The Comics Journal ran a long interview Jean-Pierre Dionnet, who co-founded Metal Hurlant with Moebius, Philippe Druillet, and Bernard Farkas.
Here he talks about how the American version of Metal Hurlant, Heavy Metal, came about:
And then I did some very bad things, that, thirty years having passed, could be considered criminal. The first one was to intrude in the night at the offices of L’Écho, to steal with Druillet their subscriber listing in photocopies.
I also made a sort of scheme to be published in America.
I mean, I had seen Stan Lee, or sent him a letter, and he said, “Oh, maybe it cannot work here.” I had seen Infantino, and I sent him an issue; he was not enthusiastic. And Joe Kubert told me not to do it. I had seen Bob Guccione, and he scared me to death, because he was living in a very big house with Christs everywhere, and naked ladies. So he scared me a lot. And I met Len Mogel of National Lampoon.
My scheme was not as scary in the beginning. I really believed through the stories that I had seen, that maybe we could do an edition of the Lampoon. But very, very fast, I understood that it was not possible because it was very American, and there were only very few pages, like Gahan Wilson’s Nuts, that I could use. And some parodies. But I noticed that each time Len Mogel came to Paris, or invited me to New York, his wife walked into the next room reading Métal Hurlant, trying to understand it. And each time I saw her become more enthusiastic. So I pushed, I pushed, I pushed – and one day Len said, “Oh, my daughter, my wife loves Métal Hurlant a lot; maybe we could do an exchange? You do Lampoon in France and we do Heavy Metal.” And I said yes, but I already knew that I would never do the Lampoon