Understandably reluctant to let such a lovely *and* provocative work of prime Griffin altogether go to waste, Man (and their legal counsel, presumably), engineered a clever and elegant design solution, shown below, which graces the band’s Slow Motion album, issued in late 1974, and still thumbs its nose at MAD Magazine, exceptionally cast in the thankless rôle of the fuddy-duddy villain.
As a born-again Christian (circa 1970) *and* surfer, it follows that fish were, topic-wise, a natural fit for Griffin.
A painting from Griffin’s foremost undertaking of the 1970s, « The Gospel of John » (available to this day!); this one illustrates John 21:6, « And he said unto them, cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They case therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. »
For the record, I prefer my fish alive and swimming free.
« That minuscule ogre on the throne must be the King. What a peculiar little man. »
In 1978-79, the rightly-celebrated English fantasy artist Patrick James Woodroffe (b. Halifax, West Yorkshire, on October 27, 1940; d. May 10, 2014), fresh from his high-profile paperback (much Moorcock!) and album cover assignments (including Judas Priest’s splendid Sad Wings of Destiny), hired out his talented brush with Warren Publishing long enough to produce ten covers, a varied, eye-catching and often unusual lot. Let’s make the rounds, shall we?
Mechanical tentacles! Cephalopod monsters communicating by mental telepathy! Even Jimmy Olsen playing the part of a monster in an alien horror movie! Yes, it’s all this and more in this Tentacle Tuesday post (after which I’ll quit bugging you with various cephalopods until next Tuesday).
Head over to the Fourth Age blog for a further discussion (with pictures!) of the cover story from this issue, “Jimmy Olsen’s Private Monster!”, written by Jerry Siegel (ahem…) and illustrated by the aforementioned Curt Swan (pencils) and John Forte (inks).
The two-eyed, many-tentacled mechanized wonder appears again in Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #47 (September 1960):
In a similar line of thought (but some 15 years later), a more steampunk relative of the creature above appears in Swamp Thing.
And here’s a peek at the glorious (I’m a fan of Redondo) inside:
Here’s another file for our records of Tentacular fascination: the Boy Commandos’ intrepid gang of feisty moppets, tired of fighting Nazis, switch it up by doing battle with some tentacled robots.
I couldn’t very well have a mechanically-minded Tentacle Tuesday without mentioning Dr. Octopus, one of Spider-Man’s most famous foes! Otto Gunther Octavius, a.k.a. Dr. Octopus, a.k.a. Doc Ock was created by Steve Ditko, and first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #3, 1963. Obviously I could feature a gallery of Dr. Octopus tentacles as long as your arm (pardon the confused anatomical terminology on my part), but I’ll limit myself to two.
First, an underwater scene, because what element more appropriate for tentacles? Kudos to Doc Ock for making his perfectly watertight.
Dr. Octopus’ metallic appendages, resistant to radiation and of great strength and agility, were originally attached to a harness…. but became fused to his body after an explosion involving radioactivity (what else?) They were surgically removed, but he could now control them telepathically from a distance. Spooky.
A 1968 ad full of spooky, green-glowy fun for the kiddies. An… interesting appropriation of Jewish mysticism. After all, Zohar and Kabbalah don’t really fall within the usual range of docile toy industry gibberish, straying closer to the realm of sideshow hucksterism, with its fortune-telling automatons.
Wikipedia tells us: « The Zohar (Hebrew: זֹהַר, lit. “Splendor” or “Radiance”) is the foundational work in the literature of Jewish mystical thought known as Kabbalah.
There are people of religions besides Judaism, or even those without religious affiliation, who delve in the Zohar out of curiosity, or as a technology for people who are seeking meaningful and practical answers about the meaning of their lives… »
« Modern technology has tripled the life expectancy of the professional insulter »
It was forty-eight years ago today, which is to say Thursday, April the 20th, 1970, when a certain short, dumpy, cheap-cigar-chomping 1500-year-old green witch first crash-landed into the funny pages, though we wouldn’t know she was green until that Sunday.
Russell Myers‘ (born October 9, 1938 in Pittsburg, Kansas, and still with us) Broom-Hilda has been easy to take for granted… it’s never been a trendy strip, but it’s always had its adherents, a somewhat enlightened, or at least less dim than average, passel of loonies, to which I proudly belong.
Over the long years, the changing times and the powers-that-be had Broomie clean up her act, stripping her of her beloved vices one after the other. Well, she’s held on to her gluttony and lust, but no longer indulges her passion for third-rate tobacco and beer. Still, since there was so much more in the strip’s DNA, the eschewing of Broomie’s low-down habits was not fatal.
