Tentacle Tuesday: Your Dime’s Worth of Tentacles!

Some folks seem to display a knee-jerk reaction to the legacy left behind by men and women who lived decades ago: that of condescension. Surely, if it was something that our grandparents believed in, something that made their imaginations soar or intrigued them, by now it’s no longer relevant or just utterly jejune. Frankly, I’d poo-poo this repulsive straw-man I’ve just erected, if it wasn’t for the fact that these narrow-minded airheads actually do live among us. “I’ll listen to music from before my time when today’s musicians stop releasing such excellent music”, somebody daft once opined, and the same (ahem) logic seems to be apply to other forms of culture. If TV shows from two years ago are ancient (overheard at a restaurant), what can we possibly think of comics from 70, 80 years ago?

As you probably noticed, this blog suffers from no such delusions: there’s plenty of intelligent, touching, excellent-all-around material to be dug up from (in this instance) the Golden Age.

Sorry about the varying quality of the images; some of these stories have been reprinted in recent years (and thus, thoroughly cleaned up, or even lovingly restored from original art); and some of them are only available in the original form, which is to say shoddily printed, dubiously coloured, and not all that well preserved. The Golden Age was, as I noted previously, a long time ago…

All right, let’s begin! I have a few favourites in this post, and our first story is one of them. I had access to a pristine, cleaned up, painfully white-papered version of it from Golden Age Marvel Comics Omnibus no. 1 (2009), but I by far prefer the following version, which keeps the colours, shall we say… less blinding? This is On the Planet Ligra, originally published in Marvel Mystery Comics no. 9 (Marvel, July 1940). It is  scripted by Steve Dahlman, who did a very nice job of it, too. It’s worth a read in its entirety; find it here.

Marvel Mystery Comics no. 9-ontheplanetLigra

Marvel Mystery Comics no. 9-ontheplanetLigra2

Marvel Mystery Comics no. 9-ontheplanetLigra3

The next few pages demonstrate the dodgy printing I was referring to earlier…

PlanetComics4-tentacles
Slave Planet is scripted by Herman Bolstein (as Starr Gayza; what a nom de plume!), and illustrated by Arthur Peddy, possibly with some help by Will Eisner on inks. Published in Planet Comics no. 4 (Fiction House, April 1940). Incidentally, we have a whole bevy of Fiction House Tentacles at Tentacle Tuesday: Planet of Tentacles, courtesy of Fiction House.
CometPlanet8-MysteryoftheVanishingMen-The-Red-Comet1
Mystery of the Vanishing Men, published in The Red Comet no. 8 (Fiction House, September 1940), is illustrated by Alex Blum.
CometPlanet8-MysteryoftheVanishingMen-The-Red-Comet
Another page from Mystery of the Vanishing Men.

This next part I like a lot, because I’m quite fond of Henry Fletcher, Barclay Flagg and perhaps even Hank Christy. These are all the same person, of course: Fletcher Hanks, The Most Bonkers Comic Book Creator of All-Time, according to Mark Peters. For now, let’s just look at some tentacles, although I will doubtlessly return to this theme at some later juncture.

Because of Fletcher Hanks’ relative cachet, comic scholars and restorers seem to have paid a little more attention to his work of late, and at a result, we can admire the two following pages in all their mighty crispness.

FantasticComics16-StardusttheSuperWizard
A page from Stardust « featuring the Octopus of Gold!», published in Fantastic Comics no. 16 (Fox, March 1941), scripted and illustrated by Fletcher Hanks.
Fletcher-Hanks-Jungle Comics # 1-tentacles
The Slave Raiders is scripted and illustrated by Fletcher Hanks. It was originally published in Jungle Comics no. 1 (Fiction House, January 1940).

Getting off the Hanks bandwagon, we move into nonetheless enjoyable territory with Dynamic Man. These panels are from an unnamed story (with matching unknown artist ) published in Dynamic Comics no. 9 (Chesler/Dynamic, 1944).

