The Negative Zone: Hey! Heavy Metal Still Rules

There's often a tendency amongst discerning-type fans to draw these reasonable though ultimately, fairly arbitrary lines between what's "cool" and what isn't. Now, that's hardly a shocker of a statement--it's the very definition of "discerning", no?--but it's more often than not, rooted in things like image and reputation than hard, critical thinking.

That's to say, something's usually scoffed-at because it "looks" uncool or has been declared uncool rather than first-hand reading or experience. One such example, and a particularly grating one as far as I'm concerned, is the mention of present day Heavy Metal followed by "Uh, you know, the ones with like Moebius were great, not the ones with Barbarians and Julie Strain...". Moebius is cool, Vikings and boobs are not, since when? Both are cool and there's plenty of good, interesting stuff to be gained from picking-up Heavy Metal at least every once in a while.

This has been an ongoing, quiet thesis by this blog and David hinted at it when he discussed the latest piece of Jodorowsky and Manara's Borgia series. There's barely any discussion by anyone really anywhere about the latest issue of Heavy Metal and it's rarely stocked in actual comics stores, which just seems unfortunate.

Especially unfortunate this month, because there's a particularly excellent issue out and it's one that I think even the people making Julie Strain jokes can get behind. Namely, you get Part Two (of Three) of Nathan Fox and Matt Wilson's Fluorescent Black and a ten-page installment of Jim Mahfood's masterpiece Carl the Cat That Makes Peanut Butter Sandwiches.

Mahfood's work gets enough discussion that I'm surprised this hasn't been talked about more, especially because it's a particularly brilliant installment of the strip but Fox (who is currently drawing the also slept-on Dark Reign: Zodiac) is making the kind of series that'll eventually become a graphic novel in a year or two and everybody'll review all excited-like. This is just a slightly less obnoxious version of the people that hold-off on whatever series for six to nine months until the trade comes out. The rest of the issue's fleshed-out with some winners and some losers and some kinda cool and kinda stupid pin-ups and stuff--just like the old Heavy Metal mind you.

A renewed interest, or at least something resembling acceptance of Heavy Metal, would be, in a sense, the last "wall" for comics readers to breakdown between "smart" and "dumb" comics. Nearly everyone is reading superhero comics along with their Chris Ware and Tomine stuff, and there's a recent wave of writers/artists totally breaking down "indie" and "mainstream" (like Fox or Mahfood, but Ba & Moon, Brandon Graham, Vasilis Lolos, Brian Wood, and many many more) and so, the disinterest in Heavy Metal seems more due to the perpetuation that it sucks, that there's nothing worth reading inside, than actual evidence or experience.

Heavy Metal is still, essentially the weirdest and coolest--though notably less weird and cool than it once was--anthology comic going on today. Cheaper and more frequently published and more easily accessible than say, MOME or Kramer's Ergot or whatever, Heavy Metal continues to drop smart pulp every month.

1 comment:

samuel rules said...

I think (at least for comics readers like us) the problem with Heavy Metal's decline was, you know, the 90s. But the bullshit part is that we all abandoned it when we started reading shit again, like I picked up one issue and said "FUCK IT" when I saw fairies that someone made on their Apple II sleeping in a flower.

This issue made me want to invest in a fucking subscription