Tentacle Tuesday: a Treasure Trove of Charlton Tentacles

I wasn’t around in the 70s. (Literally, as in “I hadn’t been born yet”.) So when somebody – in, oh, say 2008 or so – handed me a copy of some ghost comics printed by Charlton Comics (I don’t remember what exactly), that was my first exposure to this publishing company. I wasn’t aware that I wasn’t « supposed » to like this stuff… and by the time some kind soul pointed out that it’s not exactly orthodox to seek out Charlton publications, it was too late to change my mind. Clearly, that’s how monsters with no taste are created.

Charlton Comics had the reputation for inferior printing (as one of my friends put it, « godawful colours and reproduction and paper ») and low quality control. I’d say that when one contemplates the variety of artistic styles and the dizzying panoply of artists published by them, the quality of the printing distinctly becomes a less important consideration. Charlton paid badly, sure, but since when do people decide what they like and what they don’t based on how artists are treated? (Just look around – companies that trample on creators’ rights are doing very well indeed.) It seems like a knee-jerk reaction; I often wonder if people who automatically react with sneers to the very mention of Charlton have actually read any of the comics this company printed. Or perhaps they’re scared by some of the artists’ styles which are just too wild, too squiggly, just not clean enough. (Sloppy line work! Anathema to any comic book lover worth his salt, right?)

Anyway, Charlton’s « loose editorial oversight » meant there was no house style to speak of, and artists with highly idiosyncratic styles could let their eccentricities shine.

You may notice some names are conspicuously absent from today’s post. Tom Sutton, exhibit A of the “chaotic, scratchy art” category, will get a Tentacle Tuesday post all to himself at a later date. Some beloved artists just didn’t draw any tentacles for Charlton (as far as I know!): Warren Sattler, Don PerlinSam Glanzman, Don Newton, Rocco Mastroserio, etc. Wayne Howard is already part of a Tentacle Tuesday (see Plant Tentacle Tuesday), as is Enrique Nieto (Tentacle Tuesday: Spunky Skirmishes).

Without further ado, but with lots of tentacles…

First, two beauties from Steve Ditko (if you’d like more Ditko – and who wouldn’t? – visit my co-admin RG’s lovely posts about him: Ditko’s Ghostly Haunts and Happy 90th birthday, Mr. Ditko!), both featuring “70s Ditko green“. (It’s that characteristic green hue that often appears on his covers, a fitting term coined by erudite Professor Fester.)

GhostlyTales#111-SteveDitko
Ghostly Tales no. 111 (September 1974), cover by Steve Ditko. « The Thing in the Hole » is a really cool story, but it’s written and drawn by Tom Sutton, and as such it’s off-limits for now (I’m hoarding material for a different post.)
GhostlyTales#122-SteveDitko
Ghostly Tales no. 122 (August 1976), cover by Steve Ditko.
GhostlyTales#122-inside
Do these green noose-appendage-things count as tentacles? Sure they do! Panel from The Crew That Was Hanged!, illustrated by Steve Ditko and written by Joe Gill.

And moving on to other series, other artists:

Haunted#8-JackAbel
Haunted no. 8 (October 1972), cover by Jack Abel (1927-1996), perhaps best known as an inker for DC and Marvel.
Haunted#13-WrongTurn-PeterMorisi
Newly-weds that are half-squid, half-fly, but newly-weds nonetheless. Page by Peter A. Morisi (1928-2003), who went by the nom de plume of PAM (or, since his signature’s M looks like a triple “I”, “PAIII!”). He was a NYC police officer, and moonlighted as a comics artist. I really like his calm, easily recognizable style and the way his characters seem to be frozen in each panel. There’s something quite effective about this stillness, a pleasing contrast between the drama and action of a story and the way people are staring off-panel in quiet contemplation, even when terrified. This story is called “Wrong Turn” and comes from Haunted no. 13, 1973.
BaronWeirWulf'sHauntedLibrary#28-MikeZeck
(Baron Weirwulf’s) Haunted (Library) no. 28 (July 1976), cover by Mike Zeck, whose career actually started at Charlton (he later moved on to Marvel to work on Master of Kung Fu, Captain America, etc.).
Haunted#28-FrankBolle-TheSource
« The creature’s tendril closed so gently around his leg, he didn’t notice it at first. Then a second grasped his arm! » The Source is the cover story of Haunted no. 28. Is old Thomas Willet mad? Well, he just has unusual taste in pets, that’s all (and, as tradition demands, he will pay dearly for his extravagance). Pencils and inks by Frank Bolle (born in 1924), who worked for Gold Key and Charlton, illustrated horror stories for Warren titles, and also had a hand in several newspaper strips (Winnie Winkle, Apartment 3-G, Stan Drake’s The Heart of Juliet Jones, and Gil Thorp).
GhostManor#1-PatBoyette
Ghost Manor no. 1 (October 1971), cover by the ever-masterful Pat Boyette (1923-2000), who’s a big favourite at Who’s Out There. Go read a whole story by him: Pat Boyette — Hillbilly Makes Good

We couldn’t find a good enough scan of this issue online, and it’s one of the rare Ghost Manors co-admin RG doesn’t actually own, so here’s a cover photostat (slightly coloured):

GhostManor58ProdA
Ghost Manor no. 58 (August 1981), cover by the Recreo Studio.
GhostlyHaunts#48-RichLarson
Ghostly Haunts no. 48 (February 1976), cover by Rich Larson (we’ve seen him before in Haunted House of Lingerie — see Tentacle Tuesday: a Day at the Beach).
GhostlyHaunts52A
Ghostly Haunts no. 52 (October 1976), another cover by Pat Boyette, this time gorgeously painted.
BeyondtheGrave#11-MitchOConnell
Beyond the Grave no. 11 (October 1983), cover by Mitch O’Connell (also present in Have Tentacles, Will Space Travel).

~ ds

7 thoughts on “Tentacle Tuesday: a Treasure Trove of Charlton Tentacles

  1. Fester Faceplant March 26, 2019 / 13:54

    Great article! It’s nice to see the younger generation appreciating the wonders of Charlton. By the way, I’m the one who coined the term “70s Ditko Green”!
    Cheers—
    Fester Faceplant

    Like

    • redscraper March 26, 2019 / 14:11

      Thank you! Haha, now I’m really glad you read this post – I don’t like not giving the proper credit where it’s due, especially when it’s such an apt phrase. Cheers right back at you!

      Like

  2. Gerald Clouser June 16, 2019 / 08:03

    Really Appreciate this blog post, how can I make is so that I get an alert email every time you publish a new update?

    Like

    • gasp65 June 18, 2019 / 10:07

      Hi Gerald! I believe all you need to do is click on the “Follow” button… which will then give you a choice of receiving an alert every time a post is published, or receiving a weekly email. Glad to have you on board!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s