DynamicComics9-DynamicMan
This has no tentacles, but I enjoyed these two panels far too much to not share: the guys’ New Yawk accents, and the witch’s demented rictus (not to mention that it’s all happening underwater).
Dynamic Comics No.9 -theseahorror
How many more rhetorical questions are you going to ask us?

DynamicComics9-DynamicMan1

Last but not least, as boring people say, is my second favourite of today’s post, both because I love the art and because the story gave me something to sink my teeth into. .

SuperMagicianV5#8A
Super-Magician Comics vol. 5 no. 8 (Feb-March 1947), cover by Edd Cartier. Dig the guy’s dopey, sneezy expression… contrasted with the octopus’ hypnotic stare.

Twilight of the Gods, the cover story, is also illustrated by Edd Cartier. It’s surprisingly nuanced, doesn’t fall into horrible stereotypes despite the presence of several Chinese characters, and even has an interesting moral. Read it here.

SuperMagician56-TwilightoftheGods

SuperMagician56-TwilightoftheGods-2

Next week, I’ll return to my usual diet of the Latest Published Thing as well as superhero crossovers! Just kiddin’.

~ ds

Will Eisner’s The Spirit at Kitchen Sink (pt. 4)

« Some men are like flies… without a plan – without direction… they flit restlessly about the world… escaping one danger… and another… only to fall into the spider’s web… » — Bleak’s prospects are grim (Jan. 4, 1948)

Here we are, making our way through Kitchen Sink’s valiant chronological reprinting of Eisner’s post-WWII The Spirit, namely strips from December 1947 to December 1948; still at the peak, with a bit of fatigue on the horizon. At any rate, this particular vintage inspired a score of the master cartoonist’s most sublime new covers… as you’ll witness.

EisnerKS_Spirit25A
Kitchen Sink Press’ The Spirit no. 25 (Nov. 1986) cover-features Eisner’s famous and much-reprinted jailbreak saga, Slippery Eall (aka A River of Crime), originally published on November 30, 1947. The story features inmates bearing the mugs of Eisner studio contributors: letterer Abe Kanegson is Bellows; penciller-inker Jerry Grandenetti is Dapperish; and Eisner himself is Slippery Eall. Also in this issue: Death of Hugo (Dec. 7, 1947), Snow (Dec. 14) and Christmas Spirit of 1947: Joy (Dec. 21). Cover by Will Eisner. Cover colouring by Pete Poplaski.

Speaking of the slammer, Eisner muses sardonically on the cartooning life: « Working in this field is a very, not lonely, but solitary life. All of us come to realize how many hours we’ve been chained to the drawing board. We used to talk in the studio about how if we were sent to jail, it wouldn’t make any difference. We could still turn out comics and our lives would not be a hell of a lot different. »

3DSpiritRiverSplashA
Here’s that celebrated opening splash, from its appearance in Will Eisner’s 3-D Classics featuring The Spirit no. 1 (Dec. 1985, Kitchen Sink); get those glasses out!

From Dave Shreiner’s ongoing talk with Eisner, published in The Spirit no. 26‘s Stage Settings column: “Eisner has always been a functionalist, rarely a decorative artist producing something for its beauty alone. He is a powerful artist in that nearly every device he uses serves more than one purpose. With a bit of prodding, he took issue with the seemingly prevalent attitude among comic book artists that splash pages serve as a second cover to a story: there for decoration and enticement, but redundant to the story.”

Eisner: « A lot of the artwork done in this field is for a kind of personal satisfaction. It’s used to display artistic muscle, rather than confining itself to an artistic purpose. I believe a lot of artists fear addressing themselves to a purpose because they’re afraid that the showiness, or dazzle dazzle of their artwork, will probably be diminished. 

