This week on Visions of Horror, Bloody-Disgusting writers Farah Al-Hakkak (ShadowJayd) and Lonnie Nadler (Lonmonster) look at the illustrious Richard Corben, and his 1985 cover for “Edgar Allan Poe: ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ and Other Tales of Terror” (as published by Catalan Communications).
Where to begin with Richard Corben? A man who’s name is held sacred by most horror comic aficionados. A man who Alan Moore calls “a genuine giant of his chosen medium”. A man who broke new grounds for horror and is still working today. Suffice it to say, Corben is a highly respected, and stylistically distinguished, American illustrator. He is a globally recognized, multi-award-winning comic book creator, and one of the most influential advocates of sequential art the comics industry has ever seen. Acclaimed for his popular and ground-breaking work on “Heavy Metal”, “Creepy”, and “Eerie”, Corben’s unparalleled artistic contributions in the field eventually propelled him out of the indie underground scene, and into a broader—and extremely venerated—market.
His powerful impact in the comics realm has been immeasurable since then, and had he not established his stylistically renowned approach to horror comics, the genre would not be as notorious as it is today. By branching out and forging a revolutionary connection between conventionally mainstream comics, underground commix (Grim Wit, Fantagor), and Franco-Belgian comics (Métal Hurlant/Heavy Metal), Corben conclusively proved — and successfully maintained — his highly esteemed position as one of the most important figures in the industry. In 2012, Corben was finally elected to the The Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame.
With so much work under his belt over the span of his career, it is unbelievably difficult to pinpoint one piece that sums up his artistic style. From his cover art for “Heavy Metal” to his own short horror stories in “Creepy”, Corben has amassed quite the catalogue of art. Choosing a single piece to feature for this article was difficult, but when we found the right one, we knew immediately. Because of his deep love for classic works of horror — as demonstrated through his numerous comic book adaptations of Poe and Lovecraft’s writings — we decided to feature his cover art for Catalan Communications’ “Edgar Allan Poe: ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ and Other Tales of Terror”. Specifically, the 1985 version. Also featured below is his original grayscale illustration.
Generally speaking, Corben’s signature style incorporates graphic violence, exaggerated figures, and an abundance of nudity. His characters all maintain slightly offset bodily proportions and physical features, which adds to the macabre nature of his work. He pays great attention to detail with a penchant for embellishment, and he has a love for the grotesque which shines through his work. In the piece below, Corben illustrates the usual disproportioned female with embellished hands and heinously sunken cheeks, thus showcasing his talent when it comes to characterizations. The looming shadows produce a sense space and density, especially in regards to the tattered dress and backdrop design. There’s also an exhaustive completeness to his work that is more than just pencils and outlines. Richard Corben is a true visionary, a master of horror.
If you want Bloody Disgusting to cover one of your favourite horror artists, or a fantastic piece of horror-related comic book art, head down to the comment section, or hit up Farah or Lonnie on Twitter.