Sunday, October 21, 2012
Being of modest means and firmly rooted in the belief that all new things suck until they become old things...I often pass over the seductive new arrivals displayed in the windows of Copenhagen's leading comic book stores, to instead browse the dusty brown cardboard boxes filled with dog-eared and decaying comic books at the leading second hand comic book stores. Weird and disgusting as this may be, it has its rewards...like picking up the pictured copy of underground comic Slow Death #4 a few summers ago, which contained not just one, but two early Sci-Fi stories by Richard Corben, plus the cover, signed with his pseudonym: GORE.
Published in 1972 by Last Gasp, Slow Death is typical of what you might call the "second wave" of underground comic books (after the pioneering days of the late sixties) containing mainly sloppily drawn story lines centered around dope smoking and/ or sex, plus one or two more stories of superior quality (usually dealing with the same subjects...)
In this number Richard Corben clearly takes the lead with "The Awakening" and "Mangle, Robot Mangler" drawn in Corben's early styles which masterfully combines his legendary airbrush technique (in black and white) with a brush and pen inking technique uniquely his own. What I cherish about Corben/ GORE as a Sci-Fi artist is that he often introduces visual ideas and story-line concepts that are both mind blowing and truly original, a talent he shares with other Sci-Fi masters like Wally Wood and Moebius.
In The Awakening we meet Clyde William Boris, deep frozen in the year 1975 due to terminal cancer, and now brought back to life in the year 2163... only to find himself confronted by girls with sexy curvaceous bodies, but adorned with the faces of middle-aged men! (of the chain smoking and scotch-drinking type...) A few other surprises are also in store for the unfortunate Clyde in this story of a mere four pages.
The second story, Mangle, Robot Mangler (a six-pager) is obviously a take on Russ Manning's Magnus, Robot Fighter, but in typical counter-culture style the tables are turned on the robot-bashing protagonist and this time around we are handed a sizeable helping of some typical Richard Corben action and ultra-violence, as the overly self-confident Mangle battles a bio-robot but ends up somewhat broken, and much in need of a helping hand...
I suppose that some day "The complete works of Richard Corben" will hit the stores in deluxe hardcover edition with a full color giclee print signed by the master. In the meantime, I'll have my fun searching the netherworld of comic shops and digging out these gems - they're well worth it.
To be continued!