No. 211 – Den (& Conan)

Den 2: Muvovum image ©Richard Corben

Sláine: The Horned God Vol. II Part 9 written by Pat Mills and illustrated by Simon Bisley from prog 663 (1990) v Den [represented left panel, centre], created by Richard Corben, and Conan the Barbarian [represented left panel, right], created in 1931 by Robert E. [Ervin] Howard (1906–1936), most famously illustrated by Frank Frazetta (1928–2010)[1]

Den (an acronym of the character’s Earth alter-ego David Ellis Norman) began life as an award-winning animated short in 1969, but made his comics debut in Grim Wit No. 2 (1973), then appearing in first Métal Hurlant (Les Humanoïdes Associés, 1975–1976), Heavy Metal (HM Communications, Inc., 1977–1978, 1981–1983) and thereafter published by Corben’s own Fantagor Press. The Den series is composed of Neverwhere (1978), Muvovum (1984), Children of Fire [a prequel to the events of Neverwhere] (Fantagor, 1992), Dreams (Fantagor, 1992) and Elements (Fantagor, 1992).

Generally wandering around completely in the buff and – despite having built himself an inter-dimensional portal – considerably dimmer (but better endowed) than pretty much any other life-form he encounters in the fantasy universe of Neverwhere, Den is nonetheless sincere to the point of outright innocence, even if the stories are a little chauvinistic by today’s standards. Den reappeared in animation in 1981 in a much-abridged version of the events of Neverwhere [the comic] in the segment Den in Heavy Metal (Columbia Pictures)[2]. The beautifully illustrated Den series is also one of the earliest fully painted, long-running strips on the comics scene, and thus richly deserving of Bisley’s homage.

Richard Corben is the winner of the 2009 Spectrum Grand Master Award and the 2018 Grand Prix at the Angoulême International Comics Festival. He was elected to the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 2012.

Richard Corben also features in our very first HoH entry, No. 1 – Bat Out of Hell

Notes:

  1. Howard’s (and Frazetta’s) Conan the Barbarian appears HoH No. 79 – Sláine the Barbarian
  2. The idea of the malevolent Loc-Nar used to link the segments in Heavy Metal originated in the Den stories

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