Consequently, they feel the approval level, the applause meter, will fall off somewhat. We’ve talked before about one of the problems facing artists in the comic book field being that their work is judged essentially on the physical appearance of it. It’s the artwork, rather than the content. That fact contributes to comic books being looked down upon. »

EisnerKS_Spirit26A
This is The Spirit no. 26 (Dec. 1986), and it brings us ‘Umbrella Handles’ (Dec. 28, 1947); The Name Is ‘Powder’ (Jan. 4, 1948); The Fallen Sparrow (Jan. 11, 1948); and Just One Word Made Me a Man (Jan. 18, 1948). Colours by Pete Poplaski, grey toning by Ray Fehrenbach.
EisnerKS_Spirit28A
This is The Spirit no. 28 (Feb. 1987), and it features Life Below (Feb. 22, 1948); The Return of Roger (Feb. 29, 1948, evidently, like 2020, a leap year); The Strange Case of Mrs. Paraffin (Mar. 7, 1948); and War Brides (Mar. 14, 1948). Colours by Pete Poplaski, grey toning by Ray Fehrenbach.

On the subject of the inspiration behind cover-featured Life Below, Eisner explains: « I was trying to find a unique, or exciting and startling setting within a normal situation. It always intrigued me that cities, particularly New York City, had miles and miles of catacombs under the streets. People doing city stories frequently overlook the potential of them. Underneath the city are layer after layer of story material. »

EisnerKS_Spirit31A
This is The Spirit no. 31 (May 1987), featuring The Last Hand (May 16, 1948); Assignment: Paris (May 23, 1948); The Emerald of Rajahpur (May 30, 1948); and The Guilty Gun (June 6, 1948). Colours by Pete Poplaski, grey toning by Ray Fehrenbach.
EisnerKS_Spirit33A
This is The Spirit no. 33 (July 1987), featuring The Springtime of Dolan (July 11, 1948); Barkarolle (July 18 1948); cover-featured The Thing (July 25th, 1948), an adaptation of Ambrose Bierce‘s short story The Damned Thing and quite the Jerry Grandenetti showcase; and The Eisner Travel Agency (Aug. 1st, 1948). Cover colours by Dave Schreiner.
EisnerKS_Spirit35A
This is The Spirit no. 35 (Sept. 1987), comprising cover-featured The Story of Gerhard Shnobble (Sept. 5, 1948); Cache McStash (Sept. 12, 1948); Lorelei Rox (Sept. 19, 1948); and Ace McCase (Sept. 26, 1948). Cover colours by Ray Fehrenbach. That poor Mr. Schnobble (the little flying guy with the grin and the bowler hat)… his is among the most tragic fates in comics.
EisnerKS_Spirit36A
This is The Spirit no. 36 (Oct. 1987), and it brings cover-featured Tooty Compote (Oct. 3, 1948); Gold (Oct. 10, 1948); Nazel B. Twitch (Oct. 17, 1948); and Pancho de Bool (Oct. 23, 1948). Cover colours by Ray Fehrenbach. Striking shadow effects: the KS production team sure knew how to make the most of the relatively primitive mechanical means at its disposal.
EisnerKS_Spirit37A
This is The Spirit no. 37 (Nov. 1987), and it hits us with Halloween (Oct. 31, 1948); cover-featured Plaster of Paris (Nov. 7, 1948); The Chapparell Lode (Nov. 14, 1948); and Quirte (Nov. 21, 1948). Cover colours by Ray Fehrenbach. Note the witty symmetry of the matching KS logo, top left.
EisnerKS_Spirit38A
This is The Spirit no. 38 (Dec. 1987), which lands expertly and rolls with The Amulet of Osiris (Nov. 28, 1948); cover-featured The Coin (aka Stop the Plot!, Dec. 5, 1948), an action-packed humdinger featuring the return of The Octopus; Two Lives (Dec. 12, 1948); and Christmas Spirit of 1948 (Dec. 19, 1948). Cover colours by Ray Fehrenbach. A dizzying honey of a cover.

Past this juncture, the strip’s slow, inexorable decline commences, and the covers reflect that fact. But not to worry: Eisner was a consummate pro, and the rest of the run is not without its gems. Besides, I’ll be cherry-picking ’em for you.

