Tentacle Tuesday: Ladies Kinda, Sorta in Peril

Behold! I return to a topic close to my heart, as close as tentacles are close to human flesh in this post! Namely, PG manifestations of shokushu goukan. But I wouldn’t like you to think that I’m one-track minded: today’s crop has its share of fantasy scenes, scantily-clad women who are about to be even further undressed, but! it also includes panoramas of serious (and unsexy) struggle, tongue-in-cheek héroïnes quite nonplussed by their predicament, tentacles overpowering female protagonists despite their superpowers, etc.

Without further ado, I give you… damsels in tentacular distress.

Cover art by Bernie Wrightson for Nightmare Theater issue 3 (Chaos Comics 1997
Cover painted by Bernie Wrightson for Nightmare Theater no. 3 (Chaos Comics, 1997).
Cavewoman- Pangaean Sea #4 by Budd Root
Cover from Pangaean Sea no. 4 (Basement Comics, 2000); art by Budd Root, the owner of this publishing company.
Jungle Tales of Cavewoman #1
Another one from Basement Comics: Jungle Tales of Cavewoman no. 1 (1998), variant cover by Frank Cho. It will come as a surprise to no-one that Cavewoman was created by the aforementioned Budd Root. Cavewoman is Meriem Cooper (I suppose calling her Myriam was too staid). I stumbled upon this amusing quote from Root recently, who said that Meriem was « patterned after pretty much all the women I really respect. She’s got a body with kind of a Little Annie Fannie face with Danni Ashe’s boobs and Nina Hartley’s butt. » No comment.

The maiden doesn’t always need to be rescued, nor does she necessarily *want* to be ravished – here’s a look at some heroines standing their ground against tentacular invasion.

JillThompson-thetrueAmazon
Page from Wonder Woman: The True Amazon (DC, 2016) by Jill Thompson. I wasn’t much impressed by this graphic novel, but I loved Beasts of Burden, a collaboration between Thompson and writer Evan Dorkin.
PremianiMGA81A
My Greatest Adventure no. 81 (August 1963), art by Bruno Premiani.
Brüno-Lorna
Or you can resort to other, more… creative… means for getting out of the octopus’ embrace. Pages from Lorna: Heaven is Here (Treize Étrange, 2006) by Brüno.

I promised you superheroines, and by Jove, you shall get some!

Isis#4-DC
Isis no. 4 (April-May 1977), pencilled by Mike Vosburg and inked by Dick Giordano. Isis clearly used to be a ballerina…. or the artists have a knack for awkward anatomy.
Isis#4-octopus
Treasure of Lost Lake is scripted by Jack C. Harris, pencilled by Mike Vosburg and inked by Vince Colletta. I honestly can’t recommend this story to you – the art is about as good as the storytelling, which is not a compliment to either.
Spectacular Spider-Man #75-
Page from Ferra Naturae, scripted by Bill Mantlo, penciled by Al Milgrom and inked by Jim Mooney, published in Spectacular Spider-Man no. 75 (February 1983).   Obviously many have grappled with Dr. Octopus’ tentacles… but I think this particular scene is worthy of inclusion in this post.

If you’d like more women-tangled-in-tentacles in your life, there’s a number of previous posts you can visit – She Was Asking for It!, Foul as Sewer Slime!, Warren and its Many TentaclesThe PG-13 Edition, and of course the NSFW Edition. You can also visit the backlog of Tentacle Tuesday posts.

Until next Tuesday!

~ ds

Edgar Allan Poe: Immortality Is but Ubiquity in Time*

« Be silent in that solitude
    which is not loneliness — for then
the spirits of the dead who stood
    in life before thee are again
in death around thee — and their will
shall then overshadow thee: be still. »
— Edgar Allan Poe (1829)

It was on this day, two hundred and ten years ago, that the great writer, poet and posthumous master of all media Edgar Poe (Jan. 19, 1809 – Oct. 7, 1849) was born in Boston, Massachusetts. I’ll spare you the usual biographical details, widely available elsewhere, and we’ll concentrate on his unflagging ubiquity in the medium of comics.

