from the bookstore, is "Family Dreams" by Flavio Greco Paglia, and is noted as for "Buenos Aires Rojo Sangre" which is apparently a sci-fi etc film fest.  Each artist has a Gallery in this issue.

"S.O.L.U.S." by Timothy E. Bacon - 7 - The creator gives special thanks to Antfarm, SolCommand, Parris & Stonemason.  A lone space traveller near the dead earth seeks memories.  The art is nice looking, though the excursion suit looks pretty ungainly, and the storytelling turned out well, using first-person narration and the computer giving unheeded warnings.  The "of course it's a girl robot with metal boobs" moment hardly detracted from its impact on me.

"DoppleDämons" by Emilia Pedrazzoli, Emiliano Pinto, Facundo Percio, Omar Estévez - 5 - From suicide to sacrifice to flesh-eating demons to a roiling hellscape, I couldn't keep up.

"The Door" Chapter 5 by Michael Moreci, Esau Escorza, & Adam Wollet - 7 - Well, in this final chapter our protagonist persists and resists the constraints of the constructs of the artificial world holding her captive, and successfully finds her way back to herself.  The art is again lovely, and contains a scene of bodily disintegration so arresting as to rival my favorite shocker in my favorite story from the October 1978 issue, "Shattered Like a Glass Goblin".  I'm a bit dismayed by the returning pervy smell, with more of the art toying with upskirting the poor girl, and I'm either annoyed or amused by, when she emerges naked from her own immersion tank, they get coy about nipples.  Eeesh.  C'mon, it doesn't need to be like that.  Yeah, HM has a long history of crappy-ass sexism and objectification, and sexy is part of the fun, but nowadays shit like that gets called out.  There's still a lot to recommend this story as a Heavy Metal delight.

Gallery with John Kenn Mortensen - 7 - with an interview by Hannah Means-Shannon.  Line drawings of horrors that surround us.  Apparently Mr Mortensen came to fantasy art from another life, and the art seems to have such an untrained skill, as to make me fantasize it's something I could do (but I couldn't, it's much better than I would do), which seems part of its charm.  And such a visceral charm, certainly willies-inducing.

"Mother Death" by Homero Rios, Nephtali Leal, and Jame - 7 - Mother Death gives the damned their rest.  Almost a throwback to HM's early days, with art with expression that exceeds the execution, and the translation giving the story a different perspective from what its original language may have had, telling a supernatural tale of shit and death.  I think I missed a few things.  The unfortunate mirrored background images and the extremely long hands in the last panel confused me, but the skull-headed cherubs were eye-catching and had some good lines.

"Little Green God of Agony" by Stephen King and Dennis Calero - 7 - A wealthy man, crippled in an accident, enlists an exorcist in a desparate bid to end his pain.  Primarily told from the perspective of his very skeptical nurse.  I have read little Stephen King, but I'm not surprised that this is a well-written, engaging read.  Which is good, since it's pretty long, 15 pages, and it has lots of torsos surrounded by word and thought balloons.  The art seems deliberately subdued, a darkened room with mostly stark shadows and muted hues.  It ends abruptly, but happily, for the wealthy guy at least.

Gallery with Flavio Greco Paglia - 7 - With an interview by Hannah Means-Shannon.  Some nice imagery from a successful fantasy/commercial artist.  While I found some of it on the dark and murky side, the artist comments about working with contrast and learning to use light to tell a narrative, and I managed to see that.

"The Guest" by Manuel D. Montesinos - 7 - A lone survivor of a disastrous mission from Mars recalls the anniversary of the incident.  It makes a pointed statement about humans destroying their worlds, and ends with a not-too-shocking surprise.

"Holy Wars ... The Punishment Due" by Tim Seeley, Ignacio Calero, Carlos Cabrera, Micah Myers - 7 - An excerpt from the Megadeth: Death by Design graphic novel.  A lone techno-vigilante wages bloody vengeance against the corporatist machine.  I'm not especially excited about the HM mag collaborations with heavy metal bands, my loss I'm sure.  It does make sense in some ways, with HM's many music references over the years, and obvious marketing potential.  And I did enjoy much about # 287.  And if it works, good for 'em.  This entry benefits from energetic art and some pretty good storytelling.

