After the debut of the “Creepy Presents” line from Dark Horse Comics of “Creepy Presents Bernie Wrightson” comes a new installment that features the stellar artwork of the mighty Richard Corben. Titled “Creepy Presents Richard Corben,” this hardback anthology collects all the Corben material published by Warren Publishing in the magazines Creepy and Eerie.
Born October 1, 1940, on a farm in Anderson Missouri, Richard Corben has become a sought-after illustrator and comic book artist. He is best-known for his work for the magazine Heavy Metal, although his collections in Catalan (although rare) are extremely collectible. In 2012, Corben was elected into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame. His current work includes flashback sequences in Conan of Cimmeria, Starr the Slayer, and work for Marvel, DC, IDW, and Hellboy for Dark Horse.
Although not sporting the best of covers (Corben has done much better than this), the artwork within has been beautifully restored and presented, thus ensuring that fans of Corben will be impressed. Early work is presented in black and white, with the later work presented in startling full color. And it is here where Corben excels, as he is a master of color.
Stories range from dark fantasy stories such as “Frozen Beauty” and “Instinct” to science fiction such as “Within You Without You” and “Judas.” However, it is Corben’s horror tales that really demand attention. Found here in are Corben’s tales take from Edgar Allen Poe, such as “The Raven,” “The Oval Portrait,” and “Shadow.” Of these, “The Raven” is my personal favorite, following the text relatively well and generating some inspired images.
Corben’s strongest tales come with the help of some stellar writers who know well how to bring out the best of this talented artist. For example, Bruce Jones and Corben create the story “In Deep,” which is perhaps the best of the lot. The tale’s only weakness is the wraparound intro and coda, but the core tale is the stuff of nightmares. Another favorite tale of mine is “Bowser,” a dark comedy about a little and voracious creature that grows bigger and bigger, much to the family’s chagrin, as it begins to consume animals and eventually humans.
Also collected are some of Corben’s werewolf tales. These stories range from fantasy-driven stories like “Lycanklutz” to funny stories like “Wizard Wagstaff” to straight-ahead horror tales like “Change . . . into Something Comfortable.” Although all have their virtues, I found that the horror tales were the best, although Corben’s fantasy tales are remarkable with respect to how he captures settings.
Hardcore fans of Warren Publications will also appreciate the collection of Corben’s series “The Child.” First published in Eerie #57, The Child is reanimated boy made up of various body parts taken from corpses. The Child has superhuman strength and can heal very quickly. He can never age, so he is trapped in a child-like body. Like Frankenstein, The Child is often misunderstood. The stories here combine horror, dark fantasy, and melodrama to good effect.
Introduced by Jose Villarrubia (who also performed the exhaustive color restoration) and augmented by the covers Corben drew for Warren Publications, “Creepy Presents Richard Corben” belongs in every collector’s library of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. Corben fans will simply feast on this collection for weeks and perhaps years to come.