Richard Corben was one of the figureheads of the 70s underground comicbook movement. He focused primarily in the scifi and horror genres going so far as creating adaptions of Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe. His Poe work actually spans four decades. He was inducted into the Eisner hall of fame in 2012 and at 74 years of age is still actively creating comics. At the time of writing the third issue of his creator-owned series Rat God just hit the stands earlier in the day.
His first published comicbook was 1969's Tales From the Plague. Corben provides art to Dennis Cunningham's wordy script. There are some pretty nice glimpses into Corben;s brilliance, but it leaves much to be desired. It has the feeling of old woodcut prints with its scratchy inks or an illumined book ala William Blake.
After this start Corben dove into the world of underground self-publishing with titles such as Grim Wit, Slow Death, Skull, Rowlf, and Fever Dreams. During this time he also published with Warren in its anthology title Creepy and a little in Eerie and Vampirella.
|1970 - Horrible Harvey's House (Last Gasp)|
|1970 - Fantagor #1 back cover|
|1970 - Razar, The Unhero (Fantagor 1)|
His art continued to improve throughout this period. I think his first true graphic masterpiece was 1974's adaption of Poe's The Raven.
This piece highlighted his airbrush technique and his ability to sustain a lengthy narrative - a rare feat in America in the mid 70s.
In 1975 he began submitting stories to Metal Hurlant (published as Heavy Metal in the US). He serialized his first lengthy solo narrative Den in these pages. Corben managed to have a unique and powerful visual style among heavyweights such as the magazine co-founders Moebius and Druillet.
During the Heavy Metal period Corben produced a series of graphic novels with various collaborators. Mutant World (1982), Werewolf (1984), The Bodyssey (1986), Vic and Blood (1987), as well as continuing Den. Corben never stopped innovating his style and used state of the art color reproduction in his comics. 1992's Den Saga (the fourth book of Den) has some incredible coloring techniques.
1997 found Corben finally breaking into (what could be called) mainstream comics and beginning his lengthy association with Darkhorse Comics with Aliens Alchemy.
2000 also saw Corben drawing an adaption of The House on the Borderland. This is perhaps Corben's most popular work to have found a more general audience outside of the comicbook reading viewership.
In 2002 Corben was invited to do an issue of Marvel's Solo - an innovative series where each issue focused on one artist.
Not slowing down at all Corben worked on Swamp Thing, Punisher, Ghost Rider, a few solo works, a series of Poe adaptions, Hellboy and Conan from 2004 to 2007. 2008 saw Corben produce a series of Lovecraft adaptions and a brilliant Hellboy run "The Crooked Man".
Corben published Ragemoor in 2012 and completed a lengthy series of Poe adaptions published as a book collection in 2014.
Corben is currently publishing Rat God.
In addition to his impressive body of comic work Corben has illustrated many magazine, comicbook covers, and interior artwork.
Ideally we would all be able to pick up copies of Corben's originally comics. These selections should still be readily available.
Creepy Presents Richard Corben (2012) - collects Corben's 70s work on Creepy.
Haunt of Horror: Lovecraft (2008)
The House on The Borderland (2000)
Haunt of Horror: Edgar Allan Poe (2006)
Edgar Allan Poe's Spirits of the Dead (2014)
Den: Neverwhere, Den 2: Muvovum, Den 3: Children of Fire, Den 4, Den 5: Elements
Hellboy in Mexico, Hellboy: The Bride of Hell, Hellboy: Being Human, Hellboy: Double Feature of Evil, Hellboy: Houe of the Living Dead, Hellboy: The Crooked Man, Hellboy: Makoma.