Gallery with Denis Zhbankov - 7 - With an interview by Hannah Means-Shannon.  Some nice personal art from a professional artist.  Some was pretty dark and murky, but I did like a couple a good deal, the smoke break and the night catcher, they were imaginative.

"Murky World" by Richard Corben - 8 - Chapters 6 and 7 back to back. Lots of furious action and escape, and recapture, and ... is the old storyteller coming on to Tugat..??  Whoa.  Maybe we'll get to see what's up with that abdomen.  Or ... Could be yikes either way.

"Green Grower from Rigbadal" by Z. Pahek - 7 - A marooned space captain tries to survive with his robot companion, landing on wild Rigbadal looking for something to eat.  A little mix of Star Wars and Little Shop of Horrors.  It's colored well and looks nice but I think I like Pahek's work in black and white just a bit more.

"White Death" by Diego Agrimbau, Eduardo Risso, Alberto Calvo - 7 - Rebelling slaves in a failed revolution in the Andes.  Told by one of the rebels, as he remembers his late father and the voodoo he taught him, this story appears to be placed in certain historical time (I started looking and General San Martin is known as a hero for his role in South American independence from Spain, there's a lot I could learn about that) which lends weight to the tale.  I thought the art was dynamic and engaging, fitting the storytelling.

So I liked this issue fine, and I'll look forward to the next, which is already being promoted for pre-sale, so when I saw that I got working on this post.

Friday, April 26, 2019

#293 preview

In the first new "news" entry on the HM website in over a year, there's a preview of #293:

It announces this issue is now for sale, but I haven't seen it in a store yet.  We're just getting the first issue of the year at the end of April, jeez.

But it's a pretty nice preview, touching on many stories I'm looking forward to, especially The Door and Murky World.  There are cover images too.  I expect to get the cover "A" at the store:

Though I was struck by the image for the cover "C", "REMANENT HEAD 2" by Wanjin Gim:

It's pretty fantastic and strikingly similar to the Spring 1987 cover by Jim Warren:

(this image is from Lostboy's Heavy Metal Magazine Fan Page, and my Covers post from a while back)

I just hope I come across this new issue soon.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Paul Kirchner

Paul Kirchner did The Bus in Heavy Metal Magazine, from the second issue until 1985, the end of the monthly era.  I really liked it, it did a lot of storytelling in less than half a page, and thought it was a big part of what made HM what it was to me.  He did several other stories in that time that I liked, like The Temple of Karvul in February 1979 and Critical Mass of Cool in November 1984.  Maybe I didn't think his art was the most spectacular in the mag, but it was very good in stories that made you think.

There was a return of The Bus in HM #276, and I had hoped for more, but I haven't come across it.  He does sell books including a couple The Bus compilations.

The Bristol Board recently had some Dope Rider stories listed, which is what got me thinking about this.  Dope Rider was in High Times way back when, and it appears Mr Kirchner is producing new stories.  It wasn't in HM, but it's pretty cool regardless.  Check it out.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Meanwhile over at Heavy Metal

Announced on HM's fbook via a BleedingCool article, a Tim Seeley is joining the mag as Managing Editor.

(man that webpage really hates my computer, takes forever to load with all the crap and ads)

Rantz Hoseley has "left the company" it says.  Nothing on what he's doing or even a thank you.

Tim Seeley is apparently a well-known comics guy, and the article has Mr Eastman and others saying how great Tim is.  No word from or about Mr Morrison.  Comments on the article and the fbook post are all over the place, most like Mr Seeley and think Mr Morrison will hang on, though some seem even more clueless than me.

