Into the Inky Shadows With Jerry Grandenetti

« Jerry Grandenetti started out ghosting The Spirit, and nobody… NOBODY… captured the spirit of The Spirit better. Not content to stay in Will Eisner’s shadow forever, he forged his own unique style leading to a highly successful comics career lasting decades. » — Michael T. Gilbert

Since my very first encounter with his work, Jerry Grandenetti (1926-2010; born ninety-five years ago today, another Thursday April 15th) has endured as one of my true artistic heroes. But he’s not celebrated much at all.

Though he’s worked extensively on The Spirit, he’s treated as a bit of a footnote in the Eisner hagiography. His DC war work is well-regarded, but he’s inevitably overshadowed by the Joe KubertRuss HeathJohn Severin trinity. Besides, by and large, the war comics audience doesn’t overlap much with the spandex long johns crowd. Grandenetti has only very occasionally and timidly dipped a toe into the super-heroics fray, and he was far too unusual for overwhelming mainstream acclaim.

In fact, aside from the couple of converts I’ve made over the years, I can only think of three fellow torch-bearing aficionados: Michael T. Gilbert (who digs best the early, Eisner-employed Jerry); Stephen R. Bissette (who favours the spooky 60s and 70s work); and Don Mangus, who’s most into the DC war stuff. I daresay I enjoy it all, but my taste is most closely aligned with Mr. Bissette’s on this particular point. Let’s sample a bit of everything, insofar as it’s feasible to sum up a career spread out over five decades… in a dozen-or-so images.

Opening splash from The Secret Files of Dr. Drew: Sabina the Sorceress, written by Marilyn Mercer and lettered by Abe Kanegson, from Rangers Comics no. 56 (Dec. 1950, Fiction House); this version hails from a reprint (Mr. Monster’s Super Duper Special no. 2, Aug. 1986, Eclipse) using the surviving original art; it was recoloured by Steve Oliff.
Page 3 from The Secret Files of Dr. Drew: Curse of the Mandibles!, written by Marilyn Mercer and lettered by Abe Kanegson, from Rangers Comics no. 55 (Oct. 1950, Fiction House); this version hails from a reprint (Doc Stearn… Mr. Monster no. 4, Dec. 1985, Eclipse) using the surviving original art; it was most tastefully recoloured by Steve Oliff.

In 1954, the powers-that-be at National Periodical Publications (you know, DC) gave Grandenetti some latitude to experiment with their War covers. Grandenetti produced an arresting hybrid of painted and line art. The process involved a grey wash painting that was photostatted, with flat colour laid over the resulting image. The first few attempts yielded striking, but nearly monochromatic results. A bit farther down the pike, the production department got more assured in its technical exploration.

This is G.I. Combat no. 77 (Oct. 1959, DC); wash tones and colouring by Jack Adler, who recalled, in a 1970s interview: « It was suggested that we start doing washes for covers, and we were talking about doing it for so damned long, but nobody attempted it. I think Grandenetti did the first one, an army cover with someone floating in the water. I think that was the first wash cover that was done. That one ended up looking like a full color painting. »
This is G.I. Combat no. 83 (Aug.- Sept. 1960, DC); wash tones and colouring by Jack Adler. In 1995, Robert Kanigher, Grandenetti’s editor on the DC war books and a frequent collaborator, recalled: « Jerry liked to experiment and I had to sit on him to get him to stop it. Especially in his covers, which were outstanding, when I forced him to draw as realistically as possible. »
Original art from The Wrath of Warlord Krang!, smothered in dialogue and exposition by Stan Lee, from Tales to Astonish no. 86 (Dec. 1966, Marvel); inks by Bill Everett. Namor‘s constant random shouts of ‘Imperius Rex!‘ make him sound like a sitcom character with Tourette’s. As far as I’m concerned, it’s possibly been the most annoyingly asinine slogan in comics since Stan stole ‘Excelsior!‘ from Jean Shepherd.
The opening splash from Cry Fear, Cry Phantom, written by Archie Goodwin, from Eerie no. 7 (Jan. 1967, Warren). In the mid-60s, presumably tiring of being pigeonholed as a war artist at DC, Grandenetti made the publishers’ rounds, doing a bit of work for Tower, Gold Key, Charlton, Marvel, Cracked (check it out here) and most memorably Warren where, after ghosting a few stories for Joe Orlando, he unleashed his innovative expressionistic style.

