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“Bloodstar” aka “King of the Northern Abyss”


1) 92 pgs. Appeared first time [B&W] in Bloodstar [Morning Star] (1976) [VERS.1]. Preview (“The Slaying of Satha”, 6 pgs) [B&W] in Ariel [#1] (1976).
Story: Robert E. Howard. Adapt.: Richard Corben & John Jakes. Art: Richard Corben. Lettering: printed.

2) 107 pgs. Reprinted [B&W] in Bloodstar [Ariel] (1979) [VERS.2].
Story: Robert E. Howard. Adapt.: Richard Corben, John Jakes & John Pocsik. Art: Richard Corben (no signature, © 1975, 1976, 1979). Lettered by hand (unknown).

3) 92 pgs. Reprinted [COLOR] in Heavy Metal #45 (1980) to #52 (1981) [VERS.3].
Story: Robert E. Howard. Adapt.: Richard Corben, John Jakes & John Pocsik. Art: Richard Corben (no signature, © 1975, 1976, 1979). Color(colored by Corben’s overlays techinique): Herb & Diana Arnold. Lettering: printed.

France [FRA]: as “Bloodstar [FRA]”, as a 15 part [B&W] serial in Metal Hurlant #47 to #49 (1980), and #51 (1980) to #62 (1981) [not in #50], and as one [B&W] in Bloodstar [FRA] (1981).
Germany [GER]: as “Bloodstar [GER]”, as a 6 part serial in Schwermetall #3 (1980) to #8 (1980), and as a 6 part serial in Schwermetall, Sammelband #3 to #8, as one in Bloodstar [GER] (1980).
Italy [ITA]: as “Bloodstar [ITA]”, as a 7 part [B&W] serial Alter alter #5/6 (1980), #7#9, #11#12 (1981), and once only [COLOR] part (!) #1 (1981), and as one [COLOR] in Bloodstar [ITA] (1981).
The Netherlands [NL] : as “Bloedster”, as a 3 part (only the beginning!) [COLOR] serial in 1984 [NL] #9 (1981) to #13 (1982).
Spain [SPA]: as “Bloodstar [SPA]”, as a 6 part [B&W] serial in Creepy [SPA] #8 to #13, as one [COLOR] in Bloodstar [SPA] (1981), and as one [COLOR] in Richard Corben obras completas #7 (1987).
Yugoslavia [YUG]: as “Bladstar”, as a 23 part serial [COLOR] in Stripoteka #679 (1981) to #701 (1982) [VERS.3].

