How Two Classic Comic Artists Influenced My Horror Illustrations for The Pit - Dread Central
Connect with us


How Two Classic Comic Artists Influenced My Horror Illustrations for The Pit



Don Heck and Richard Corben are two giants in the world of horror illustration. Inspired by the imagination of Heck and an early technique of Corben’s, I rcently wrote and illustrated “The Pit,” which you can learn more about below.

The Heck Influence:
First, Don Heck. When I’m looking for story inspiration, there is no better means to shock my creative juices than classic horror comic covers from the 1950s. Heck did a lot of them! His drawing style is not like mine – I come from a painting background – but his twisted creativity; his dynamic, in your face composition; and his beautifully balanced layouts are worth study for anyone who appreciates horror art.

When I came across Heck’s 1952 cover for Weird Terror showing a doomed man dragged into a hellish pit by a monster, something clicked. Without knowing the story in the Weird Terror issue, I formulated my own story and called it “The Pit.”

Before even knowing where the story was going, I started the first page splash illustration. In the typical comic book method, I sketched a “thumbnail,” a small idea of what I was doing. Since I hadn’t been in an actual hell-pit for a long time, I then gathered some photo references to aid the actual drawing.

The first step: an inked line art piece. Now the fun part!

The Corben Influence:
I’ve been enjoying Richard Corben’s painted work for years, since I first discovered him in early ’70s indie comics – they were called “underground” then. His art in Slow Death and Fantagor, and his subsequent work in Creepy and Eerie, influenced generations of artists.

Especially Corben’s colors. Wonderfully crazy, painterly, and over-saturated, Corben’s early color work was amazingly different than anything else at the time. Recently I found out why…

Richard Corben put color on his beautiful Warren magazine work himself by masking off negatives and burning his own printing press plates. I won’t go into detail about negatives and plates in this world of computers. Just believe me when I say Corben’s technique must have been crazy difficult. There would have been no way to check his color until pages were on the press. The color mix was all in his head!

It had been rumbling around in my own head that I might be able to achieve that rich, oversaturated look if I thought about Corben’s technique.

He began with black and white art, like most comic book art, but his boards are a wonder to see, inked, painted, ink washes, painted white highlights.

So I tried something new. This is the first time I’ve grayscaled shadows in a separate Photoshop layer, then used those grays to color. I then separated color blocks in Photoshop to work with them.

Pulling from my painting background, I unified much of this with a red “wash.” The result was an underpainting I used to enhance with more paint on top. I’m pleased with the results: a deep shadowed, painterly look.

“The Pit” worked out to be the story of a young woman and her companion in an underground cavern, trying to piece together how they got there. As usually happens in my horror stories, bloodshed ensues!

“The Pit” is a story I’m giving away during my Zombies’ End graphic novel Kickstarter beginning January 16, 2018. I’m excited to share my projects, art, video and other updates. If you want me to share with you, visit and join the Aazurn Fan List!

Gary Scott Beatty is a writer and illustrator of strange horror stories who shares art, story, video and progress updates with those on the Aazurn Fan List. If you’re interested, sign up at

Continue Reading


AfterShock Comics Announces New Series Brothers Dracul



We’ve mentioned AfterShock Comics a few times around these parts, and now they’re about to release a new series that has Dread Central’s name all over it! Read on for the first word on Brothers Dracul from Cullen Bunn (X-Men) with art by Mirko Colak (The Punisher), who previously teamed up for AfterShock’s Unholy Grail.

Bunn and Colak are joined by colorist Maria Santaolalla and letterer Simon Bowland. Cover A is by Colak and Santaolalla while Francesco Francavilla provided Cover B.  Issue #1 hits stores on April 11th.

Bunn describes a bit of what the book is about and discusses working with the same creative team as AfterShock’s Unholy Grail“I’m thrilled to be working on BROTHERS DRACUL, a 15th century horror tale that explores the ‘true’ history of the infamous Vlad the Impaler. With this book, we’ve brought the entire creative team of Unholy Grail along. I’m working with artist Mirko Colak, colorist Maria Santaolalla, and letterer Simon Bowland once again. We had so much fun telling a horror story with King Arthur as its central figure, we had to get the gang back together for this story, featuring one of the most shocking icons of horrific history!”

From writer Cullen Bunn and artist Mirko Colak comes a tale of brothers and blood that HAD to be told at AfterShock Comics.

The legend of Vlad the Impaler is the stuff of nightmares. The inspiration for the most iconic of monsters—Dracula, Vlad tortured and murdered thousands of victims. But what turned him into such a depraved killer? The truth lies in his teenage years, when Vlad and his brother, Radu, were held hostage by the Ottoman Empire. During this time the brothers learned many things—archery, riding, the art of combat, matters of court… and how to stalk and slay vampires.

