Friday, April 2, 2010

'Slow Death' comics No. 3

‘Slow Death’ No. 3 (1971) features a cover illustration by Richard Corben, who also provides the (untitled) lead entry in the comic. Corben also contributes ‘Heirs of Earth’, a grimly funny little two-page story. Two of the longer pieces in the book come from Larry Weltz (‘The Sleeping Continent’), and Jaxon (‘Gene Shuffle’).
But the best entry in Slow Death No. 3 is another small masterpiece from Jim Osborne, which I have excerpted here, titled ‘Harbinger’. The entire four-page comic contains neither dialogue balloons nor text narration, but is nonetheless very successful in building up a feeling of religious awe and dread.
In utilizing a drawing style reminiscent of an engraving, Osborne’s piece is a homage to Lynd Ward (1905 – 1985), whose work I was vaguely familiar with from the children’s books I read in the 60s and 70s.
Ward does not get much attention nowadays, but in his time (1920s – 1970s) he was one of the premiere book illustrators and graphic artists in the US. He employed a distinctive style in his illustration, and devotees of graphic art will want to be acquainted with Ward’s body of work.
(Who says reading trash like underground comix won’t teach you something ?)

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