Heavy Metal Magazine Cover Contest

Greetings! I hope all has been well in the interim.

Although it may seem unlikely, Heavy Metal (the magazine, not the subgenre of rock & roll) has been a huge influence on my work. If you are at all aware of this legendary publication the first thing that may come to mind are the painted covers of cyborgs or aliens posed artfully amidst an exotic battle in an otherworldly place, and somehow, the cyborg or alien has partially exposed human breasts. It's the type of image any hetero-normative boy could appreciate, and one that should probably inspire a healthy dose of shame. Yet, beyond that shame is a realization that there are dark corners of imagination still to be exposed to the light of conscious thought. Heavy Metal was, and is, a dark fantasy of science fiction textures and hedonistic, destructive emotions filtered through the world of comic books, only... these comics weren't 'fit to print' in any newsstand I had access to. No sir, this wasn't the Ninja Turtles (ironic, since the co-creator of TMNT, Kevin Eastman, is now HM's Publisher). These comics were NAUGHTY. They were ultra violent and they looked to a future where everything went to shit. Its stories would take you to the gutters of the most hellish slum, only the world where this slum scraped out its existence was not of this earth. Heavy Metal would lure you in with its promise of sleaze and sin only to make you look up into future vistas of possibility that began to seem more and more like predictions. Could things turn out this bad? And isn't there at least a little fun in being bad?

Possibly an even greater influence on me are the early film works of Ridley Scott, who has also often cited Heavy Metal as a strong influence, especially on the films of Alien and Blade Runner. It was the textures of Heavy Metal that lit up Scott's imagination (especially the work of two of its première artists, Jean (Moebius) Giraud and H. R. Giger). By taking the concept of a 'used universe', as George Lucas had done in Star Wars, and taking it several steps further, dramatically increasing the clutter, filth, and design influences on his sets and special effects, he made you believe in the future by making you believe in its trash.

And maybe that's what is so compelling about Heavy Metal, that it very much seems like an artifact from one of its own stories. It's trash! It's smut! It's constantly being underestimated. SUBVERSIVE. It gets under your skin, where no soap and washcloth can scrub, where the dirt remains and you'll never be quite as squeaky-clean again.

This is all a roundabout way of mentioning that I've entered a Cover Contest being held by threadless.com in conjunction with Heavy Metal. The winner gets their art featured on the cover of next August's issue, $2,000 in prize money, and a ten year subscription. It is a long shot, but one I couldn't pass up! (Plus, that prize money could sure pay a lot of bills.) You can see my submission, Slither, in the Instagram feed below. You can also help my campaign IMMENSELY by visiting https://www.threadless.com/designs/slither and logging a vote.  The more votes for my painting the more visible my painting will be for other potential voters, so, what do you say? Let's shed a little light on another dark corner of imagination.


Nathan Smith