Cover A

Cover B

Continue Reading


Fight Chainsaw-wielding Psychos in Retro FPS Dusk



Strongly inspired by hardcore ’90s shooters such as Doom and Quake, the brutal retro-style FPS Dusk has now made its way onto Steam Early Access, with a full release promised to be coming within the next several months.

Dusk was created by indie developer David Szymanski and published by New Blood Interactive, with the soundtrack composed by Rise of the Triad’s Andrew Hulshult. You play as a treasure hunter who travels to the mysterious town of Dusk, Pennsylvania, where he is captured by the locals and hung on a meat hook. After barely escaping with your life, you’re forced to arm yourself with whatever you can you can get your hands on in an effort to fight your way through both the insane locals and the dark supernatural forces which have also settled in the town. So if you’ve ever entertained fantasies of wielding a double-barrel shotgun and going up against chainsaw-wielding psychos wearing potato sacks over their heads, your dreams are about to come true.

Dusk Official Synopsis
DUSK reintroduces you to a world where butchery and bloodshed must be mastered if you’re to survive ’til dawn. Inspired by Quake, Blood, Heretic, Hexen, Half-Life, Redneck Rampage and all your ’90s favorites, and featuring a soundtrack by metal music mastermind Andrew Hulshult.

In THREE distinct campaign episodes hand-crafted from straight outta the ’90s, players battle through an onslaught of mystical backwater cultists, possessed militants and even darker forces and attempt to discover just what lurks beneath the Earth. Featuring a vast arsenal of badass weaponry including saw blades, dual-wielded shotguns from 1887 and an incredibly necessary grenade launcher, DUSK is unapologetic retro action from start to finish.

In addition to the main campaign, DUSK features an Endless Survival Mode, putting you front and center of wave after wave of enemies. For those looking for an extra challenge, DUSK also offers the chance to go head to head online to battle your friends in arena multiplayer, where darkness hosts the worst of humanity in surprising new ways.

Continue Reading


Michael Bay Adapting Duke Nukem with John Cena in Talks For Lead Role



I think we can all agree that this may very well be one of those times when we see an announcement and go, “Huh… That actually makes 100% sense and I’m completely behind it!”

It’s been announced that the classic FPS shooter series Duke Nukem is getting a film adaptation out of Paramount with Platinum Dunes, the company owned by Michael Bay, Andrew Form, and Brad Fuller, producing the movie. As of now, there is no script but the plan is to have WWE superstar John Cena taking on the lead role. As of now, it’s still in early stages but this is actually very exciting news as this combination seems like a match made in heaven.

Just think about some of Bay’s films, like Transformers, Bad Boys, The Rock, The Island, etc… Now imagine that kind of gleeful explosive action as the backdrop for Cena to kick untold amounts of alien ass. For those who worry that Bay won’t go hard enough in terms of violence or offensive language, don’t forget that both Bad Boys films as well as Pain & Gain were rated R for very good reasons.

Duke Nukem was originally released back in 1991 in the self-titled game made by Apogee Software. The character has since been in multiple sequels, although there are only four titles to the main storyline, and spin-offs as well as appearing in cameos in other games such as Death Rally, Blood, Serious Sam 2, Balls of Steel and can be seen in the trailer for Ready Player One. Nukem’s last video game appearance was 2011’s Duke Nuke Forever, a game that went through countless delays only to be met with critical panning upon release.

Horror fans who have played Duke Nukem will recognize many of the character’s iconic one-liners as being lifted from several horror films. Quotes from They Live, Army of Darkness, Aliens, Predator, Jaws, Full Metal Jacket, Evil Dead 2, and many more. The references were littered throughout and many delighted in their homages. However, Bruce Campbell wasn’t a fan when asked about the game back in 1999. He told IGN, “…they’re rip-off artists. Let them get their own damn material. It’s called hiring a writer.” [Source].

That being said, how cool would it be if Campbell made an appearance in the film to put Cena’s Duke Nukem in his place should he use one of those quotes? Apart from being a treat for fans of the games, it’d be a great moment in a film that’s meant to be chock full of bravado, machismo, and strong chins!

Coming back to Platinum Dunes’ adaptation, we’ll be keeping a very close eye on this project! In the meanwhile, why not tell us your favorite Duke Nukem moment in the comments!

Continue Reading

Recent Comments


Join the Box of Dread Mailing List

* indicates required

Go Ad Free!

Support Dread Central on Patreon!


Copyright © 2017 Dread Central Media LLC