Heavy Metal magazine issue 296, the Street Art Special, features Shepard Fairey, Ron English, Tristan Eaton, and other luminaries of the street art scene. With comics stories, first-person narratives, even poetry, this just might be our most creative issue ever.
Takin’ It to the Street
Some people will tell you that the best and most innovative artists working today are not hunched over a desk pouring their souls out onto dead-tree paper or a Wacom — but spray-painting and wheatpasting them onto walls, buildings, pavement, embankments, and subway cars. We’ve seen a president entrust his branding to a street artist (Shepard Fairey’s HOPE poster for Barack Obama) and another street artist mobilize 58 other name-brand creatives to mount a massive parody of Disneyland (Banksy’s Dismaland). Think twice before calling it graffiti.
But “graffiti” isn’t a dirty word — street artists are graffiti perpetrators and proud vandals at heart. Don’t tell them where art doesn’t belong, because that’s exactly where they’ll take it. Just read cover artist Tristan Eaton‘s reminiscence at the center of this issue, “Graffiti Pulp,” to get a feel for the rush that is part of the creative experience. It involves performance, showmanship, daring — and whether you’re a kid illicitly tagging for the first time or one of the esteemed artists in this issue, you’re chasing that thrill.
You’ll also be able to find Heavy Metal 296 at your local comics store, Barnes & Noble, or Books-A-Million.
Guest editor Ron English writes that this issue of Heavy Metal is the street artists’ chance to the “stories they never get to tell. … The artists and collaborating wordsmiths in this issue are sharing their origin stories, creating new worlds, and capturing small moments for all time.” We’re pleased as hell to be the medium for this adventure, which includes Ron English’s own poetry/art adventure “The Rabbbits.”
Tristan Eaton gets a gallery in this issue. So do fellow cover artists Hebru Brantley and Shepard Fairey, who share their thoughts on street art with Senior Editor Hannah Means-Shannon. Jessica Goldman Srebnik holds forth on Wynwood Walls, a Miami street-art showcase where today’s masters and up-and-comers display their craft.
Story after story, piece after piece, the selections here are so relentlessly creative that they defy description. In “How Big of a Dick Are You?” Olek, an artist who works across media including sculpture, performance art, fiber art, weaves a story using words and her own pieces told through familiar social media frames. You kinda have to see that one to really get it. “The Language of Revolution” tells a story combining Swoon‘s murals with Stephanie Phillips‘ words. “The Chronicles of Brick Lady” is an enchanting fable by artist Lady Pink and writers Roger Smith and Matt O’Connor. “Free Your Mind!” by NycHos dissects evolution, deconstructs species and gets to the bones and guts of it all. In a similar (yet completely different) way, Beau Stanton‘s murals become a story thanks to the connective webbing of Abraham Martinez‘s words in “Leap of Faith.” For our next trick, two writers (Cliff Dorfman and David Arquette) will attempt to describe the fauna of Umbra, as documented by artist Lurk.
We gave our art stars free rein to tell their stories, and some of them discovered their inner comic-book auteur. “In Charon’s Orbit,” by cover artist Deih; “Within One Minute Forward, Get The Brightest Days of Fortune” by Faith XLVII; “Dr. Nihil and the Tremendous Blunder” by Corentin Pedro, Mike Owens, Wendie Owens, Eric (Ghostemane) Ghoste and Jon Tanners; and “The Vandal” by Nick Walker, Joseph Keatinge, and Ferran Delgado, these depictors and wordsmiths tell life-and-death tales like they’ve been doing this all along.
Here Come the Regulars
And we may be street-art crazy in this issue, but we do pause for installments from our living-legend regulars: chapter 5 from “The Smile of the Absent Cat” by Grant Morrison and Gerhard, and chapter 10 of “Murky World” by Richard Corben.
Here are the covers for Heavy Metal 296: The Street Art Special. Click any to see them in the Heavy Metal Shop: