« Is the spring coming? » he said. « What is it like?» «It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…»| Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden
Having been meaning for a while now to concentrate on tentacled plant life, I was hitherto stopped by the idea that it’s somewhat unseemly to talk about flora when most of our readership is buried in snow and ice. But now, well! – today was the first day of the year suitable for wearing shorts, and green shoots are popping up wherever one’s gaze happens to land.
We have waited for quite a long time before co-admin RG managed to get his hands on this issue… and it turned out that the insides vary from ‘lacklustre’ to ‘wow, that’s ugly!’ Still, the wonderful, striking cover makes it worth owning, I believe.
Speaking of adventures, let’s delve into Strange Adventures for a bit. The following story has a rather peculiar plot – « Star Hawkins is down on his luck and has to pawn Ilda, his robot secretary. Luckily, Star is hired to locate a fugitive who’s thought to be hiding on Vesta, an asteroid mining settlement, in the Red Jungle. But with a little tracking skill and the help of the creepy vegetation of the Red Jungle, he nabs the fugitive, gets his prisoner, and gets Ilda back from the pawn shop, promising never to pawn her again. »
Here’s another Earthman (who has dreamed of this moment, by his own admission!) struggling with some coquettish plant tentacles that just want to be friends.
The next thing after adventures is, naturally, mysteries. If they’re strange, puzzling mysteries, even better… what’s that word I’m looking for… ah, yes: baffling! Another day, yet another ravenous man-eating plant.
One more happy tromp through the jungle? Sure, why not!
The following image was originally created as a cover for House of Mystery no. 251 (1977, DC), but was nixed in favour of another, Neal Adams-penned illustration, which we’ve already featured in a previous post (Tentacle Tuesday: Plants Sometimes Have Tentacles, Too). I prefer this gruesome version (complete with skeleton being digested!… also more detail, more dynamic layout and better anatomy of all involved), pencilled by José Luis García-López and inked by Bernie Wrightson.
« My imagination grew wilder, the most unexpected associations flared up in my mind, and as I kept trying, the reception room kept filling with strange objects. Many of them were born, apparently, out of the subconscious, the brooding jungles of hereditary memory, out of primeval fears long suppressed by the higher levels of education. They had extremities and kept moving about, they emitted disgusting sounds, they were indecent, they were aggressive and fought constantly. I was casting about like a trapped animal. All this vividly reminded me of the old cuts with scenes of St. Anthony’s temptations. » [source]
Today’s topic does not involve a man becoming a cockroach: that has been discussed often enough. My current area of interest concerns the many strange and striking ways in which a living form becomes a completely different form under the influence of a supernatural power or its natural inclination, of witchcraft or the whimsy of a writer whose imagination flares up much like it did for poor A. I. Privalov, depicted above trying to create a a sandwich and a cup of coffee and ending up with a roomful of horrors…
This strange creature surely illustrates the perils of getting stuck mid-metamorphosis!
In Return of the Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man, scripted by Arnold Drake and illustrated by Bruno Premiani, the Doom Patrol battle a scientist crazed with power-lust (while dealing with trouble of their own, like being unable to control their powers – it was apparently decided that a scientist who can become anything he likes is not interesting enough).
That this AVM (animal, vegetable, mineral) man decided to transform into an octopus will not surprise regular readers of Tentacle Tuesday: we know that the octopus is the most perfect form there is!
In the rest of the story, AVM also transforms himself into electric eels, tungsten birds, a building-tall neanderthal man, liquid mercury, a grizzly bear, etc., but it’s all a bit of a let-down after the giant octopus, if you ask me.
I’ll continue with this rather evocative cover by Bernie Wrightson, in which we get a preview peek at a gruesome scene just a few seconds before it actually happens.
It all starts with a nasty dream of cranberry jelly…
… and ends with an unwelcome transformation of future bride into hungry monster. In this case, a pretty girl is not so much like a melody, but yet another helping of aforementioned cranberry jelly… perhaps I should have kept this story until Christmas.
If this story of transmogrification made your teeth itch, just have a gander at the following histoire d’amour…
No, hold your horses, I’m not implying anything untoward about Captain Marvel. That thing he’s tangled up with is his lover (or should I say ex-lover) Una. Just a little case of demonic possession!
Will Captain Mar-vell be able to kill the woman he loves, even if she’s more of a shell inhabited by a tentacled psychic monstrosity, and despite having lost his manhood, whatever that was?
Stay put for the exciting finale of Rocky Mountain ‘Bye! was scripted by Steve Englehart and Al Milgrom, pencilled by Milgrom, and inked by Al McWilliams!
« And with that awakening, an insane sovereign once again asserts his rightful dominion over a night of madness — as the Halloween God! »
For years after Bernie Wrightson’s career path took him away from DC Comics, cover illustrations purchased by the publisher but left unused gradually trickled into print. Some were too specific and puzzling to be published tel quel, so new stories were written to order. Such a case was Batman no. 320 (February, 1980). This is another, which yielded The Halloween God, written by Gary Cohn and Dan Mishkin, illustrated by Ading “Adrian” Gonzales, and edited by Dave Manak.
And here’s an interesting twist: Wrightson’s original drawing didn’t quite look that way. As co-writer Gary Cohn told me, a few years ago, « When [editor] Dave Manak showed me this cover, the figure being thrown had a head much like the other goblins. I said, “Can someone change that to a Jack o’lantern head? Then we can write a story called, ‘The Halloween God.’ And so… »
I then asked Mr. Cohn whether he had any recollection as to who might have drawn said Jack o’lantern, as Wrightson was unlikely to be available. He responded: « My recollection might be wrong, but I think it was Dave Manak himself, who is no slouch as an artist. » That light effect on the ground really integrates the change, sells it, so to speak. Kudos to all involved.
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.
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.
I promised you superheroines, and by Jove, you shall get some!
« 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.
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 Comicsno. 21 – 3 Famous Mysteries (July, 1944), sharing the stage with Arthur Conan Doyle and Guy de Maupassant. Read it here. Pictured below is Classics Illustratedno. 84 (June 1951, Gilberton), cover by Alex A. Blum. Read the issue here.
« 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!”
… 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?
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.