Building a Simpler Tintin: Meet Martin le Malin

Cards on the table time: I never did much like Tintin. While there’s no denying the technical virtuosity and high imagination on display in Hergé’s work*, as a child, his overly-meticulous line and storytelling struck me as flat, sterile and remote. I thought I was just about alone in this view.

There was a Tintin-esque series I did delight in, and that was Martin le Malin, a translation of the Dutch « De Avonturen van Pinkie Pienter ». While much derided and nearly forgotten today, Pinkie remains, in my view, a misunderstood and under-appreciated work.

I was to learn, decades later, that the series was in fact created in response to the very aspects of Tintin that left me cold. In 1951, Dutch painter J.H. Koeleman (born October 30, 1926), while visiting his brother, learned from his young nephews that they were somewhat frustrated with and repelled by Tintin, finding the stories too complicated and the artwork too fastidious. From this incident, Uncle J.H. hit upon the idea of creating a series using a deliberately naïve and relatively primitive style, something closer in tone and essence to what a talented and imaginative child would craft for himself.

Koeleman produced and self-published a pair of albums, which were met with critical praise but disappointing sales. However, in early 1953, established publisher Mulder & Zoon came knocking and offered the man a deal: they would, using the greater resources at their disposal, republish and distribute his early efforts. The joint venture worked splendidly… at least for a time. In total, Koeleman wrote and drew twelve Pinkie Pienter albums between 1953 and 1958. These were also published in softcover 16-page colour instalments, which is the format I encountered them in. In my youth, they were everywhere: (long gone) supermarkets, department stores… and at 39 cents apiece, they offered a fine deal.

However, during Expo 58 (aka the Brussels World’s Fair), long-simmering tensions came to a head between the author and his publisher. Koeleman walked out, and the less said about his successors, the better. For it is in the later Martin le Malin albums that we can plainly witness the difference between intentional simplicity and economy… and sheer incompetence.

Today, I’ll focus on my favourite saga, « Les Martiens atterrissent » (#6 in the series, and serialized in « La soucoupe volante », « D’étranges visiteurs de l’espace » and « L’attaque des Martiens »).

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In the actual story, Martin’s bumbling sidekick, Floris Fidel (Floris Fiedel in the original) has been shrunk by Martian leader Plasticos (isn’t he just adorable?), but on the cover, while their size ratio remains constant, it’s Plastico who’s grown gigantic.
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You go to bed quietly, and the next thing you know, Martians are trampling your hedgerows and peeking in your window. Next time, draw the curtains. Love the way the cat runs for it in panel 5.
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Martin finds that piloting unfamiliar spacecraft is not something you pick up on the fly.
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Having captured Martian Aluminicus’ spacesuit, Martin tries, and fails, to infiltrate the invaders’ ranks.
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Oops. Another one of Floris’ screwups lands Martin in hot water.

I only learned today, while researching this post, that Pinkie/Martin was also published in English! Is anyone familiar with this edition?

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The copies I’ve seen for sale are listed in far-flung Australia. Curiouser and curiouser…
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The Martin cameo, as it appeared on the back of the first edition albums.
And here’s a custom-made Plastico (with Florisse in tow) needle-felted by WOT’s own multitalented ds.

*I am, however, quite fond of Hergé’s early series (that he considered minor works) « Les exploits de Quick et Flupke » (1930-40) and « Les aventures de Jo, Zette et Jocko » (1936-40).

-RG

Tentacle Tuesday: Carmine, Scarlet, Crimson Red

You’ve likely noticed it already, but people getting attacked by tentacles tend to be dressed in red. Now, red will not make a bull enraged (as a matter of fact, bulls are colour-blind to red – there, you learned something new today), but what effect would it have on an octopus? None at all, as it turns out, as red light does not reach ocean depths. One might want to wear red to become near-impossible to spot at a depth of a hundred metres or more, but that doesn’t explain why tentacles would persistently seek out red targets. Crap, there goes my theory.

Nevermind; we can still feast our eyes on some fetching mam’zelles and monsieurs clad in red, theories be damned.

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Alien Encounters no. 7 (June 1986, Eclipse Comics). Painted Cover by Corey Wolfe.

Music aficionados will notice that this cover is a tribute to something quite outside the comic field, namely this album art:

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Cover of 10cc’s Deceptive Bends album, designed by Hipgnosis, 1977. Where are the tentacles?! The girl’s dress is also somewhat more demure (though not by much).

