In all these 5 years doing interviews here for Abduzeedo, I always felt blessed for having the opportunity to contact and to know more about such great established artists and also some young artists full of talent. And today it's a great day, we had the amazing opportunity to interview one of the living legends of comic books, Richard Corben. I hope you guys appreciate the wise words and stories of this pencil magician.
You can reach Richard on the following links:
1) It's really a pleasure to interview such a legend of comics. Since you're pretty much a overachiever, we really would like to know how it all started, tell us more how your journey as a comic book artist started?
I've always been interested in comics, not only as a pleasant pastime, but as a medium that I could use for my own visual stories. The earliest comic books I remember were Superman and some westerns. All during this early period, I drew my own comics such as TRAIL, THE DOG.
As a boy, I started collecting the EC Horror and Science Fiction titles. When they were hounded into oblivion I moved on to Tarzan during the Jesse Marsh years. Then I went to Art college and I put away my comic interests to study "serious" art. My earlier goals transformed from a career in comics to one in illustration and filmmaking. When Creepy (the horror comic) appeared everything changed again.
It was about that time that a new phenomenon emerged, the underground comix. This had an incredible effect on me. Suddenly life was filled with amazing possibilities. The editors at Creepy finally started sending me scripts, after much courting I might add. So doing underground comix and drawing for Warren's horror books allowed me to resign from my regular day job and became a professional comic book artist.
2) Although you already have a really district style and imagery, please tell us who were the masters you got inspiration for your art?
Of course comic strip and comic book artists were my first inspirations. They would include V. T. Hamlin (Alley Oop), Wally Wood, Alex Toth, and Graham Ingles of the E.C. books. During my "serious" phase I was most inspired by the Post-Renaissance artists, Durer, Michelangelo, Carravagio and Vermeer. Art Gods, one and all!
3) Having worked with comics, movies, animation and art, could you tell us what was the work you're more proud of?
All those disciplines are demanding, but I feel I've been more successful at doing comics. My favorites would include Bloodstar, Den, and more recently, Spirits of the Dead, a collection of my adaptations of several Edgar Allan Poe stories and poems.
4) Describe us a bit about your creative process while creating a piece.
I'm doing more writing these days, including my current project. Roughly, I start with a short story concept; the ideas can come from anywhere. Sometimes it might be based on a character I'd like to develop. From that concept, I sketch ideas. Then scenes must be developed and edited to fit into the number of pages, usually 8.
From there some thumbnail panel breakdowns are done including some necessary dialogue and narration. Next, research is done and reference material gathered for more sketches. Finally, the artwork itself is started. When completed, the pages are scanned into the computer and additional tones or color are applied. Then the final text is written and set to the art with balloons. The last thing is to upload the files to the publisher’s storage web page.
5) How do you describe your daily routine?
Being semi-retired and not desperate to maintain a strict daily output, I'm more casual about scheduling than in former times. I work a couple of hours before lunch and about 3 to 5 hours after lunch. Regular exercise, dinner, then relax with TV or work on hobbies in the evening.
6) You're still active on the comics business, having done some recent work for publishers as Dark Horse. Tell us what projects can we expect from you in the near future?
Nothing has come out by me in over a year, but I'm hard at work on an anthology series, which I'm not supposed to specify. I can say there will be 8 issues of black and white tonal comics. At this point I'm over halfway through issue 5.
7) Being a comic art veteran, you already saw a lot of trends come and go. Could you tell us what you think about the future of comics?
Predicting future comic trends is like trying to predict the weather; I really don't worry about it. I just draw my comics the best I can and hope they will find an appreciative audience.
8) Being a multimedia artist, please tell us what's your favorite media to work with? Why?
An ideal medium for me would be one that is fast, direct, and able to render all the qualities I wish to include. For most comic artists it’s the simple technique of pen or brush and ink. I'm known for adding tonal modeling to my comic art. I do this normally with Prismacolor gray pencils on slightly soft paper that will allow some smear blending. Of course I've tried many techniques including computer tools, but I keep going back to the pencils.
9) Finally, what advice would you give to the youngsters trying to break into the comics business?
To make a career doing comic art, drawing pretty much has to be easy for you. It can be challenging, but always meet the challenge. Skill with heads and faces is of upmost importance, followed by hands, figures, linear perspective, architectural and mechanical effects. And, of course, a sense of dramatic storytelling is vital. I've always drawn from life, photos, and imagination. Attending life drawing sessions for both training and relaxation is regularly part of my schedule. Such a career can be full of pitfalls. It helps to be stubborn.