Today’s Tentacle Tuesday comes courtesy of American Comics Group, which delighted its readers with horror, satire and other strange offerings between 1943 to 1967.
ACG’s Adventures into the Unknown is now recognized as comics’ first continuing horror title. A good variety of horror tropes (though I imagine that back then, the clichés we’re painfully familiar with today weren’t quite as clichéd) , from the amusingly bizarre to the genuinely scary, could be found within its pages: killer puppets, homicidal ghosts, murderous mummies, vicious dinosaur relics, spooky skeletons… and tentacles, of course. Unlike many of its brethren, the series survived the fall-out of the 1954 comic book hearings that were started by the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency, but the title did drop its creepier storylines in favour of goofiness. Not a bad way to go, really, as long as the result is entertaining!
I’d like to welcome you to Tentacle Tuesday by kicking things off with this unnecessarily graphic cover in which somebody’s tentacle is getting lopped off. Note that the she-octopus also has vampire fangs. Beautiful? I wouldn’t go that far… or anywhere near it.
There are five Adventures in the Unknown covers that feature octopuses (or someone’s nightmarish and anatomically ridiculous idea of an octopus, at any rate). We’ve already featured no. 157 (revisit the past here – Nemesis is waiting for you!); the remaining four were published between August and November of 1953 and illustrated by Ken Bald (who drew the covers for issues 21 through to 50). Didn’t he get tired of drawing tentacles? Was it his idea? Did he have nightmares afterwards?
(A little aside: speaking of Mr. Bald, he’s been in the Guinness book of records for a couple of years now, for being the “oldest artist to illustrate a comic book cover”. The comic in question is Contest of Champions no. 2 (2015, Marvel Comics), which he drew at the age of 95.)
I’ll skip no. 48 for now, as its tentacles are plant-like in nature, but onward with the other two!
“Breakthrough!”, the title story, is beautifully illustrated by Harry Lazarus and brimming over with tentacles. Take a peek:
Naturally, there is some tentacle goodness *inside* some issues of Adventures into the Unknown, despite an utter lack of cephalopods on the cover. I’ll give two examples (gracefully scanned by co-admin RG from the collected Adventures into the Unknown: Volume 8, published by PS Artbooks in 2014).
« Once there was a fellow and his name was Buzz He was just a rookie cop, just a baby Fuzz He patrolled the Sunset Strip in the land of the free and the home of the hip He protected you and me until he met a girl called Alice D
Alice was the girl that all the hippies dread And they called her Sweet Alice the Head Alice it was plain to see was full of pot and STD She’d attract a great big crowd because her inner peace was much too loud »
Biff Rose, “Buzz the Fuzz” (1968)
This day in history: On April 16, 1943, the hallucinogenic effects of LSD were discovered.
Here’s an account of the event, from the folks at History.com:
In Basel, Switzerland, Albert Hofmann, a Swiss chemist working at the Sandoz pharmaceutical research laboratory, accidentally consumes LSD-25, a synthetic drug he had created in 1938 as part of his research into the medicinal value of lysergic acid compounds. After taking the drug, formally known as lysergic acid diethylamide, Dr. Hofmann was disturbed by unusual sensations and hallucinations. In his notes, he related the experience:
« Last Friday, April 16, 1943, I was forced to interrupt my work in the laboratory in the middle of the afternoon and proceed home, being affected by a remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness. At home I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant, intoxicated-like condition characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight to be unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colours. After some two hours this condition faded away. »
After intentionally taking the drug again to confirm that it had caused this strange physical and mental state, Dr. Hofmann published a report announcing his discovery, and so LSD made its entry into the world as a hallucinogenic drug. Widespread use of the so-called « mind-expanding » drug did not begin until the 1960s, when counterculture figures such as Albert M. Hubbard, Timothy Leary and Ken Kesey publicly expounded on the benefits of using LSD as a recreational drug. The manufacture, sale, possession, and use of LSD, known to cause negative reactions in some of those who take it, were made illegal in the United States in 1965.
As a little digestif for the history lesson, here’s a poisoned bonbon from Thomas Ott (b. 1966, Zurich… a mere 76 km from Basel!), a proven meister of both comics storytelling and of the singularly exacting technique of scratchboard. This is Ott’s highly condensed and updated version of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, “Alice”, from 1992. I wouldn’t advise its use in preparing a book report.
