Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Heavy Metal inaugural issue April 1977

'Heavy Metal' magazine
April 1977

Issue One

April, 1977, and on the radio, Glen Campbell's Southern Nights is playing.

Leonard Mogel, the owner of the very successful American humor magazine National Lampoon, launches a new magazine called Heavy Metal, inspired by the issues of Metal Hurlant he saw while on a previous visit to France.

There is limited information on Leonard Mogel available online; his birthdate is listed as October 23, 1922, and he evidently is alive and well as of 2017. He is listed as the author of a large number of books on magazine and book publishing at amazon.com. I found a black-and-white photograph of Mogel taken in 1968, when he was the publisher of Weight Watchers (!) magazine:

Leonard Mogel, 1968

Heavy Metal features a striking cover illustration byJean-Michel Nicollet and a back cover by Philippe Druillet. It's printed on 'slick' paper and features comics and illustrations in color, with quality separations and high resolution - things never before seen in the world of American comic books.

And, of course, the inaugural issue has plenty of tits, and ass, and frank nudity - 'European' stuff, rarely seen in American comic books, including the black-and-white Warren magazines. Stoners are intrigued.

I was only 16 when the inaugural issue of Heavy Metal hit the stands. I remember seeing it, but buying a copy was out of the question; I preferred to save my thin dollars for DAW books and other sci-fi paperbacks. It wasn't until November, 1978, when I had my first job and some reasonably plentiful spending money, that I bought my first Heavy Metal.

(Sadly, used copies of issue one in good condition fetch exorbitant prices. Maybe the current publishers of the magazine will re-release the inaugural issue as a special publication....otherwise, getting hold of a copy is best done by searching for the .cbr file on the internet)

Needless to say, the content of those early issues holds up very well 40 years later. The inaugural issue had some really great stuff: an installment of 'Conquering Armies' by Dionnet and Gal; a dialogue-free but memorable 'Arzach' tale from Moebius; 'Selenia' by Macedo; and the offbeat 'Space Punks', by the illustrator of the well-known (in Europe, at least) illustrator of 'Valerian', Jean-Claude Mezieres. 

'Space Punks' is posted below.

1 comment:

fred said...

Ah yes, I was merely 18 when this came out. I saw it in school and was impressed enough to start buying HM from the second issue, though I gave them away in my early adulthood. Good thing I started re-collecting them over 10 years ago, when prices weren't quite so ridiculous and I had the money to spend.

Interestingly, HM had four variant covers for May 2012, the 35th anniversary, a reprise of the original first issue cover, and three more recent interpretations, by Lorenzo Sperlonga, Tariq Raheem, and Stanley "Artgerm" Lau. It's hard to believe that was five years ago already, let alone the mag is approaching 40 years of existence. It hasn't always been great, but a lot of it is.