Tentacle Tuesday: Barbarian Fatigue

Greetings all! Today we play whack-a-mole with a few warriors in loincloths – or at least that’s how I felt when looking for material in this post. Every time I found an instance of tentacles in some Conan the barbarian or Kull the destroyer tale, there was yet another one just an issue or a couple down the line. Let’s then consider this the end of a story begun with Tentacle Tuesday: the Savagery of Conan’s Savage Sword and continued with Tentacle Tuesday: Conan-o-rama: after this, I’ll be all Conan-ed out for a few years to come. So drink a shot of some concoction you like (be it coffee or the potent Zombie), and join me for this last foray into the dark, mysterious, predictable world of sword-and-sorcery heroes who run around half-naked (for better freedom of movement, no doubt).

Poor octopus, by far the most tragic figure of this story… These two pages are from The Dweller in the Dark, scripted by Roy Thomas and illustrated by Barry Smith, was published in Conan the Barbarian no. 12 (December 1971, Marvel).
You can’t have it both ways – praising a woman for exhibiting quintessentially ‘feminine’ characteristics and then getting pissed off at her dismay and fright when grabbed by a murderous monster.
The Sunken Land, scripted by Denny O’Neil (from a short story by Fritz Leiber), is pencilled by Walter Simonson and inked by Al Milgrom. This story was published in Sword of Sorcery no. 5 (Nov-Dec 1973, DC). I like Leiber, and I’ve been meaning to get to the Gray Mouser for a while – but I’m reading Andrzej Sapkowski’s Witcher right now, and one sword-and-sorcery saga at a time seems reasonable.
Page from Flame Winds of Lost Khitai!, scripted by Roy Thomas, pencilled by John Buscema and inked by Ernie Chan, published in Conan the Barbarian no. 32 (November 1973, Marvel). Interestingly, barbarians seem to universally abhor striking a woman; an attempt at primitive ethics from the part of the scripters.

One more Conan before we move on to Kull…

Page from Isle of the Dead, scripted by Bruce Jones and illustrated by Val Mayerik, published in Conan the Barbarian no. 138 (September 1982, Marvel). This page has the rare distinction of having the warrior-hero being less clothed than the girl he’s with.

As promised, here’s Kull the destroyer, engaged in battle with an eighties octopus (check out that mohawk!)

Two pages from The Thing from Emerald Darkness, scripted by Doug Moench, pencilled by Ed Hannigan and inked by Alfredo Alcala. This story was published in Kull, the Destroyer no. 17 (October 1976, Marvel). Why does a traitor (that’s not ‘traiter’) deserve better than to die from tentacles? That seems like no worse a death than any other in battle.
A page from City of the Crawling Dead, scripted by Don Glut, pencilled by Ernie Chan, and inked by Rick Hoberg. It was published in Kull, the Destroyer no. 21 (June 1977, Marvel).

Just before you pass out from over-consumption of alcoholic drinks (I’m having a gin and tonic over here!), I’d like to enliven this parade of humdrum tentacles a bit with this Conan pin-up:

This scene by Mike Zeck featured on the cover of long-running ad zine Rocket’s Blast Comicollector no. 119 (June 1975, James Van Hise).

~ ds

Tentacle Tuesday: The Hungry Greenery

As we’re currently in the blaze of summer (rocketing temperatures and crazy humidity, courtesy of global warming – this June was the hottest June ever, and we’re well on track for beating records for July), a Tentacle Tuesday post about plants seemed appropriate. Did I say “plants”? More like “plantacles”: these vines and tendrils snatch and grab, creep and reach, entwine and writhe just like their cephalopod counterparts.

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Pages from Dark Side of the Moon, with art by Maurice Gutwirth, published in Hit Comics no. 2 (June 1941, Quality Comics).

So Blaze Barton encounters some vine tentacles, fine; but he also encounters ‘queer tiny plants‘ that swarm him and attack with what looks very much like octopus appendages. The delightful thing about Hit Comics and particularly Barton’s adventures is that the stories are goofy as hell.

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The story continues in the same vein, merrily galloping into insanity… into an ‘evil-infested‘ lake that boasts man-eating weeds, once again complete with tentacles.

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Visit Atomic Kommie Comics for many further Blaze Barton exploits.

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Continuing our grabby, carnivorous vines theme, a creepy little tale of a scientist who slightly oversteps his bounds:

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Pages from The Hungry Garden (scripted by Joe Gill and drawn by Fred Himes), published in Ghostly Haunts no. 34 (August 1973). Trespassers will be stung, choked, and then gleefully consumed.

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Should you be curious or concerned, the pooch makes it out just fine, and in fact goes on to save the day!

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Occasionally, an entire tree will decide that it’s more fun to strangle a human than to passively let itself be chopped down. Who could argue with that?

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Psychotic Adventures no. 3 (June 1974, Last Gasp). Cover by Charles Dallas. The blog Mars Will Send No More has many Dallas stories (all from Psychotic Adventures) for your perusal; I recommend them heartily.