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After Alien Encounters, we naturally move on to Alien Worlds. Admire the, err, tentacles on this cover:

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“If he had been watching his mistress as usual, if he had been at the controls instead of giving himself a lube job, the accident might have been prevented.” Moral of the story: no lube jobs at the wheel! That tentacled thing behind Princess Pam is actually Cynx, her guardian. The science-fiction comic anthology Alien Worlds, first published by Pacific Comics and then by Eclipse after Pacific went bankrupt, was edited by Bruce Jones, who wrote the bulk of the stories, and April Campbell. This is Alien Worlds no. 4 (Pacific Comics, September 1983), cover by Dave Stevens, with colours by Joe Chiodo.

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Mushrooms *and* tentacles *and* some pretty gams? Sensory overload! At first glance, the story (scripted and pencilled by Bruce Jones, inked by Dave Stevens, coloured by Joe Chiodo and lettered by Carrie McCarthy) is nothing but gratuitous cheesecake – a pretty, half-naked girl wandering around with her robotic servant – but it’s actually surprisingly touching. Check it out here. Fittingly, mushrooms save the day.

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It’s not just women who like to sport flashy red outfits, by the way. The men’s costumes might cover considerably more skin, but the vermilion remains!

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« The tentacles of a giant octopus emerge and grab him in a death grip. Almost as though the hideous creature has been standing guard over the treasure for all this time… » Of course it has! Any self-respecting octopus takes his job seriously. The Frogmen no. 2 (May-July 1962); the cover is by Vic Prezio, and the sumptuous inside art is by George Evans.

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There’s (also) an epic battle between a killer whale and the octopus in this issue (witness the aforementioned George Evans art).

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Of course he wants you, silly – who can resist a man in red swimming trunks? Nor octopus nor man. I retract my comment about men being more covered up. Do they have to tell their families, though?

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One more for the road and I’ll conclude this vernissage…

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“The bolts of current are merely absorbed by the rubber flesh of the octeel, which is part octopus and part electric eel!” Oh, for the love of puns. Weird Thrillers no. 4 (summer 1952, published by Ziff-Davis), with painted cover by Norman Saunders.

You’ll no doubt want to see what an electric octopus looks like, so here you go:

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“Tentacles of Death”? Sign me up, please! The gruesome cover story is drawn by George Tuska.

~ ds

“I never wore a studded leather jacket, y’know. Ne-va!”*

Brooding pretty boy (is that you, Brian Setzer?) is about to get a pleasant shock in this Dave Stevens (1955-2008) cover featuring a “punk rocker” in the well-scrubbed tradition of, say, Lea Thompson in the infamous Howard the Duck movie. Still, it’s a dazzler, as you’d be right to expect from Mr. Stevens.

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This is True Love no. 1 (Eclipse Comics, January, 1986), featuring reprints of 1952-54 Standard romance tales, boasting artwork by Alex Toth (two stories), Nick Cardy, and, er… Vince Colletta. Edited by Catherine Yronwode.

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Stray Cat-in-chief Brian Setzer, circa 1981.

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What passed for Howard the Duck and his ‘hairless ape’ companion Beverly Switzler (1986).

« True love leaves no traces 
If you and I are one 
It’s lost in our embraces 
Like stars against the sun »
Leonard Cohen (1977)

– RG

*Johnny “Rotten” Lydon

Happy birthday, John Stanley!

I’d like to bring to your attention that on March 22nd, 1914, more than a hundred years ago, John Stanley, American cartoonist and comic book writer extraordinaire, was brought into this world. He died in 1993 at age 79, but he left an undeniable mark on this world. (At least I hope it’s an indelible one.)

I won’t talk about his artistic parcours, as people far more erudite than I have already done it. For an enjoyable gallop through Stanley’s multi-faceted and staggeringly productive career, head over to the Comics Journal and read an excellent article by Frank Young. Want to read some stories (and have a few hours, if not days, to spare?) Visit Stanley Stories, a truly impressive blog by the same Frank Young, who scanned tons of comics and perceptively analyzed them for our great enjoyment.

Me, I’m just an devotee who likes to curl up and read his comics. I’ll share some images. The art is by John Stanley, unless otherwise specified.

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Marge’s Little Lulu no. 10 (April 1949). I recommend « John Stanley: Giving Life to Little Lulu » by Bill Schelly, published in Fantagraphics in 2017, which pieces together Stanley’s transformation of Little Lulu into the beloved, iconic figure she is today.  I’ve never felt the need to have female characters to relate to, yet Lulu’s a great role-model for mischievous little girls who can pitch a mean snowball as well as any boy!