DC was generally hesitant to entrust its more established properties to the more “out there” artists. In the cases of Grandenetti and Carmine Infantino, the solution was to match them with the weirdness-dampening inks of straight-arrow artist Murphy Anderson. And you know what? It did wonders for both pencillers and inker.

This is The Spectre no. 6, October, 1968. A tale told by Gardner Fox (and likely heavily revised by hands-on editor Julius Schwartz, a man who loved alliterative titling) and superbly illustrated by the Grandenetti-Anderson team. Steve Ditko aside, Jerry Grandenetti had no peer in the obscure art of depicting eldritch dimensions (you’ll see!)

Page 13 from Pilgrims of Peril! written by Gardner Fox, from The Spectre no. 6 (Sept.- Oct. 1968, DC); inked by Murphy Anderson. Dig the salute to a trio of real-life spooky writers, all of whom editor Julius Schwartz knew well, having even served as Lovecraft’s literary agent late in his life. By the tail end of the 1960s, Lovecraft’s work was finally making some commercial inroads, thanks largely to Arkham House co-publisher Derleth‘s unflagging diligence.
Page 22 from Pilgrims of Peril! written by Gardner Fox, from The Spectre no. 6 (Sept.- Oct. 1968, DC); inked by Murphy Anderson.
Page 2 from Men Call Me the Phantom Stranger, written by Mike Friedrich, from Showcase no. 80 (Feb. 1969, DC); inks by Bill Draut. This story reintroduced an obscure character from the early 50s, which Grandenetti had drawn a couple of times during his six-issue run. The Phantom Stranger has remained active ever since, but most writers (save Alan Moore, wouldn’t you know it?) don’t really know what to do with him. This, however, is my very favourite PS appearance. Draut, a slightly old-fashioned penciller by this time was, as a slick inker, a wonderful fit for Grandenetti’s confidently loopy layouts.
Page 3 from The Haunting!, written by Jack Oleck, from House of Mystery no. 183 ((Nov.-Dec. 1969, DC). Grandenetti pencils and inks: undiluted!
Page 2 from Eyes of the Cat, written by Robert Kanigher, from House of Mystery no. 189 (Nov.-Dec. 1970, DC); inks by Jerry’s fellow Will Eisner ghost Wallace Wood. The inspired combination of Grandenetti’s adventurous layouts and the velvety unctuousness of Wood’s finishes are a match made in heaven, but one Woody wasn’t fond of. Oh well.

So there you are. Just the tiniest tip of the iceberg. Happy birthday, Mr. Grandenetti!

-RG

Tentacle Tuesday: “…to swallow yesterday”

« The tentacles of today reach out like an octopus to swallow yesterday. »

That’s a quote from Gladys Taber, columnist for Ladies’ Home Journal in the 19th century, and almost as good as “put your foot down with a firm hand”.

Another thing tentacles of today… or any day… do is reach out for women, preferably ones in skimpy outfits. ’nuff said.

By now, I’m completely confused about who Ms. Marvel is supposed to be, but here is some version of her battling an octopus with a heavy hangover or a bad case of conjunctivitis. This blondie is Carol Danvers, I believe, though, that her usually bare stomach has been wrongly coloured red… but I can’t muster enough interest to care.

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Ms. Marvel no. 16 (April 1978, Marvel). Cover pencilled by Dave Cockrum and inked by Terry Austin.

