Richard Corben

Speaking of the passing of greats, I was not actively blogging last December when Richard Corben died unexpectedly, after heart surgery. Very sad loss—I was certain he had another ten years of great stuff in him. He was one of those artists whose work never really bowed to the passage of time.

Most people would only know his work because he did the iconic cover for Meat Loaf’s 1977 classic album Bat Out of Hell. And, sadly, a lot of those folks doubtless don’t even know his name.

Bat Out of Hell

From my own collection, here’s a few other things he did. We’ll probably be talking some more about his work soon. RIP, Corb…

Corben Comics

5 thoughts on “Richard Corben”

  1. Do you know, this is the first time I’ve ever realised that iconic cover was drawn by Corben!! I had it on vinyl at around age 11, it was ubiquitous then. It was around the same age I discovered Corben’s comic work in copies of Warren comics that I bought, in a half price sale, at your Uncle’s Quality Comics store. The first comic shop I ever visited. It was a birthday treat when we were visiting my Grandma who lived in London. We will never see Corben’s like again. At his best he is transcendent and untouchable and he will be greatly missed.

    1. Sadly, Jasper, I doubt we’ll see old-fashioned comics shops again, the kind where you could stumble into a stack of ancient horror mags or underground releases whilst searching for the latest mainstream monthly. The few survivors of that breed to avoid being engulfed by the toy-obsessed chains (a hideous £20.00 Funko Pop offers a way better profit margin than a £3.50 pamphlet, after all) are unlikely to make it to the other side of the lockdown cycle, assuming there ever is one.

  2. My 1st exposure to Richard Corben was when I was in Houston for 6 months in 1971. At a large drug store that had a magazine counter, I saw EERIE #33, the issue with “Starvisions” on the cover. That was my 1st Warren horror comic, and it introduced me to so many artists I’d never seen before.

    Corben’s story was “THE BUG”. A company puts an insecticide tower on the market, it sells like crazy, but one day a man comes to complain that his sickly wife DIED because of it. The owner of the company kills the husband in a hit-and-run, but later, hears a noise in his warehouse, and feeling guilty, runs and hides… only to find he’s accidentally locked himself in a storeroom full of the towers. Overcome by the fumes, he collapses… but on waking up, finds he’s been transformed into a COCKROACH. (Some things you don’t forget.)

    Corben was still a regular at Warren when I started buying them regular in the late 70s. And I recognized his art on “BAT OUT OF HELL” (Corben… Jim Steinman… Meat Loaf… and Ellen Foley, who I have 6 large photos of on my wall for the last 25 years).

    Corben was also the single reason I bought my first issue of “HEAVY METAL”, and got hooked on that. The 10 minutes that was adapted from his work in the 1981 animated feature film remains an all-time favorite of mine. I have so many books collecting his work they probably take up a full magazine box.

    And recently, as a result of my massive POE comics blog project, I found out he currently holds the record for most POE comics adaptations by a single artist… BY A WIDE MARGIN that may well NEVER be surpassed. (Unless I’ve missed anything… 30!) He did 3 for Warren, 1 for Pacific… but then decades later, did a pile more for Marvel Max, and some years after that, a BIGGER pile more for Dark Horse. (Because of the annoying habit of publishers including “extra” stories in collections, there’s still 2 MORE of his I need to track down!!!)

    I once had the nerve to send him copies of my 4 “WIERDLINGS” stories, suggesting he might be a perfect choice to illustrate more. He wrote back saying “I don’t think I’m ready to do superheroes yet.” A few years later, he was doing HULK and LUKE CAGE for Marvel. Oh well!

    I really owe it to myself to dig out his work and RE-read a pile of it. Especially the later DENs. After the 1st story, the sequels somehow were never quite as “coherent”. Not sure who was responsible for that….

    He also did the cover for Steinman’s follow-up, “BAD FOR GOOD”, where Steinman did a duet with Karla De Vito, who replaced Foley on tour.

    1. A number of former Warren writers and artists, Corben among them, have been featured in The Creeps, an homage to the days of Eerie and Creepy from Rich Sala’s Warrant Publishing. I believe his final contribution was the cover to #28, cover-dated February 2021, which you can see here.

  3. I discovered Corben in Heavy Metal in the late 70’s and appreciated his work style and ethic. I’m sorry to hear he has passed. His work was very influential. I remember looking at Simon Bisley’s work and remarking to myself that it was a combination of Frazetta, Corben and Bill Sienkiewicz. I wasn’t surprised by an interview wherein he said the very same thing.

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