Tentacle Tuesday Masters: Tom Sutton

« Gary Groth: You did — God help you — you did an Alice Cooper comic in ’79. Were you out of it or what?

Tom Sutton: I listen to Mozart. I don’t know. I guess Alice Cooper was a musician. Some kind of giant snake or some damn thing.

Gary Groth: So why the hell didn’t you do a Mozart comic?

Tom Sutton: Nobody asked me to. »

When I wrote Tentacle Tuesday: a Treasure Trove of Charlton Tentacles, I skipped Tom Sutton, vowing to return to him at a later date. If there was anyone deserving the title of Tentacle Tuesday Master (applause, please!), it is him. I don’t know what the appropriate cluster term for tentacles is, but Sutton has surely brought a, um, pandemonium (a terror? a trepidation?) of tentacles to Charlton‘s pages.

Even outside of his tentacles, Sutton is a truly interesting artist. I highly recommend An Odd Man Out: Tom Sutton, Gary Groth’s interview with him for The Comics Journal. Just read Groth’s introduction, if nothing else – he does an excellent job of summarizing Sutton’s singular career and the conflicting influences that shaped it. The interview is 11 web-browser pages long, and throughout Groth and Sutton’s conversation, one gets the distinct impression that Sutton is a witty, self-deprecating man, the kind you want to take to a bar or something to listen to his stories. At some point he mentions that the tape (to record the interview) is probably running out, and Groth responds with «There’s not enough tape in the world for you, Tom», which is, I think, a good example of their easy banter as well as obvious camaraderie.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand – the art and writing is by Tom Sutton, unless indicated otherwise. You know those over-the-top Russian buffets, where food is overflowing from the table? This post is like that, but with tentacles.

GhostlyTales106A
Ghostly Tales no. 106 (August 1973).
TomSutton-Ghostly Tales #106-ThoseTentacles
This story, titled simply (and à propos) Those Tentacles!, scripted by Nicola Cuti and illustrated by Sutton, has already been mentioned in Tentacle Tuesday: Domesticated Octopus Seeks Soulmate, but I’ve never posted this page. Dang, gave away the ending.

This story was repurposed as a cover for Ghostly Tales no. 130 (May 1978):

TomSutton-GhostlyTales130

GhostlyTales106A
Ghostly Tales no. 113 (February 1975). Isn’t it a beautiful cover?
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Page from Through a Glass Darkly, the (surprisingly, black and white; Sutton evidently knew it wasn’t feasibly colourable… and his publisher respected his wishes! As opposed to…) cover story of Ghostly Tales no. 113. Good thing we we treated to all those eye-pleasing blues and greens on the cover!
TomSutton-CreepyThings2
Creepy Things no. 2 (October 1975). You can read the full issue here. This is my favourite cover of this lot, both for the parent creature’s sad, slightly sleepy expression, and for the crispness of greens against black.
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Creepy Things no. 4 (February 1976). I’ll bet that slug-thing glows in the dark.
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Page from Man’s Best Fiend, scripted by Joe Gill (as Tom Tuna) and illustrated by Sutton, printed in Creepy Things no. 4.
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Ghost Manor no. 27 (January 1976)
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Scary Tales no. 4 (February 1976). Scary Tales hostess Countess Von Bludd tackles tentacles! Now you can’t say this post doesn’t have any cleavage.
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Haunted no. 20 (February 1975). My second favourite cover, for the completely horrified, totally Sutton-esque faces of the creature’s victims. I also like the way his signature is hiding at the foot of the tentacles.
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Pages from Mountain of Fear, published in Haunted no. 20. This is likely the most Lovecraftian (and epic) of Sutton’s Charlton tales.

SuttonMountains18A

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Page from Out of the Deep, published in Haunted no. 21 (April 1975). This panel was later used as the cover for Haunted no. 55 (May 1981). Read the full story here.
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Page from Fear Has a Name!, scripted by Nicola Cuti and illustrated by Tom Sutton, published in Haunted no. 22 (June 1975).
Ghostly-Tales-#111-TomSutton-TheThingintheHole
Page from The Thing in the Hole, published in Ghostly Tales no. 111 (September 1974). Read the whole issue here.

For more Tom Sutton, head over to the great blog The Horrors of It All, where a fellow admirer has posted a bunch of his stories. I’m happy to say that Sutton aficionados are legion and they’re fairly rabid, so to speak.

Furthermore, you can read co-admin RG’s Mind the Quirks and Glitches: Petrucha & Sutton’s Squalor for one more, more modern, facet of Sutton’s varied career. And if you’d like a little piquant in your life, his post even includes links to Sutton’s erotic comics!

~ ds

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