The next one is a scene from a fantasy world, though pray note that the tentacle grabs the woman, not the guy who’s right behind her, nor the gorilla (?) who’s right in front of her.

In case anybody is wondering about the plot of this 6-issue series by Bo Hampton, « A wizard, an air force pilot, and a young woman on a mysterious quest, join forces on a “lost planet” accessible only through magic corridors. As Ambrose Bierce, a self-taught wizard who disappeared from Earth in 1914, tells them, when the evil Zorrin family conquered the planet Iriel, they killed off its scientists so it could be dominated by the Zorrins’ magic. Before they can return to Earth, the heroes have to destroy the lotus potion which subjugates the world’s populace to the Zorrins’ will. » (source)

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Lost Planet no. 3 (September 1987, Eclipse), cover by Bo Hampton.

There’s very little science in these Thrilling Science Tales – and would you expect any from a story with a protagonist named Stormy Tempest? (any relation to Joey?) Trying to untangle her hair from the tentacle’s suckers/cilia is going to be horrendously painful, but I suppose she has more serious things to worry about.

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Thrilling Science Tales no. 2 (1990, AC Comics). Cover pencilled by Mark Heike and inked by John Dell. The brown slime oozing from the tentacle’s embrace is profoundly disturbing, IMHO.

The following is not exactly a worthy use of Mark Schultz‘ talents, but at least it’s a nice, intriguing cover. The insides are not drawn by him, in case you’re wondering.

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SubHuman no. 4 (February 1999, Dark Horse), cover by Mark Schultz.

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This Mexican science-fiction comics anthology was published in 2004. The cover is by Mexican cartoonist and illustrator Bernardo Fernández, who’s also the editor.

I’ll wrap up with some eye candy – I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it was actually drawn by Bruce Timm and not one of his many imitators. A Timm comic with tentacles and more than a subtle hint of seduction? I’m very pleased, indeed.

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A page from Batman: Harley & Ivy no. 2 (July 2004, DC). Jungle Fever! is scripted by Paul Dini and drawn by Bruce Timm. I recommend reading the whole thing, if only for the art.

∼ ds

Tentacle Tuesday Masters: Michael T. Gilbert and the Flamboyant Mr. Monster

« Yet another bloodthirsty alien invasion, led by a mad dictator with a brain harvested from a 60 year-old corpse. I get one of those every third Thursday… »

D’you know what today is? Well, Tentacle Tuesday, obviously. It’s also Radio Day. More relevantly to this post, however, May 7th is also the birthday of one Michael Terry Gilbert, confidant to the formidable Mr. Monster (a.k.a. Strongfort “Doc” Stearn) and fellow tentacle lover (at least judging from how many cephalopod-shaped creatures appear in his stories).

We’ve briefly mentioned Mr. Monster in Tentacle Tuesday: Superheroes Redux; now is the time to joyfully gallop through some more tentacle offerings from the merry crew of psychotic artists led by that sagacious shepherd, Michael T. Gilbert. Many happy returns, Sir!

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Doc Stearn… Mr. Monster no. 1 (Eclipse, January 1985). Cover by Michael T. Gilbert.

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Doc Stearn… Mr. Monster no. 5 (Eclipse, February 1986), cover by Michael T. Gilbert. The unwritten rules dictates that Mars inhabitants *must* have tentacles, and Gilbert clearly has respect for venerable traditions. Plus, they’re much cuter this way. Coochie-coochie-coo…

« The original Doc Stearne was a two-fisted adventurer along the lines of pulp hero Doc Savage, of whom he may have been intended as a knock-off. He was created by cartoonist Fred Kelly, whose other known credits are somewhere between sparse and nonexistent. Kelly did him for a small, virtually unremembered Canadian publisher called Bell Features (probably not related to Bell Syndicate, distributor of Mutt & Jeff, Don Winslow of the Navy and more). When Gilbert was asked to contribute to Vanguard Illustrated, the apparent purpose of which was to develop new properties for Pacific Comics to exploit, he drew on Kelly’s character as inspiration. The first new Mr. Monster story appeared in the seventh issue, which came out in 1984 without a specific cover date. Gilbert’s version was a fanatical monster hater, extreme not only in his attitude, but in his design and in every move he made. » |from Don Markstein’s Toonopedia|

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« The Demon of Destiny Drive », art by Michael T. Gilbert, published in Doc Stearn… Mr. Monster no. 5 (Eclipse, February 1986).

