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Werewolf (1984) Introduction


Appeared in Werewolf (1984) Hard Bound edition.

I draw because it’s hard for me to write. And, besides, I was never a critic. Therefore, explaining the why and the wherefore of something is really not in my nature. (I think of myself as an instinctive person.) But for someone or something that I consider important I’m willing to force myself to do the impossible. So here I am writing about Corben the Great.

I first discovered his work after his underground period – I think it was through Den. I don’t know how much time I spent looking at each frame. It seemed like a very long time and yet not enough. At that time, I hadn’t really started doing comics, but it was a pleasure to discover an artist working in comics who took great pains to render the tiniest detail in order to produce an image or a story that was a coherent whole.

From that day on, I looked for everything that Corben had done before. I discovered his early black and white work. Apart from the basic line technique which was essentially derivative of traditional comics, there was a “Corben-ness” about the rendering which was evident even then. I felt very close to his approach to story-telling, character development and drawing technique. Just an overall empathy.

No one draws werewolves – powerful and ferocious – like Corben does, as they would be if they could be. They’re a totally effective visualisation of cruelty, without a single hair out of place. Naturally, and fortunately, I’m not the only one who is fascinated by the cruelty he depicts. And if it weren’t for this fascination I wouldn’t be sitting here writing about his book. I say “book” and not “collection of short stories” because, by putting together all his works dealing with werewolves, Corben has given us an over all view of the evolution of his styles from the year dot. And we can see that in spite of obvious refinements of his technique over the years, the werewolf hasn’t really changed. His form has remained the same and he is just as violent as ever.

Yet each werewolf is perfectly suited to the tone of the story he is in. And all the stories, in one way or another, pit the werewolf against woman. Different women, but always identical – soft, vulnerable, voluptuous, and endowed with the anatomical exaggerations that only Corben can get away with drawing. In spite of all this, his women are never abstract goddess figures… they’re real enough and embody every red-blooded man’s ultimate desire. I wanted to sound philosophical, but I guess I’ve just ended up sounding like a horny Italian.

Gaetano Liberatore

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