BOYTOONS MAGAZINE #88 – The Great Richard Corben!

Richard Corben may not be gay, but the man sure knows how to draw hunks! I was recently digging through my mountains of comics and graphic novels, doing some more research on the “sword and sorcery” genre for my work on Zahn’s book. I stumbled upon some of my old Richard Corben books – most notably the “Bodyssey”, “Den 1”, and “Rip in time”. I had forgotten what a master Corben truly is and it was a real joy to sit and re-read these fantastic books.

To say that Gays are depicted kindly in some of these works would be a complete lie, however. In fact the Bodyssey is populated by the stereotypical mincing and lisping queens which are so not representative of our community. But I tolerate them for 2 reasons – Richard didn’t write the Bodyssey (so I will forgive him on this count), and his gorgeous artwork truly outshines any annoying plot issues. So let us not focus on the negative and move on to why I think Corben is so damn good at what he does!

At the beginning of his career, Corben created stories for underground publications and fanzines. His early attempts at mainstream publishing we all sadly rejected, but eventually the underground comics scene grew in popularity and Corben’s work was finally recognized and rightfully appreciated.

His signature character, Den, the sexy (though rather naïve) adventurer lost in the land of Neverwhere, found his way into the pages of the French magazine Metal Hurlant and was eventually published in English in the pages of Heavy Metal.

I remember the first time I saw Den. I couldn’t believe that there was a comic artist ready and willing to draw comic heroes completely nude, and hung like a donkey. But there he was, in the rigid flesh!!! Corben’s work stylistically may not have been a huge influence on mine, but his openness and mentality certainly might have been.

Soon after that, Corben created Fantagor press, a company focused primarily on publishing his own works and eventually he also turned toward the mainstream comic publishers such as Marvel, DC and Darkhorse where he was welcomed with open arms.

Corben’s work is nothing if not unusual. His imagery can be bizarre but is always quite captivating. His women are stunning, but what impresses me most is that he is not shy about depicting equally attractive men. His Boytoons are buff, hung and terribly sexy. And he has no qualms about displaying them.

His artwork is always bright and filled with unconventional color choices, which only make it stand out further. When in Black and White, his art takes on a gorgeous photo-realistic feel. Meanwhile, his monsters are frightening, and yet much of the time they are strangely arousing.

I’ve read that Corben is a shy man, very private and always working to further his skills. I can appreciate that about him a great deal. His work speaks volumes where perhaps he does not personally do so.

It was indeed a fun trip down memory lane re-discovering the works of this phenomenal illustrator. In fact, I think I may check my local comic shop this week and see what new stuff of his I might pick up. Hopefully if he has had the opportunity to draw Gay characters in more recent works, they will be written in a more favorable light.

If you guys don’t really know much about Corben, don’t feel bad. He started his career in the 70’s and as I mentioned before, worked mostly in the underground comics scene. But you can find his work quite easily as most stores still carry his graphic novels, and they certainly will have some of the work he did for the big 3 comic publishers. But for the sexy Boytoons stuff, you may have to turn to his older works. That’s where the beef is!

All illustrations © Copyright and TM 2007, Richard Corben. All Rights Reserved.

Comments

  1. Been away for some time, World of Warcraft is a demanding mistress. I have been lurking for a while, but when I saw that you were featuring Richard Corben, I had to put in my own two cents.
    I have been reading Heavy Metal since before I was legally allowed, and his work along with a few other artists was always a favorite. So much so I hunted down the whole Den graphic novel series and several others.
    And as a defense for ‘The Bodyssey’, it was a pure comedy making fun of the whole sword and sorcery genere, and was published in a far less enlightened time, but I still found it very enjoyable.
    In terms of depicting the female form, Richard Corben holds a special place for creating women that are pure fantasy, I say if you’re depicting a fantasy world go all out.

  2. P.S.: Patrick, I don’t know if you would like to take Zahn in this direction, but I found the original 16 Robert E. Howard Conan Stories to be a great inspiration for the sword and sorcery genre. However, the overall tone of many of the stories was far grimmer, but the pacing was great and flowed very well, even from sundry adventuring to near epic battle scenes

  3. Loved the second image, the one with the dick looking monsters…lol If Corben is not gay, he sure has a gay mind sometimes…lol

    Hugz,
    HvH

  4. Yes, this is what I always appreciated about Heavy Metal– their willingness to allow artist to portray the nude male form. My grandpa gave me the mother-load of old Heavy Metal magazines (like over 50+ issues dating back to before I was even born– I still havent gone through all of them– haha.)

    Corben’s work is very inspiring. Very beautiful renderings– especially with his grayscale stuff. And, like you said, it’s great that he’s fine with drawing a wang. Great post!

  5. thrilled to see you spotlight Corben!
    i have fond memories of sneaking my older brother’s issues of Heavy Metal and wacking to Corben’s “DEN”.
    i would love it when Den would fight naked and you’d glimpse his massive member swinging and slapping.
    Corben’s paint is so meaty and fleshy. Any other straight artists who consistently do hot men?
    Boris Vellejo certainly.

  6. Hey Gang…

    Good to hear form all of you!

    Charvolth… wow! It has been a while! Great to hear from you again! I’m so pleased you enjoyed my little blurb about Richard Corben. I agree with you… the gay portrayal in the Bodyssey was written such a long time ago… and things have changed so much since… it’s important not to take it too seriously. I tried to convey that in the article and I hope it came across alright, because it would be a shame for anyone to pass up reading the Bodyssey on account of that!

    Meanwhile, I have not had the opportunity to read the original 16 Robert E. Howard Conan Stories… my Conan background is primarily the classic Marvel Comics magazines and comics. But I want to get my hands on some of that stuff because I just love Conan and the idea of the character. Thanks again for taking the time to write! :o)

    HvH… Glad you liked the post my friend. I love it when artists are true artists in every sense of the word. By that I mean that it’s nice when an artists pays as much attention to both sexes even if he is not attracted in equal ways to both. That is why Corben is so great. He really pays attention to his work and strives to make it all as good as it can be! But yes…his monsters are VERY phallic, aren’t they!?!? LOL! :o)

    JC… WOW! Lucky you to have all those wicked old issues of Heavy Metal… a real Richard Corben GOLD MINE!!!! HA! HA! HA! I’m really pleased you enjoyed this issue! Meanwhile, I am sure that when you do get around to going through all those old magazines, you are going to discover a TON of cool stuff… Bilal and Mobius are also amazing creators and their work in the early Heavy Metal magazines is really inspirational! Enjoy! :o)

    Manpop…thanks so much for taking the time to write. I’m thrilled you enjoyed my feature on Corben! I’ve actually been meaning to do an issue on Boris Vallejo at some point as well because as you said, he is constantly drawing really hot guys! So that may well come up in the near future. Meanwhile, I’ll keep my eye out for other straight artists who depict hot men and be sure to mention them or feature them here too at some point! :o)

    Much love and thanks to you all!
    Patrick XOXOX

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