The late Richard Corben was the well-known illustrator of Heavy Metal, countless underground comics, Warren Publications, Den, and other landmark appearances (Meatloaf’s Bat Out Of Hell album cover, for example).
Richard Corben’s library of deluxe graphic novels is now with Dark Horse. The first publication in the series is Murky World, a graphic novel combining the entire Murky World series.
The Murky World, in true Corben fashion, is a murky place indeed. The storyline involves Tugat, a warrior, who awakes from a strange dream. As he finds himself in a strange world full of stranger inhabitants, he sets off on a journey with his faithful horse Frix.
From there, it’s every creature for itself! The malformed faces, the truncated limbs, the pendulous breasts. The dialogue, consisting of cosmic ponderings, sarcasm, insults, and jokes. See: the huge teeth, the bulging eyes, the cloaks and daggers of dastardly villains, all out to kill or be killed. And the landscapes, composed of huge, timeless crashed objects, covered in desert sand, with caves and castles and palaces.
It’s a rambling, reckless tale that wanders like a sunstroke victim through the hills and valleys of despair, but that’s what we treasure about Richard Corben: his renderings and ponderings on the human struggle. What it’s like to be outside of the comfort zone, all alone. It’s man against beast, and we won’t be home for dinner. Oh, and it’s hot outside and we are in leather.
Corben’s art is inspired and monumental, and certainly one-of-a-kind. The lighting is consistently high contrast, with shining highlights reflecting and dark shadows concealing the threats. Colour by Richard Corben and Beth Corben Reed.
In addition to the Murky World story chapters are a foreword by Mike Mignola, along with a reprinting of some original black and white chapters. But the highlight for me in the bonus content is the inclusion of many many pages of Corben’s pencil and ink sketches. These are glorious: a look inside his creative process, his first scratchings. It’s faces and shapes and gestures and settings galore, a real stream-of-conscious revelation of his skill.
Recommended for the Corben fan, this is a nicely packaged beginning to a whole new retrospective of his work courtesy of Dark Horse! Editor Daniel Chabon, Designer Patrick Satterfield, Digital Art Technician Allyson Haller.
Dark Horse Comics, Murky World Hard Cover, $39.99 for 156 pages. Nudity and lunacy, rating 16+