WhoThereLogotype

If you’ve just arrived at the intermission, fret not: take your seat and relax, here’s what you missed so far :

… or point your clicker on our general category, That’s THE SPIRIT!, and summon the lot at once… but in reverse chronological order; that’s the minute toll this dab of convenience exacts.

-RG

Hot Streak: Bill Everett’s Menace

« I have learned to live each day as it comes, and not to borrow trouble by dreading tomorrow. It is the dark menace of the future that makes cowards of us. » — Dorothy Dix

Menace was a short-lived (11 issues, 1953-54, Atlas) horror anthology title that’s mostly remembered*, if at all, for its one-shot introduction of a zombi by the name of Simon Garth. Because Atlas never really played the gore card, its successor Marvel was able to mine most of its Pre-code material as cheap filler in their 1970s bid to flood the market. Don’t get me wrong, though; these titles were still a lot of primitive fun, and in most cases, I’d pick an issue of Weird Wonder Tales, Where Monsters Dwell or Uncanny Tales From the Grave over the latest Fantastic Four or Spider-Man.

The writing was by no means daring or even coherent, but the artwork was frequently rather fine, with none quite finer than Bill Everett‘s, particularly his covers, which elegantly straddled the line between fearsome and goofy.

I’d be tempted to say that Everett (1917-1973) was at his peak when he created these, but the bittersweet fact of it is that Everett was still at the height of his artistic powers, even as he was slowly dying in the early 1970s.

This particular hot streak ends not because Everett turned in a lesser job, but because other hands provided covers for the rest of the run. Talented hands, at that (Carl Burgos, Gene Colan, Russ Heath, Harry Anderson), but none of the other Menace covers are a patch on Everett’s mighty half-dozen.

Menace01A
These monsters look kind of playful and kooky, don’t they? This is Menace no. 1 (March 1953, Atlas). Inside we find Everett, George Tuska, Russ Heath and Werner Roth art. Oh, and Stan Lee stories. Colours by Stan Goldberg.
Menace02A
This is Menace no. 2 (April 1953, Atlas). Colours by Stan Goldberg.
Menace03A
This is Menace no. 3 (May 1953, Atlas). Colours by Stan Goldberg. Was the title’s monthly schedule truly supposed to be a selling point?
Menace04A
This is Menace no. 4 (June 1953, Atlas). Colours by Stan Goldberg.
Menace05A
If you think that’s impressive, you should see what mushrooms can do to asphalt!** This is Menace no. 5 (July 1953, Atlas). Simon Garth was dug up (sorry) in 1973, likely at the behest of continuity addict Roy Thomas, to star (if you can call it that) in his own black & white magazine, Tales of the Zombie (10 issues, 1973-75). Like The Man-Thing, he was essentially mindless and shambling, and so mostly a pawn or an uncomprehending witness to others’ tragedies. The best of the mangy lot is, imho, The Blood-Testament of Brian Collier (TotZ no.7… read it here.) It’s not great, but it sure looks pretty, thanks to the sublime Alfredo Alcala, who’s quite in his element here.
BugEyedPair
Don and Warren also met Simon. Read Lee and Everett’s 1953 Zombie!
Menace06A
This is Menace no. 6 (August 1953, Atlas). Colours by Stan Goldberg.

That strange compulsion that’s creeping over you, that ungodly craving for more Bill Everett, cannot quite be slaked without incurring a terrible cost, be it in human lives, the forfeiting of your immortal soul, or both. But do check out my co-admin ds’ earlier tribute to Mr. Everett’s nightmares, Bill Everett’s Restless Nights of Dread, it might tide you over until dawn.

-RG

*these babies are rare, in any condition.