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« Mr. Monster’s Atomic Condenser » by Michael T. Gilbert was published in Doc Stearn…Mr. Monster no. 10 (Eclipse, June 1987).

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Is that an Oculothorax, by any chance? « Terror in 6-D », with script and layouts by Michael T. Gilbert and pencils and inks by Don Simpson, was published in Doc Stearn…Mr. Monster no. 10 (Eclipse, June 1987). Read the issue here.

As you’ve probably surmised, Mr. Monster cycled through quite a few publishers, from Pacific Comics to the aforementioned Eclipse Comics to Dark Horse passing through Fantagraphics, Image Comics and  Tundra publications. Some Tundra-published material for your pleasure, as always rife with tentacles:

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« Wish You Were Here »,  script and layout by Michael T. Gilbert,  inks by Dave Gibbons, was printed in Mr. Monster Attacks! no. 1 (Tundra, August 1992).

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Want to know whether Mr. Bulletproof Monster ever gets back with Rosie? Read Mr. Monster Attacks! no. 1 (Tundra, August 1992) here.

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Mr. Monster Attacks no. 2 (Tundra, September 1992), cover pencilled by Michael T. Gilbert, and painted by Dave Dorman.

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Back cover of Mr. Monster Attacks no. 2 (Tundra, September 1992), drawn by Bernie Wrightson and Michael T. Gilbert. Read the issue here.

Mr. Monster Attacks!#3
« Lair of the Lizard Ladies », written and laid out by Michael T. Gilbert, and pencilled, inked and coloured by Simon Bisley, was printed in Mr. Monster Attacks! no. 3 (October 1992).

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Kelly, Mr. Monster’s Girl Friday, has been touched by his noodly appendage in this story featuring murderous tentacle spaghetti. « Just Desserts », scripted by Janet Gilbert (wife of Michael T. Gilbert) and drawn by Tom Buss, was printed in Mr. Monster Attacks! no. 3 (Tundra, October 1992). Read the full issue here.

« Ulp! That reminds me. I’m late for my 4:00! There’s a giant man-eating eyeball about to devour Cleveland! So if you’ll excuse me… »

~ ds

Tentacle Tuesday: Rooks, Epics, an Eclipse and a Web

This Tentacle Tuesday is a magazine edition.

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Web of Horror no. 1 (Major Magazines, December 1969). Painting by Jeff Jones.

I understand that the artist left quite a lot of empty space on purpose – to be filled with pointless text – but still, was it necessary to plaster nearly every inch of the image with captions yellow, red and purple? (I do like how the WEB seems to be made out of plasticine… and likely was.) Here’s the cover without all that wordy fluff:

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“Oooh, lookie, tentacles!”

I’ve already covered most Warren tentacles in Tentacle Tuesday: Warren and its many tentacles and Tentacle Tuesday: Warren and its many tentacles, part II, but handsome, gun-toting, time-travelling The Rook got left over. I’d like to rectify this omission. Admire the fight to the death of the scientist-who-likes-to-dress-up-as-gun-slinger and a tentacle-bearing fish-lion!

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The Rook no. 4 (Warren, August 1980). Cover by Nestor Redondo.

The Rook couldn’t quite kill the fishy brute’s whole family in #4, so he had to confront its slightly more colourful cousin in issue 7:

The Rook Magazine#7-JordiPenalva
The Rook no. 7 (Warren, February 1981). Cover by Jordi Penalva. It’s nice to see that men (not exclusively Doc Savage) get strategically ripped shirts, too, sometimes. Eye candy!