Poe’s literary reputation was in tatters in America, thanks to a rash of hatchet jobs and dismissals, some of the most vicious from the pen of one Rufus Griswold, the very worm he’d named his literary executor (!), as well as such notables as Ralph Waldo Emerson and T.S. Eliot… while his renown was undimmed in Europe, particularly in France (in no small part owing to Charles Beaudelaire’s legendary translations), rehabilitation at home slowly came as the 20th century crept along, but it was likely the publication of Arthur Hobson Quinn’s definitive Poe biography, in 1941, that sealed the deal and opened the floodgates.

spiritushera
Top two tiers from page 2 of The Spirit‘s August 22, 1948 episode. Layout by Will Eisner, pencils and inks by Jerry Grandenetti. As Dave Schreiner puts it: « Grandenetti captures the asthenic look of Roderick Usher that Poe described. The man is a decadent waif; insular, fragile, high-strung, possibly in-bred. »

Classics Illustrated publisher Gilberton was first out of the gate with Poe adaptations, at first tentatively with a pair of poems (Annabel Lee, then The Bells)**, then more substantially with The Murders in the Rue Morgue, in Classic Comics no. 21 3 Famous Mysteries (July, 1944), sharing the stage with Arthur Conan Doyle and Guy de Maupassant. Read it here. Pictured below is Classics Illustrated no. 84 (June 1951, Gilberton), cover by Alex A. Blum. Read the issue here.

classicillustrated84goldbuga
A relevant passage from Simon Singh‘s fascinating (if you’re into that sort of thing… and I hope you are) The Code Book: The Secret History of Codes and Code-Breaking (1999): « On the other side of the Atlantic, Edgar Allan Poe was also developing an interest in cryptanalysis. Writing for Philadelphia’s Alexander Weekly Messenger, he issued a challenge to readers, claiming that he could decipher any monoalphabetic substitution cipher. Hundreds of readers sent in their ciphertexts, and he successfully deciphered them all. Although this required nothing more than frequency analysis, Poe’s readers were astonished by his achievements. One adoring fan proclaimed him ‘the most profound and skilful cryptographer who ever lived’. In 1843, keen to exploit the interest he had generated, Poe wrote a short story about ciphers, which is widely acknowledged by professional cryptographers to be the finest piece of fictional literature on the subject. The Gold Bug tells the story of William Legrand, who discovers an unusual beetle, the gold bug, and collects it using a scrap of paper lying nearby. That evening he sketches the gold bug upon the same piece of paper, and then holds his drawing up to the light of the fire to check its accuracy. However, his sketch is obliterated by an invisible ink, which has been developed by the heat of the flames. Legrand examines the characters that have emerged and becomes convinced that he has in his hands the encrypted directions for finding Captain Kidd’s treasure. »
crandalltelltale2a
A page from EC Comics great Reed Crandall‘s exemplary adaptation of Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart, from Creepy no. 3 (June, 1965). While Crandall’s work is outstanding, scripter-editor Archie Goodwin tried to ‘improve’ upon Poe by tacking on a tacky ending, a nasty habit he would indulge in again on subsequent adaptations, notably issue 6’s The Cask of Amontillado!. Read The Tell-Tale Heart. And don’t miss The Cask…, if only for the artwork.
creepy70a
In the mid-70s, Warren would devote two full issues of Creepy to Poe adaptations; issue 69 (Feb. 1975), featured The Pit and the Pendulum, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Premature BurialThe Oval Portrait, MS Found in a Bottle!, Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar; issue 70 (Apr. 1975) comprised The Murders in the Rue Morgue, Man of the Crowd, The Cask of Amontillado!, Shadow, A Descent into the Maelstrom! and Berenice
All stories were adapted, with far greater respect than Mr. Goodwin seemed capable of, by Rich Margopoulos, and illustrated by a host of artists. The project was edited by Bill DuBay, and the cover painting is by Ken Kelly.
isidromontesberenicesplasha
Isidre Monés‘ fabulous opening splash from Creepy no. 70‘s Berenice. Read the story in full here.
wrightsondescenta
« The rays of the moon seemed to search the very bottom of the profound gulf; but still I could make out nothing distinctly, on account of a thick mist in which everything there was enveloped, and over which there hung a magnificent rainbow, like that narrow and tottering bridge which Musselmen say is the only pathway between Time and Eternity. » In 1976, a peak-form Berni Wrightson got out his brushes and paint tubes for a heartfelt portfolio of Poe-inspired oils. A sensitive and subtle sense of colour was among Wrightson’s chief assets; it’s a shame we didn’t see more of it. I opted to feature my favourite piece from the lot, A Descent Into the Maelström, but by all means feast your eyes on the whole shebang.
rudymesinapita
In 1976, Marvel Comics set out to make their mark on the classics… with dubious, but predictable results. It wasn’t what their zombie readership had clamoured for. Here’s the best page (art by Rudy Mesina) from Marvel Classics Comics no. 28, The Pit and the Pendulum (1977), featuring three tales adapted by scripter Don McGregor, and including future superstar Michael Golden‘s abysmal professional début on yet another helping from The Cask of Amontillado, where he demonstrates how he believes wine is to be drunk just like Pepsi. See what I’m griping about here.
poeenchantinglove2a
Think Poe’s all about the horror? Think again! You don’t become a household name by putting all your eggs in the same basket. Meet Edgar ‘Eddie’ Allan Poe, romantic leading man. “Based on actual records…” and sanitized beyond recognition. Given that Virginia and Edgar were first cousins and that they married when she was thirteen, you can see how absurd this strip is. Read the full tale of romance and pathos right here. The Beautiful Annabel Lee appeared in Enchanting Love no. 2 (Nov. 1949, Kirby Publishing). Writer unknown, art by Bill Draut and Bruno Premiani.
skotolsenpoea
Kubert School alum Skot Olsen‘s cover illustration for the revised and expanded second edition (July, 2004) of Graphic Classics‘ Poe compendium.
elderravena
As with, say, Elvis or H.P. Lovecraft, when both legend and œuvre reach a certain tipping point of iconic fame, one can bend and twist the concepts any which way and they’ll still be recognizable. Here’s a panel from Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder‘s faithful-in-its-fashion take on The Raven, from Mad no. 9 (Feb.-Mar. 1954, EC).
twofistedpoea
Michael Kupperman strikes again. From Snake ‘n Bacon’s Cartoon Cabaret ( 2000, HarperCollins)
snifter2a
Hot off the presses! It’s Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Terror no. 2 (Nov. 2018, Ahoy), featuring a collaboration between Rachel Pollack and the fabulous Rick Geary. Don’t miss it! Oh, and if the pose looks familiar, you’re thinking of this.