**Here’s an example:

AsphaltMushroomA

Tentacle Tuesday: A Child’s Garden of Carnivorous Plants

« Drosera’s snap tentacles — which can sense moving prey — catapult insects directly onto the glue tentacles at the plant’s center, where the prey is digested. What’s more, the catapult system is very effective—the insect almost never escapes. » (source)

Which child hasn’t passed through a temporary fascination with Venus flytraps in particular, and carnivorous plants in general? From there it only takes a tiny shift of the imagination to arrive at man-eating plants, which grab their victims with murderous tentacle-like tendrils, crawling vines and grabby creepers. Today we delve into one of my favourite sub-categories of tentacle obsession: plant tentacles.

This spine-chilling greenery often deploys its lethal vines in some remote corner of the Earth (well, in comics, at any rate). This, I firmly believe, is far scarier than the idea of other planets harbouring these carnivorous forms of life. After all, our chances of landing on Mars or somesuch are slim, and we’re a lot more (though not very) likely to wind up in some mysterious jungle.

But first, we deal with that old trope about a power-mad scientist breeding some man-devouring monstrosity in a pot, garden or greenhouse.

ShadowV2No8
Shadow Comics v. 2 no. 8 (November 1942, Street & Smith), cover by Vernon Greene.
ShadowComicsV208-HorrorHouse
Page from Horror House, the cover story, scripted by Walter Gibson and illustrated by Jack Binder.
BlueRibbon19
The Botanist of Death, scripted by Joe Blair and illustrated by Lin Streeter, was published in Blue Ribbon Comics no. 19 (December 1941, Archie)
Geschichten geschichten550
 Gespenster Geschichten no. 550. One would think that a vampire getting restrained by a carnivorous plant is actually a *good* thing, but the lady seems unimpressed. Maybe she wanted to get bitten?

When I was a wee girl, my dad would give me piles of adventure books to read. Quite a few of them involved some intrepid explorers discovering (or literally falling into) a jungle (often hidden in some volcanic crater) in which prehistoric creatures had somehow survived (among the novels I remember reading were Sannikov Land and Plutonia by Vladimir Obruchev, The Lost World by Conan Doyle, Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne, The Land That Time Forgot by Edgar Rice Burroughs, etc.) Cue dinosaurs and woolly mammoths! As I loved dinosaurs, I didn’t mind this recurring theme, which by now seems a little, shall we say, hackneyed.

Turok,-Son-of-Stone#26
Turok, Son of Stone no. 26 (Dec. 1961-Feb. 1962, Dell), cover by George Wilson.

The cover story, The Deadly Jungle, is scripted by Paul S. Newman, penciled by Giovanni Ticci and inked by Alberto Giolitti.

Turok, Son of Stone no. 26-TheDeadlyJungle

Turok, Son of Stone no. 26-TheDeadlyJungle2

Very much on topic is this installment of Land Unknown (a comic adaption of the 1957 science fiction movie), scripted by Robert Ryder and illustrated by Alex Toth, published in Four Color no. 845 (August 1957, Dell).

Colour845-AlexToth

Colour845-AlexToth2

I shall doubtlessly return to this topic again. In the meantime, visit Plants sometimes have tentacles too and The Hungry Greenery.

By the way, the Drosera plant (more precisely, a genus that includes about 152 species) – called Sundew in common parlance – is not only lethal, but beautiful, too.

Drosera_capensis_bend
A real-life plant tentacle in action – goodbye, little insect.

~ ds

 

Tentacle Tuesday: More Golden Age Wonder Woman Wonders!

I’m always happy to revisit Wonder Woman in her glorious young days of being depicted by H. G. Peter, whose expressive, dynamic art I just can’t get enough of. The stories are none too shabby, either! In my earlier post, Tentacle Tuesday: H.G. Peter and Wonder Woman lend a hand, I overlooked a few choice cuts. Well, having spent a few delightful hours going through WW stories originally published in Wonder Woman, Sensation Comics or Comic Cavalcade, it is my pleasure to remedy my previous oversight, and I can possibly even claim that these two posts are a pretty definitive list of Wonder Woman’s tentacular entanglements.