Co-admin RG suggested I check Eclipse Magazine‘s tentacular offerings for this post, and he was correct, there was one issue involving an octopus used as a coffee table.

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Eclipse Magazine no. 4 (Eclipse, January 1982). Cover by Carl Potts. I went snorkeling a few months ago and the scene was not dissimilar (minus, sadly, the mermaid).

Marvel’s Epic Illustrated, with its 70-odd pages per issue, surely offered something for everyone. The aforementioned offerings were quite hit-or-miss, but the occasional presence of Stephen Bissette, Rick Veitch, Basil Wolverton (in reprints), Berni Wrightson, Ernie Colón, Craig Russell, et al. makes it worthwhile to go through its 34 issues (okay, maybe not all in one sitting, unless you have quite a few thermoses of tea prepared – or something stronger).

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Epic Illustrated no. 12 (Marvel, June 1982), cover by Frank Brunner. You can read the whole issue here.

Brunner’s painting is rather nice – the mermaid and her friendly octopus both look so serene! – that here it is again. And read an interview with him while you’re at it: Legendary Feathers: Interview with Frank Brunner. (I apologize for linking to a website titled Fanboy Nation, though. Erk.)

FrankBrunner-Mermaid

Issues 10 to 17 of Epic Illustrated featured Rick Veitch’s Abraxas and the Earthman, a purported retelling of Moby Dick (although frankly, aside from a vengeful squid, the similarities are not striking). Naturally, tentacles abound. Really freaky, creepy tentacles, much like the rest of the story.

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Page from “The Hunt: Chapter Three”, written and drawn by Rick Veitch, printed in Epic Illustrated no. 12.

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Epic Illustrated no. 17 (Marvel, April 1983), cover by Tim Conrad. Read it here.

Veitch’s fucked-up (I mean that as a compliment), imaginative tale continues with “Man and Whale (Chapter Eight)”, the final installment. Alongside a plethora of sea-creatures (no longer  in the sea), there’s this Devourer of Awareness, Bearer of Tentacles:

EpicIllustrated17-RichVeitch-Man-and-Whale.jpg

(Incidentally, though somewhat off topic, I’d like to mention that Veitch did a bloody good job on Swamp Thing, for which he does not get enough credit.)

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Epic Illustrated no. 22 (Marvel, February 1984). Cover by John Bolton. Read the issue here. It’s a bad, unconvincing cover, but hey, this is an inclusive post.

Speaking of Bolton, he drew “Wizard’s Masque” (another chapter in the cycle of Marada the She-Wolf), a story scripted by Christopher Claremont.

EpicIllustrated#22-JohnBolton-Maradatheshewolf

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~ ds

Tentacle Tuesday Masters: Wally Wood

If your little heart desires babes with form-fitting clothing (or wearing nought but their birthday suits) and tentacled monsters with sad, expressive eyes, look no further than Wallace Allan Wood (1927-1981). Famously advising fellow cartoonists to “never draw anything you can copy, never copy anything you can trace, never trace anything you can cut out and paste up”, he would return to the beloved theme of buxom girl + tentacles again and again.

Without further ado, let’s take a gander at some of Wally Wood’s tentacled offerings.

WallyWood-1954
This opulent, splendi-tentacular painting has been spawned by Wally Wood in 1954. It’s called Dweller in the Dungeon, and was originally presented as a gift to EC publisher Bill Gaines. I don’t know about you, but I’m rooting for the cephalopod, who has unquestionably good taste in women.

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The cover Wally Wood drew for a mail order catalog (to be more precise, The Magazine of Mail Order Collector’s Press Newsletter no. 16, 1979. Phew, that’s a mouthful.)

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Original art from The Man Hunters (published in Eerie no. 60, 1974 – you can see this issue’s cover in our previous post.)

