Den is the name of two identical sword and planet fictional characters created by Richard Corben. The first appeared in the 1968 animated short film Neverwhere. The second has been appearing in the medium of comics since 1973, and in short stories that have been collected for the most part in trade paperbacks. The second Den also appeared in the animated film Heavy Metal.
Corben created Den as the protagonist of a film short titled Neverwhere while working at Calvin Studios, an animation company in Kansas City. The film is animated, with framing sequences filmed in live-action. Corben played the title character himself and his boss at Calvin played the boss in the movie. He drew the whole animated sequence by hand in his spare time. His employers, impressed by his work, helped him to finish it by editing it and adding a new professional soundtrack with actors’ voices. It was submitted to film festivals and won several awards, including the CINE Golden Eagle Award. The story continued in comic form from then on. Den made his comic debut in a short comic book story that appeared in Grim Wit No.2 in September 1973. Corben expanded this short story to two parts for publication in Métal Hurlant (1975–1976). He continued the story, turning it into a 12-part serial called “Den”, for the first twelve issues of Heavy Metal magazine (1977–1978). He added an epilogue, “Den’s Farewell”, which was printed in issue No.13 (April 1978). The original story, without the epilogue, was published in the trade paperback Neverwhere (Ariel: Feb. 1978). All 13 chapters featured in the trade paperback Den: Neverwhere (Catalan: 1984).
Corben returned to Heavy Metal with a 13-part Den sequel, which ran in issues No.54 through No.72 (1981–1983). These stories were collected in the trade paperback Den 2: Muvovum (Catalan: 1984), which appeared around the same time as the complete first edition, Den: Neverwhere.
Corben began self-publishing Den through his company Fantagor Press in the 1980s, beginning with Children of Fire (1987) which was later revealed to be the prequel to the Heavy Metal-era Den adventures. Corben followed this with an ongoing Den series, which did not have the full frontal nudity that was the hallmark of the original Heavy Metal strips. Corben went back to the adult content with Den Saga, which filled in some of the details between Children of Fire and Neverwhere and Muvovum.