THE BODYSSEY BY RICHARD CORBEN – REVIEW

THE BODYSSEY BY RICHARD CORBEN - REVIEW

Published by Catalan Communications, 1986
Story by Simon Revelstroke
Illustrated by Richard Corben

I am reviewing the 1986 Catalan edition, which includes prints of Corben’s eight plate art portfolio ‘Scenes from the Magic Planet’ from 1979.

Well, where do I start with this one? I already had an idea what to expect with The Bodyssey, but I didn’t imagine that I’d have so much fun reading it!

We open with the evil necromancer Hunghoul, who has flown off with Pilgor the Barbarian’s faithless wife Smegmella and our hero is hunting them through the skies, but things don’t exactly go according to plan. Pilgor is dumped into the sea below and he is washed ashore in a strange country. Pretty soon our hero becomes an object of affection for a lovestruck Pudenda Beast, until he is rescued by a reptilian humanoid named Ytgna – a devious creature with plans of his own. Ytgna enlists our hero in his own a quest to locate and rescue the ample breasted Ammora, who is described in such vivid terms by out lizard friend “..her juddering breasts were like ruby-crowned temple domes shaken during an earthquake!”, “Wow” exclaims our fascinated hero, as he dreams of Ammora’s amazing attributes! Soon their search brings them to the city Foulmouth, a cesspool of crime and debauchery, where Pilgor catches the eye and lust of Queen Succulus Agripper, the Brothel Queen of the city. However, all is not what it seems with her, and we soon realise that she, is in fact a he! And Pilgor refuses his/her unwelcome advances, before planning a quick and spectacular escape and making another powerful enemy in the process.

Eventually Ytgna and Pilgor locate Ammora– or someone who looks like her, and she proves to be far more than they bargained for. They find themselves unwelcome guests of the formidable Amazons of Tumeschia and Pilgor is about to lose his most ‘prized asset’ in a sacrifice until a giant sleeping goddess awakens and an expicitly phallic giant monster invades. And in that titanic melé, Queen Succulus Agripper and his army turn up. We cut back to Hunghoul and Smegmella, the wizard is very unpleased with Pilgor’s plucky persistance in finding him and Smegmella, and sends a ‘throng’ of titanic ‘serpicocks’ (ie. more phallic monsters!). But our hero will not be dettered from his quest, and soon we are greeted to a gripping finalé between Pilgor, Hunghoul and Queen Agripper atop the dastardly Necromancer’s tower!

And I haven’t even covered all the finer points inbetween! Simon Revelstroke’s script has enough sexual innuendos, phallic monsters and bare bosomed maidens to keep an adult comic in business for an entire decade, such is the level of bawdy ( Body?) debauchery on show here! It’s like a sexually charged version of Conan or John Carter. A lot of the humour is tongue in cheek with some laugh out loud moments. But this comic is most definitely not for kids. Fans of the British Carry On series would no doubt love the story.

Sure, criticisms of sexism or even homophobia can be levelled at it, but this comic is a product of its time. I doubt we can see too many comics nowadays getting away with some of the stuff that we see in The Bodyssey. But the story, no matter how funny, entertaining or controversial is second to the artwork by Richard Corben, and it is because of this reason that I purchased this scarce book in the first place.

Corben’s artwork is really great here, it’s maybe not as eye catching as his work for Neverwhere, but nonetheless, any Corben artwork is still a pleasure to behold and he is at the top of his game here.

I don’t know how successful I’ll be but I’m seriously considering a letter writing campaign to get Corben’s most popular works such as The Last Voyage of Sinbad, Mutant World, Rowlf and Neverwhere, republished. It’s long overdue and I’m certain there are legions of Corbenites out there who would love to see this happen, not only the older fans who grew up with Corben’s artwork, but even newer fans such as myself who found his work much later and have difficulty obtaining these rare works. Richard Corben is one of the true greats of comics, up there with Jack Kirby and Will Wisner – and his earlier work needs to be seen by all comic book and art lovers.

In terms of importance in Corben’s career, The Bodyssey may not be one of his best, but it is still an enjoyable romp (literally in this case!) and I highly recommend it. If you happen upon this book on eBay for a reasonable price, then by all means grab it! I for one did, and I’m glad to add it to my ever growing Richard Corben library.

Note: If you would like to see more pages from the book, then leave a message here or email me and I’ll be more than happy to assist.

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