Thursday, May 7, 2009

Borgia Returns in Hand Painted Glory - July 09

I recall the very first time I was introduced to the movie Conan The Barbarian. It was at the back of a Playboy magazine. A full page ad proclaimed the movie’s existence and as a 12 year old boy already a fan of the Marvel magazine Savage Sword of Conan it became a quest to see this movie. But as a boy raised in the projects my personal resources were limited, to say the least. No, I had to wait until I was lucky enough to catch it on cable the following year. But when I did see it… what an experience!

"Infidel defilers. They shall all drown in lakes of blood. Now they shall know why they are afraid of the dark. Now they shall learn why they fear the night."

"Valor pleases you, Crom. So grant me one request. Grant me revenge. And if you do not listen then to hell with you!"

I can probably quote almost every line from the movie, so enthralled was that chubby little boy with it. To say it’s my favorite movie of all time is an understatement. That chubby little boy I used to be went out and found a long piece of flat wood, spray painted it silver and made a hilt for it by wrapping it in electrical tape. I even made a scabbard for it by wrapping it in strips of poster board and wrapping tape around that. I then found the belt from a brown robe and wrapped it around my wrist to make an arm band (that’s a lot of wrapping, I know) and tattered some clothing here and there to transform myself into a barbarian warrior.

"No one in this world can you trust. Not men, not women, not beasts… this you can trust."

That chubby little boy found his way into the woods and thus into a fantasy realm, where he battled witches, wizards and giant snakes. He even taught himself how to weld a sword the same way as Conan, with flashy stunt movements, twirling the silver wood sword behind his back. Many trees felt the wrath of that child.

I’m not about to compare July’s HM to one of the most beloved movies of all time, as I know some of you are thinking. I am, however, going to compare the feelings. After reading Eastman on Co.’s latest publication I had the sensation of being everything that I was as that chubby little boy who twirled fake swords and tried fruitlessly to grow his hair long and make his muscles big. In short, I was a kid again.

Bisley’s women are as abstract in their anatomy as they are vicious with their see-right-through-you stares. Lovely, yes. Sexy, for certain. But deadly. And a Bisley girl on the cover of HM is always stunning. Be careful when you open this issue. She may cause a paper cut.

I’m going to get right to what I think is best about this issue: Borgia. We’ve waited a long time for its return and the wait has been well worth it. Jodorowsky and Manara once again give us an orgy of debauchery and lustful delight, presenting us with a tale of Rodrigo Borgia as His Holiness Pope Alexander VI. And the machinations of Borgia knows no limits, as he schemes to force his Church on the whole of Humanity.

I can’t stress how debauched Borgia really is. Or should I say was? Do some research yourself and you’ll discover the historical figure Jodorowsky and Manara base their character on was possibly as sinful as his fictional counterpart.

I don’t want to ruin everything for those of you I know will read the graphic but I will highlight some spoilers: Incest on Easter Sunday, directly atop the Holy Altar; blasphemy; heresy; witchcraft; whore-mongering (beheading of a whore while she sits atop the face of an astrologer); astrology; homosexual intercourse by way of a threesome; deception; murder; and loads of sex, sex, sex! This is everything you’d expect from Jodorowsky and Manara.

I can’t walk away from this without mentioning the art work. Some may believe it is digital (coloring) but I don’t agree. I can’t be certain but looks hand-painted to me. Whatever the case it’s fantastic. And the shorts included in this issue are a nice compliment next to the feature graphic.

Standing out from the rest is The Coffins Will Dance No More by Stephane Betbeder and Pierre Doal, a ghost mystery in which a paranormal detective discovers the truth behind the family secret of his client. I’m sure there may be some who will argue this too is digital coloring but come on. Some artists still take pride in the work their hand’s create. Of course the lettering is digital. As a letterer that’s something I know a little about. And here it’s something I want to point out. I really admire how each balloon and each caption is colored to compliment the colors of each panel on every page. This isn’t something you see in the mainstream. Mainstream publications don’t take risks like this.

I have to tell you there isn’t anything in this issue to dislike or complain about. I love every page. To all the haters out there: Seriously, this one’s a challenge.

I want to give special attention to this issue’s Dossier by S.C. Ringgenberg. I’m not sure if many of you are reading his articles and if not you don’t know what you’re missing. Don’t skip Dossier this month. Go straight to it. And if you get a chance to check out Jane Wiedlin this Summer approach her and tell her you saw her in Heavy Metal.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have to get back to re-reading Borgia. That is one fucked up pope.

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