Long-running comics magazine Heavy Metal announced this week that writer Grant Morrison will be its new editor-in-chief. Morrison begins his tenure as editor in February next year, and will work in an actual editorial capacity, rather than simply serving as a figurehead. He will also create new comics content for the magazine.

Morrison has made a one year commitment to Heavy Metal, and claims he wants to revitalize the great machinery of alt-comics through its pages. Since it launched in the 1970s, the magazine has published work from such greats as Moebius, H.R. Giger, and Howard Chaykin, and helped craft the aesthetics of punk counter-culture in an era of gentlemanly superheroes.

Of course, punk wasn't built to last, and Heavy Metal has struggled to find an audience over the past two decades. Bringing on a creator of Morrison's stature, who built his name on punk aesthetics and rode them into the mainstream almost seamlessly, seems like a decent way of bridging the gap between 'alternative' and 'popular'.

That's assuming, of course, that the new Heavy Metal can provide a viable "alternative" today. Decades ago, revolutionizing comics meant 'boobs and swearing; nowadays it arguably has more to do with letting creators retain their copyright, and that much overlooked idea, hiring more women.

Last year Kevin Eastman sold Heavy Metal to film producer Jeff Krelitz and music executive David Boxenbaum, and their plans for the brand include a Heavy Metal music label, and even a shared Heavy Metal movie universe.

Morrison, who only last week announced his DTF Santa series Klaus with artist Dan Mora, will write prose and comics work for the magazine once he assumes the editorial chair, and has said he's hoping to hook recent collaborators Frazer Irving and Chris Burnham into joining the launch. Morrison's appointment means a rise in profile for a somewhat forgotten brand, and will almost certainly translate to an increase in sales. Alongside the upcoming launch of Island at Image, this could usher in a new age for the comics magazine.

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