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Marge’s Little Lulu Tubby Annual no. 2, March 1954. Cover by Irving Tripp from a layout by Stanley. Tubby’s series is an offshoot of Lulu’s.

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Page 8 from « Guest in the Ghost Hotel », from Tubby no. 7 (January-March 1954). Looking for ghosts, ghouls and monsters? Look no further than Stanley comics.

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John Stanley took a stab at Krazy Kat stories when Dell revived the comic in 1951. Krazy Kat Comics lasted for 5 issues (presumably poor sales doomed it), all published in the same year. This is Krazy Kat no. 1, 1951.

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How do Beatniks while away the hours? They compose nonsensical poetry, noodle it out… and dig girls, of course. Kookie was John Stanley’s creation; the series was written and laid out by him. Unfortunately, it was very short-lived, running for a grand total of 2 issues. This is Kookie no. 1, February-April 1962. The handsome painted cover is by Bill Williams from a layout by Stanley. You can read the issue here.

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Dunc And Loo no. 6, April-June 1963. Cover by Bill Williams from a layout by Stanley.

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Lou (of Dunc & Lou) was apparently destined to be a newspaper strip, but never made it.

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Melvin Monster no. 2, July-September 1965.

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O.G. Whiz no. 1, February 1971.

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An inside page of O.G. Whiz, with very typical madcap Stanley action.

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It’s not all fun, though: « The Monster of Dread End », written by John Stanley for Ghost Stories no. 1 (Dell, September-November 1962), is genuinely scary. Art by Ed Robbins.

And I haven’t even mentioned Stanley’s Nancy, nor her friend (and my favourite character) Oona Goosepimple. Next time… pick yourself up a copy of Drawn & Quarterly’s Nancy: The John Stanley Library, and happy reading!

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From Melvin Monster no. 1 (April-June 1965).

~ ds

Water Is Life: OMAC versus The Ocean Stealers (1975)

« The marine life is crushed and broken
by its own atoms — which cannot reduce
as fast as the water. »

I’ve been sitting on this particular entry awhile, having realized that the most opportune time to share it would be today, March 22, which happens to be World Water Day*.

In comics, few if any creators have generated so many explosive, pulse-pounding images as did Jack Kirby (1917-1994). And yet… this solemn, understated scene has likely haunted me most of all. The visuals are splendid, sure, but it’s the nature of the situation, the conceptual ramifications of the thing, that make it stick.

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This splash appeared near the opening of OMAC’s final adventure, one that pitted him against Sandor Skuba, a rogue genius seizing and hoarding the planet’s water in view of controlling humanity. Threat-wise, all the adversaries that the One Man Army Corps had tangled with were mere preludes to this impressive madman. As Kirby left DC before he could wrap up the storyline as he intended, no-one walks away from this skirmish**, notwithstanding the final panel, subsequent revivals and reboots and corruptions of Kirby’s ideas by (inevitably) lesser hands and minds (and conversely bigger egos).

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This is OMAC no. 7 (Sept.-Oct. 1975) and « The Ocean Stealers! », scripted, pencilled and edited by Jack Kirby, inked and lettered by D. Bruce Berry.

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Could that unseen appendage be Adam Smith‘s « invisible hand of the market » ?

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And here’s how it’s done.

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In light of the current practices of certain corporations, notably the Swiss transnational Nestlé, Kirby was sadly prescient and clear-eyed again. As evidenced by recent events, given the technological means, today’s robber barons would not hesitate.

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Writer and comics historian Mark Evanier, who spent some years as Kirby’s assistant in the ’70s, writes, in his foreword to the DC’s exemplary reprint collection Jack Kirby’s OMAC: One Man Army Corps (2008): « So consider this fair warning: the last issue comes to a whiplash-inducing sudden stop. Jack had been setting up something big for number 9, but since he was gone and there wasn’t going to be a number 9, a new last panel (not by Kirby) was inserted to remove the immediate cliffhanger.» … a panel created, at that, with the finesse of 10-year-old unburdened by a sense of pacing. “Wharoom” to you too.

-RG

*Don’t buy the duplicitous hype, though! A perfect example of the fox guarding the henhouse.

**more accurately, everyone is stranded in limbo.

Tentacle Tuesday: Pirates and Treasure, oh my

Where there be pirates, there be treasure; where there be treasure, there be a displeased octopus, irritable after being roused by some foolish fortune-hunter. I’d like to dedicate this Tentacle Tuesday to the murderous marauders who, in bold search for immeasurable treasure, have to tackle tentacles (and survive, hopefully).

