Tentacle Tuesday: Eightball Eyeballs

Compared to their bodies, octopuses have fairly small eyes. Yet in comics they often sport saucer-sized peepers, and like villains in a bad Broadway production, they love to glare menacingly at their potential victims from under their impressively wrinkled brows.

Case in point, these two Tales of Suspense covers, close cousins despite the change of scenery. They’re both from 1960, both penciled by Jack Kirby and inked by Dick Ayers. Both monsters promptly acquire loving nicknames from people you would think have more important things to think of, like not getting eaten and/or crushed. Meet Monstro and Sporr!

TalesofSuspense8
Tales of Suspense #8, March 1960. An octopus who was minding his own business gets temporarily but dramatically enlarged by radioactivity from nuclear tests (*communist* nuclear tests). “He lives! He moves!” – I fail to see why that’s amazing more than, oh, say “this thing’s gigantic on a scale heretofore unknown to man”.

 

TalesofSuspense11
Tales of Suspense #11, September 1960. A well-intentioned but overly enthusiastic scientist exposes an amoeba to an « experimental death ray » and the poor thing grows into this.

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Not all puppy-eyed octopuses have two baby blues; unlucky cephalopods end up with Cyclopean anatomy and a bad case of suffering the wrath of grapes – a cherry in a glass of buttermilk, anyone?*

The Occult Files of Dr. Spektor #19Painting
The original art for the cover of The Occult Files of Dr. Spektor #19 (Gold Key, April 1976). It was painted by Filipino artist Jesse Santos. Dr. Spektor is our protagonist, yet he looks particularly baleful here, hunchbacked and grinning, nothing like the kind of  dashing  hero who’d rescue a drowning maiden.
The Occult Files of Dr. Spektor19Page
A panel from « Loch of the Leviathan », also drawn by Jesse Santos, and written by Don Glut. I just love this panel – the gentle curve of tentacles, the skeleton and his pleading gesture…

I highly recommend the issue, certainly because of the art, but equally the story. You won’t find a straightforward man-finds-monster, man-kills-monster plot-line here; and there’s also bikini babes for your viewing pleasure.

* Your eyes look like two cherries in a glass of buttermilk
Don’t roll those bloodshot eyes at me
I can see you’ve been out on a spree
(Wynonie Harris, Bloodshot Eyes)

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Sometimes octopuses have big eyeballs *and* a vocabulary all their own.

LurkAkim
Octopus language is the biggest mystery after “what does the fox say?” I bet you never knew that octopuses go “LURK LURK?!”

Akim was an Italian comic, published from 1950 to 1983, and translated into several languages, most notably French. Drawn by Augusto Pedrazza and wrtten by Roberto Renzi, Akim was a « tarzanide », which is to say heavily “inspired” by Tarzan, if not directly ripped off from it.

The LURK LURKs in panel above were no one-time occurrence. The octopuses in this story keep saying it again and again, and with different intonations, which I find hilarious. Turns out, a whole range of emotions can be expressed with this small four-letter word! My thanks go to co-admin and partner RG, who noticed this unpromising, poor-excuse-for-a-comic in a store and pointed out why we should pick it up after I had scoffed at it.

LurkAkim2
I can’t help but feel that the octopus is trying to say something important, but all its mouth (?) can form is a piteous luuurrrkk.

~ ds

 

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