This theme is returned to again several years later:

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It may have reflected Wood’s mental turmoil, but his tentacled monsters have pleading eyes that just beckon to the viewer. Maybe it’s a form of hypnotism. You’re grabbing the wrong human, buddy! Go for the girl! This Wally Wood painting was used as the cover of The Comic Book Price Guide no. 9 (1979).

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Wood cover art for an LP (Bell Records, 1965). Here the green-brain-with-tentacles is almost unbearably cute.

There’s also this poignant scene…

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Cover for EC Portfolio no. 5, 1974.

Wally Wood was a tremendous influence on artists who came after, and there’s a myriad of parodies, imitations, and derivations of his style… But I’ll wrap up this post with one well-executed hommage that fits in well with the theme, I think.

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World of Wood no. 1 (Eclipse, April 1986). Cover by Dave Stevens.

~ ds

Tentacle Tuesday: Carmine, Scarlet, Crimson Red

You’ve likely noticed it already, but people getting attacked by tentacles tend to be dressed in red. Now, red will not make a bull enraged (as a matter of fact, bulls are colour-blind to red – there, you learned something new today), but what effect would it have on an octopus? None at all, as it turns out, as red light does not reach ocean depths. One might want to wear red to become near-impossible to spot at a depth of a hundred metres or more, but that doesn’t explain why tentacles would persistently seek out red targets. Crap, there goes my theory.

Nevermind; we can still feast our eyes on some fetching mam’zelles and monsieurs clad in red, theories be damned.

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Alien Encounters no. 7 (June 1986, Eclipse Comics). Painted Cover by Corey Wolfe.

Music aficionados will notice that this cover is a tribute to something quite outside the comic field, namely this album art:

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Cover of 10cc’s Deceptive Bends album, designed by Hipgnosis, 1977. Where are the tentacles?! The girl’s dress is also somewhat more demure (though not by much).

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After Alien Encounters, we naturally move on to Alien Worlds. Admire the, err, tentacles on this cover:

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“If he had been watching his mistress as usual, if he had been at the controls instead of giving himself a lube job, the accident might have been prevented.” Moral of the story: no lube jobs at the wheel! That tentacled thing behind Princess Pam is actually Cynx, her guardian. The science-fiction comic anthology Alien Worlds, first published by Pacific Comics and then by Eclipse after Pacific went bankrupt, was edited by Bruce Jones, who wrote the bulk of the stories, and April Campbell. This is Alien Worlds no. 4 (Pacific Comics, September 1983), cover by Dave Stevens, with colours by Joe Chiodo.

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Mushrooms *and* tentacles *and* some pretty gams? Sensory overload! At first glance, the story (scripted and pencilled by Bruce Jones, inked by Dave Stevens, coloured by Joe Chiodo and lettered by Carrie McCarthy) is nothing but gratuitous cheesecake – a pretty, half-naked girl wandering around with her robotic servant – but it’s actually surprisingly touching. Check it out here. Fittingly, mushrooms save the day.

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It’s not just women who like to sport flashy red outfits, by the way. The men’s costumes might cover considerably more skin, but the vermilion remains!

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« The tentacles of a giant octopus emerge and grab him in a death grip. Almost as though the hideous creature has been standing guard over the treasure for all this time… » Of course it has! Any self-respecting octopus takes his job seriously. The Frogmen no. 2 (May-July 1962); the cover is by Vic Prezio, and the sumptuous inside art is by George Evans.

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There’s (also) an epic battle between a killer whale and the octopus in this issue (witness the aforementioned George Evans art).

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Of course he wants you, silly – who can resist a man in red swimming trunks? Nor octopus nor man. I retract my comment about men being more covered up. Do they have to tell their families, though?

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One more for the road and I’ll conclude this vernissage…

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“The bolts of current are merely absorbed by the rubber flesh of the octeel, which is part octopus and part electric eel!” Oh, for the love of puns. Weird Thrillers no. 4 (summer 1952, published by Ziff-Davis), with painted cover by Norman Saunders.