For me, it just came to me how HM has been trying to merge with comics, which I've been in denial of for a while.  I still thought of Heavy Metal as "The Adult Illustrated Fantasy Magazine" and comics were more lightweight and transient, but with the popular culture impact of comics these days, I can realize why HM might want to seem a part of that.

I'm also a bit annoyed about such an announcement by a fbook link to another article, rather than directly from HM, but I guess that's just how they do things, when they don't have much of a PR stance, as seen by the haphazard nature of the HM internet presence.  (it's been over a year since the main website has had anything new.)

So best of luck to Mr Seeley, and I hope he does at least as good of an interview as Mr Hoseley.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Heavy Metal Cover Price History

R. M. Rhodes has a great little article on his about the history of Heavy Metal Magazine cover prices, which includes history of the tagline, which was "The Adult Illustrated Fantasy Magazine" for a good while, with some discussion of the issue format going from monthly to quarterly to bimonthly to whatever it is now, including just numbering issues rather than noting the month or period and year.  For fun I lifted the chart from the article:

The article nicely gathers these bits of info and helped my understanding of these trivial but interesting details of the history of Heavy Metal Magazine.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Kranburn comics

Ben Michael Byrne revived Kranburn last year, after dropping it in favor of other stuff, and there was a link to "Printed Kranburn" that never materialized.  I had seen some references to new issues coming but I never found where to buy them, since he seems to be most active on Fbook, but I ain't on that so I don't get very far, until Mr Byrne recently put up a link on his Twtr, to his updated Ownaindi listing.  Ownaindi is a site for Australian comics, where he was selling his NSEW (also pretty cool) before, and though it could be problematic, it worked for me to get them.  He's gone and printed all the old Kranburns, and the new ones, and the NSEW, as well as something called Ektype (I have no idea what this is, but I want it anyway).  I went and ordered everything I didn't already have.  So this is great news for people like me, who really liked Kranburn and Mr Byrne's work, and are fortunate enough to afford to buy printed comics shipped halfway around the world.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Heavy Metal # 292

Just got this issue in a bookstore on the last day of 2018.  That made five issues in the year, based on when I actually bought them.  Same for the year before.  Falling short of the stated six issues per year, and the internet presence hanging by a thread, concerns me about the health of the operation.

But the mag itself is still pretty good.  I got the Cover A, "Elefanka" by Ron English.

Pretty cool, I like it so I'll give it an 8, and especially the background elephant images reminded me of the Roger Dean Osibisa album cover art.

Yeah, not quite the same, but still kinda neat.  The mag is labeled the "Psychedelic Special", and there is some attempted mind-bending going on, so the Special name has some actual meaning this time.

The Contents page illustration is by Adrian Cox, "Spectral Witness with Gathering Storm", which looks like just that, and Mr Cox has a Gallery entry in this issue.

The staff listing has some changes, no more Jett Lucas (and no sign of that weed "edutainment" magazine he was said to be working on almost two years ago), and there's a Paul Reder noted as COO/CFO, with Brian Witten going to Creative Advisor.  Jeff Krelitz is still listed as President.  I certainly don't know what's really going on, but I'll guess that an executive-level reorganization indicates a change in operational structure, which I will hope is to stabilize the organization to ensure its continued existence.

Mr Morrison is still around too, and his editorial for this issue is written as a story of illicit drug trials that produced "HM292" and its psychoactive effects on those subjected to it.  Rather clever and it fits the theme.  I'll give Mr Morrison credit for continuing to produce these editorials in such an entertainingly loquacious fashion.

"She Comes at Midnight" by Rob Sheridan - 8 - Musings of desire for late night tv images.  Evocative and cool to look at.  This very much makes me think of the time long ago, before cable, where a subscription for early pay-tv for sports and adult content, involved using a set-top box to unscramble the subscription channel signal.  And it was rumored that if you didn't have a subscription box, but fiddled with the antenna enough, you could just make out a boob or something.  Never worked for me, but this makes me think Mr Sheridan may have been a young teen boy in the mid 70s too.

