Posts Tagged ‘Heavy Metal Magazine’

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Heavy Metal 2000

March 1, 2014

On a dreary afternoon, I was surfing the web, watching my favorite Youtube channels- Geek and Sundry’s TableTop hosted by Wil Wheaton, Co-Optitude with Felicia and Ryon Day, Awe Me’s Man-At-Arms, and many others. Somehow I stumbled upon someone’s posting of “Heavy Metal 2000.” I decided to give it a viewing. I was a little disappointed that it was a linear story, as the first “Heavy Metal” movie was an anthology of animation that had strange, crazy stories set in a science and fantasy world. There were multiple stories with different characters and designs, with a mix of music that made it like the progenitor of many music videos to come.

What I liked about “Heavy Metal” was that it told a story that was loosely connected by a tiny thread that linked each story. In a way, it was much like the magazine- a series of mature themed stories of fantasy and science fiction created by a cadre of genre artists and writers. Many mainstream comic book publishers would not print these stories as they would not fit within their company’s paradigm.

I did enjoy the story, as it reminded me of the often epic stories that graced those pages. The animation was crisp and solid, featuring character designs by Simon Bisley and Kevin Eastman of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fame. The main character of Julie is modeled after model and actress Julie Strain, who was once married to Eastman. She also provides the voice of the character.  Strain is known for being a Penthouse Pet and a B-Movie actress, starring in many productions.

Also lending their voices are veteran actor Michael Ironside and rocker Billy Idol. Both provide interesting characterization to their animated counterparts. While Ironside give a good performance as the villain Tyler, it is the unusual casting of Idol as the mysterious Odin that makes for watching. I didn’t recognize Idol’s speaking voice and found it to fit the look and feel of the character of Odin.

The plot of the story was much like a pulp novel from the 1950’s. The animation lends itself to a more European style, and less ‘Anime’ style. It was rather slick with a mix of traditional looking animation and some computer generated effects. It was quite stylized.

In this story, a mining expedition uncovers what appeared to be an unusual crystal. The lead miner Tyler takes hold of this crystal and is immediately driven insane. He kills his colleagues and crewmates, taking over the ship to pursue the crystal’s home.

The crystal is the key to a lost temple that houses a fountain of youth. It was cast and hidden away never to be found again, as its creators had intended to hide the temple from others who would abuse the power of immortality.

Tyler’s madness leads him to the planet Eden, where he attacks and kills most of the inhabitants. Here pilots Julie and Kerrie along with their father protect their colony from outside hostiles. Their colony- much like a weight station for other space farers- serve as a rest stop to other colonies. Julie manages to escape the sudden attack, while her sister Kerrie is captured, along with other colonists who are used to supply the water of the fountain of youth. The water has trace amounts of this water to which the in habitants have within their system- and in Tyler’s madness is using the fluid from their bodies to heal himself, like an addict. Tyler and his crew leave to continue to search for the source.

Julie manages to survive and seeks him out at another port, where she attempts to kill him in revenge at a strip club. Tyler destroys the club, and is injured in the process, where he ingests his immortality serum to heal.  Julie teams up with Germain, one of the pilots of the mining ship that Tyler commandeered, to pursue Tyler.

They manage to follow him to the ship before entering into hyperspace. They attached their ship to Tyler’s. They are soon discovered and the resulting attack forces them to crash land on the planet of Oroborus, the home of the temple. Far from the temple’s location, Tyler sets up a base with the remains of his ship and sets off for the temple. He finds a race of humanoid lizards, whom he takes over by killing their leader in a gladiatorial fight for power. He uses this as an army to take on the temple and the guardians.

Julie manages to survive the crash and once again pursues Tyler. She meets the mysterious Odin and the rock creature Zeek along the way, who take her to find Tyler. She tries to assassinate him through seduction. Zeek intervenes saving her. They manage to find Kerrie and eliminate the mad doctor who was responsible for extracting the immortality fluid from Eden’s citizens. Julie, Kerrie, Odin and Zeek return to the citadel where the temple is hidden in.

Tyler rallies his army and prepares to take on the stronghold, while Julie takes the warrior rites of Odin’s people, preparing her for her final confrontation with Tyler. What ensues is a battle for control of an ancient power that could lead to a terrible era ruled by insane immortals.

“Heavy Metal 2000” is not quite the epic level of animation as I hoped it would have been. It is still a solid piece of entertainment that is engaging, sexy, with the right amount of science fiction and interesting characters. It is a fine fantasy story of revenge that seems to have some clichés in it, but there are some surprises that make it interesting.

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Loss of Inspiration

March 16, 2012

Recently, two giants in the comic book art and movie design world have passed away. Ralph McQuarrie, who brought the visual look to “Star Wars” and its universe to life passed away on March 3. Shortly after that, Jean Giraud, or Moebius to many of devoted fans, also passed from a long term illness.

I am sad at both of their passing. Both were inspiring artists at one point or another influenced my foray into art. The lasting impression they leave behind is enormous.

When I watch the original triolgy of “Star Wars” episodes, I could not help but think of Mr. McQuarrie’s work. The shape and feel of all backdrops, the look of the characters, the settings of the worlds, all have roots with what he came up with. All three movies highlighted his work with its futuristic industrial design of most everything. His work was not limited there, as he was the chosen artist to help conceptualize other famous movies, such as “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “ET, the Extraterrestrial,” and “Jurrasic Park.”  What stood out in my mind were his conceptual illustrations of Darth Vader and an early version of Luke Skywalker, and the X-Wing fighters. ‘Awesome’ was the term I described these illustrations with when I had first encountered them. I still describe them the same way.

I had no idea that he helped create the look and feel of the television series “Battlestar Galactica.” I had always thought “Star Wars” and “Battlestar Galactica” had a certain aesthetic that was the same, I just couldn’t put my finger on it. Now a million years later, I know why.

I have read many of Moebius’ work through “Heavy Metal” magazine and the many other publications. I was introduced to his work by my comic book loving buddy Jeff, who was a huge fan of his work.  I was able to read his copies of “The Airtight Garage,” “Arzach,” and “Blueberry.” I had once owned a copy of the “The Silver Surfer” collaboration with Stan Lee.

The most enduring impression that Moebius’ work left on me was how graceful it was. The art defined the story just as words would describe the scene. “Blueberry” was rough and coarse as you would expect from a western. “Arzach” was fantasy with graceful lines and a hint of detail here and there to remind you that it was not flat space that you are looking at.  The combination of his illustrative narrative along with collaborative efforts of many famous authors like Stan Lee and Alejandro Jodorowsky made his work a powerhouse in the fantasy art and comic book art scene.

When you lose a source of inspiration, it is gut-wrenching for a time. They won’t be able to create more of the fantastic works that keeps you inspired and enjoy as a fan of art. They haven’t really left us, as their work has become their legacy and continue to inspire artists for generations to come. There is an incredible amount of their work available to be seen and discovered. To celebrate their lives, go and find them, and find what inspired you as an artist or fan.