Do you have a few hours to waste – pardon – dedicate to research, too? Here you can read the entirety of DC’s Wonder Woman: Golden Age multiple-volume omnibus. Personally I think the graphic designers responsible overamped the contrast when they cleaned up the images, and much prefer reading these stories in their original colour… but nothing beats having all of this stuff on one website for convenience.

All stories are written by William Moulton Marston with art by Harry G. Peter.

Demon of the Depths, printed in Wonder Woman no. 7 (winter 1943):

WonderWoman7-1943-DemonoftheDepths

WonderWoman7-1943-DemonoftheDepths2

The Adventure of the Octopus Plant!, printed in Sensation Comics no.  41  (May 1945):

SenationComics41-The Adventure of the Octopus Plant!

SensationComics41-The Adventure of the Octopus Plant!-2

SensationComics41-The Adventure of the Octopus Plant!-3

SensationComics41-The-Adventure-of-the-Octopus-Plant!-5

This is not strictly tentacle-related, but I would also like to share a few choice panels that I’ve stumbled upon while looking for tentacles. Gorgeously weird, they remind us just how strange, inventive and subversive Wonder Woman was in her glory days of yore!

SenationComics5
Etta is my favourite character, and this is a great showcase for her sense of humour! Sensation Comics no. 5 (May 1942)
WonderWoman3
This is apparently a standard Amazonian ceremony – the girls dress as deer, are hunted and captured, and then cooked and consumed. Wonder Woman no. 3 (February-March 1943)
WonderWoman6
I had to use at least one scene of bondage, right? I was mostly amused by the quip about French girls. Wonder Woman no. 6 (Fall 1943).
SensationComics41
Sensation Comics no.  41  (May 1945)

And voilà! But don’t fret, we will see Wonder Woman in the tender embrace of an octopus again… this time in the 60s, Robert Kanigher and all.

SensationComics22-WonderWoman-octopus
Wonder Woman versus the Saboteurs, printed in Sensation Comics no. 5 (May 1942)

~ ds

Hallowe’en Countdown III, Day 27

« And something horrible is going on in Foley’s body! Come at once! Come quickly! »

The Dead Who Walk is a mysterious one-shot from 1952. It was issued by Realistic Publications, an ephemeral publishing arm of Avon Books, during the decade that they haphazardly dabbled in the funnybook field.

DeadWalkA
Boy, whatever you can say about Anne, she certainly made an impression.

The pungent dialogue and its implications aside, what fascinates me about this lavishly grotesque cover is the jarring schism in art styles: the damsel in peril is of the classically-buxom Matt BakerNick Cardy species, while the revenants belong to an expressively oddball Edvard MunchManny StallmanJerry Grandenetti school. As far as I know, the cover artist(s)’s identity is lost to time and obscurity. It has been established, thanks to a signature, that the insides were provided by longtime jobber Tex Blaisdell… a rather stiff and workaday performance, regrettably. But the cover assuredly isn’t his, no matter what the good ol’ GCD says.

TheDeadWhoWalkP2A
The most accomplished interior page, in my view, is the inside front cover intro. Art by Tex Blaisdell.

You can pore over the sordid tale of The Dead Who Walk thanks to the excellent Pappy’s Golden Age Comics Blogzine, where the issue was examined  back in 2007: http://pappysgoldenage.blogspot.ca/search?q=Dead+Who+Walk

At the time, it was presumed that the inside art was the work of future EC and DC player Joe Orlando, which didn’t seem far off the mark.

-RG

Tentacle Tuesday: Monsters with Really Long Arms

A favourite trope of tentacular obsession in comics is populating stories with monsters boasting exceptionally long arms (sometimes more than one pair) that they can wind around stuff with ease. In other words, monsters with tentacle forelimbs. You’d have to abstain from comics altogether to never encounter that of which I speak (or stick to slice-of-life comics, I guess). A little demonstration is in order.

Here’s a trick question: what kind of being lives on planet Octo? Duh: Octo-men! The following Flip Falcon story, illustrated by Don Rico (and not “Orville Wells”, despite claims to the contrary), was printed in Fantastic Comics no. 17 (April 1941).

