Monday, July 17, 2023

Weirdom’s “Tales From The Plague” by Richard Corben —

[1] Richard Corben, color by William Skaar, April 2023


Bill Leach, contributor of much Ally Sloper material to YESTERDAY”S PAPERS, has published a limited edition reprint of Dennis Cunningham’s THE PLAGUE, drawn by Richard Corben, under the imprint of his own EC HorrorZine, HORROR FROM THE CRYPT OF FEAR  Available through BUD PLANT ART BOOKS (HERE).  Bill used the original first cover and included 12 pages of engravings that had not been used in subsequent editions. William Skaar, artist of DEANNA OF THE DEAD, provided the cover color. This welcome reissue of THE PLAGUE brought back warm memories. I was a contributor to WEIRDOM No. 12 (a very small and amateurish pen & ink contribution in the interior) in 1968. The next issue, No. 13, introduced the brilliant cartoonist Richard Corben with his startling and unique Special Plague Issue. Dennis Cunningham was kind enough to send me a copy of Nos. 12 and 13, thus introducing me to one of the greatest fantasy artists of all time. Corben’s story was gothic horror drawn in the painstaking style of medieval engravings. Bill Leach provides a brief printing history of THE PLAGUE which I reproduce below. — John Adcock

[2] Weirdom Illustrated No 13, 1969. Dennis Cunningham, 
Publisher, editor and writer, illustrator Richard Corben 

You hold in your hands the fifth version of Weirdom’s “THE PLAGUE”. Dennis Cunningham and Bill Leach are thrilled to present this very special edition of HORROR FROM THE CRYPT OF FEAR to the countless Corben fans throughout the world.  We lost Richard Corben in 2020, but his creative expertise lives on through his amazing body of work and the many reprints that are currently being published.

[3] Richard Corben page

This was Richard Corben’s first attempt at illustrating a graphic novel.  Corben was 28 years old and still working at Calvin Productions when he began working on “THE PLAGUE” in 1968.  Dennis Cunningham was one of the first publishers to use Corben’s art in the comic book industry.  During the late sixties and early seventies Cunningham published a series of underground comics titled “Weirdom Illustrated.”  It was here in number 13, the “Special Plague Issue” that Corben’s first graphic novel saw print.  It didn’t take long before Richard Corben was recognized as one of the top artists in the country.

[4]Tales From The Plague, comic book, second edition, November, 1971.

“THE PLAGUE” has been published on four previous occasions.  First in April 1969, falling under the title “Weirdom Illustrated, Number 13, Special Plague Issue,” this small digest size edition was printed by Dennis himself, while on leave from the Army.  There were only 1,000 copies printed, which makes them extremely rare today.  The second printing came two years later in November 1971.  Now titled “TALES FROM THE PLAGUE” and featuring a new cover comprised of panels from the story.  This comic book size edition had a print run of 10,000, which makes it a very scarce comic book.  

[5] Preliminary watercolor for the third edition by Richard Corben.

Jumping forward fifteen years, Dennis’ friend and business partner, Bill Leach, printed the third edition still using the title “TALES FROM THE PLAGUE.”  This magazine size graphic novel would feature a new cover painting by Corben.  Bill routinely boasts at having his likeness used in the new Corben cover painting, featuring “Braggart Bill” as the torch wielding maniac.  The print run of 15,000 sold out quickly as the public’s appetite for Richard Corben’s art had grown to international heights since the first two editions. 

[6] Third edition cover painting and publisher Bill Leach.

In 1989, a European publisher, Toutain-Editor, created the fourth iteration using the newer cover painting and translating it into Spanish. The title is quite long and was just one volume in the series: “Richard Corben, Obras Completas No. 9, MANUSCRITOS DE LA PLAGA.”

This fifth edition takes us back to the beginning.  Printed digest size and including the twelve pages of vintage engravings that had been discarded in the second, third and fourth editions.  Cunningham and Leach are proud to publish this “Artifact Edition” and hope you will enjoy making it part of your “Richard Corben Collection.”

HORROR FROM THE CRYPT OF FEAR, Number 16, April 2023

First printing 500 copies.  Contact Bill Leach at ComicArt4u for more information.  All contents written and copyright 2023 Dennis A. Cunningham.   All artwork created by artistic genius Richard V. Corben (1940-2020).  Cover colorist:  William Skaar.

[7] “Braggart Bill” Leach

Bill Leach is headed to the San Diego Comicon this week. He will be part of an EC FanAddicts panel Saturday night and showing off the new issues of HORROR FROM THE CRYPT OF FEAR. Issue #17 is a 104 page Complete EC Checklist-1942-1956. See details HERE.


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