Friday 5 February 2010

Rowlf - Richard Corben's Mini Epic

Rowlf is one of those comics which once you've read it, has the insidious charm of all great works of art, it stays with you and random panels such as the image of a demon warrior licking the blood of his wrist bore deep into your subconscious in much the same way as the scene of the old woman with shattered glasses and bloodstained face from Eisenstein's "Battleship Potemkin" have come to represent a seminal moment in the history of the cinema.

And that's one of the qualities most apparent with Rowlf, Corben's love of cinema is evident throughout the entire thirty two page, mini epic that this story of a man's or in this case woman's best friend represents. You can see it in his handling of light and shade, his choice of camera angle, use of close up and his feel for the way the story is paced.

Rowlf like yesterday's "CidOpey" story first appeared in 1971 and was another example of Corben's determination to get his material out in front of as wide an audience as possible without having to dilute or otherwise compromise his vision. The resultant comic appeared as a complete thirty two page story with color covers published by a San Francisco based collective called Rip Off Press, whose initial wheeze of printing rock band posters had begun to falter and who had neatly segued themselves into what was a now flourishing underground comics industry.

The story has been reprinted several times and been translated into a variety of languages and there was even a color version produced, but the version that you will be following for the next four postings is from the original edition, scanned and cleaned up for your delectation, as it was meant to be seen in pristine black and white.


  1. Thanks for the beautiful scans of this classic. I first read it in the seventies and like you, never forgot it. I think I still have hard copy version in storage but because your scans are such high quality, this is now my favorite version.

  2. Wow... the mutants in this appear to be speaking Esperanto!

  3. I surfed in here, because I was looking for images of this comic to show to an online friend, who was not familiar with his work. I first saw this as separate panels in a book on making comics, that I found in all places, in a the library of my Junior High School, around 1976 or 77. After that it bacame something of a quest to find this story, which I eventually saw maybe 4-5 years later after a trip to Berkeley to buy Freak brothers Comics and saw it. Yeah, stories like this stick with you. If it was a film I am thinking it would have had a similar tone as Catch-22 by way of Lassie. Sadly the reason for my discussion with my online friend was because of the recent passing of the artist on December Second of 2020. The work will live on.

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