There is an esteemed place in the cryptocosmos for the well-known comic artist, Richard Corben, who passed away on December 2, 2020, at 80.
Richard Corben was drawing Yetis in 1976.
A Midwestern guy like me, Richard Corben was born October 1, 1940, on a farm in Anderson, Missouri, and grew up in Sunflower, Kansas. The work force community was the home of Sunflower Ordinance Works, which made bombs for World War II. He drew comics all of his life. An early effort was a series of comics about the adventures of Trail, his family dog. Later he moved to imitations of Tarzan and Brothers of the Spear.
He matured into the American comic book artist best known for his illustrated fantasy stories in Heavy Metal magazine, to some, or for the traditions coming down via his first graphic novel, Bloodstar, to others.
It was his work in cryptozoological themes that intrigued me. After all, in 2004, he drew “me,” sort of, as the comic book character “Coleman Wadsworth” chasing an Abominable Snowman, mentioning that the “Coleman” character had written a “field guide on Abominable Snowmen,” and placed me in turn being pursued by the title creature in the Swamp Thing comics (#7 and #8).
The book was entitled I Saw the Thunder Lizard and Other Tales of Cryptozoology by Coleman Wadsworth.
Corben’s 2004 inside two-page illustration of the villain’s “home museum” (with life size cryptic creatures, even to a coelacanth over the fireplace) was a vision of the International Cryptozoology Museum created in 2003, in my home.
I also note he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Kansas City Art Institute, in 1965, the same site where my traveling Cryptozoology exhibition toured in 2006.
Ever the independent, Corben worked with rocker, Rob Zombie, and Steve Niles in 2005 on the project for IDW Publishing called Bigfoot. The graphic series ran for a few issues. The story chronicles a young boy who witnesses the brutal slaughter of his parents by the enigmatic title character and his return to the forest for revenge when he becomes older.
In the 2000s, Corben worked at Marvel, drawing Punisher, Luke Cage, and Ghost Rider. In 2008, he drew The Crooked Man, written by Hellboy creator Mike Mignola, for the Hellboy miniseries. He is known for his John Constantine and the Hulk too.
Richard Corben was the winner of the 2009 Spectrum Grand Master Award and the 2018 Grand Prix at Angoulême. In 2012 he was elected to the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame.
Corben’s wife is named Madonna “Dona” (née Marchant). He was the special-effects/animation technician for her prize-winning film entry Siegfried Saves Metropolis in a contest sponsored by Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine in 1964 (see issues #34 and 35). They married soon afterwards in 1965.
Thanks to Travis J. Hill for alerting me to Richard Corben’s death.