The cover story, Women of the Wood, is based on a short story by Abraham Merritt that you can read here if you’re so inclined. It’s an excellent creepy tale – though I can’t promise tentacles, I can definitely guarantee murderous trees.

« For all those hundred years there have been hatred and battle between us and the forest. My father, M’sieu, was crushed by a tree; my elder brother crippled by another. My father’s father, woodsman that he was, was lost in the forest — he came back to us with mind gone, raving of wood women who had bewitched and mocked him, luring him into swamp and fen and tangled thicket, tormenting him. In every generation the trees have taken their toll of us — women as well as men — maiming or killing us. »

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Speaking of attacking tree trunks, I do believe this qualifies:

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The Defenders no. 132 (June 1984). Penciled by Sandy Plunkett and inked by Alan Weiss.

The cover story, The Phantom of Gamma-Ray Flats! (scripted by Peter B. Gillis, penciled by Don Perlin and inked by Kim DeMulder) is quite entertaining – and brimming to the gills with plant tentacles.

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Not “rapey”, “ROPEY”.

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The tiny remnant of the tentacle creature manages to find a hold on Warren’s back, perfectly à propos to this post… but I couldn’t resist including the other panel revealing his thoughts about his sexy colleague. Warren is Warren Worthington III, aka The Angel, a founding member of the X-Men.

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I’ve done a couple of Tentacle Tuesdays about Conan already (Tentacle Tuesday: Conan-o-rama and Tentacle Tuesday: the Savagery of Conan’s Savage Sword), but a few plantlike tentacles managed to slip through, as they’re wont to do.

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The Savage Sword of Conan no. 42 (July 1979). Cover by Bob Larkin.

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The Devil-Tree of Gamburu is scripted by Roy Thomas, penciled by John Buscema and inked by Tony DeZuniga.

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And another Conan cover for the flora hall of tentacles:

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Conan the Barbarian no. 243 (April 1991). Cover by Filipino artist Whilce Portacio.

Need – nay, crave! – more plant tentacles? Visit our post from June 2018 (how time flies): Tentacle Tuesday: plants sometimes have tentacles, too.

~ ds

Tentacle Tuesday: Conan-o-rama

There’s some sort of Conan-mania around these parts. I’ve never understood the fascination with the Barbarian Hero (associated terms, in case you go barbarian-spotting: loin cloths or Pelts of the Barbarian, taut rippling muscles, oiled back, impressive weapons, the beard of a grizzly bear – or inexplicably clean-shaven at all times – and glorious manly manes), but clearly others go for sword-and-sorcery stuff in a big way. Conan sure puts the ‘sword’ in… err… well, he puts the sword into *everything*, slashing, hacking and dismembering his way through tedious comic after tedious comic.

He also runs into tentacled monsters, like, every 5 seconds. It seems that whatever tentacles existed in the Hyborian Age, they all made a point of appearing in concentrated clusters in whatever geographical area Conan was passing through. I understand, it’s difficult to come up with a decent monster for an Epic Fight Scene every month. Tentacles were clearly Plan B for days when nothing more exciting came to mind.

I’ve actually skipped some Tentacle Tuesday-relevant covers of this Conan the Barbarian series (275 issues published between October 1970 and December 1993) because they were just too ugly… or too boring. Can you imagine a cover with tentacles on it that’s boring?! Well, I can, now.

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 Conan the Barbarian #25 (April 1973), penciled by Gil Kane and inked by Ralph Reese. I actually sort-of like this cover. Nice totems!

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Conan the Barbarian #32 (November 1973), penciled by Gil Kane and inked by Ernie Chan. “Give the woman tentacles, but make sure she has huge boobs, too. And make them flesh-coloured, otherwise it’s too weird. And give her fangs because she’s also a vampire.

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Conan the Barbarian #41 (August 1974), penciled by Gil Kane and John Romita (?), inked by Ernie Chan and John Romita.

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 Conan the Barbarian #45 (December 1974), penciled by Gil Kane and inked by Neal Adams. What a cutie! I bet he was just minding his own business in a cave when he was rudely interrupted by Conan and his blondie.

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Conan the Barbarian #86 (May 1978), art by John Buscema.

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 Conan the Barbarian #116 (November 1980), penciled by John Buscema and inked by Klaus Janson; the latter information has been suggested by co-admin RG, whose artistic eye I unreservedly trust. To quote him directly: «another misattribution from the GDC. They think it’s Neal Adams inking, toss in Dick Giordano’s name to try and explain away the too-thick-for-Adams lines, and still get it wrong. Giordano’s inking is sloppy and random, never ‘organic’. This, despite clearly being a rush job, isn’t botched. The main inker: Klaus Janson, then-member of Adams’ Crusty Bunkers, and an inker with a very distinctive style. Dead giveaway, if you need just one: Conan’s left boot, bottom right corner. It’s likely a group effort, but there’s no trace of Adams nor Giordano on this page. Adams does pop up later, mostly inking Conan faces and some figures.» See how hard we work to bring you not only entertainment, but also edification?

