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Richard Corben

Richard Corben
Born Richard Vance Corben
(1940-10-01) October 1, 1940
Anderson, Missouri, US
Nationality American
Area(s) Writer, Penciller, Artist, Inker, Editor, Publisher, Letterer, Colourist
Pseudonym(s) Gore, Corb, Harvey Sea
Notable works
Den, Bloodstar, Rip in Time, Bat Out of Hell (album cover).
Awards CINE Golden Eagle, 1968
Shazam Award, 1971, 1973
Spectrum Grand Master Award, 2009
The Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame, 2012

Richard Corben (born October 1, 1940) is an American illustrator and comic book artist best known for his comics featured in Heavy Metal magazine. He is the winner of the 2009 Spectrum Grand Master Award.[1] In 2012 he was elected to The Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame.


  • Biography 1
  • Awards 2
  • Quotes about Corben 3
  • Bibliography 4
  • See also 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8
    • Interviews 8.1


Richard Corben was born on a farm[2] in Anderson, Missouri, and went on to get a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Kansas City Art Institute, in 1965.[3]

After working as a professional animator, Corben started doing underground comics, including Grim Wit, Slow Death, Skull, Rowlf, Fever Dreams and his own anthology Fantagor.[4] In 1970 he began illustrating horror and science-fiction stories for Warren Publishing.[5] His stories appeared in Creepy, Eerie, Vampirella, 1984 and Comix International. He also colored several episodes of Will Eisner's Spirit. All the stories and covers he did for Creepy and Eerie have been reprinted by Dark Horse Books in a single volume: Creepy Presents Richard Corben.[6] The three stories he drew for Vampirella have been reprinted by Dynamite Entertainment in Vampirella Archives Vol. 5.[7]

In 1975, when Moebius, Druillet, and Jean-Pierre Dionnet started publishing the magazine Métal Hurlant in France, Corben submitted some of his stories to them.[8] He continued his work for the franchise in America, where the magazine was called Heavy Metal. Also in 1975, a selection of his black-and-white underground comix stories was collected in hardcover as The Richard Corben Funnybook from Kansas City's Nickelodeon Press. In 1976 he adapted a short Robert E. Howard story in an early graphic novel, Bloodstar.[9]

Eerie 1986 cover by Corben featuring a scene from his story "Change... Into Something Comfortable"

Among the stories drawn for Heavy Metal he continued the saga of his most famous creation, Den which had begun in the short film Neverwhere (Neil Gaiman used the same title, Neverwhere, later, but the two creations have nothing common) and a short story in the underground publication Grim Wit No. 2. The saga of Den is a fantasy series about the adventures of a young underweight nerd who travels to Neverwhere, a universe taking inspirational nods from Robert E. Howard's Hyborian Age, Edgar Rice Burroughs's Barsoom and H. P. Lovecraft's horror dimensions. There, the boy becomes an enormously endowed nude muscleman who has erotic adventures in a world of outrageous dangers, hideous monsters, and buxom nude women who lustfully throw themselves at him. This story was adapted in a highly abridged form in the animated film Heavy Metal, where Den was voiced by John Candy in an abbreviated adaptation that involved Corben himself that he felt was satisfactory.

Corben's collaborations are varied, ranging from Rip in Time with Bruce Jones, to Harlan Ellison for Vic and Blood, to the Den Saga, the Mutant World titles, Jeremy Brood, and The Arabian Nights with Jan Strnad.

From 1986–1994 Corben operated his own publishing imprint, Fantagor Press. Among the titles Fantagor published were Den, Den Saga, Horror in the Dark, Rip in Time, and Son of Mutant World. Fantagor went out of business after the 1994 contraction of the comics industry.[10]

Due to the sexual nature of Corben's art, it has been accused of being pornographic, a description he himself disagrees with. One notorious example was the interview he gave Heavy Metal editor Brad Balfour in 1981.[2][11][12] Corben was very dissatisfied with the interview. He felt it portrayed him as a "petty, childish, borderline psychotic oaf". He wrote a letter in retort, which was published in the September 1981 issue.[13]

Neverwhere, 1978. This is the first Den comics collection, cover art by Corben.

Corben did the cover of Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell, Jim Steinman's, Bad for Good and a movie poster (based on a drawing by Neal Adams[14]) for the Brian De Palma film Phantom of the Paradise. In addition, he provided cover art for the VHS release of the low-budget horror film Spookies.

