Tuesday, August 30, 2011

'5:00' by Mark Fisher
from the August 1981 issue of Heavy Metal

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Book Review: 'The Shores of Tomorrow' by David Mason

2 / 5 Stars

‘The Shores of Tomorrow’ (240 pp.) was published by Lancer Books in 1971; the striking cover illustration is by Jim Steranko. 

David Mason (1924 – 1974) wrote a number of SF novels in the late 60s – early 70s, before dying at the comparatively young age of 50.

On a parallel Earth where the Civil War took place a century after it did in ‘our’ Earth, veteran Ian Kinnon is enjoying rural life with a wife and young son. As a result of the war, the America he resides in is at a 19th century level of technology. When Kinnon rides out on his horse for a early-morning deer hunt, he is thus astonished to see a dirigible-shaped spacecraft materialize on a slope overlooking his village.

To Kinnon’s horror, the spacecraft discharges a party of raiders, who descend on the village to enslave its citizens, killing any who resist. Kinnon takes command of the village militia and succeeds in defeating the invaders. 

Seizing their ship, he is further astounded to discover that it moves not through space, but through dimensions filled with parallel worlds – thousands of Americas where the course of history is slightly different.

Kinnon embarks on a mission of vengeance: find the parallel Earth housing the home base of the loathsome 'Char Qua' raiders, and destroy it. But destroying the Char Qua will require the cooperation of the lords of the multiverse, the aristocratic Shimri, and the Shimri have their own reasons for not wanting a homespun man from a primitive society warring through the dimensions on his own crusade………. 

‘Shores’ starts off well, generating a fast—moving narrative that credibly leverages the parallel worlds theme regularly employed in sci-fi. Unfortunately, by the mid-point of the novel author Mason devotes considerable text to the psychological intrigues between Kinnon and an alluring Shimri priestess named Nesha. The reader is treated to page after page of wooden dialogue marked by the heavy use of ellipses:

“Then…it’s true”, she said, in the same small, terrified voice. “You…do have the Powers.”

“Yes. I was…. very angry.”

“I….try not to grow too angry”, Nesha said.

The novel picks up momentum in its last 25 pages, but getting there requires some patience that I suspect many readers will not be willing to provide.  

‘Shores’ is perhaps best viewed as a less adroit imitation of the many sci-fi adventure tales Michael Moorcock regularly produced during the early 70s.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

'1996' by Chantal Montelier
from Heavy Metal magazine, Summer 1977 issues

Three warped episodes of '1996'...

......and an entertaining Letter to the Editor........

Monday, August 22, 2011

'The Transmutation of Ike Garuda', Epic Comics, 1991

Epic Comics, an offshoot of marvel's 'Epic Illustrated' magazine, published a number of SF and fantasy-related series through the 80s and early 90s. Some of these comics were pretty good, while others were failed experiments. 'Ike Garuda' falls into the latter category.

Writer Elaine Lee takes the traditional private eye tale and places it in the far future, when interstellar travel is mediated via teleporation; the traveler submerges himself or herself in the hi-tech equivalent of a mud bath and wakes up light-years away in another mud bath somewhere else. 

Teleportation technology is owned and operated by the Tranzit Authority, a monopoly that gives the Authority tremendous political and economic power.

The plot starts off mildly coherent, and quickly becomes totally incoherent by the end of the first of the two issues. 

As best as I could make out, Ike is hired to track down a missing magnate, who may or may not be working on a forbidden technology that could permit independent teleportation, free of Authority control. It's not a bad plot device on which to craft a two-issue comic series, but author Lee tries to do too much with the available page length, and her narrative quickly collapses under its own weight.

James Sherman's artwork (below) features a clean, but cartoony, style that calls to mind many of the European strips that appeared in the mid-80s issues of Heavy Metal. There is of course plenty of nudity to get the attention of the Heavy Metal readership.

I can't recommend searching out and purchasing the original issues of 'Ike Garuda',  but grabbing the series from a file share source might be worth a try if you're into this type of SF comic.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

'Heavy Metal' magazine August 1981

The August 1981 issue of 'Heavy Metal' not unsurprisingly devotes 16 pages to promoting the upcoming animated film, hoping to energize attendance by revealing titillating graphics of  female characters ('The Legend of Taarna') in leather bikinis.

