Books: Heavy Metal Tarot series

Tarot cards first reached Europe in the late 14th century having apparently been imported from Egypt. They were used purely for gaming purposes and didn't become associated with fortune telling until the 18th cenury. Due to the expense of producing the first cards (they had to be hand-painted) there was considerable variation in the number of cards in a set but this now seems to have been standardised as 78 cards:

This particular set originated with an idea by Julie Bell in, according to an interview, 2001. As a private venture the work was unpaid so progress was quite slow, paintings being produced as and when time permitted. Eventually they managed to get Heavy Metal interested and so, starting with the November 2007 edition, they began publishing three paintings per regular issue. Julie's sons Anthony and David Palumbo were also brought on board, the theory being that four artists would make life easier should any of them become exceptionally busy. Personally, I think this is a case of too may cooks spoiling the broth – they are all respected artists but the problem is that their own distinctive styles have resulted in a lack of cohesion between the designs of the various paintings.

The table immediately below shows the order in which the cards were published. The titles used are those shown on the paintings inclusive of any spelling errors (which I have assumed to be intentional 'archaic' spellings.) The letters in brackets indicate the artist where this was not boris – I'm sure you can work out which is which! See further below for a second table showing the cards ordered by suit etc. Sadly only 66 paintings were completed. Reasons for termination of the series are not given but, significantly, I notice that some of the cards utilise existing artwork which suggests that the artists became too busy to continue.

Finally, I have learned that it had been hoped to publish the paintings as a book and, of course, a set of Tarot cards. Since the series has not been completed this has not come about though it remains a future possibility if the remaining paintings are completed…

November 2007
DeathDeath, Boris Vallejo The Queen of Swords (DP)Queen of Swords, David Palumbo The Moon (JB)Moon, Julie Bell
January 2008
Wheel of Change (JB)Wheel of Change, Julie Bell The Four of Swords (DP)Four of Swords, David Palumbo Queen of WandsQueen of Wands, Boris Vallejo
March 2008
The Emperor (JB)The Emperor, Julie Bell Two of Swords (AP)Two of Swords, Anthony Palumbo Four of PentaclesFour of Pentacles, Boris Vallejo
May 2008
Seven of Cups (JB)Seven of Cups, Julie Bell Queen of Pentacles (AP)Queen of Pentacles, Anthony Palumbo The Hermit (DP)The Hermit, David Palumbo
July 2008
The Devil (JB)Devil, Julie Bell Prince of Swords (AP)Prince of Swords, Anthony Palumbo Nine of WandsNine of Wands, Boris Vallejo
September 2008
The EmpressThe Empress, Boris Vallejo The Star (AP)The Star, Anthony Palumbo Knight of Cups (DP)Knight of Cups, David Palumbo
November 2008
Queen of Cups (JB)Indigo, Julie Bell Four of Wands (AP)Four of Wands, Anthony Palumbo Eight of Swords (DP)Eight of Swords, David Palumbo
January 2009
Nine of Pentacles (JB)Nine of Pentacles, Julie Bell King of SwordsKing of Swords, Boris Vallejo Page of Wands (AP)Page of Wands, Anthony Palumbo
March 2009
Six of Cups (AP)Six of Cups, Anthony Palumbo Three of Swords (JB)Three of Swords, Julie Bell Page of Cups (DP)Page of Cups, David Palumbo
May 2009
Ace of WandsAce of Wands, Boris Vallejo Ace of Cups (JB)Ace of Cups, Julie Bell Ace of Pentacles (DP)Ace of Pentacles, David Palumbo
July 2009
Five of WandsFive of Wands, Boris Vallejo Knight of Pentacles (DP)Knight of Pentacles, David Palumbo Three of Cups (AP)Three of Cups, Anthony Palumbo
September 2009
The MagicianThe Magician, Boris Vallejo Seven of Wands (AP)Seven of Wands, Anthony Palumbo Page of Swords (JB)Page of Swords, Julie Bell
November 2009
Two of Wands (DP)Two of Wands, David Palumbo Eight of CupsEight of Cups, Boris Vallejo Ace of Swords (AP)Ace of Swords, Anthony Palumbo
January 2010
Two of Pentacles (JB)Two of Pentacles, Julie Bell Six of WandsSix of Wands, Boris Vallejo King of Wands (JB)King of Wands, Julie Bell
March 2010
Page of PentaclesPage of Pentacles, Boris Vallejo Five of Cups (DP)Five of Cups, David Palumbo Eight of Pentacles (AP)Eight of Pentacles, Anthony Palumbo
May 2010
The Lovers (JB)As they Began, Julie Bell Six of SwordsSix of Swords, Boris Vallejo Three of Wands (DP)Three of Wands, David Palumbo
July 2010
Four of Cups (JB)Four of Cups, Julie Bell Two of CupsTwo of Cups, Boris Vallejo Five of Swords (AP)Five of Swords, Anthony Palumbo
September 2010
Eight of Wands (JB)Eight_of_Wands, Julie Bell JusticeJustice, Boris Vallejo Transcendance (DP)Transcendance, David Palumbo
November 2010
Judgement (JB)Judgement, Julie Bell The Fool (JB)The Fool, Julie Bell The High Priestess (JB)The High Priestess, Julie Bell
January 2011
Six of Pentacles (JB)Six of Pentacles, Julie Bell Three of PentaclesThree of Pentacles, Boris Vallejo Ten of Swords (DP)Ten of Swords, David Palumbo
March 2011
Four of Swords (JB)Passage, Julie Bell Queen of Cups (JB)Queen of Cups, Julie Bell The Tower (DP)The Tower, David Palumbo
May 2011
The Hanged Man (DP)The Hanged Man, David Palumbo The World (AP)The World, Anthony Palumbo Knight of Rods (sic) (AP)Knight of Rods, Anthony Palumbo

When viewed as sets you can see which cards are missing. In addition, you can see that there seems to have been a slight lack of co-ordination in that there are a couple of duplicated cards and that a few equivalent cards are included: the court cards include either a Page or a Knight but NOT both! Special mention needs to be made regarding the Transcendance (sic) card which is not a traditional card and, it seems to me, is equivalent to the Judgement card.

