Back covers are underrated. You may know Heavy Metal magazine’s early covers — a lot of them, anyway. They’re indelible images by some of the greatest illustrators of the last 50 years, from the battlin’ fembots by Jean-Pierre Dionnet on issue #1 (April 1977) to the numerous covers by Moebius, Achilleos, Vallejo, Royo, Olivia, and Bisley. But Heavy Metal was such a needed showcase, particularly in the early days, that there was a wealth of material, and sometimes the art on the back cover was as good or nearly so as what got the glory spot up front.
Below, we’ve collected the covers of that first April 1977 issue through the last of the ’70s, December 1979. We’re omitting the wraparound covers of July 1977, February and March 1978, and November 1979. Here you’ll find images by fantasy legends Charles Vess and Michael Kaluta; one from Bernie Wrightson, “master of the macabre;” two apiece from Robert Morello, Tom Barber and Clyde Caldwell; and even a young Howard Chaykin makes an appearance.