Fantastic Comics #17

FantasticComics17-OctoMen2

FantasticComics17-FlipFalcon
Interesting that “dog” is used as a slur even on planet Octo, despite there clearly being no canines around.
FantasticComics17-OctoMen
Nasty little brutes, aren’t they?

The Super-Tests of the Super-Pets! (scripted by Edmond Hamilton, penciled by John Forte and inked by Sheldon Moldoff) is every bit as goofy as it sounds. I actually enjoyed reading it, much to my own amazement. Anyway, while Proty II (Chameleon Boy’s pet) transforms into quite a few creatures to pass the super-test, he clearly favours tentacular forms (and who could blame him?) This was published in Adventure Comics no. 322 (July 1964).

Super Tests of the Super Pets! (Adventure Comics no. 322)-1-SheldonMoldoff

Super Tests of the Super Pets! (Adventure Comics no. 322)-2-SheldonMoldoff
How is it worse to be a jellyfish instead of some sort of blobby ectoplasm thing?

Speaking of Proty II and ectoplasm, a dozen issues later, the Legion decides to visit his home planet, which is just full of these jello-marshmallow doughboys, Protean citizens all. Part I: The Unknown Legionnaire and Part II: The Secret of Unknown Boy! (both parts scripted by Edmond Hamilton, penciled by John Forte and inked by Sheldon Moldoff) were published in Adventure Comics no. 334 (July 1965).

Adventure Comics no. 334
To terrify Proteans, whose appendages are borderline tentacles, Saturn Girl decides to conjure up a… monster with tentacles.
AdventureComics334-TheUnknownLegionnaire3
In case you didn’t believe me that Proteans have “tentacles”.
AdventureComics334-TheUnknownLegionnaire-2
The shape-shifting Proteans turn into more streamlined versions of themselves, with more pronounced tentacles. I swear, everyone is obsessed.

Next, I’d like to regale you with a fight scene illustrated by Murphy Anderson (yum!): Scourge of the Human Race!, scripted by Gardner Fox and published in Hawkman no. 15 (August-September 1966).

Hawkman15-1964-MurphyAnderson

Hawkman15-1964-MurphyAnderson3
Isn’t it a lovely last panel?

Hawkman15-1964-MurphyAnderson4

If I Can’t Be Clark Kent… Nobody Can!, published in Action Comics no. 524 (October 1981), scripted by Martin Pasko, penciled by Curt Swan and inked by Frank Chiaramonte, offers us a nice helping of tentacles.

Action Comics #524 (1981)

Action Comics #524 (1981)-2

If I should see an octopus
Lift its arms out of the sea
Or see its shadow rising up
Cross the rooftops above the streets
I’d follow those dancing limbs
To the spinning edge of the sky
Where all the boats fall off the world
Into the octopus’s eye

~ ds

Hallowe’en Countdown III, Day 10

« Behind every tree there’s a new monster. » — Todd Rundgren

Now how can you go wrong with a genre-melding title like this? Did publisher Hillman Periodicals decide it was entirely too much of a good thing, and nip it in the bud? Who wrote and drew the darn thing? Nearly seventy years on, these are not easily-answered questions.

Monster-Crime1A

Anyway, the lone, unnumbered issue of Monster Crime Comics rolled off the presses in the fall of 1952, it’s a pretty scarce item, as they say in the trade, and it features the sordid tales of The Crutch to Paradise, Another Hallowe’en, The Boss of Ice Alley, Oregon Tiger, The Canvas Tomb, The Cold Doorstop, and The Two-Legged Newspaper.

