Richard Corben, ‘Bat Out of Hell’ Cover Artist, Dies
His widow, Dona, shared the news on his studio's Facebook page, noting that Corben died last week.
"It is with great sorrow and loss that I must share the sad news that Richard Corben died Dec. 2, 2020, following heart surgery," she wrote.
"He will be missed tremendously by his family, his friends, and his fans. Richard was very appreciative of the love for his art that was shown by you, his fans. Your support over the decades meant a great deal to him. He tried to repay your support by working diligently on each piece of art going out to you. Although Richard has left us, his work will live on and his memory will live always in our hearts."
According to the bio on his website, Corben, a native of Sunflower, Kan., began drawing at a very early age. One of his earliest works was a series about his dog. After art college, he settled in Kansas City, working as an animator for an industrial film company. After almost 10 years, he began drawing underground comics on the side. He was eventually hired by Warren Publishing and was soon able to make it his full-time job.
By the mid-'70s his work was published in a French magazine called Metal Hurlant, which became known in North America as Heavy Metal. It was around this time that he was hired to illustrate the cover of Meat Loaf's 1977 debut album.
“Corben was the perfect choice for this cover,” comics expert Jan Wiacek told Q. “His very stylized, airbrushed, exaggerated style was ideal. His linework has always been more like a graphic artist than a cartoonist, the opposite to the flat photographic style of your run-of-the-mill superhero comics.”
The artist also drew the artwork for 1981's Bad for Good, the album composer Jim Steinman released under his own name after Meat Loaf's vocal problems prevented him from recording a follow-up. That same year, Heavy Metal put out a self-titled animated film based on the works on several of their artists. Corben's Den character, which he premiered in 1973, received his own segment, with John Candy providing his voice. Corben also created the movie's poster.
He remained an active artist in the comics world, working for both Marvel and DC on projects. A movie based on his Fever Dreams is currently in pre-production.
“Certain words immediately come to mind in regard to Corben’s art," Steinman once said. "Heroic, majestic, multidimensional, tactile, cinematic, erotic, obsessive — but for me, most of all, his images seem not so much created as ‘unleashed’. They possess the muscular density and abandon of rock ‘n’ roll as well as the formal stylization and luxuberant turbulence of opera. In Corben’s worlds, the ‘acoustic’ has been banished — everything is gloriously amplified. Every frame seems to be born either directly before, during or after an ecstatic moment of action — and the specific nature of the action is ultimately far less important than the explosive release it provides. The sexual richness of Richard Corben’s work is overwhelming — this is a world that is endlessly horny for wonder and magic."