Heavy Metal has been around since the 70s, the American version of famed fantasy and sci-fi anthology Metal Hurlant. It is mostly known in America due to the animated film of the same name that adapted stories from the magazine, for good or ill. Ever since 1991 Kevin Eastman, co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, has been its guiding light, trying his best to forge a resurgence for the title, to no avail. He sold the company late last year to former film and TV producer Jeff Krelitz and former music industry executive David Boxenbaum, but remained as publisher.
According to EW.com, in a bid to re-brand and revolutionize the company they’ve recruited Grant Morrison as the new Editor-in-Chief, hoping to go in new directions and make the magazine relevant again.
“The first D.C. Comics book I ever picked up was Arkham Asylum. I thought ‘Holy shit! Batman just went Heavy Metal!’” says Krelitz.
“From the standpoint of what he does and how he tells a story—edgy, provocative, avant-garde—that’s us. And why not? It just makes sense.”
When you look at it that way, yeah, it makes sense. Morrison has reinvigorated many concepts that had fallen on hard times; hell, that’s pretty much his claim to fame with Animal Man and Doom Patrol, and they were awesome.
“One of the things I like to do in my job is revamp properties and really get into the aesthetic of something, dig into the roots of what makes it work, then tinker with the engine and play around with it. So for me, it’s an aesthetic thing first and foremost. The idea of immersing myself in the aesthetic of Heavy Metal is exciting. It’s going to change the clothes I wear, the way I create; it’s like a performance for me. Beyond that, just the idea of being able to curate stories, decide the direction of the magazine, and work with great talent and develop new talent is an exciting opportunity.”
Morrison, who began his career writing fantasy and science fiction for fanzines, will also write for the magazine, creating prose as well as comics, telling EW that Heavy Metal will be the focus for his comics for the next year or two. Jack Kirby will be getting there first though, as Heavy Metal will be printing his Lord of Light concept art for the aborted Roger Zelazny adaptation that ended up being used by the CIA to rescue American diplomats from Tehran during the Iranian Revolution in the 70s. Yes, that all really happened. Go watch the brilliant film, Argo. This will be the first time it has been published, in color no less.
The goal of the re-branding is to make the magazine more attractive to Hollywood, building it up for other media including a shared universe of live-action films.