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Weird Terror no. 2, November 1952. Cover by H.C. Kiefer. Note the dead pirate’s hook embedded in the diver’s shoulder, while the former’s other hand is severing his umbilical cable…  I think the octopus is the least of this treasure-hunter’s worries.  By Weird Terror standards, this cover is actually pretty tame; this green octopus is not responsible for Fredric Wertham‘s nightmares.

Any octopus action inside, you may ask? Just two panels.

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AAAGH-BLUB! Panels from « Wrath of Satan », pencilled by John Belcastro and inked by Joe Galotti.

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I never thought I’d be posting something Garfield-related, but in Roger Langridge‘s hands, even the insipid orange cat acquires some charm.

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A panel from « Pirate Cat », written by Scott Nickel and illustrated+lettered by Roger Langridge, published in Garfield no. 34: His 9 Lives Part 2, (KaBOOM!, February 2015).

Melvin the Menacing Sea Monster isn’t just a pretty eye; he’s got at least one excellent pitching arm, too.

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All this proves is that there’s a simple solution to an inane plot and pedestrian characters: hire Langridge to illustrate your story, and it will magically transform into a fun yarn.

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Our next selection doesn’t technically feature pirates, but it features sailors, Spanish smugglers, swindlers and cheats, as well an epic battle with an octopus and stolen treasure buried at the bottom of the sea, so it damn well qualifies.

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Classics Illustrated no. 56, February 1949; cover by August M. Froelich. For one thing, I never knew Victor Hugo had written anything squid-related. As it turns out, Toilers of the Sea (French: Les travailleurs de la mer) is a novel from 1866. How educational! Classics Illustrated was created by Russian-born Albert Kanter (1897-1973), who wanted to use the power of comics to introduce young readers to “great literature” that they might not otherwise have deigned to read. “Classic Comics” began publication in 1941, with the name of the series changed to “Classics Illustrated” in 1947. The series lasted until 1971 for a total of 169 issues; various other companies reprinted its titles. I don’t know whether this series really made a difference in the edification of youth, but many of its issues are highly collectible, anyway.

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As a little bonus, here’s a cover that’s somewhat lacking in swashbucklers, but boasts some decent treasure and (quintessential ingredient) some tentacles.

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If Rex the Wonder Dog (created by Robert Kanigher and Alex Toth) can ride horses, show off as an expert bullfighter, use cameras, defeat a Tyrannosaurus Rex and swing on ropes (among his many other accomplishments), I don’t see why he wouldn’t be able to effortlessly fend off some pink tentacles. This is The Adventures of Rex the Wonder Dog no. 42 (Nov.-Dec. 1958). The cover is by Gil Kane on pencils, Bernard Sachs on inks, and Jack Adler on tones and colours.

~ ds

“I’m sixty-three now, but that’s just 17 Celsius”*: Happy Birthday, Stephen Bissette!

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A panel from « Return of the Swamp Beast! », story by Jane and Bob (RL) Stine, art by Stephen R. Bissette, originally published in Weird Worlds no. 3 (Oct. 1979, Scholastic.) This is the colour version from the one-shot Bissette & Veitch’s Fear Book (April, 1986, Eclipse.) Colours by Brendan McDonough.

Ah, that old Earth’s taken another whirl, and so today, the wonderful Stephen Bissette, that most erudite master of terror *and* one of the truest, most steadfast gentlemen the medium has known, observes another birthday. He first breached this plane of existence in the wilds of Vermont some sixty-odd years ago today, on March 14, 1955. Let’s wish him all the best, shall we?

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The original art of this silk-spewing splash was reportedly acquired, by proxy, by erstwhile Calvin Klein Jeans model Brooke Shields. I like to envision it occupying a place of honour in the dining room of her favourite mansion. Or perhaps in the bedroom, right above the headboard?

This is from Saga of the Swamp Thing no. 19 (December, 1983, DC.) Quite respectably co-plotted and scripted by Martin Pasko (with Mr. Bissette), this predates epochal game-changer The Anatomy Lesson, but the Bissette/Totleben dream combo was already scorching eyeballs, en attendant Mr. Alan Moore’s accession.

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Newlyweds Rich and Jamie meet this dusty fellow, for the first and final time, in Egyptian Graffiti, story by Jane and Bob Stine, art by Stephen R. Bissette, originally published in Weird Worlds no. 2 (March 1979, Scholastic), also collected in Bissette & Veitch’s Fear Book , with colours by Michele Wrightson.