You’ll no doubt want to see what an electric octopus looks like, so here you go:

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“Tentacles of Death”? Sign me up, please! The gruesome cover story is drawn by George Tuska.

~ ds

“I never wore a studded leather jacket, y’know. Ne-va!”*

Brooding pretty boy (is that you, Brian Setzer?) is about to get a pleasant shock in this Dave Stevens (1955-2008) cover featuring a “punk rocker” in the well-scrubbed tradition of, say, Lea Thompson in the infamous Howard the Duck movie. Still, it’s a dazzler, as you’d be right to expect from Mr. Stevens.

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This is True Love no. 1 (Eclipse Comics, January, 1986), featuring reprints of 1952-54 Standard romance tales, boasting artwork by Alex Toth (two stories), Nick Cardy, and, er… Vince Colletta. Edited by Catherine Yronwode.

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Stray Cat-in-chief Brian Setzer, circa 1981.

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What passed for Howard the Duck and his ‘hairless ape’ companion Beverly Switzler (1986).

« True love leaves no traces 
If you and I are one 
It’s lost in our embraces 
Like stars against the sun »
Leonard Cohen (1977)

– RG

*Johnny “Rotten” Lydon

Where everybody knows your name, like it or not.

« I’m usedta dealin’ with stiffs! I spotted the maggots crawlin’ outta yer mouth the minute you opened it! »

Just another Friday night happy hour at Ginger’s Joint, watering hole of Duke “Destroyer” Duck and his put-upon pal, the Little Guy.

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Written by Steve Gerber, pencilled by Jack Kirby, inked by Alfredo Alcala, coloured by Steve Leialoha, lettered by Tom Orzechowski. An eye-popping feast!

The local fauna is gathered in this splash from Destroyer Duck #1 (Eclipse, 1982). In case you didn’t know, “the book was published as a way to help [Steve] Gerber raise funds for a lawsuit he was embroiled in at the time, in which he was battling industry giant Marvel Comics over the ownership of the character Howard the Duckwhich Gerber created for the company in 1973.” It was an alarming account of the (not-fictional-enough) Godcorp conglomerate’s incalculable greed, its unchecked power, and how « It’s Got the Whole World… in Its Hand! », which, as true as it was then, is discouragingly even truer now.

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« You all right in there, Walt? … say, what happened to all my beer? »

– RG

Hallowe’en Countdown, Day 3

« Ach ja! That field once produced the best wine in the world, for it is said it was fertilized with human blood! »

(Does that only apply to red wine?)

As far as 80s reprint packages go, this was something special by any measure: first of all, though the spooky tales within were produced in the pre-code 1950s, they had never gone to press. The material was intended for the 15th issue of Pines/Standard/Better/Visual Editions’ Adventures Into Darkness, which was never published, presumably in the wake of the heavy-handed censorship of the newly-instituted Comics Code Authority. Why bother revising and releasing a book that likely wouldn’t even get distributed?

Second, the originals were adapted for the 3D process. The effect was quite the rage in 1953-54, but these particular 3D separations were created retroactively, in the 80s, by modern stereoscopy master and keeper of the flame Ray Zone (1947–2012) and Tony Alderson.

Third, these morbid tales weren’t just hackwork scarcely worthy of publication, at least art-wise: they feature such solid talents as George Roussos, Mort Meskin, Mike Sekowsky, Alex Toth and Gene Fawcette.

And finally, there’s that eyeball-caressing Dave Stevens (1955-2008) cover. The gone-too-soon creator of The Rocketeer also made his mark with a cherished handful of covers in those dark Reagan years, a mark that thankfully shows no sign of fading.

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This is Seduction of the Innocent 3-D (Oct. 1985, Eclipse). Logo by Ken Steacy.

If you’re in the mood, a couple of 2D samples of the issue, perhaps? Try Harvest of Death or Death Dives Deep. Just tell dear Mr. Karswell we sent you!

– RG