Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Age of Darkness by Caza

'The Age of Darkness' by Caza

Caza is the pseudonym used by the French artist Philippe Cazaumayou (b. 1941).

Caza was a regular contributor to the magazine Metal Hurlant, which began publishing in France in December 1974.

In the mid-70s Leonard Mogel, the owner and publisher of The National Lampoon magazine in the US, was visiting France and saw a copy of Metal Hurlant. Impressed, he obtained the licensing rights to produce an American version of the magazine. Heavy Metal debuted in April, 1977. 

It frequently incorporated translated versions of Metal Hurlant stories, and during the late 70s and early 80s, those of Caza were present in almost every monthly issue of Heavy Metal.

HM's use of higher-resolution printing plates, and ‘slick’ paper stock, well served the crisp colors and highly detailed line work of Caza’s black-and-white, and color, stories.

Accomplished as a draftsman, Caza also displayed considerable skill as a writer, particularly within the confines of the 4 - 10 page story, the lengths he used for most of his contributions. While most of his Metal stories relied on offbeat, quirky humor, when he chose to explore the horror and action genres, his work continued to be of consistent quality.

The Heavy Metal editorial staff made much of the contributions of Moebius (the late Jean Giraud) but in my opinion, Caza’s work was equal to, if not oftentimes superior to, the graphic work of Moebius.

Sadly, a number of Caza’s most impressive Metal Hurlant stories never made it into the pages of Heavy Metal, and an English-language compilation of Caza’s Metal Hurlant / Heavy Metal work has yet to appear. The best effort to date remains 1987's trade paperback Escape from Suburbia, which compiled 12 comics, most of which appeared in Heavy Metal.

As well, ebooks of some of Caza's work are available at his online store.

Caza fans do have at their disposal ‘The Age of Darkness’, published in 1998, in English, in full-color. 
'The Age of Darkness' doesn’t provide much information on the origin of the comics presented in this volume, but judging by the artist’s signatures, they were produced during the interval from 1980 to 1997. Some (all ? ) of them appeared in Heavy Metal magazine in the 70s and 80s.

The 14 stories in ‘Age’ are all loosely related, and can be read as standalone entries. Most revolve around the sometimes violent interactions between the mutants or free-spirits who roam the wastelands, and a race of humanoids called ‘Oms’, who resemble the ‘Weebles’ children’s toys from the 1970s (‘Weebles Wobble, But They Don’t Fall Down’).

The Oms represent a regimented, sterile, mechanized society that retreats from the  dangerous, but also more vibrant, natural world outside their gates. They are depicted with some degree of pathos.

Caza’s artwork is stunning in its detail and use of color, and is ably reproduced in this book. Although each entry rarely is longer than 5 - 6 pages, the plots are well-composed and display quirky humor, horror, and pathos.

Readers who appreciate quality graphic art, and a European sensibility to the sf genre, will want to get a copy of ‘The Age of Darkness’. 

[ I was able to purchase 'The Age of Darkness' from the Heavy Metal online store, where it was available for $12.95, in Fall 2012. As of October 2013, there still are copies in stock at the Heavy Metal online store. There are copies available at amazon, but for exorbitant prices.]

Here is 'Nighttime' (1980) from 'The Age of Darkness'. A neat, nasty little horror tale.....

1 comment:

Gary Bodman said...

Thanks, Caza is still available at the Heavy Metal site!