Heavy Metal has long been the ultimate anthology magazine for hardcore comics lovers. Merging the work of up-and-coming artists with established players; blending out-there, avant-garde styles with the purest throwback illustrations from comics’ golden years, it’s always kept the door wide open for everyone who loves their pages wild, unexpected, and censorship-free.
But if that sounds like the formula for a magazine stuffed with high-concept creatives dead set on a super-serious mission, nah — not really. True to its long-held status as the place where anything can (and often does) happen, Heavy Metal CEO Matt Medney and a trio of regular HM contributors came off chill, breezy, and like a team of comic book-loving pals as they previewed some of the magazine’s upcoming highlights — which of course sound out of this world — during an online panel talk for this year’s San Diego Comic-Con.
Blowout specials like panelist (and DC comics veteran) Steve Orlando’s upcoming involvement in the magazine’s drag-themed, glam-horror Halloween takeover (launching Oct. 27 with Issue #311) might sound out of place in the mainstream comics world. But they reward Heavy Metal contributors with exactly the kind of creative freedom that they crave — which is probably why so many high-profile artists love staking out a sliver of space there to get a little crazy.
“It's the perfect team-up with Heavy Metal,” Orlando said of the Halloween issue, highlighted by an all-out sensory assault from drag icons the Boulet Brothers — hosts of The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula reality TV series. “It’s gonna be two icons of horror, working with Heavy Metal, that’s gonna be out of this world.”
Medney said the magazine (which passed the 300-issue mark last year) hasn't swerved a bit from its perennial position as a refuge for the kind of wild ideas, imagery, and themes that don’t find welcoming homes at larger corporate houses. But in this post-pandemic year, the new goal is to extend Heavy Metal’s walloping reach beyond just the printed page.
“It’s just an exciting time for publishing, adaptations, and figuring out how to build Heavy Metal from a magazine content company to a multimedia playground,” he said, drawing big agreement from moderator Lea Palmieri — herself a co-host of Heavy Metal Magazine: The Podcast, which launched as part of the property's new podcast push earlier this year.
In addition to ongoing work that shows up in the magazine, polymath actor/writer/artist Dan Fogler (Moon Lake, Brooklyn Gladiator) each teased upcoming projects that took the group a little by pleasant surprise. “I’m developing an animated show for Moon Lake, which is exciting, and we’re in the middle of putting a film together for Brooklyn Gladiator,” teased the Fantastic Beasts and The Walking Dead actor, who’s also set to portray director Francis Ford Coppola in the upcoming series The Offer.
Orlando, whose newly-launched Starward young adult series is making sci-fi waves each month in the magazine, dropped a small hint of what he’s cooking up for Transformers: King Grimlock (slated for an Aug. 4 debut), IDW’s forthcoming limited series that revives the fearsome T-rex Dinobot. Picture “a giant energy broadsword cutting through monsters,” he joked, and you’ll be in the ballpark.
Heavy Metal regular George C. Romero also offered light updates on The Rise and Cold Dead War, the latter a standalone WWII-themed book that’s resonated with comics-loving U.S. veterans. But it was a seemingly tongue-in-cheek cookbook crossover tease — apparently one borne from the shared Heavy Metal DNA oozing from the pages of Fogler’s recent Moon Lake magazine revival — that really lit the panel’s pilot light.
Fogler teased that Romero’s turning into a death robot who just wants to stay in the kitchen in the (apparently) brewing spinoff they’ve got in mind. “The ‘C’ [Romero’s middle initial] stands for ‘cyborg,’” he joked. “We’re gonna have fun with his recipes in the book.” That sounded (or maybe tasted) harmlessly funny enough, until Romero piped up later to add that the cookbook — a comic-book take on the idea of Romero as a robo-restaurant proprietor — is “being worked on currently — the recipes have been chosen!”
Catch up with the newest fever dreams from the minds of Heavy Metal’s contributing comics visionaries each month in print, and check out the mag’s growing podcast lineup as we wait for Romero’s robot — maybe — to upload his cyborg-cold ingredient list.
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