In 2000, Corben collaborated with Brian Azzarello on five issues of Azzarello's run on Hellblazer (146–150) which was collected in a trade called Hellblazer: Hard Time.[15] He also adapted the classic horror story The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson for DC's Vertigo imprint. In 2001, Azzarello and Corben teamed up to create Marvel's Startling Stories: Banner (a four issue mini-series exploring Doc Samson's relationship with Bruce Banner) and Marvel Max's Cage (a five issue mini-series starring Luke Cage). In June 2004, Corben joined with Garth Ennis to produce The Punisher: The End, a one-shot title for Marvel published under the MAX imprint as part of Marvel's The End series. The story tells of The Punisher's final days on an earth ravaged by nuclear holocaust. Ever the independent, Corben would work with rocker Rob Zombie and Steve Niles in 2005 on a project for IDW Publishing called Bigfoot. In 2007, Corben did a two issue run on Marvel Comics' surreal demon biker, Ghost Rider. At Marvel's MAX imprint he has produced Haunt of Horror, mini-series adapting classic works of horror to comics. The first mini-series, published in 2006, was based on the stories of Edgar Allan Poe[16] followed by a second series in 2008 adapting works by H. P. Lovecraft.[17] Between 2008 and 2009 he illustrated the flashback sequences in Conan of Cimmeria #1–7, collected as Conan Volume 7: Cimmeria. In 2009 he illustrated Starr the Slayer for Marvel's MAX comics imprint. Since then Corben has done more work for Marvel, DC, IDW, and most notably Dark Horse, drawing the Eisner Award–winning Hellboy.


Corben's work in comics and animation has won him recognition, including the Shazam Award for Outstanding New Talent in 1971, and a Shazam Award for Superior Achievement by an Individual in 1973. He also received a CINE Golden Eagle and President of Japan Cultural Society trophy in 1968 for his short film Neverwhere.[18] While working for the Warren anthologies, he received numerous Warren Awards: 1973 Best Artist/Writer and Special Award for Excellence, 1976 Best Art: Within You, Without You, Eerie #77 and Best Cover: Eerie #77 and 1978 Best Cover Artist. 2009 Spectrum Grand Master Award.[1] In 209 he won "Best Finite Series/Limited Series" Eisner Award, for Hellboy: The Crooked Man and in 2011 he won "Best Single Issue (or One-Shot)" Eisner Award, for Hellboy: Double Feature of Evil. Finally, in 2012 he was elected to The Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame.

Quotes about Corben

Corben's work is admired and respected by many artists, illustrators, and authors.

Corben's work is singular in its humanity. He works with towering technical skill... ...the wondrous thing of it all is that underneath all that technical tour-de-force is the sound of a beating heart.
— Will Eisner[19]
Corben's stuff was great. He put stuff into his comix that the overground press wouldn't print.
— Robert Crumb[20]
I feel like I was particularly impressed by Richard Corben's work. But in general I would not say the underground made that big of an impression except for Corben... His science-fiction stories, those almost primitive black and white comics he did back then. I was very struck by the visceral punch they had, by the unusual artistic point of view. And also by the unabashed exaggeration. It's as if you wanted a woman to have big breasts, you drew it. There was something just so joyously excessive and erotic about his stuff, that I just ate it up.
— Frank Miller[21]
Richard Corben, stands among us like an extraterrestrial peak. He has sat in his throne for a long time, above the moving and multi-coloured field of world comics, like an effigy of the leader, a strange monolith, a sublime visitor, a solitary enigma.
— Moebius[22]
Mr. Richard Corben... a genuine giant of his chosen medium.
— Alan Moore[23]
People like the American Richard Corben... are, in my view, maestros.
— H. R. Giger[24]
Corben's technique introduced the airbrush to comics. His sophisticated knowledge of how color is printed allowed him to get fantastic results. His work has maintained a sense of humor and spectacle in tales of barbarians, time travelers and Arabian nights.
— Harvey Kurtzman[25]


  • Corben, Richard; Alan Moore (Introduction) (2000). The House on the Borderland. DC Comics.  
  • Corben, Richard (1977). The Odd World of Richard Corben. A Warren Adult Fantasy Publication. Warren Publishing Co.  
  • Corben, Richard; Moebius (preface) (2001). Den La Quete, tome 2. Toth.  
  • Balfour, Brad (June 1981). "The Richard Corben Interview, Part 1". Heavy Metal No. 51: 6–11. 
  • Balfour, Brad (July 1981). "The Richard Corben Interview, Part 2". Heavy Metal No. 52: 8–14. 
  • Bharucha, Fershid (1981). Richard Corben: Flights Into Fantasy. Thumb Tack Books.  
  • Bissette, Stephen R.; Wiater, Stanley (1993). Comic Book Rebels: Conversations with the Creators of New Comics. Donald I. Fine, Inc.  
  • Garriock, P. R. (1978). Masters of Comic Book Art. Morpheus International.  
  • Giger, H. R. (1993). Necronomicon II. Aurum Press, Ltd.  
  • Horn, Maurice (1985). Sex in the Comics. Chelsea House Publishers.  
  • Kurtzman, Harvey (1991). From Aargh to Zap!Harvey Kurtzman's Visual History of the Comics. Prentice Hall Press.  
  • Richardson, John Adkins (1977). The Complete Book of Cartooning. Prentice-Hall, Inc.  
  • Sackmann, Eckart (1987). Great Masters of Fantasy Art. Parkwest Pubns.  
  • Oliver, Agustín (2004). Richard Corben (Un rebelde tranquilo). Sinsentido.  
  • Van Hise, James (1989). How to Draw Art for Comic Books: Lessons from the Masters. Pioneer Books, Inc.  

