Award winning creator Richard Corben has worked on various Hellboy stories, Punisher Max, Hellblazer, and more but he may be best known for his horror comics including adaptations of the work of Edgar Allan Poe, Ragemoor, classic stories for Creepy, and more. His creation Den appeared in the Heavy Metal movie. He returns to the horror genre in Dark Horse’s Shadows on the Grave. He tells Westfield’s Roger Ash more about this upcoming series.
Westfield: Shadows on the Grave is an anthology. What do you like about the anthology format?
Richard Corben: I love the short form of anthology comics, especially horror short stories. I like the idea that you can start and finish a story at one sitting. You don’t have to wait and wade through several issues before deciding if you like the story. And at their best, short stories can be refreshingly original. Usually there is a continuing narrator if you want the comfort of a familiar character.
Westfield: What sorts of stories can readers look forward to in the book?
Corben: I’m trying to hit on many different subjects in this series. An observant reader might notice that I’m using a common time setting in these stories. With the exception of Denaeus they are all roughly set in the ‘50s, hopefully with an ambience reminiscent of the famous EC horror comics of that era. So there will be monsters and avenging corpses as well as mutant puppets, Bigfoot, supernatural clowns and more. Probably no vampires or werewolves because I think they’ve been done to death.
Westfield: The one story that runs through the series features Denaeus. What can you tell us about him?
Corben: In the Denaeus story I wanted to do a pseudo Greek tragedy where characters are desperately trying to head off an oracle’s unfavorable prediction and in so doing they actually cause the events they wish to prevent. Of course, Denaeus is related to a character Den and his story NeverWhere that was serialized in Heavy Metal Magazine over twenty years ago. It isn’t nearly as simple as some of the other horror stories so it needed more space to tell. It is also different thematically than any of the others so the reader may well question its inclusion with all the short contemporary stories. All I can say to that is: I really wanted to do Denaeus and I didn’t want to wait another year to begin it while completing the short ones. Since I’m the editor as well as the artist/writer, I just gave myself the go ahead.
Westfield: How much world building did you do for Denaeus’ adventures?
Corben: As I said, it is a pseudo Greek mythology setting, so I pulled my inspiration from the vast sources available and adapted them as I saw fit. I tried to give the characters and places Greek sounding names. I also researched some Greek swear words which were very useful as well as amusing.
Westfield: The book is in black and white. What is the appeal of black and white art for you?
Corben: I think black and white is eminently suited for horror stories. Graphically, a monochromatic treatment not only creates a unifying effect, it also subtly imposes a slightly oppressive mood to the stories and overall look of the books.
Westfield: Any closing comments?
Corben: I’ve had a long career doing comics and I’ve always felt a special love for the horror genre. I’m pleased to be able to devote my energy to this project. I’m confident I’m doing some of my best work and I hope Shadows On The Grave can find a receptive audience.