And Then I Read: RAT GOD by Richard Corben

RatGodHCImage © Richard Corben. (The same art is on the collected edition hardcover.)

Now in his mid 70s, Richard Corben has been producing his unique style of horror-action comics for at least 50 years. It’s still as weird and compelling as ever.

Clark Elwood, a thinly-veiled stand-in for H.P. Lovecraft, is on an expedition to the remote forests well north of Arkham University, where he works. There are primitive native American tribes there still, and an outpost of civilization in the “town” of Lame Dog, more a collection of shacks with one large mansion on a hill nearby. Clark is purportedly researching a fine art painter from the area, but in reality he’s seeking a native woman  who he met in Arkham and fell in love with. The people of Lame Dog are hostile, rat-like fellows who warn him away, but Clark is stubborn, and soon gets deep into the town’s secrets, like their cult worshipping a giant rat-like creature. When he does find the girl, Kito, she’s about to be sacrificed to the Rat God, and then things get really violent and even weirder.

To this day I’m not sure what exactly appeals to me about Corben, but I like his work, I think even more when he writes as well as draws, as here. His characters are generally ugly caricatures of humanity, but with touches of humor and pathos that are appealing. His stories are at times chilling, gross, sexy, violent and beautiful. He hasn’t lost his touch, he’s been remarkably consistent for decades. This work is worth reading if you’re already a fan, or not.


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