« A low print run and high price for the time (15 cents!) combined to make this one-shot among the rarest of the era’s crime comics, with perhaps 20-100 copies surviving. The over-the-top cover contributes to the book’s fame, particularly because it has nothing to do with the contents. Pre-Code crime comics from Hillman, possibly printed to clear out a backlog before the publisher ended its comics lineup a few months later. » [ source ]

– RG

Hallowe’en Countdown III, Day 6

« Spine-chilling tales of suspense, horror, and the supernatural—prepare yourself for Adventures into the Unknown! »

This American Comics Group (ACG) entry is generally considered the first title fully committed to the supernatural genre in the history of US comics. And this arresting, Isle of the Dead-styled tableau graces the cover of the title’s second issue (December, 1948). Art by Edvard Moritz. Most of the stories were scripted by horror legend and H.P. Lovecraft disciple Frank Belknap Long (read his The Hounds of Tindalos and forfeit your soul!) Speaking of which, the entire issue’s contingent of chills and thrills is available right here for your pleasure and leisure.

ACGAdvUnknown02A
This is Adventures Into the Unknown! no. 2 (Dec. 1948 – Jan. 1949, ACG).
BöcklinIsle1880A
As I was saying, Arnold Böcklin‘s Isle of the Dead painting, in its original version… of several.

This painting also inspired a quite fine Val Lewton / Mark Robson / Boris Karloff motion picture bearing the same name (1945). Watch the trailer, why don’t you.

« Kill, puppets, Kill! » — Turgot, the Puppet Master, never one to mince words.

– RG

Tentacle Tuesday: Cute Critters

Sometimes I stumble upon a comic with a fight-to-the-death scene in which something-or-other- with-tentacles plays the role of a lethal enemy for our hero – but upon closer inspection, in turns out that the ferocious creature is… gosh-darned cute. I mean, how can you kill anything that has adorable whiskers, or tufted eyebrows like Oscar the Grouch?

When your attackers are carrots with tentacles, and they really get on your nerves (although I think Ann is safer with them than with Dr. Maylor), I’d suggest throwing them into a nice big pot of soup, maybe… but if you please, do consider abstaining from flinging acid at them.

MysteryinSpace#3-HeroesinTime
I do believe that prehensile vegetables fit into the category of “cute” – just look at their precious little root-legs! Page from Heroes Out of Time!, scripted by Manly Wade Wellman (hey, cool!), with some very stylish art by Bob Oksner on pencils and Bernard Sachs on inks, printed in Mystery in Space no. 3 (August-September 1951).

While we’re on that topic: things get delightfully wacky and madcap (not much) later in the story. Namely, Napoleon Bonaparte and Benjamin Franklin are summoned for help against the tentacled carrot-horde.

MysteryinSpace#3-HeroesinTime-ManyWadeWellman
The Flaming Carrot would not be pleased by this massacre. If only to admire the art, you can read Heroes Out of Time! here.

Thank you kindly for suppressing your urge to sock the creature sporting a unibrow and bloodshot eyes worthy of Christopher Lee; it’s also not his fault he got lumbered with such a shaggy wig.

TheMarvelFamily80
Detail from the cover of The Marvel Family no. 80 (February 1953), pencils by C. C. Beck and inks by Pete Costanza.

Have the goodness to think twice before pitching lethal ice cubes at an owl, even if it somehow grows metal tentacles and threatens to make mince-meat of humanity, because owls are the very cutest.

Action Comics (1938) #257-CongoBill
Panels from The Man-Ape Skin Diver!, scripted by Robert Bernstein and drawn by Howard Sherman, published in Action Comics no. 257 (October 1959).
Action Comics (1938) #257 -congobill-2
“Wiggle-thing”? Excuse me?

Pray, don’t kill anything that looks like it’s wearing a dragon wearing a really bad disguise, including a moustache that looks like a pile of hay.

LeagueofAmerica208
A panel from Fate is the Killer (a preview of a Masters of the Universe story), scripted by Paul Kupperberg, pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by Dave Hunt, published as a promotional bonus in several DC titles cover-dated November, 1982.

If you would be so good as to spare the creature that looks like a mashup of a seal and a mole, especially if it gazes at you mournfully with world-weary sadness.

TheVengeanceofSkeletor-Alcala
Masters of the Universe: The Vengeance of Skeletor! (1982), cover by Alfredo Alcala.

~ ds