The Adult Illustrated Fantasy Magazine Fan Page
This is my explanation of Heavy Metal Magazine and what I believe most people think of it. I've tried to keep this section as factual as possible. However because everyone has their own slightly different idea of what Heavy Metal is, and what it should be, it might not represent everyone's views about the magazine.
Heavy Metal is a sequential art anthology magazine. In other words; it's a comic. However it's not the typical comic that most people think of. Usually when people hear the word comic, they either think of either mainstream superhero comics or comic strips in the newspaper. Heavy Metal isn't that. Comics share the same judgement as video games, and that many people feel that they are just for kids; however Heavy Metal is
"Gypsy" May 1995
Cover by H. R. Giger June 1980
"Kingdom Of The Wicked" November 1994
"Ranxerox" Febrary 1984
"Den" June 1977
Cover by Lorenzo Sperlonga September 2000
Ad for NBM Publishing
"Druuna" Software 1993
"In The Summer Heat" Erotic Special 2000
"Game Over" September 2004
"Requiem" March 2004
"Rock Opera" December 1983
"Master" November 1977
"The Raven" The Best Of Richard Corben Special (hardcover) 1998
"Caveman" January 1995
"Galatic Geographic" November 2001
"Fistful Of Blood" July 2001
aimed at a mature audience. Because of this perception, Heavy Metal is often judged by its critics differently and taken less serious then other media such as movies or books. Graphic novels are a great way to tell a story, with vivid artistic images illustrated together with words. Heavy Metal is mainly an assortment of different graphic illustrated stories, with the occasional article. These can vary in length anywhere from a complete half page story to dozens of pages in one issue.
These stories can either be complete in one issue, or some are broken into chapters and span over a few issues. And some of the longer stories can even span over many years. Heavy Metal features many different artists and writers. These people do not work directly for the magazine, but their work is selected or submitted to Heavy Metal. It can either be work from an already published graphic novel, or completely new material. There were and are some regular contributors for Heavy Metal, such as Philippe Druillet, Jean-Pierre Dionnet, Mbius, Richard Corben, Arthur Suydam, Simon Bisley, Luis Royo, and many more. However, there have also been the occasional works of other influential people such as Vaughn Bodé, Robert Crumb, Frank Miller, Stephen King, H. R. Giger, Steven Spielberg, H. P. Lovecraft, William Burroughs, Edgar Allan Poe, John Milton, Gustave Flaubert, etc. Many of whom are counted among the greatest and most influential writers of all time.
The stories typically found within are works of Action and Adventure, often in a setting of Fantasy and Science Fiction. However, the stories aren't limited to that, as you can also find Comedy, Poetry, Documentary, Drama, Horror, Mystery, Western, and just plain Weird. To break the
What impression Heavy Metal gives to people depends on who you talk to. Some people think that it's a great collection of some of the world's best written and illustrated talent. While others are offended by it, and believe it's nothing but graphic violence, nudity, and sex. Then there are those who believe only certain years of the magazines history have some quality to it.
Before Heavy Metal, in 1966, Harvard Lampoon had released a successful magazine parody of Playboy. In 1968, they released their next parody of Life magazine, but it turned out to be a financial failure. Harvard Lampoon's next parody of Time magazine took a different approach, when
Another pattern that's grown over the years is the advertising in the magazine. In the beginning it was mostly advertising on things fantasy or science fiction. And even though there's still some of
When Heavy Metal first came out in 1977, it was seen as something new and different. In an age where comics were seen as something just for kids, this was definitely not that. The stories in Heavy Metal were serious, thought provoking, beautiful, and sometimes humorous. It was revolutionary. Now today, even though it's one of the only anthology fantasy magazines still existing, there has been a lot of evolution in adult graphic novels in the years since, so Heavy Metal isn't seen as mind blowing as it once was. So even though the content may still be great today, it doesn't have that new innovative impression it once had.
Another great thing about Heavy Metal is its diversity. Usually there's something for almost everyone in most issues. If you compare Heavy Metal magazine to a movie theatre, they are very similar. They don't create their own stories, they just show them. Each story is created by someone different. Some stories you might highly enjoy, some may be just ok, and some you may hate, all depending on your taste.
