Tentacle Tuesday: Convoluted Critters

Occasionally, I notice a comic book cover with a tentacled monster so peculiar that one starts wondering whether the artist was on drugs or just couldn’t give a shit. That is not a criticism, however: where grabby appendages are concerned, the weirder, the better. Even if some of these guys have a face (muzzle? rictus?) even a mother couldn’t love, or their anatomy defies all laws of biology, we’ll welcome them with open arms!

As usual, in chronological order.

First in our line-up is this little fella in a hat. At least he looks like he’s wearing a cap, although perhaps he just has a square head with a skin flap hanging over the sides. At first glance, his tentacles are hollow, although their flesh is probably just a dull shade of battleship grey. So what’s this “thing that waited”? Soviet soldiers who are actually alien invaders. Duh.

AdventuresintoWeirdWorlds3
Adventures Into Weird Worlds no. 3 (March 1952), cover by Joe Maneely.

This next cover is probably a little more standard for pseudo-octopus fare: a lady with huge, ahem, bazooms (Russ Heath liked ’em busty, it seems – seriously, just look at the size of those things!) threatened by some horrific monster who’s dispatching her companion as expediently as possible. Still, the somewhat Wolverton-esque, grave-dwelling aliens with pincers at the end of their tentacles are odd-looking enough to squeeze their way into this post.

Spellbound20A
Spellbound no. 20 (March 1954), cover by Russ Heath.

This toupee-clad creature with evil gimlet eyes doesn’t look much like a pet, if you ask me. How are those grabby little arms attached to its head, anyway? Wait, who am I talking about, again? 😉

HouseOfMystery87
House of Mystery no. 87 (June 1959), cover by Bob Brown.

“My Greatest Adventure” was a title that promised much, and it must have been difficult to live up to it every month. Witness the following “fantastic” creature – a furry slug with disturbingly fleshy lips and tentacles. I can’t vouch for my reaction had I been an excitable ten-year old, but to this blasé adult, the poor beast summoned by some psycho witch doctor (the jungles seem to be always overrun with them) is just begging to be put out of its misery.

MyGreatestAdventure51
My Greatest Adventure no. 51 (January 1961), pencilled by Dick Dillin and inked by Sheldon Moldoff.

Our next exhibit finally features a proper alien, one who looks strange but at least makes sense as a unified, functioning creature. I love his sadly drooped whiskers, his dejected expression that’s strangely at odds with his pontifical speech.

Tales oftheUnexpected66
Tales of the Unexpected no. 66 (October 1961), cover by Bob Brown.

« Make him a werewolf! But in space! And give him tentacles! » Yeah, guys, that went over really well. A Marvel Masterwork, my ass. But wait: Black Destroyer! is an adaptation of A. E. van Vogt’s short story from 1939. And did CÅ“url, the black cat-like creature, have tentacles in the story? Why, yes, he did.

« His great forelegs—twice as long as his hindlegs—twitched with a shuddering movement that arched every razor-sharp claw. The thick tentacles that sprouted from his shoulders ceased their weaving undulation, and grew taut with anxious alertness. Utterly appalled, he twisted his great cat head from side to side, while the little hairlike tendrils that formed each ear vibrated frantically, testing every vagrant breeze, every throb in the ether. » (read the full story here.)

WorldsofUnknown5
Worlds Unknown no. 5 (February 1974), cover pencilled by Gil Kane and inked by Frank Giacoia. CÅ“url looks like he’s floating on top of the corpse – I don’t think the artists spent too much time watching an actual cat at work.

Read the comics version of Black Destroyer! here.

My last offering for today is the cutest, featuring an adorable blue varmint who gets my full sympathy and support. Weird? Sure, a bit – he’s got a tentacle sprouting out of his forehead – but beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right? This cover also proves that monsters are just as interested in tooth-whitening procedures as us humans.

TheDefenders72
The Defenders no. 72 (June 1979), pencilled by Herb Trimpe and inked by Al Milgrom.

~ ds

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