There are some delectable pairings in life that just make sense – Jatz and cheese, Milo and milk, Kath and Kim… You get the idea. And sometimes there comes an overwhelming feast for the senses that just blows your mind, like heavy metal and comic books.
Introducing Maurice And The Metal, my new favourite thing and the creation of Brisbane-based author and heavy metal lover, Aaron Sammut. This brand-new venture is set in the mid-‘80s and traces the journey of a young metalhead who discovers he has impossible powers after he listens to heavy metal – every metalhead’s dream, really. Maurice, the titular character, is charged with a heavy burden and, armed with nothing but his Walkman which has been possessed by the spirit of a Black Sabbath roadie (think Genie in the lamp, only, if it’s even possible, way cooler), must fight to keep metal alive.
What a time to be alive, and indeed, what a way to try and immerse yourself in the epic-ness of 1980s metal.
“1985 San Francisco Bay area metal was kind of the mecca of thrash metal, it’s where it all started,” says Sammat. “It seemed like there was room to move [in the comic] as far as the story goes, because there was a whole scene originating in that era.”
If you’ve ever had that thing where you’ve said you wish you were around in a particular time or you were born in the wrong era, that’s pretty much Sammat, who sorely wishes he had been 18 years old when Metallica’s Master Of Puppets was released. “I kind of made the comic’s story like I was the character in it,” he says, “like everything I ever wanted to be was a superhero or a drummer, so I’ve combined those two.”
There’s a little bit of self-reflection in Maurice And The Metal and, combined with the talents of US comic artist Jesse Hamm who has illustrated comics for publishers like Marvel, Dark Horse, and Dynamite, Sammat is able to meld two of his most treasured passions. “I spent about six months trying to find an illustrator,” says Sammat, “and when I did find Jesse, he was part of a studio called Helioscope.
“They had about 30 [illustrators] on their roster – Jesse was the first to reply, and it was the variants in style he had that he was showing that I liked.
“Jesse did a great job of bringing it to life – when I saw his first sketches and Ideas for Maurice, I was sold. He did a fantastic job!”
Maurice and The Metal #1 is available for digital purchase now at comiXology and a limited edition glossy physical version is available at maurice-and-the-metal.com.