“SHADOWS ON THE GRAVE #1” (Comic Book Review)Book and Comic Reviews,Books/Art/Culture,News Svetlana Fedotov
Richard Corben is a prime examples of how talent and creativity never ages out, it only gets better. His career has spanned over fifty years, from comic booms to comic crashes, and even now, at the age of 76, has no plans of slowing down. SHADOWS ON THE GRAVE certainly proves that. A collection of new work, SHADOWS ON THE GRAVE #1 is the first of eight issues that features several single story comics along with a continued tale that spans the entire collection. As expected, his iconic art work is the standout feature of the comic, though the stories themselves hold up just as much as his inks. Each one has the perfect touch of macabre and bizarre, a strange world that walks the fine line between reality and the twilight hour where the monsters are only a breath away.
SHADOWS ON THE GRAVE starts off with a short tale about a puppet show in a nowhere town. When two children take an interest in the mysterious caravan, one of them unwittingly starts a series of events that dooms everyone on board. The next story, titled “Roots in Hell,” shows that landing on an abandoned island is not always the better alternative to being marooned at sea, and is followed by “For Better or Worse,” about a bickering couple and the final solution that just doesn’t seem to stick. The last story, and the overarching one in the entire series, starts with a blind psychic in the world of the dead. Set in ancient Greece, the woman sees a threat to the king, but is surprised to find that its one very close to the monarch, one that no one ever expected.
SHADOWS ON THE GRAVE just proves again that Corben is the king of comic horror. From his days in HEAVY METAL to his current work for Dark Horse, Corben’s work has maintained the same standard of quality that has come to be expected of him. Shadows is a wonderful layout of his talent, from writing to drawing, and is a solid launching point for new readers of his work. He uses his experience as a horror creator to make works that are truly original and honestly, downright creepy. The tales are short and to the point, not wasting anytime lingering over trivial details, which truly shows the potential of the short scare. It feels like one of those terrors that can happen to anyone; a quick turn down an alley or behind the wrong door lies all the fears one person can experience. The anxiety of horror. Even the speech bubbles have a unique tinge to them as Corben applies accented words when proper, creating a fully immersive experience.
Of course, one can’t talk about Richard Corben without mentioning his artwork. Having originally been a professional animator, he has taken his understanding of movement and emotion and combined with his own unique style. The result is some of the most original and fluid artwork to grace the world of comics for the past several decades. His figures are a mix of traditional fantasy illustration, underground comix, and a smidge of animation magic. The human figures in SHADOWS ON THE GRAVE are slightly bulbous and a bit off putting to which he adds his inks and gray-tone watercolor brushstrokes to give it an otherworldly feel. His shading is very professional and lifelike, a true student of the master classics, and brings the whole work around to bizarro town. To be honest, his art reminds one of a medieval version of Hell, where the greed and sins of fallen men molds them into strange, demonic creatures. But man, are the action scenes cool.