Major Arcana: Trumps & The Fool
I The MagicianThe Magician, Boris Vallejo II The High Priestess (JB)The High Priestess, Julie Bell III The EmpressThe Empress, Boris Vallejo
IV The Emperor (JB)The Emperor, Julie Bell V The HierophantNo Image placeholder VI The Lovers (JB)As they Began, Julie Bell
VII The ChariotNo Image placeholder VIII StrengthNo Image placeholder IX The Hermit (DP)The Hermit, David Palumbo
X Wheel of Change (JB)Wheel of Change, Julie Bell XI JusticeJustice, Boris Vallejo XII The Hanged Man (DP)The Hanged Man, David Palumbo
XIII DeathDeath, Boris Vallejo XIV TemperanceNo Image placeholder XV The Devil (JB)Devil, Julie Bell
XVI The Tower (DP)The Tower, David Palumbo XVII The Star (AP)The Star, Anthony Palumbo XVIII The Moon (JB)Moon, Julie Bell
XIX The SunNo Image placeholder XX Judgement (JB)Judgement, Julie Bell XX Transcendance (DP)Transcendance, David Palumbo
XXI The World (AP)The World, Anthony Palumbo The Fool (JB)The Fool, Julie Bell
Minor Arcana: Cups
Ace of Cups (JB)Ace of Cups, Julie Bell Two of CupsTwo of Cups, Boris Vallejo Three of Cups (AP)Three of Cups, Anthony Palumbo
Four of Cups (JB)Four of Cups, Julie Bell Five of Cups (DP)Five of Cups, David Palumbo Six of Cups (AP)Six of Cups, Anthony Palumbo
Seven of Cups (JB)Seven of Cups, Julie Bell Eight of CupsEight of Cups, Boris Vallejo Nine of CupsNo Image placeholder
Ten of CupsNo Image placeholder Page of Cups (DP)Page of Cups, David Palumbo Knight of Cups (DP)Knight of Cups, David Palumbo
Prince of CupsNo Image placeholder Queen of Cups (JB)Indigo, Julie Bell Queen of Cups (JB)Queen of Cups, Julie Bell
King of CupsNo Image placeholder
Minor Arcana: Pentacles
Ace of Pentacles (DP)Ace of Pentacles, David Palumbo Two of Pentacles (JB)Two of Pentacles, Julie Bell Three of PentaclesThree of Pentacles, Boris Vallejo
Four of PentaclesFour of Pentacles, Boris Vallejo Five of PentaclesNo Image placeholder Six of Pentacles (JB)Six of Pentacles, Julie Bell
Seven of PentaclesNo Image placeholder Eight of Pentacles (AP)Eight of Pentacles, Anthony Palumbo Nine of Pentacles (JB)Nine of Pentacles, Julie Bell
Ten of PentaclesNo Image placeholder Page of PentaclesPage of Pentacles, Boris Vallejo Knight of Pentacles (DP)Knight of Pentacles, David Palumbo
Prince of PentaclesNo Image placeholder Queen of Pentacles (AP)Queen of Pentacles, Anthony Palumbo King of PentaclesNo Image placeholder
Minor Arcana: Swords
Ace of Swords (AP)Ace of Swords, Anthony Palumbo Two of Swords (AP)Two of Swords, Anthony Palumbo Three of Swords (JB)Three of Swords, Julie Bell
Four of Swords (DP)Four of Swords, David Palumbo Four of Swords (JB)Passage, Julie Bell Five of Swords (AP)Five of Swords, Anthony Palumbo
Six of SwordsSix of Swords, Boris Vallejo Seven of SwordsNo Image placeholder Eight of Swords (DP)Eight of Swords, David Palumbo
Nine of SwordsNo Image placeholder Ten of Swords (DP)Ten of Swords, David Palumbo Page of Swords (JB)Page of Swords, Julie Bell
Prince of Swords (AP)Prince of Swords, Anthony Palumbo Queen of Swords (DP)Queen of Swords, David Palumbo King of SwordsKing of Swords, Boris Vallejo
Minor Arcana: Wands
Ace of WandsAce of Wands, Boris Vallejo Two of Wands (DP)Two of Wands, David Palumbo Three of Wands (DP)Three of Wands, David Palumbo
Four of Wands (AP)Four of Wands, Anthony Palumbo Five of WandsFive of Wands, Boris Vallejo Six of WandsSix of Wands, Boris Vallejo
Seven of Wands (AP)Seven of Wands, Anthony Palumbo Eight of Wands (JB)Eight_of_Wands, Julie Bell Nine of WandsNine of Wands, Boris Vallejo
Ten of WandsNo Image placeholder Page of Wands (AP)Page of Wands, Anthony Palumbo Knight of Rods (sic) (AP)Knight of Rods, Anthony Palumbo
Prince of WandsNo Image placeholder Queen of WandsQueen of Wands, Boris Vallejo King of Wands (JB)King of Wands, Julie Bell


Page last updated: 2021-09-04