Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Heavy Metal April 1984

'Heavy Metal' magazine April 1984

April, 1984, and in rotation on MTV is 'Adult Education' by Hall and Oates. This song apparently is jumping back into the public eye due to its being included in the soundtrack to the monster-selling video game Grand Theft Auto V.

The new issue of Heavy Metal magazine is on the stands, with a cheesy cover illustration by Boris Vallejo, and a back cover illustration by Michael Kanarek.

The contents feature new installments of 'Ranxerox', 'Tex Arcana', 'The Third Incal: Planet of ZGold', 'Salammbo II', and 'Valentina'. It also features the second installment of Charles Burns' 'El Borbah' character, in a new series titled 'Living in the Ice Age'.

The series kicked off with the March, 1984 issue of HM; to keep things in synchrony, I am posting the first and second episodes of 'Living in the Ice Age.'

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Book Review: The Broken Worlds

Book Review: 'The Broken Worlds' by Raymond Harris

1 / 5 Stars

‘The Broken Worlds’ (248 pp.) was published in August 1986 by Ace Books; the cover artwork is by Ron Miller.

‘Worlds’ was Raymond Harris’s first novel; he published two other sf novels with Ace, ‘Shadows of the White Sun’ (1988) and ‘The Schizogenic Man’ (1990).

The novel is set in the far future, where the Federation has long since dissolved, and the colony worlds go about their business with few thoughts about the other worlds in the galaxy.

Attanio Hwin is a young, affectless musician who performs in the sleazy bars cramming the pleasure district of Parmenio, the Red Light Planet for the known galaxy. After a performance one night, he finds himself befriended by a beautiful off-world woman named Sringle, who travels in the company of Martian mercenaries. 

Beguiled by Sringle, Attanio agrees to help her and comrades – including a Martian aristocrat named Lord Teoru – steal a life-extending drug from Parmenio’s crime boss. The heist goes off, and Attanio is soon aboard Lord Teoru's spaceship Samuindorogo, where he discovers that the crew he has joined is no simple band of adventurers.

It seems that the Xilians, a humanoid, alien race, have embarked on a campaign of conquest of the known worlds, and Mars has been reduced to a wasteland by their assault. Lord Teoru and his followers are on a mission: recruit the most powerful of the colony worlds, and create a unified fleet, one with the firepower to confront the Xil invasion and stop it – before yet more worlds fall to their assault.

But as Attanio discovers, the colony worlds have little use for aiding a deposed Martian aristocrat……and when Teoru decides to use guile and deceit to gain allies, it’s strategy that brings great risk…….

‘The Broken Worlds’ starts off well enough, as the sort of mildly entertaining 80s space opera that was inspired to some extent by the success of Star Wars. You can’t go wrong with sleazy red light districts, greedy aliens, and laser battles in reeking alleyways.

Unfortunately, at the half-way point, ‘Broken’ turns from being a space opera into a sort of Galactic Travelogue for Gays, as Attanio visits the desert world of Ynenga in the company of Yuzen, a sensitive young Martian warrior. This leads to (wink-wink) a close and growing Friendship (wink-wink) between the two, a relationship aided by intensive study of yoga (wink-wink) within the close quarters of a desert cave – while a massive sandstorm rages outside…... yep, things get that cheesy.

After the desert world of Ynenga cements that Special Frienship between our two heroes, well, it’s off to the water world of Viharn, with its southeast Asian – inspired interior décor, tiki huts, colorful fashions with simply amazing fabrics, delectable foods, heavenly sweet music, and languorous atmosphere…….it’s one big beach party on Viharn !

Needless to say, once the Gay Travelogue material took over, finishing this book was a chore. 

I won’t disclose any spoilers, but I will say that eventually, the narrative slowly re-orients itself to the main plot point and the alarming confrontation with the Xil horde. However, the book’s denouement has a pat, perfunctory quality, as if the author was just looking to wrap things up as economically as possible.

As an example of 80s space opera, 'The Broken Worlds' can be passed by without penalty.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Man with No Name (zombie)

The Man with No Name (zombie)
by Arthur Suydam
alternate cover for The Man with No Name: Sinners and Saints, issue 1, Dynamite Entertainment, July 2008

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Walls of Samaris Part Two

'The Walls of Samaris' by Benoit Peeters and Francois Schuiten
Part Two
originally serialized in Heavy Metal magazine, December 1984 - March 1985


Monday, April 7, 2014

The Walls of Samaris Part One

'The Walls of Samaris' by Benoit Peeters and Francois Schuiten
Part One

In 1983, the Belgian artist Francoise Schuiten, who was a well-known contributor to the magazines Metal Hurlant (France) and Heavy Metal (US), joined with writer Benoit Peeters to produce a series of graphic novels under the title of Les Cites Obscures (The Obscure Cities). 

Eventually, 11 installments (not counting another 14 or so spin-off novels) would be produced by 2008, and many of these translated into multiple languages, including English.

'The Walls of Samaris' (1983) was the inaugural volume, and serialized in English in Heavy Metal from December, 1984 to March, 1985. Unfortunately, Heavy Metal only printed the first 33 pages of the 48-page comic.

I'm going to post those 33 pages of 'Walls' in two installments here at the PorPor Books Blog.

'Walls' was created as a response to (or protest of) the destruction of many of the historic older buildings in Brussels during the 70s and 80s, buildings replaced by the spectacularly ugly, dehumanizing Modernist structures molded on the architectural principles of the French architect Charles-Édouard Jeanneret - Gris (best known by his pseudonym 'Le Corbusier').

 Modernist-architecture apartment blocks common to the banlieues, or planned suburbs, of the larger metropolitan areas of France

The 'Cities' stories are set in an alternate Earth where political entities revolve around cities, rather than states or nations, and technologies have taken different paths from those in 'our' world.

While the idea of a comic series devoted to fantastical architecture (particularly Art Nouveau) might not seem intrinsically exciting, The Obscure Cities novels stand as example of a proto-Steampunk styling, as well as alternate-world sf. These comics feature impressive draftsmanship by Schuiten (who reportedly would spend an entire week to draw a single page).

Unfortunately, the English-language versions of The Obscure Cities titles - either those currently out of print, or those currently being produced - are very expensive, with used copies for some volumes starting at $35, and new copies priced at over $100, placing them out of reach of most readers. 

Here's the first of the two parts of 'The Walls of Samaris'............