-RG

*George Carlin may have said that, or something to that effect. Who knows, these days?

Tentacle Tuesday: Pleasantly Goofy

I’d like to interrupt the regularly scheduled Tentacle Tuesday with the double whammy of tentacles and kiss-me-I’m-Irish:

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It’s Grip Glutz and Shamrock Squid! Originally published in Eightball no. 10 (February 1993.) Story and art by Daniel Clowes, of course. I love stories with no moral.

Shamrock Squid, created by Clowes, is an “open source” character, which is to say that other cartoonists have official permission to use him in their work.

« While Shamrock Squid was originally featured in Clowes’s comic book Eightball as a comic companion to “Grip Glutz” in a one-page ‘gag’, he has also made surprise or cameo appearances in other alternative comics such as Peter Bagge’s Hate and Rick Altergott’s Doofus. The most detailed, epic and perhaps final use of Shamrock Squid was done by Adrian Tomine and Peter Bagge in a 7 page piece in Hate #28 entitled “Shamrock Squid: Autobiographical Cartoonist”, which lampooned autobiographical alternative comics, teen angst, and fandom. It would seem that the gag has gone as far as it can. » (source)

I’m not sure what is implied by “the gag has gone as far as it can”, but since Adrian Tomine is involved, I’ll happily agree that enough is enough.

So if you’re planning to booze your woes away this Saturday on St-Patrick’s, happy drinking!

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Moving on to the goofiness promised, here’s Tentacle Tuesday in all its glory.

Many women get killed. Their corpses are covered in doughnut-shaped marks. A killer in a trench-coat sporting a wide-brimmed hat has been spotted retreating into the city’s aquarium after his crime. “Who Doughnut?”, the story’s title asks, and it is indeed a stumper.

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The intrepid detective follows the killer! His mind struggles with the vital question of who or what could have possibly left such bizarre marks on his victims…

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… and comes up with the answer! It’s…. (drumroll, please)…

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Well, duh. Everyone knows octopuses suck blood (and have a weakness for stylish hats).  « Who Doughnut? », written by Al Feldstein and drawn by Jack Davis, was published in Vault of Horror no. 30, April-May 1953. The art is glorious, and the story – while preposterous – is moody as hell, so do yourself a favour and read it here. As a matter of fact, it’s so well drawn that one forgets the farcical plot and shudders along with the protagonist.

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The composition just pulls you in, doesn’t it? Although you might wanna watch that… lest you come face-to-face with a vampire octopus.

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Quite on a different note, meet an alien lifeform with an appetite for self-destruction. Which is to say: it likes to be eaten.

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« The CXL spice paste is made up of millions of hive-minded micro-organisms whose sole purpose in life is to be eaten in a delicious meal. If the lettuce is too thick and chunky, the CXL will realise they are being prepared wrong and will strangle the chef responsible. »
Snippet from James Stokoe’s Wonton Soup, published by Oni Press in 2014. Thanks to RG for putting together my hasty photographs of this page from a completely unscannable, thick and tightly-bound book.

Canadian Stokoe is probably best known for his take on Godzilla, which comic left me frankly underwhelmed. However, I heartily recommend the unfortunately unfinished Orc Stain. As for Wonton Soup, it was loads of fun to read. Here’s a summary from Publisher’s Weekly: « Stokoe’s wittily vulgar debut graphic novel follows former-cook–turned–space trucker Johnny Boyo as he fights off space ninjas, returns to the planet of his ex-girlfriend Citrus Watts, and finally faces a cook-off duel with a pair of alien twins who’ll stop at nothing to achieve culinary victory. » That covers the gist of part 1; to which I’ll add that part 2 of Wonton Soup concerns itself largely with Johnny’s buddy Deac’s reminiscences about his mad escapades with a sex bear, which are not for the squeamish.

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Let’s end this cephalopod festival not with a bang but with a whimper… the whimper of a wife who’s getting carried off by tentacles, that is.

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“Sorry, dear.” Cartoon by Gahan Wilson, who can always be relied on to resort to tentacles whenever possible.

~ ds

“Rainstorm, Brainstorm, Faces in the Maelstrom”

It’s Ditquotation time! In 1974, the ever-ingenious lads of legendary English art design studio Hipgnosis threw in a subtle Steve Ditko / Doctor Strange appearance in their (re)design (for the US release) of the cover of Al Stewart‘s Past, Present & Future LP in 1974. The image it quotes hails from Strange Tales no. 137‘s When Meet the Mystic Minds! (October, 1965), where the Master of the Mystic Arts seeks a doorway to Eternity. And finds it.

