Oct. 1972. Art Nouveau Publications, Springfield MO. [ober]
Pgs 53-54: “Journey To Gore’s Dungeon”. Interview by Ed Romero
Pg 53: Photo of Jan Strnad and Richard Corben. B&W.
Pg 54: “Castle Girl” B&W.
Journey to Gore’s Dungeon by Ed Romero
Photo with Jan Strand and Richard Corben. Behind them there is four posters on a wall. From left: Rachel Welch in One Million Years B.C. (1966); Stanley Kubrik’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968); (unregocnized poster); Star Trek.
Jan Strnad (left) and Richard Corben (right) look over some of their Fever Dreams pages in Richard’s basement.
At the New Your Comic Art Convention in July, Richard Corben was named the winner of the Goethe Award for favorite fan artist. Oddly enough, Richard had long since stopped doing art for fanzines, and is devoting all his time to underground comix and filmaking work.
Two weeks earlier, on the evening of June 15, I had visited Richard Corben, along with Jan Strnad and the omnipresent Dave Taylor. After getting lost a few times, we finally succeeded in finding Richard’s home in the rolling hills of southern Kansas City, Missouri. Following greetings and introductions (Dave and I hadn’t met Richard before), Jan showed everyone John Adkins Richardson’s strip for Fever Dream #1, which had come in that day’s mail, along with a color back cover by Richardson. Written by Jan, the strip was a 16-page fantasy epic. Originally Richard had intended to draw the strip, and had even done some breakdowns and layout for it when he decided he wouldn’t have time to finish it.
We spent some time looking over the unusally large pages, then Richard led us down into the basement, where his working area is located. There we saw his cover and science fiction strip for the first issue of Fever Dreams. The story involved the preception of reality, a recurring theme in Corben’s work, and the art was the finest I have seen by him–very small and tight, yet slick and modern. Fever Dreams is Richard’s latest comix title, written entirely by Jan. The cover consisted of four separate airbrush drawings, each done in black and grays on transparent acetate. When halftoned and printed in black, red, yellow and blue, the overlays would combine to produce a full-color effect. He showed us a color sketch of what the printed cover should look like, and it was really far out. Richard said he used this process for the covers of Slow Death #3 and Up From The Deep #1, as well as the red and yellow poster which he sold to help get Fantagor started.
This prompted me to ask if there was to be another issue of Fantagor in large-size, slick paper format, now that it was being released as an underground comix. The answer was a definate no.
“Fandom gave me first issue a very poor prception,” Richard said. “I couldn’t sell enough of them to even pay for the printing, not to mention expenses like advertising and postage. I had to give up and sell them to dealers at a loss.” Fandom’s apparent rejection of Fantagor soon led Richard to reject fandom as an outlet for his creative efforts.
But fandom had let him down more than once. “You may have seen a color poster of Tars Tarkas of Barsoom by me,” continued Richard. “Caz published it a couple of years ago. I sent that painting to him to use as a cover of ERB-dom, and without my permission it was published instead in poster form. What’s bad is that a successful poster is a profitable item. I never saw any of that money. Why should I work for free for people who show no consideration for me?”
I then asked when the second issue of Fantagor in comix format would be out, and was surprised to be shown some advance copies which Richard had recieved only a few days before. I commented on the beautiful color section, and Richard said, “Number three will be full-color from cover to cover, for only seventy-five cents!”
“At this rate, you’ll soon be in competition with straight comics,” Jan remarked.
“That’s the whole idea,” said Richard.
I began to walk around the room looking at the unpublished Corben art that was scattered about. His drawing board was covered with layouts, sketches, notes and xeroxes. Near the board was a small white plaster carving of a beautiful Corbenesque woman, which Richard said he was considering having casting made from for sale. Behind the drawing board were several shelves of small clay or plaster figures, modeled in a three-dimentinal version of the familiar Corben style. Some where heads which he made to sketch from (Richard explained that he finds them useful in studing the effects of various lighting on the face), and some where puppets created for use in stop-motion animation films. The animation puppets were painted and clothed, and were very attractive. Several three-dimentional landscapes, also done for use in stop-motion animation, were hidden away in dark corners of the room. Richard has done a great deal of animation, and may be best known for his fantastic fantasy film NeverWhere, which combines live acting with animated drawings. It has been a favourite at conventions since 1970, and recently it won a CINE Gold Eagle, and the President of Japan Cultural Society award. Fans of NeverWhere and art lovers everywhere can lood forward to more Corben films, starting with Xenogames, which Richard is now working on.
I asked Richard what else his fans could expect to see from him in the future. “More comix,” Richard replied, “especially color comix. Graphic Story Magazine will soon be publishing a full-color strip of mine, and one will soon appear in Funnyworld. I have a few more underground comix titles in mind, and will have soon work in Jan’s new comix version of Anomaly.
“Jan and I are pioneering the idea of the writer and the artist of a comixstrip as Duo separate individuals. For comix, this is a new idea, but we’re doing it and it’s working well,” said Richard. After reading “To Spear a Fair Maiden” in Fantagor and the Fever Dreams stories, I couldn’t agree more.
Everyone was anxious to get down to the Hotel Continental to see what was happening at the Mid-America Con, [See George Proctor’s con report elsewhere in this issue.] so we soon ascended from “Gore’s dungeon,” as Richard’s basement has been called. Before leaving the house, I paused to look at the paintings by Richard which adorn his living room walls. All of them were truly inspiring. Richard Corben is certainly an artist’s artist–and an unforgetable human being.
Left: One of the paintings in Richard’s living room. [“Castle Girl”]
Above: Two portraits of Richard from Herb Arnold’s sketchbook. If you have Skull Comix #4 you might find it interesting to compare the drawing at right with Herb’s representation of “Pickman’s Model” in that issue.
Copyright © 2014 Heart-Attack-Series, Ink!
Created: October 24, 2014. Last updated: March 17, 2018 at 9:25 am