On Wednesday, December 30 (that’s today, if you’re reading this today), a brilliant and beloved comics creator returns to the pages of Heavy Metal after a 30-year absence: Pepe Moreno. Moreno’s Rebel graphic novel was serialized in Heavy Metal 1985; we also published other Moreno stories including “Space Crusader,” “Bunker 6A” and “Zeppelin.”
Issue 278 of Heavy Metal features part 1 of Moreno’s “Gene Kong,” which had previously not been available in English. Here’s the lowdown on the story:
Set in NYC in the 1980s, “Gene Kong” is the tale of Eugene Wong, a biogenetics engineer, whose secret backroom experiments have out him far ahead of his colleagues. Sick of the crime and degenerates who have taken over New York, Gene dreams of the day he can clean up his city. Gene, being of small stature and no fighting skills, decides to take things into his own hands and begins injecting himself with the altered DNA of a gorilla. Nothing seems to be happening until one fateful night on a subway train when Gene is accosted by a bunch of hoodlums, his anger somehow ignites these Frankenstein chemicals into action. Let the underworld of NYC beware!
“NYC was a rough town in the 1980s,” Moreno recalls. “Crime and decay were part of the city’s ‘charm’. 42nd St. was still 42nd St. and not one from Disneyworld, Rudolph Giuliani was still New York’s US attorney and Bernhard Goetz, the infamous subway vigilante, was loose on the streets.”
Moreno lived in the East Village at the time, and took his inspiration from the cast of motley real-world characters he saw every day.
In addition to the English captions, “Gene Kong” features some artist-approved tweaks to the original artwork. “We worked closely with Pepe to get the art just right,” says Frank Forte, Heavy Metal‘s content editor. “All the scans were from the original artwork and Pepe went in and did minor touch-ups and EFX additions. It really looks stunning.”
You can order your copy of issue #278 in the Heavy Metal Store.
Heavy Metal issue #279, shipping in February, will feature part 2 of “Gene Kong,” as well as a variant cover by Moreno. Here’s a preview of Gene Kong part 1, from issue #278.
Here’s a little more on Pepe:
Pepe Moreno is an accomplished author, artist, designer and entrepreneur with extensive experience in traditional and digital art forms and entertainment media as a whole. He has set trends in the comic book world with his graphic novels and most notably with the first-ever computer generated comic book Batman: Digital Justice, which would become the second most successful book in the fields history. He was a regular contributor to Heavy Metal Magazine in the 1980’s with the serialized Rebel and many other short science fiction tales including “Bunker 6A” and “Zeppelin”. His dystopian Generation Zero was serialized in Epic Illustrated and later collected by DC Comics. As a pioneer of digital art, Pepe would follow suit at the onset of the video game revolution, originally breaking ground with one of the first ever CD-ROM video games Hellcab. Pepe went on to create the popular game series Beach Head whose brand of titles sold over 1,000,000 copies worldwide and was ranked number one arcade game in the US for three years in a row.