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« I’m going nowhere with nowhere to go* »

However, according to the designers, it first leads him to the front yard of a castle depicted on Al Stewart’s following LP, Modern Times (1975). Now you guys are messing with our poor, befuddled minds.

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« The blonde woman on the album cover is Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour’s first wife, Ginger. The Cord automobile Stewart is sitting in belonged to Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page. » And yes, there are other versions of this album cover, some of them far more familiar.

While Hipgnosis consisted primarily of Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell and (later) Throbbing Gristle member Peter Christopherson, the main creative force on Past, Present & Future‘s artwork was one of the studio’s regular freelancers, Richard Manning. For those of us who love this sort of shop talk, here’s Mr. Manning’s recollection of the methods involved, in those halcyon pre-Photoshop days:

« If my memory serves me correctly, this was the first sleeve I worked on for Hipgnosis. Although, in the book ‘Walk Away Rene’ my good friend and mentor at that time,Terry Day (sadly no longer with us) is credited with working on it. A black and white montage. The figure was cut out physically and the back edges thinned and sanded and stuck in position with Columbia Cement. A Best Possible copy print was made, so now I have a flat print to work on, mounted on double weight mount board. Working to an elliptical guide on tracing paper, I carefully bleached to white the shape. Once washed and dried I then redrew some of the background with Photo Dye with a Sable brush, where the print had bleached a bit too far in the lighter areas. Finally, Permanent White was sprayed to make a sweet, soft edged shape. »

It wasn’t the first Dr. Strange reference Hipgnosis had inserted into an album cover: Pink Floyd’s A Saucerful of Secrets (the studio’s first LP cover, actually) borrows an image from the not-exactly-outstanding Roy Thomas/Marie Severin entry, The Sands of Time, from Strange Tales no. 158. Frankly, few characters have been as lost without their creator as the poor doctor has been, especially on the visual front.

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Ditko’s final Dr. Strange panel (Strange Tales no. 146, The End — at Last!, July 1966) was no symbolic accident: both creator and creation were leaving the stage.

On the plus side, Al Stewart, seemingly impervious to the passage of time, remains a terrific performer and an inspired, if less prolific, songwriter. If he’s in town…

– RG

*Al Stewart, Soho (Needless to Say)

Did you write a letter to Davy, Peter, Micky or Mike?

« If you did, you may find your letter printed in this book… If you haven’t written The Monkees yet, join the fun that’s going on inside this crazy, lovin’ book. »

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In 1967, the phenomenal Jack Davis (1924-2016), as prolific and versatile as an artist can get, provided twenty-one original cartoons and the cover to this snazzy little tome issued by the Popular Library.

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Dear Davy — I am one of your greatest fans. I have all the Monkees records that have been released so far. But I have one problem. I played your first record so much that it began to melt, and now it wobbles so much that I can’t play it anymore. I know it’s not your fault, but I don’t think it’s fair that I should be punished for being such a Monkee-lover. I think the record company ought to give me my money back so I can buy a new album. You could even think of it as a kind of award for loyalty or something. Please, Davy, talk to the record company and make them send me the money? Yours truly, Diana V., Charleston, SC

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Dear Mike — You know your record ‘Gonna Buy Me a Dog’? Well, if you really want a dog, I have a three-month-old Great Dane that a friend gave me six weeks ago that I have to get rid of. He’s a little too playful. Last week he knocked over my mom’s favorite vase and my kid brother. His name is Linus, but he’s not too attached to it.
Your fan, Steve R., Coral Gables, Fla.

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Dear Monkees — I like your group very, very much. You probably never heard of Varna. It’s a little town near Ithaca. I wrote a poem for you:
I think the Rolling Stones are great,
I think the Beatles are fine,
On the other hand,
I think the Monkees are DIVINE.
Your fan, Jeannie G.

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Dear Monkees — My name is Wendy. I like your records. Please send me a picture of you. I forgot all your names so please put your autographs on the pictures.
Sincerely, Wendy K., Butte, MT

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Dear Davy Jones — I like your shows very much. I like all your songs too. I like all your clothes and your hair. You are very very cute. You better come to Wichita or I’ll smash you one.
Lover, Carol K., Wichita

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Dear Monkees — Please send me Davy Jones in the mail. Send it to Cindy L, Louisville, Kentucky.

In closing, I see Micky Dolenz (b. March 8, 1945) turned seventy-three… yesterday. Happy belated birthday, Corky!

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-RG