Just this once, inquisitive English-speakers won’t be left out in the cold or reaching for their translation dictionaries, as Ott’s work is mostly mute, the only text appearing incidentally on newspapers, signs and assorted objects, and in English at that.
Ott’s chosen milieu is the perpetual nighttime of American film noir (which in turn comes from the French roman noir, a term first used in the 1700s to describe British gothics, becoming synonymous, in the 20th century, with bleak crime novels), so the headlines and billboards are in Inglés. In addition to the classic noir recipe, the Swiss artisan injects a discreet but usually lethal dose of his quite sardonic wit.
Jonah Hex originators John Albano (1922-2205) and Tony DeZuniga (1941-2012) take the piss out of their boy in a little tale that was, according to Paul Levitz, intended for a (self) parody title provisionally titled Zany (having cycled through the tentative monikers Black Humor and Weird Humor), and that never saw the light of day… This feature was the only one completed for the abortive endeavour, and it saw print in the Plop!-themed issue of The Amazing World of DC Comics (October, 1976), its thirteenth, of course. Incidentally, Plop’s own cancellation was announced in that very issue of AWODCC. Bummer.
I would be earning myself a sound flogging if I didn’t share Sergio Aragonés‘ adroitly-done cover, so here it is.
The punchline to the EC story “Pleasant Screams!”, written by the usual Bill Gaines / Al Feldstein combo, with art by Joe Orlando. From Tales From the Cryptno. 37 (August, 1953) Can anyone in the class tell me where this panel was swiped and quoted (to hilarious effect) in the eighties? The answer follows…
Here it comes… pencils down, everyone!
Ah, for a return to the days when we didn’t know way too much about Chester Brown, when he was a mysterious, self-published cartooning genius and Châteauguay‘s finest son. I remember how awestruck I was upon encountering his brilliant Yummy Fur minis, available at Toronto’s gone-but-not-forgotten Dragon Lady comic book store in the early-to-mid 1980s. What a surreal breath of fresh air they were!
A cat’s meow and a cow’s moo
I can recite ’em all Just tell me where it hurts yuh, honey
and I’ll tell you who to call Nobody can get no sleep There’s someone on ev’ryone’s toes But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here
everybody’s gonna wanna doze.
« They were bitter, war-weary men and the old woman’s music was comforting — perhaps too comforting… »
Writer and occasional penciller William ‘Willi’ Franz (born 1950) broke into the comics industry at the tender age of 15, selling his first script to Charlton editor Dick Giordano in 1966.
While best known for his fruitful collaborations with his mentor, the great Sam Glanzman (1924-2017), namely The Iron Corporal, The Devil’s Brigade and most enduringly The Lonely War of Willy Schultz, Franz also scattered a few gems that the light has mostly missed.
My favourite among these has to be his final story for Charlton, The Organist and the SS, published in Attackno. 8 (Nov. 1972). Franz’s bleak, nuanced and markedly pacifist tales had drawn the military’s ire, back in the late ’60s, and this somber little piece of doom might have, too, if anyone had been paying attention.
As Franz recalls in a 2015 interview with Richard Arndt, published in Charlton Spotlight no. 9 (Winter-Spring 2015-2016):
« I was told that a lot of Charlton sales were on military bases. They were a staple on Army bases. I, and my stories, were dropped in 1969, out of the blue. Things were heating up in Vietnam.
I was blacklisted at Charlton because a guy had put my name and stories down as one of the reasons he registered as a conscientious objector. I found out other people were throwing my name around. Someone in the army apparently said that my stuff, maybe like [Archie] Goodwin’s stuff, was too blood and guts. It was going to make soldiers *not* want to kill the gooks. The army can’t have that! »
Well, evidently Charlton (presumably managing editor George Wildman, bless his heart) let Will sneak back into the fold, if briefly, after the heat was off, otherwise I’d be writing about some other topic entirely.
Without further preamble, please savour this pitch-black, existentialist play of war and death, but mind the thorns.
This issue is chock-full of arrivals and departures: it opens with a story from new recruit Warren Sattler, trying his hand at a few short mystery and war stories before he found his niche in excellent collaborations with Joe Gill on Billy the Kid and Yang; next up is Jack Keller, who was winding up his comics career, what with Charlton’s remaining pair of hot rod books, Drag ‘n’ Wheels and Hot Rods and Racing Cars, soon to be scrapped. He would move, appropriately enough, to making a living selling cars. Finally, Argentine ace Leo Duranoña (b. 1938) was just passing through Charlton, crafting a handful of finely-hewn tales before moving on to DC and Warren… among others.