Monday, December 14, 2020

Early Influences - Richard Corben

The news of Richard Corben's passing was announced last week. Each year brings the end of more and more voices and talents that paved the way for us and were an inspiration for so many. I do not know a time that I was not aware of Corben's work. I may not have known his name, and I was definitely too young to read the stories he wrote and illustrated, but I knew his mark-making anywhere. It was likely a copy of Heavy Metal flipped through at a gas station on a family trip or an accidentally grabbed horror comic at the comic book store, but Corben's hand caught my eye and never let go.

I can definitely say three things that make me love Corben's work. First, I love how he renders forms and volumes. His images have so much mass and shape to them, I feel they are three dimensional. Second, I love his textures. For me, there is a Corben texture. I can't, but my finger on it, but the textures and surfaces he creates are indeed his own. Third, I love his monsters. Like the rest of his work, Corben's monsters are uniquely his. Be they hulking masses, an abomination or horror, or festering undead, I love all of his creations.

I will be honest, I have not ready as much of Richard Corben's work as I would like or that I should have. I know his covers and featured works much more. In a way, he is still giving me new work because I am continually discovering works I am wholly unknown to me. Take the cover of Marvel's Epic #2. I have known of Epic since the early 1980s, but I had never held a copy in my hands. I was too young for it at the time and never made an effort to hunt it down later. That is until a month ago when I was able to purchase the first eleven issues. And the cover of issue two? That would be a self-portrait of Corben doing battle against a pack of large lizard monsters. The painting is forty years old and is brand new to me. As if it was painted this year. 

Richard Corben worked on some mainstream comics when I was very much into comics, and those are the works that resonate loudest with me. He illustrated two limited series for Marvel, one for Hulk and one for Luke Cage, and I can not speak highly enough of them. As mentioned before, his mark-making to create the Corben forms and textures are on point in these books, and even if they were so well written, I would still encourage people to own them for the art alone. Corben's work on Hellboy is also top-notch, and his visual storytelling can't be beaten. That said, there is one comic work that I love more than all others. No, not Den, for I was too young to read it, and I have yet to go back and discover it. I am talking of the DC Solo issue that featured Corben's art and stories. DC produced a short series of comics that allowed the giants of the time to tell and illustrate their stories. I have bought Corben's issue multiple times over the years to ensure I always have a copy. The issue is a collection of short, self-contained stories, and they all leaving you wanting more. In this collection is one of my favorite stories, being both Corben's and all comics in general. It is about a cyclops. It is short. It is to the point. And I love it.

Sadly, we lost a giant this month. He is gone but certainly not forgotten, and I eagerly look forward to discovering more of his work. If you have some favorites that I should read, add them in the comments! I would like to hear what should be on my reading list.

That's all for another exciting Monday on the blog. See you back here on Wednesday! Until then...

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