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« Is that you, Conan? » Conan the Barbarian #117 (December 1980), art by John Buscema. Why is Spidey’s face in the bottom left corner?* Everyone looks half-hearted on this cover – the tentacles are only making a half-assed attempt at grabbery, Conan’s in the middle of some sort of intricate ballet footwork, and the girl seems a little bored. It’s not a good sign when I start reminiscing about the good old Gil Kane covers… I don’t even like Gil Kane (although I’m gradually warming up to him, I admit).

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Conan the Barbarian #136 (July 1982), art by John Buscema. I’m fascinated by the sword’s arc: what direction is it going in? From the bubbles, it’s a swing backwards, but why is the tentacle in the path of that art unaffected? And why is Conan swinging backwards? That child’s face is enough to give one nightmares.

In the mood for more Conan? Visit another Tentacle Tuesday entry, the Savagery of Conan’s Savage Sword, for a gallery of painted Conan covers, replete with mostly nude cuties and of course a great heaping helping of tentacles.

~ ds

*because it’s a direct sales edition, as opposed to a newsstand edition, which would bear a barcode.

Tentacle Tuesday: the Savagery of Conan’s Savage Sword

Marvel’s looong-running Savage Sword of Conan (published 1974 – 1995) was not restrained by the Comics Authority Code, being a magazine. So what did the illustrators and writers involved do with all this freedom? They heaped piles of gore and violence (badass violence) into the stories, and they made sure most Conan covers contained (1) naked damsels; (2) a heroic chopping-off-things-with-my-sword pose; (3) tentacles. If there was a shortage of cephalopods that month, other tentacle-like props would be happily used: elephant trunks, serpents ‘n’ snakes, dragon tails, and other grabby appendages.

I recommend reading The 10 Most Brutal Moments from Savage Sword of Conan the Barbarian! f̶̶̶o̶̶̶r̶̶̶ ̶̶̶a̶̶̶ ̶̶̶g̶̶̶o̶̶̶o̶̶̶d̶̶̶ ̶̶̶g̶̶̶i̶̶̶g̶̶̶g̶̶̶l̶̶̶e̶̶̶ for a good look at just how, erm, badass and savage and brutal Conan is. And when you’re done with that, take a gander at today’s line-up of tentabulous and tentarrific covers in which Mr. Conan slashes and hacks his way through rapacious monsters!

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The Savage Sword of Conan #13 (July 1976), painted by Richard Hescox. Mostly undressed cutie (who may actually be a drag queen?): check. Bloody knife: check. Murderous, glazed-over eyes, a mask of hate and sadism on Conan’s face: double check. Poor scared octopus who was minding his own business… sigh, I’m afraid he’s mincemeat.

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The Savage Sword of Conan #20 (July 1977), cover painted by Earl Norem. Braless beauty: check. Interestingly, Conan seems to have only one nipple. The sword hasn’t been plunged it, yet, but I’m sure it will take no time at all.

Incidentally, this is what our Slithering Shadow looks like from another angle:

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Pencils by John Buscema, inks by Alfredo Alcala.

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The Savage Sword of Conan #23 (October 1977), cover painted by Earl Norem. It’s a little-known fact that if you squeeze a woman by the midriff, her boobs pop out. At least Red Sonja is a little more feisty than the average helpless maiden.

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The Savage Sword of Conan #81 (October 1982), painted by Joe Chiodo. Completely exposed woman in lingerie: check. Has she wandered in from a gothic romance in which she was roaming the halls at night, dressed in naught but a flimsy nightie? Oh, sorry, wrong trope.

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The Savage Sword of Conan #101 (June 1984), painting by Michael Golden (‘when in doubt– smudge!‘). Man, Conan has a heck of a square, prominent chin. I almost didn’t include this cover because of the ridiculous anatomy – the front guy’s arm looks like a bovine leg (complete with hoof??), and Conan’s thigh and its bulging muscles don’t seem to be attached to his body – but the tentacles beckoned.

The following may be my favourite cover of today’s post, so here’s the original painting so we can admire the myriad details properly. For a second, I was worried that it couldn’t become part of today’s roster for lack of tentacles, but a scene of this type just *had* to have at least one tentacled creature. This has several, I am happy to report, though sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s who (and what’s what) in this glorious tangle of tails, wings and appendages.

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Original painting for the cover of The Savage Sword of Conan #123 (April 1986). Painted by Ernie Chan. Note that there is no, I repeat no naked woman on this cover, just a scared child of indeterminate gender. And Conan doesn’t look like a complete asshole. Ernie Chan, you made my day. ❤ ❤

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The Savage Sword of Conan #178 (October 1990), painted by Joe Chiodo. Back to our regular program: violent He-Man hero, ghostly mostly-naked chick (who doesn’t have an ass at all, it seems, while her legs are mysteriously floating in the mist generated by the animal heat and moisture given off by Conan).

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The Savage Sword of Conan #190 (October 1991), cover painted by Earl Norem. Wait, Conan is wearing a vest? And he looks younger and almost scared? What’s happening?

~ ds