Heavy Metal Media is relaunching Taarna as the central character in its new universe, beginning in the magazine and then spinning off into a comic series launching in December, the company told ICv2.  The character originated in one of the shorts that made up the 1981 Heavy Metal animated feature anthology and has had various incarnations since.  The six-issue comic miniseries, the first of multiple miniseries of 24-page issues for readers 16 and up, will launch in December (see "Preview:  'Taarna' #1").

We talked to Heavy Metal Media Executive Editor Joe Illidge (see "Heavy Metal Media Promotes Illidge, Adds Longo") about the relaunch.

ICv2:  We understand that Heavy Metal is planning to launch a new Taarna comic series -- why are you doing that?
Joe Illidge:  Taarna is really the flagship character of the company.  She was introduced in the 1981 Heavy Metal animated film.  With the company's new management and new team and new direction, we thought that one of the things to do to commemorate that was bring Taarna back front and center, and expand on the character.

David Erwin, who is the publisher and chief creative overlord of the company, worked very closely with me to set the new tone for the Heavy Metal universe and for Taarna.

This is going to be a new direction and something that's going to be very cosmic and very Heavy Metal in flavor.

What's the Heavy Metal universe?
The Heavy Metal universe is the whole multiversal structure that Taarna operates within, and the rules that govern that.

We have a bible; I think it's about 35 pages long.  It establishes the rules of the multiverse, and where Taarna's place in the multiverse is.  It establishes her character.  That was one of the things that we gave to all of the creators working on the character, including the story that appears in Heavy Metal #300, and will be continued in issue #301, and the new Taarna series, which is launching in December.

This storyline actually kicks off in the magazine?
Right.  We use Heavy Metal #300 to reintroduce Taarna to the large audience, the readership.  If you know her from the 1981 animated film, that will be cool.  If you don't, this will be a great introduction.  Issues #300 and #301 make up a two-part story.  Issue #300 has the first part of the story.  The story is by Matthew Medney and David Erwin, the CEO and the publisher of Heavy Metal.  It's illustrated by Butch Guice, a major veteran in comics, and someone who we thought would be perfect to help show this character again.  It's lettered by Marshall Dillon, and colored by Chris Sotomayor.

We also have a prose story in there, written by Stephanie Phillips.  There's an element in the prose story which continues into the larger series, which kicks off in December.

Stephanie Phillips, who wrote the prose, is the writer on the series.  Patrick Zircher, a well‑known veteran, most recently known for his work on Superman: Action Comics and Savage Avengers, is the series illustrator.  We have covers by the Eisner Award-winning illustrator Christian Ward.

We're very excited by it because our version of Taarna is really more of a cosmic character.  She's actually the personification of a universe, which is in the larger Heavy Metal multiverse.  This book is really going to have a cosmic feel to it, which will distinguish Taarna from various female characters from other companies.  It's very important to us that she has her own flavor, so that you recognize her uniqueness.

What's the origin of the character?
Taarna is the last of a race of beings called Taarakians.  The last Taarakian died at the collapse of a universe.  When that universe collapsed and the last Taarakian death occurred at the center, it created a cosmic event that led to the creation of Taarna.  Taarna is a fusion of the second-to-last Taarakian and a collapsing universe.  She's kind of like a demigod in a way.  She is the personification of a universe.  Because it's similar to what happens when a star collapses, and it creates a black hole, but on the other side is a white hole.  From death comes life.  From the death of the last Taarakian and the death of a universe came the birth of Taarna.  That event happened millions of years ago, as we understand time.

You're springboarding off the film.  Is that a place from which Heavy Metal plans to develop more properties?
We're taking the character of Taarna from the film, and we're expanding on her a great deal.  The film really scratches the surface of who this character is. Heavy Metal #300 and the new Taarna series are going to begin to reveal who and what she really is, and what her role in the multiverse is.

Taarna and B‑17 are the two serials from the original animated film that Heavy Metal owns.  In addition to having short stories in the new monthly rotation of the magazine, both of them will have miniseries.  So there will be the Taarna miniseries, which will launch in December.  And B‑17 has been expanded to be renamed Cold Dead War.  Cold Dead War is a miniseries that will launch in October.

Is there anything else that our readers, who are primarily retailers that are going to be ordering this, should know about this launch of this new title?
Basically that this is a major relaunch for the company, setting a new direction for the character.  We're really bringing in some of the top talents to bear with the series.  Christian Ward just won a number of Eisner Awards for his work; he's done work for all the major companies.  Patrick Zircher is a veteran going back at least two decades, working with all the major companies.  And Stephanie Phillips is a rising star doing books for DC Comics and AfterShock Comics and Image Comics.  So, this is really us bringing top talent together.   

The book is coming out in December, but the first issue is basically done.  That should give retailers a sense of confidence that we will be delivering this title on time, all six issues, without fail.

This is the first of numerous volumes.  This is the company's commitment to this character and to the retailers.

Click Gallery below for covers, designs, and interior art!