Whew — that’s it for now. In closing, I must bow and salute before the gargantuan endeavour accomplished by Mr. Henry R. Kujawa on his truly indispensable blog, Professor H’s Wayback Machine. Thanks for all the heavy lifting, Henry. I get exhausted just thinking about it.

Tintinabulate on, Mr. Poe — wherever you are!

-RG

*my thanks to Herman Melville for those words of wisdom.
**and thanks to the aforementioned Mr. Kujawa for that precious scrap of arcane lore.

Hallowe’en Countdown, Day 26

« I’m doing some new phony ghost effects and these hicks just eat it up! Show ‘em a ghost and they’ll swear they recognize it! »

Is it just me, or are horror covers more effective when they’re basically wordless? EC and DC and Charlton got it, but Marvel never did, with its protagonists/victims standing around uselessly pointing out the obvious: “Oh no! We’re trapped with… the Thing that walks!” “Uh, honey, I think it’s more of a Thing that shambles!”

HOM236A
This is House of Mystery no. 236 (October, 1975, DC) and it’s quite an issue on the inside too: Steve Ditko with Mike Royer inks (“Death Played a Sideshow“), and Paul Kirshner with Neal Adams inks (“Deep Sleep“.) Lest we forget: this fine cover palette brought to you by Tatjana Wood.

… and since this is our first, sadder Hallowe’en without the macabre Bernie Wrightson  (1948-2017) to inspire us, let’s have one more shot, shall we?

HOM219Intro
This is the frontispiece ushering us into issue 219 (Nov. 1973) of DC’s House of Mystery.

Interestingly, BW’s signature (at bottom, on the spine of a book in the centre) is reversed, which makes one wonder whether the image was flipped before dialogue was added. On the other hand, perhaps it made for better arcane lettering for a dusty grimoire.

– RG