Style: Greytones / Full color on greytones. Genre: Fantasy. Time Span: Ancient history. Nudity: Half naked voluptuous girl.
Keywords: After destruction. Primitivity. Saga. Ritual. Abandon. Family. Beasts. Ghost. Monster. Abyss.
Story Origin: Robert E. Howard short story, “The Valley of the Worm”.
Synopsis: An epic story of a post-holocaust world of Bloodstar and tribe. He wants to live peaceful with a family, but he must survive barbaric armies, beasts, sable tooth tiger, gigantic snake monster and finally the madness and sorcery of an unspeakable peril known as the King of the Northern Abyss.
Comment: B&W version of Corben’s saga of Bloodstar by Robert E. Howard is one of his best works; no matter comic has a great deal of text! Story losts quite much of touch in color format.
Colors: Richard Corben revealed in Heavy Metal interview that the story was colored by his overlays technique, but he did not do it by himself; who did the coloring, there was no mention. Later I contacted to Mr. Corben and asked about it. He replied that those times he used several assistants and as far as he remembers it was Herb & Diana Arnold, but he’s not in contact with them anymore and cannot verify that information.
Versions, [VERS.2] & [VERS.3]: Comic story art is as equal as possible, though one is in B&W and the other in color. [VERS.2] has divided into chapters; every chapter starts with two extra explanation pages (text on black background). Entire story, in both reprints, is rewritten by John Pocsik.
Comparing the original story and comic story adaptation (thanks Plogg): The plot is basically the same as Howard’s original story, which took place not in the future, but long ago, “not merely centuries and milleniums, but epochs and dim ages unguessed by the wildest philosopher.” It was (prob.) Richard Corben’s idea to set the story far in the future, long after disaster destroyed the earth (that is a characteristic for Richard Corben). The main difference between “Bloodstar” and “The Valley of the Worm” is that the original story isn’t narrated by Grom, but by James Allison (who recurs in a few of Howard’s short stories), a modern day man who is able to recall his earlier incarnations (if you believe in reincarnation). Richard Corben says it was Gil Kane who changed the character’s name from Niord to Bloodstar. Also, there is no Helva or Loknar in the original, and the battle with the tiger almost killed Niord: “I killed saber-tooth in a battle that would make a saga in itself, and for months afterward I lay semi-delirious with ghastly wounds that made the toughest warriors shake their heads.” In the end, Niord dies in the same manner that Bloodstar. (Incidentally, the name of Bloodstar’s rival, “Loknar”, was used again as the name of the powerful scepter in “Neverwhere”, though there it was spelled “Locnar”.)
Extra (thanks Stu and Plogg): R. E. Howad’s original short story “The Valley of the Worm” appeared for the first time in Weird Tales (Feb. 1934 issue). It was republished in 1968 in novel form in R.E. Howard’s “Wolfshead” (Lancer), and in an earlier paperback collection of stories from Weird Tales called “Skull-Face and others” (Arkham House, 1946), and “Worlds of Weird” (Pyramid, 1965).
In Jan. 1972 Marvel Comics released Conan the Barbarian #13. The comic story “Web of the Spider-God” was plotted (created) by John Jakes. It was adapted by Roy Thomas, writer, and Barry (Windsor-)Smith, artist. From this start, John Jakes then did another “Conan the Barbarian” plot, one “Kull” and a “Brak” tale. Marvel then started adapting John Jake’s “Brak the Barbarian” in it’s Savage Tales. Because of this Savage Tales comics connection he must have meet Gil Kane and Richard Corben. John Jakes went on to write the Kent Family Chronicles, “North and South”, “Love and War” and “Homeland”. In April 1973 Marvel Comics released Supernatural Thrillers #3. It was an adaptation of R.E. Howard’s “The Valley of the Worm” produced in comic form. It was adapted by Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway, writers, and Gil Kane, artist.
In 1976 Morning Star Press edition of Bloodstar was released. It was also an adaptation of the same R.E. Howard’s story. The author John Jakes wrote a lot of additional material fleshen out the story, but Richard Corben did a final written version and all the breakdowns and designed the characters and practically wrote it from those two other pieces (the R. E. Howard’s original and Jake’s). The 1979 print was rewritten by John Pocsik. The tittle pages were added in the same print.
The one of the first mentions of the (upcoming) Richard Corben’s comic story adaptation – then under workname “King of the Northern Abyss” (!) – was in Robert E. Howard: Lone Star Fictioneer I, 3 (Fall, 1975) and Mediascene #16 (Dec. 1975).
Corben: [Bloodstar] took about nine months, and it was done in black and white. I shipped the stuff to Gil Kane, as he was judging everything to make sure it was okay. Bloodstar is my favourite story so far. I felt it was the most organized of my long stories. I guess I liked it because it was long and I put so much of myself into it. The characters are more realized. [Appeared in Heavy Metal #52, July 1981. The Heavy Metal Interview].
Corben: [Bloodstar]’s based loosely on a story by Robert E. Howard called “Valley of the Worm.” Gil Kane was acting as producer, and he also got the writer John Jakes to add quite a bit of additional material. I had the short story and the additional material to integrate together, and in doing so I did a final written version and all the breakdowns and designed the characters and practically wrote it from those two other pieces. My writing was rewritten again by one of the publishers – another writer. My version is the most simple, direct, and clear version of the story. The publisher had his own ideas about adding glory and passion to a story that was underwritten a little bit. They hired my services to do the color work. It’s done in my technique but I didn’t actually do the color. [Appeared in Heavy Metal #52, July 1981. The Heavy Metal Interview]

1) Bloodstar (1976)

Bloodstar, Part 1, 46 pgs
Bloodstar, Part 2, 46 pgs

See also pages of the reprinted versions.

Copyright © 1997 Heart-Attack-Series, Ink!
Created: Aug. 23, 1997. Modified: March 13, 2017.

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