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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Enki Bilal, Jill Bioskop, Nikopol and Horus

During the winter of 1986/1987 I bought my first issue of Heavy Metal magazine.

I was on my way to visit a friend at the University of Scranton. It was either during Intersession, the winter mini-semester where students cram in a class or two in the month of January, or it was possibly in November, over the Thanksgiving break. Whichever it was, my friend was staying in her dorm, and I was staying at my house. I took a bus from Nanticoke to Wilkes-Barre and picked up another bus to Scranton from there. While I waited for the bus I stopped at a newsstand that had an enormous collection of magazines, including Heavy Metal.

The cover had headlines for the included stories. One of them was "Bilal's Amazing Trapped Woman". The story was a bizarre tale of pill-popping reporter Jill Bioskop, with chalk-white skin and blue hair, and the fugitive Alcide Nikopol, who was serving as host to the paranoid heavily-muscled bird-headed Egyptian god Horus, who had escaped from a giant pyramid floating in space. The art was apparently typical of Heavy Metal at the time, a mix of surrealism and heavily-detailed gritty realism.

Imagine my surprise when, after watching the premiere of Talkshow With Spike Feresten, I channel-surfed over to a movie that featured Horus arguing with Nikopol while a white-skinned blue-haired woman wept in a bathtub.

The movie is Immortal, directed by Enki Bilal himself in 2004, a bizarre and surreal mix of the story I had read (actually called "The Woman Trap") and its prequel and sequel. The images I saw were inferior to the ones which were in the comic 20 years ago, which is only natural when a grand act of creativity and imagination is crammed onto the movie screen and compressed into the length of a feature film.

Still, it was strange and wonderful to know that someone had thought enough of this story to bankroll it, to put up the $22 million dollars it cost to make it. Maybe I'll pick it up on DVD - it's available on Amazon. Or maybe I'll just get Bilal's entire Nikopol trilogy in book form - it's half the price.

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