There is some good stuff in this issue: the final installment of an interview with Richard Corben; 'Paradise Lost' by Mora and Gimenez; 'Pigs on the Wing' by Yeates and Feduniewicz; and another great strip from Caza titled 'Homo Detritus'.

Some articles devoted to music, comics, books, and film remain from the Ted White era, albeit in much truncated fashion in a two-page 'Dossier' section, scanned below. 

Even with a more limited Word Count at his disposal, music critic Lou Stathis continues to be as pretentious as always, this time lavishing praise on John Cale, who along with Tom Waits (and probably John Prine), were every 70s rock critic's One True Loves. 

Ralph T. Castle uses his small piece to slam the 1981 Hugo nominees, with some merit to his remarks (although I still think 'Lord Valentine's Castle' is much superior to any and all of Silverberg's novels of the 70s).

This issue of HM also contains another installment of Sternako's outstanding illustrations for the 'Outland' graphic novel, posted below in 300 dpi res:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Book Review: The Day Star

Book Review: 'The Day Star' by Mark Geston

 2 / 5 Stars

‘The Day Star’ is DAW Book No. 6 and was released in 1972; the cover art, and several fine pen-and-ink illustrations in the book’s interior, were done by George Barr.

The plot is more fantasy / fable than SF. In the Earth of the far future, a young man named Thel wanders the streets of a city named ‘R’, a city gripped by entropy. His companions in this joyless town are the ghost of an ancestor, named Pagent; and a wizard named Marne. 

The world is in prolonged decline due to a calamity that befell the most remarkable city in history: Ferrin. 

Ferrin’s citizenry had succeeded in creating an artificial star, the Day Star of the book’s title, a star capable of slowing time and prolonging human life. When the star unexpectedly decayed, entropy was freed to invade the Earth and render life miserable for all the peoples in the territories and cities outside Ferrin.

When Thel and Pagent recover a fragment of the Day Star, they decide to embark on a journey to Ferrin, in the hopes of aiding in the effort to re-construct the Star and restore the world to its former glory. En route they encounter various dangers and perils, for Chaos seeks to impede the advent of a second Day Star. 

Despite being only 126 pages in length, ‘Day Star’ is a ponderous read. Author Geston was intent on emulating the highly stylized, poetically-tinged diction of Ray Bradbury, and as a result negotiating paragraphs, much less entire pages, is an exercise in patience. There is much use of metaphors and similes: the Sun Retreats, Winds Shriek, Rockets Dangle Obscenely (from the Bellies of Aircraft), the Wind Leaves Solitary Grains of Memory Behind in its Passing, etc. 

Only readers intent on sitting down with a very slow-paced, introspective, almost self-indulgent piece of fiction will find 'The Day Star' rewarding. Others are best passing on this ‘old school’ Daw Books entry.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Arthur Suydam's Mudwogs

Arthur Suydam's 'Mudwogs'  
from 'Echo of Futurepast' issue 5

Issue 5 of 'Echo of Futurepast' arrived in April 1985 and it contained the last installment of the 'Mudwogs' saga, a brilliant tale titled 'Fat and Skinny'.

Featuring demented humor, and artwork modeled on the best of the 19th and early 20th century children's illustrators, 'Fat and Skinny' was a memorable finish to the series.

(detail of page 3)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

'Shatter' issue 2

Issue 2 of ‘Shatter’ appeared in February 1986.

At the end of issue one, we saw hero Jack Scratch (aka Shatter) and his companions, ‘The Artist's Underground’, at the mercy of a corporate heavy. 

The tables are turned, causing an unpleasant episode of face-exploding (!):

While the Mac-based artistry of this issue seems crude to today's eyes, there are some panels  that demonstrate the potential of PC-based comic and graphic art:

Later on in the issue, Cyan, the leader of the local cell of the Artist's Underground, has a violent confrontation with her ex-husband...........

....while Jack Scratch decides to seek shelter with the 'Alien Nation', a collective headed by an eccentric homeboy named 'E.T.' Unrath:

Will Cyan survive ? Will Jack Scratch be protected by the Alien Nation or find himself an outcast again ? 

We'll find out in issue No. 3......