Heavy Metal is CanceledThe Dark Herald
Way back in the Before Internet Times, meaning the Seventies and Eighties because who cares about the seriously Before Internet Times that proceeded that, if you were a comic book fan and you were curious about European comics your options were:
- Pretend there was no such thing as European comics
- Try to get a semester overseas thing.
- Join the military and hope you didn’t get posted in New Mexico
- Buy a copy of Heavy Metal.
There is an internet rumor that Heavy Metal magazine was based on the French magazine Metal Hurlant and they mistranslated the name. That is actually possible Hurlant translates to howling or screaming. I had a friend in college who was convinced that Metal Hurlant meant “Throwing Metal” and I absolutely could not convince him that that would have been Metal
Truthfully, the name is a little hard to pin down no matter what Wikipedia says. The “Heavy” part probably comes from the drug-addled late sixties-early seventies alt-definition of the word.
Hippie One (in a dreamy state): Hey man, dig it. My fingers can touch anything but themselves. Oh wait, they ca-a-a-a-a-n.
Hippie Two (equally out there): That’s heav-vy man.
God, I hated the hippies. Anyway, that is undoubtedly where the first word came from and the Metal part was already there from the French magazine.
In case you were wondering the music was already a thing.
Regardless, Heavy Metal and The Savage Sword of Conan were the two of the three magazines that I was specifically forbidden to get anywhere near. The third was Mad magazine for some reason and of the three Mad was biggest disappointment when I finally got my hands on it.
There is no getting around it, Heavy Metal did have a seventies drug culture vibe attached to it. Basically, because both the artists and the readers were both seriously into it. That said, you could find kinds of stories there that you absolutely couldn’t in American comic books.
There was plenty of horror and science fiction that was geared towards adults because European comics weren’t sandbagged by Fredrick Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent. There was no Euro version of the Comic Book Code strong-arming the industry into being only acceptable for eleven-year-olds and below.
Heavy Metal was pretty heavy on flesh and blood. That said, it didn’t really wallow in it… For the most part.
The best-known story from its first incarnation was Den. A fairly obvious fanfic comic book of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter books. Den was transported by bullshit means to the world of Neverwhere and is transformed into a nude bodybuilder who is BIG.
Basically, an unbridled masculine fantasy with fairly decent artwork.
It reached its pop culture high water mark with Ivan Reitman’s 1982 animated feature of the same name. Heavy Metal was kind of a gold dust video title because the producers screwed up the rights to the soundtrack and thus couldn’t put the movie on videotape until the 1990s.
The problem with Heavy Metal was that it was a little too Boomer-centric and couldn’t really attract Generation X’s attention. Some of us liked it but the Indy comic book scene in the 80s kind of blew it out of the water. It dropped down to a quarterly. Then in 1992 Kevin Eastman of Ninja Turtles fame bought it up and kept it on life support until 2014 when it was sold to music producer David Boxenbaum.
In 2019 David Erwin of DC Comics was brought on board and its terminal descent began. The contagion of American comics was allowed to infect a new company called Heavy Metal Entertainment. Domestic artists and writers from the US comic book industry were brought on board and proceeded to do to Heavy Metal what they had done to Marvel, DC, IDW, and Dark Horse.
The best-known example was the new and improved Tarna.
Tarna was one of the magazine’s best-known masthead characters.
Tarna was usually depicted wearing a fighting bikini.
But when the Woke regime took over she started wearing an armored modesty burka.
Following the modern comics playbook, the magazine attacked its fans for objecting on social media.
The sales cratered. In the past year, there have been frequent complaints by freelancers of not getting paid on time or at all, and people who paid pre-orders never getting their books. Massive took over publication with a reboot prophetically called, Heavy Metal Volume 1: The Death of Heavy Metal.
Massive was publishing the last of Heavy Metal Entertainment’s commitments before their own work began but they clearly decided this mess was such a complete mess that the only thing they can do is just walk away from it all.
Which they have done. Heavy Metal Entertainment has not been available for comment and has made no statements. Meaning it’s done for good.