Metal Hurlant: The Craziest Comic Book Series You Probably Never Heard About.
Comic books and graphic novels are considered by many an inherently American form of publication. They became popular in the English-speaking parts of the world (the US and the UK) in the 1930s and conquered the world in the coming decades. They had a few major offshoots though - comics forced their way into the European culture as well, around the same time they emerged in America. Remember, this was long before the internet came along, with its webcomics, streaming, and online casino perks - these styles hardly ever mingled, and there was no exchange in topics and styles. The Franco-Belgian comic books - known as “bandes dessinées” or BDs for short gave the world (especially Europe) several beloved characters - Tintin (by Hergé), Asterix (by Goscinny & Uderzo), The Smurfs (by Peyo) and many others. And then, there was a comic book series that was different from anything else ever published before, both when it comes to the quality of the graphics and the topics covered: a comics anthology of science fiction and horror stories first published in 1974 called “Metal Hurlant”. And it changed everything.
Howling metal on paper
Metal Hurlant (it literally translates as “howling metal”) was created in 1974 by four comics artists: Jean Giraud (better known as Moebius) and Philippe Druillet along with journalist-writer Jean-Pierre Dionnet and Bernard Farkas, acting as a financial director for the publication. These four, collectively known as “Les Humanoïdes des Associés” (United Humanoids) created the publishing house with the same name releasing the Metal Hurlant magazine. The topics covered by this publication were not on the feel-good side, and the visuals were not exactly PG-rated either - some of them would be rated “M” for mature by any rating agency today. The stories were more on the abstract side, with special emphasis placed on artistic visuals rather than depicting action. One famous Moebius series - Azrach - lacked all dialogue, relying exclusively on visuals to tell its story. Over the years, the magazine published many valuable stories from Moebius and Druillet themselves, along with others by Alejandro Jodorowsky, Alain Voss, Berni Wrightson, Chantal Montellier, and many others, and featured cover art by international fine artists like H. R. Giger and Esteban Maroto. The magazine saw 133 issues in its first run between 1974 and 1987, and 14 more after its revival in 2002.
Overseas, and other media
The metal howled in English, too - Leonard Mogel, the publisher of the National Lampoon magazine discovered it while in Paris in the mid-1970s and took it home to the US with him. “Heavy Metal” debuted in 1977, featuring mainly the works of the original Metal Hurlant artists. While the original magazine went out of print in 1987, Heavy Metal survived it by half a decade - it published 136 issues in 16 volumes until 1992. Some of the stories featured in the magazine made it to the screens, too. The first screen adaptation to take on its stories is “Heavy Metal”, an adult animated science fiction anthology movie, followed by a sequel in a similar vein released in 2000. In 2011, a TV series based on the magazine's stories were also produced - it had two seasons with 12 half-hour episodes in total, with a series of European actors in the lead roles, ranging from James Marsters (Buffy's Spike) to Joe Flanigan (Stargate Atlantis), and Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner), along with many others.
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