With its evolving over the years, some patterns came about in its style, such as with the covers. In the beginning the covers could have had anything on them. They usually don't have anything to do with what's inside, but instead just a generic illustration of fantasy or beauty. But gradually over the years, the females that graced the covers became more predominant and since the mid-1980's nearly every cover has had a sexy woman on the front. Some people have a problem with this because they believe it adds to the overall sexual impression that this magazine gives, and doesn't represent what's inside the magazine. Also some believe that it takes away from the diversity of what Heavy Metal is, and that many covers have no real artistic quality to them. However a pretty girl on the cover tends to sell many more issues then one without. Also, many depictions of these women are of them in a powerful role; either taming a beast, or ready to fight, or some other role of a powerful woman. Many people feel that this is a great movement in breaking out of the helpless female stereotype. But because they're usually sexy women, it's a contradiction in how some people feel that it's sexually degrading to women.
that in today's issues, it now often contains advertising for pornographic animation movies and graphic novels. This shouldn't affect how people view the magazine, as it has nothing to do with the stories within; however it often does give that impression.
This might also be another reason why people view the magazine as sexual. If you were to spend only a few seconds flipping through an issue, you might get the impression that the magazine is pornography because of the ads.
Another reason why people might view the magazine as sexual is because comics are often judged as something just for kids. So when nudity is shown, it doesn't fit into what they think a comic should be. If a live action movie had a brief sex scene, it's usually thought of as just another piece in the build up of the movie as a whole. But if the same story was in comic form, then many people focus on the sex scenes and think it turns the whole story pornographic.
So are there any stories of pornography in Heavy Metal? It is fairly common to find the occasional basic nudity within the stories, however anything too graphic gets censored. Heavy Metal magazines usually don't have an age limit to who can
buy them, so it usually doesn't print anything too graphic. And they don't want the stories to be riddled with censorship, so they do try to stay away from pornographic illustrations. As for pornographic writing, there is practically none; however there have been some stories that were borderline. Stories from Horacio Altuna tend to be more erotic, however those were mostly printed in the two "Erotic" Special editions, plus his writing is quite good and funny. The story Druuna is probably the most popular for being pornographic. It gets censored the most, and even though
Heavy Metal is known for printing the story, it's not typically a story you'd see in Heavy Metal. The side of it that does feel like Heavy Metal is the mysterious other worldly story that's being told with it, but in this case people tend to remember the sex more then the story. Usually in other stories if there is nudity then it has something to do with the story and is part of it.
"Alien" May 1979
"Arzach" July 1977
"The Man From Harlem" June 1983
"The War Machine" War Machine 1993
"Corto Maltese" Winter 1986
they received help from 21st Century Communications (former publisher of Heavy Metal). Looking at the success of the Playboy parody, and the failure of the Life parody, they decided to put a sexy woman on the cover of the Time magazine. The cover also asked the question, "Does SEX sell magazines?" It answered its own question, when the magazine came out in 1969, and proved to be very successful. They learned what everyone now knows; sex sells.
In 1970 they went on to start National Lampoon. Its first issue also had a sexy woman, and read "Sexy Cover Issue". In the next 7 years the nudity in National Lampoon magazine grew, and so did its sales. By 1989, National Lampoon's sales were fading and it tried to evolve its humor and not rely on nudity. They enabled a no nudity policy. But it was too late, and the magazine continued to lose sales until ending in 1998.
So everyone knows that sex sells. But what other consequences does it have? Does it also repel sales? How much? And in today's era of the Internet and easily accessible nudity, does that affect how much sex still sells?
Harvard Lampoon's Time parody 1969
National Lampoon April 1970
In 1977, 21st Century started Heavy Metal, and along with it, their sex sells knowledge. Another influence was that it printed mostly European translations, where nudity is often more liberal and casual compared to North America. There has always been some nudity and sex in its issues. It's a small part, but probably the most vocal part by its critics.
subjects down into percentages, I'd estimate that the current Heavy Metal would be a mixture of 50% Action & Adventure, 20% Fantasy & Science Fiction, 20% Art & Poetic, 10% Other (articles, romance, comedy, etc).
There's no doubt that the magazine has gone through some minor changes over the years, but that's normal to keep up with our ever changing world, whether you believe it's a good or bad change. And it's likely that the magazine will keep on evolving in the years to come.
Many people feel that the older issues in the 1970's and early 1980's had more artistic credit, compared to today's magazine which they believe is filled with sex. Even though there has always been that type of criticism since the very beginning. There could be a few reasons for this belief.
However there's the occasional story, like Druuna, Lorna, or Fistful Of Blood, that the main characters are sometimes naked and it doesn't feel like it's natural for the story, and are just naked for the sake of being naked. So, if you were to pick up one magazine, for example March 2002, which happens to be unusually laden with sexual stories of Lorna, Fistful Of Blood, and the sexual comedy of Jacky Goupil and Walter, and other such stories, then yes it may give the impression that Heavy Metal has gone the way of exploiting nudity.