On the Ledge by Richard V. Corben
Appeared in Flinch #16 (2001).
I first read THE HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND many years ago. It never occured to me at the time that someday I’d be drawing the story as adapted by my good friend, Simon Revelstroke, in comic-book format.
I thought the story was unusual for the time period and genre in which it was written because it contained such large dosed of action, as well as themes I didn’t understand. In some cases I still don’t. The mysterious and nameless protogonist faces incredible pig creatures, virtually demons from Hell, as well as subterranean flood, and ultimately the icy end of the world, which tales the sun with it. The narrative is surreal and dreamlike with episodes moving in different time periods. If I have a problem with the story, it’s with the character’s cool, detached relationships to everyone around him. This includes his faithful dog, which saves his life on several occasions. The character of his sister is specially enigmatic. She seems barely more than an insubstantial shadow and practically disappears without explanation at one point. Even now, after drawing the events of the story, I’m working this out.
The book turned out to be one of Simon’s favourite works, and he cultivated various projects utilizing it. These projects, movie scripts, analytical ciritcism and more went the way of ninety percent of artists’ ideas – into oblivion. Despite that, we enjoyed many discussions about casting Christoper Lee in a possible Hammer production of the novel. These discussions, predictably perhaps, turned to a Corben-Revelstroke graphic novel adaptation. But finding a suitable publisher that could do justice to the project was a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. I started my own publishing company eventually but we didn’t have the resources to launch a book of HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND’s stature. For years Hodgson’s novel remained a dream project, one among many.
Then in more recent years we found ourselves working together with editor Axel Alonso on various DC comics. I really wasn’t surprised when Simon brought up Hodgson’s masterpiece again. The time seemed right at last. But after much talking and planning about how to approach and “pitch” the dream project, a bit of reality set in, and I felt our version of THE HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND had little change of being published. I doubted we could get past the mysterious board of judges who approve or reject ideas for graphic novel development. After all, I had been shot down several times when I thought I had a sure winner.
So I tired to discourage Simon and told him not to get too excited about the ideal. But he would have none of it. “Onward!” he shouted. He wanted to do the adaptation and nothing would stop him. If he did the proposal alone, and somehow got the goahead, he asked, would I be willing to participate?
“Of course! But you’re just setting yourself up for a fall,” I replied. I had no doubt that this would end as another fiasco and create a depressed mood for him and me.
If you are reading this around Christmas time 2000, you might know that I had to eat those words. A miracle happened. THE HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND was approved and done. Not smoothly, but that’s another essay, or series of essays.
Copyright © 2000 Heart-Attack-Series, Ink!,
Created: October 21, 2000. Last updated: January 12, 2020 at 17:42 pm