See also


  1. ^ a b 2009 Spectrum Grand Master Announced from Locus Online
  2. ^ a b Balfour, Brad (June 2001). "The Richard Corben Interview, Part 1". Heavy Metal #51: 6–11.
  3. ^ Bharucha, Fershid (1981). Richard Corben: Flights Into Fantasy, page 26. Thumb Tack Books. ISBN 978-84-499-1949-7.
  4. ^ Bharucha, Fershid (1981). Richard Corben: Flights Into Fantasy, page 52-56. Thumb Tack Books. ISBN 978-84-499-1949-7.
  5. ^ Bharucha, Fershid (1981). Richard Corben: Flights Into Fantasy, page 92. Thumb Tack Books. ISBN 978-84-499-1949-7.
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Balfour, Brad (July 2001). "The Richard Corben Interview, Part 2". Heavy Metal #52: page 11.
  9. ^ Seuling, Phil (1975). "The Fantasy Epic: Crearaphic Novel". Mediascene #16: 8–9.
  10. ^ "Newswatch: Comics Publishers Suffer Tough Summer: Body Count Rises in Market Shakedown," The Comics Journal #172 (November 1994), pp. 13–18.
  11. ^ Balfour, Brad (July 2001). "The Richard Corben Interview, Part 2". Heavy Metal #52: 8–14.
  12. ^ Balfour, Brad (August 2001). "The Richard Corben Interview, Part 3". Heavy Metal #53: 8–13.
  13. ^ Heavy Metal vol. V, No. 6 (September 1981).
  14. ^ Adams, Neal (1976). The Neal Adams Treasury. Pure Imagination. Page 36,
  15. ^  
  16. ^ Haunt of Horror: Edgar Allan Poe at the Comic Book DB
  17. ^ Corben and Lovecraft at Marvel in June, Newsarama, March 20, 2008
  18. ^ Bharucha, Fershid (1981). Richard Corben: Flights Into Fantasy. Page 44. Thumb Tack Books. ISBN 978-84-499-1949-7.
  19. ^ Corben, Richard (1977). The Odd Comic World of Richard Corben. Warren Adult Fantasy.  
  20. ^ Holm, D. (2004). R. Crumb: Conversations. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi. p. 101.  
  21. ^ Brayshaw 1998.
  22. ^ Corben, Richard; Moebius (preface) (2001). Den La Quete, tome 2. Toth. ISBN 978-84-85138-21-0.
  23. ^ Hodgson, William (2000). The House on the Borderland. Vertigo / DC Comics.  
  24. ^ Garriock, P. (1978). Masters of Comic Book Art. London: Aurum Press. p. 56.  
  25. ^ Kurtzman, Harvey (1991). From Aargh! to Zap!. New York: Prentice Hall Press. p. 88.  


  • Adams, Neal (1976). The Neal Adams Treasury. Pure Imagination. 
  • Balfour, Brad (June 2001). "The Richard Corben Interview, Part 1". Heavy Metal No. 51: 6–11. 
  • Balfour, Brad (July 2001). "The Richard Corben Interview, Part 2". Heavy Metal No. 52: 8–14. 
  • Balfour, Brad (August 2001). "The Richard Corben Interview, Part 3". Heavy Metal No. 53: 8–13. 
  • Bharucha, Fershid (1981). Richard Corben: Flights Into Fantasy. Thumb Tack Books.  
  • Brayshaw, Christopher (December 1998). "Interview Frank Miller". The Comics Journal (209): 69. 
  • Giger, H. R. (1993). H. R. Giger Necronomicon II. Morpheus International.  
  • Holm, E. K. (2004). R. Crumb: Conversations. University Press of Mississippi.  
  • Seuling, Phil (1975). "The Fantasy Epic: Creating the Graphic Novel". Mediascene No. 16: 8–9. 
  • Richard Corben at the Grand Comics Database
  • Richard Corben at the Comic Book DB
  • Richard Corben on the Lambiek Comiclopedia

External links


  • The Richard Corben Interview pt. 1
  • The Richard Corben Interview pt. 2
  • The Richard Corben Interview pt. 3
  • The Richard Corben Retort Letter
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