"The Smile of the Absent Cat" Chapter Three by Grant Morrison and Gerhard - 6 - Noted as "the never condition".  A cat lunatic asylum resident, tormented by the Great War, trying to get his life back in order, is approached by another resident, and pulled into some devious plan.  Some nice storytelling going on, but even with the three chapters being mostly separate stories, the year and a half since the last chapter made it hard for me to get excited about it.  I wonder when the next chapter might appear, or even if there's a whole story to even get through.

Gallery with Miles Johnston - 7 - with an interview by (surprise!) Rantz Hoseley.  The artist tells us a great deal about himself with Mr Hoseley's help, and I thought what I learned helped my appreciation of his work.  There's a lot to like, though I have to get over being picky about proportion in what looks like it should be photorealistic.  Because it's not, it's supposed to evoke things like infinite regression and emptiness inside, not look exactly like them, because it won't. 

"The Door" Chapter 4 by Michael Moreci, Esau Escorza, & Adam Wollet - 7 - The story continues for our young protagonist and her misadventures in worlds she does not know.  Reappearing in a city scene familiar from the beginning, but where the residents have pig heads, she and her companion "Monster" are rescued from the crowd by a pig with manners, introducing himself with a "these swine know little when it comes to civil society" as Francois Bacon.  Monsieur Bacon not only deduces that her paper crown indicates the Garbage King sent her for a reason, but expounds on the nature of the worlds they are in, helping us understand what's going on.  Similar to the Matrix, they are in a series of software constructs of realities, the product of humanity retreating into their inner digital worlds, and her ability to step between them makes her unique, but also able to escape.  He directs her down a darkened staircase, and this chapter ends with "to be concluded."  The art continues to be enjoyably lovely, and the story exposition takes some shots at some of humanity's more selfish aspects, including the current aberrant administration and abdication of individuals' parts in society.  I'm looking forward to how this concludes.

"The Oneiroverse" by R.G. Llarena, Garrie Gastonny, Omar Estévez, Jame - 8 - An aspiring writer pays for a dream journey into the Oneiroverse to search for the IDEA to write his first book.  It starts with a joke (I've not read Hitchhiker's Guide, but even I know "why forty-two") and sends him to dozens of worlds with fairy princesses, mystical warriors, and bitchin' babe bands.  He returns dissatisfied, still not realizing where the IDEA needs to come from.  Nicely done art and I again enjoyed Mr Llarena's storytelling abilities, and I was impressed by how well the translation worked.

"The Rise and Fall of Empires" by Grant Morrison and Rian Hughes - 5 - A somewhat interesting execution of representing change with an area graph.  Here it's apparently it's about distribution and reach of presumably societal factions shown with different colors and geometric patterns.  It's pretty abstract and without context on the factions, so it doesn't really tell me a lot.

Gallery with Ron English - 8 - Titled The Art of POPaganda, with a short text introduction of Mr English (Not by Mr Hoseley!?) and a series of images that rather assertively demand your scrutiny.  Some really wacky stuff going on there, not to say I don't enjoy it.  Mr English did the first cover of the Morrison Era:

and the skully Mr Smiley is seen again here, as well as other recognizable and perhaps not-so familiar characters.  I enjoyed looking at the images and imagining what it would look like generating this stuff, and considering the filthy mess of society I inferred from the compositions.  And good thing I liked it, since there's more of Mr English later this issue.

"Influencer" by Michael Kupperman - 7 - In three pages and nine panels, a story of ergot-induced madness, prophecy, and immortality.  The art is perhaps not refined, but so effectively plays its part in the storytelling, which I found fantastic, literally, including the unbelievability of the ending.  And of course, it's on topic with the Psychedelic theme.

Another ad for the Dark Matter Heavy Metal coffee, which seems to exist only in the pages of the magazine.  I've never seen it actually for sale.

