We were pleased to feature a Donato Giancola painting on one of the covers of Heavy Metal 294: The Industrial Special. Giancola is an insanely accomplished fantasy and science-fiction artist (check out the biography page on his site) whose recent series of “Empathetic Robots” encapsulates the issue theme — and, well, everything these days. Do robots feel? We have artificial intelligence — could we ever develop artificial emotion? We’re surrounded by technology that can perform any task, but despair and alienation are running high even in a technocratic paradise. We’ve got a Roomba, smart appliances, a voice assistant that tells dad jokes and a self-driving car — but what everyone needs is a goddamn hug. Is this a possible future — a world where humans have outsourced caring for and comforting each other to robots? Or could it be that when disaster strikes, and all we once knew is a smoldering wasteland, the empathetic robots will be there to provide the emotional support and love we require, but lack?
Issue 294 may still be on the stand at your local comics shop, Barnes & Noble, or Books-A-Million, but if it’s not, you can always order from the Heavy Metal online shop. Be sure to check out Donato Giancola’s greater body of work (including depictions from Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings) at his official site DonatoArts.com and his portfolio at artstation.com/donatoarts. He’s on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as well.