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excellent writing
exceptional art
historical bonus 3
total score 9
Back Cover
Back Cover
(click for larger image)

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Grim Wit
1st Printing / July 1971 / 36 pages / Rip Off Press
By 1971, Richard Corben had finally arrived as a comic artist and was growing more popular by the month, having appeared in Skull and Slow Death and just beginning a very successful run in Warren Magazines (Eerie, Creepy and Vampirella). Rowlf was his first one-man comic for a major underground publisher (his self-published fanzine Fantagor would be reprinted by Last Gasp later this year).

The story of Rowlf was first published in Voice of Comicdom over the course of two issues (#16 and #17) in 1970-71 but gained a much wider audience with this Rip Off Press publication. The adventure is presented in three parts in this book, as Corben originally intended. It's a terrifically entertaining Richard Corben saga about a princess named Maryana and her loyal dog, Rowlf. Maryana is captured from her castle by a brutal enemy, which leads to Rowlf being transformed by a an evil wizard into some sort of "half man-half dog." Rowlf then attempts to rescue the princess from her captors.

Rowlf demonstrates the great command Corben had already developed in composition, layout and illustration. The story is cinematic in scope and features great action scenes interspersed with many emotional moments, often captured in close-ups of the characters. Rowlf would be reprinted in a colorized version that appeared in Heavy Metal in 1979-80.

Corben moved away from the underground comic book genre a couple years after this book, though he later contributed a pair of great covers for Bizarre Sex. His long and often brilliant career is slavishly documented on this website.
There are two known printings of this comic book. They are easily distinguished by the cover art, as the 2nd printing uses the back cover art from the 1st printing (linked in the right sidebar above) as the front cover art. It is currently unknown how many copies of either edition were printed.


Richard Corben - 1-36