"Hydroglyphs to Mania" by Miranda Smart - 7.5 - Heavens, a trip through the caverns of your brain doesn't have to be so scary, but it can be.  A wordless depiction of a peer-pressured hallucinogen ingestion, looking every bit like it's describing a personal experience.  And the story's success in telling me with the art alone is what impresses me.  A similar trippy art style was more common in the mag's early days.

Gallery with Amélie Barnathan - 6 - Mr Hoseley makes up for lost time with a long-ish interview.  Ms Barnathan shows a number of works with some thought-provoking images, and talks about her training, and a new Tarot she worked on, apparently Instant Archetypes, "an analog toolkit" for our digital age.  I guess Tarot is a thing.

"Citied" by Rantz Hoseley & Andrew Brandou - 7 - Cute little art student critters dress up for the funnest Halloween party ever.  Chemical assistance was applied.  It was worth the challenge to discern the text and details in the colorful jumbled miasma of the art.

"The Color of Air" Part Nine:  The Conclusion by Enki Bilal, translation by Jessica Berger - 8 - Still beautiful, even moreso with more color at this ending and epilogue of the old story, pointing to the beginning of the next.  The Planet finishes its Bloody Coup and the inhabitants are re-invigorated and re-associated.  Like life I suppose, it's only supposed to make as much sense as you can make of it.  Thanks for everything Mr Bilal.

"Beatle" by Diego Agrimbau & Gabriel Ippóliti - 6 - Ringo impersonators are turning up dead in the city.  A Beatles-loving cop goes undercover at a well-known impersonator agency, and uncovers the Beatles' final secret. 

"Combrats" by Ron English - 9 - Mr English brings us to the Combrat Zone, where "feral clown kid soldiers" patrol the no man's land between Delusionville and hell.  An inhabitant of Delusionville, a Rabbbit, wants to visit hell, but is detained by Combrats.  It's just as wacky as it sounds, and it looks even more.  The Combrats are like clown faced dolls with tie-dyed clown suit uniforms and helmets, and guns, and the rabbbits have three ears and three eyes (as also seen in some of the previous Gallery).  There's a lot of 3D modeled background with fantastic imagery, some so clearly rendered as to make me wish he had constructed it all with modeling clay and popsicle sticks, some of hideously mutated creatures so Bosch-ian that I thought of the Bruce Bickford animation in Baby Snakes.  Much of it had me thinking of the beloved (by me) Rock Opera by Rod Kierkegaard Jr from Heavy Metal in the later 80s.  So much to see, so much weird as hell and so much creepy as shit.  There's even some "regular" comic drawing and a "painted" image or two.  The story gets right into the nature of belief and reality (Delusionville and hell) and God and Satan, and I enjoyed some of the banter, though I admit I didn't follow it all the way it was going, and there were parts in quotes I didn't know, so I missed out on some of it.  But I got much of it, and I caught a joke or two in there, and the whole story was bunches of Heavy Metal magazine fun, so thanks for that.

Gallery with Adrian Cox - 7 - With more great interview work by Rantz Hoseley, and Jeff Krelitz is credited as being in the interview, at a gallery opening of Mr Cox's work at the Corey Helford Gallery in LA, but I guess he didn't make the edit (though he got in a couple photos).  The work shows fantastical images of humanoids made of flowers, or iridescent energy, or ... something, and apparently it tells a story.  The text was informative, and I was able to get a feeling of the story from the descriptions and images here.  Cool.

"Cultscape" by Hector Lima, Patricio Delpeche, Martin Túníca - 6 - A couple makes their escape from a White Light cult based on a space station.  It makes the most of the facets of insight and brilliance that shine through a rather opaque story and its serviceable art, as it tries to convey the mind control pressure inherent in a cult environment.

"Murky World" Part 5 by Richard Corben - 7.5 - A small chapter in the story, Tugat and Moja are to die in the arena, but the ferocious killer beast won't cooperate.  Simply lovely to see, enticing and mind-boggling, and I'm having too much fun to be bored by the story's meandering.  What can possibly happen next?