Treasured Stories: “I Wonder Who’s Squeezing Her Now?” (1979)

« When a man steals your wife, there is no better revenge than to let him keep her. » — Sacha Guitry

Here’s my contender for the most adult thing ever published in a Warren Magazine, as opposed to adolescent. It was also Wally Wood’s final significant contribution to his bibliography (though it was created around 1971); by the time of its belated publication Wood’s work had degenerated into depressing, crude porn before he tragically took his own life in November, 1981. As Witzend sadly proved, most comics creators, when handed a creative carte blanche, would merely regurgitate the same old thing they were doing for the mainstream, but with the addition of tits and/or gore. This, however, whilst featuring a generous dollop of T&A, is another breed of beast. It was published, of all places, in Warren’s SF anthology 1984 (issue 5, Feb. 1979). Go figure.

IWonderWho01AIWonderWho02AIWonderWho03AIWonderWho04AIWonderWho05AIWonderWho06AIWonderWho07AThe marvellous Bhob Stewart queried Nick Cuti about the story during a roundtable gathering of former Wood assistants in Derby, Connecticut, in July 1985. The discussion later appeared in Against the Grain: MAD Artist Wallace Wood, edited by Stewart (2003, TwoMorrows Publishing)

Bhob: You worked on “Last Train to Laurelhurst“? [the story’s original title]
Cuti: « As a matter of fact, I’m in it on the opening page. That’s me — right there [points to foreground figure in splash.] I used to wear muttonchops in those days. We wrote that together; Woody came up with the basic storyline, and I wrote a lot of dialogue. I hated his ending. I said, ‘Woody, you really ought to change the ending.’ The ending was that the guy blasted his faithless wife and her lover and then walked away. I said, ‘Gee, that’s what he’s intending to do in the very beginning. There’s no switch at the end. If you change it around somehow, it would make it a little bit more surprising.’ So he went home and rewrote the ending. I thought that the ending he came up with was far superior and made it a really brilliant story, to really tell you what life can be like.

Ernie Colón did the pencils. It was Woody’s idea, and I wrote some of the script, I don’t know how much because we used to toss things back and forth all the time when I was at the studio.It was for a magazine called Pow that never came to be. [Jim] Warren had approached Wood to do an adult humor magazine which would have had serious stories, very sexy, something that adults would enjoy reading. Unfortunately, Woody and Warren had diametrically opposed personalities, and they couldn’t seem to get together on it.

There was a funny story: Ernie had done the pencils with a soft pencil, and Woody and I were wondering what the heck we could do to make sure it didn’t get smudged. I was very carefully going over the pencils with an eraser to get out the smudges. I came in the next day with the pencils and said, ‘I found the perfect way to avoid smudging the pencils.’ Woody said, ‘What?’ And I said, ‘I sprayed them.’ Woody’s face dropped, and he almost reached over the strangle me before I stopped him and said, ‘Hey, Woody, I’m only kidding!’ [laughter] Because when you spray something, you can’t erase the pencils any more. You would have ink and pencil on the same paper. He almost had a heart attack right there; his mouth dropped open, and he said, ‘Oh, no!’ Then he started laughing after I told him it was only a joke. Later, when I walked into the house, and Marilyn said, ‘Oh, Woody, Nick’s here. You know, the fellow who sprays all your pencils?’ Obviously, he had thought enough of the joke to tell her about it. »

Speaking of Pow, here’s a cover sketch Wood did in 1971.WallyWoodPowRoughAAn adult humour magazine? I guess they hadn’t quite settled on the tone.

-RG

Tentacle Tuesday Masters: George Wilson and His Painted Covers for Gold Key

« Savage plants, monster mutations, human vultures… »

George Wilson (1921-1999), prolific cover illustrator for Dell Comics and Gold Key from the 1950s through to the 1970s, is such a ubiquitous figure for anyone interested in comics of that era that it’s almost like he’s taken for granted by comic aficionados. “Oh, yes, another gorgeous George cover”, we say and move on to something else. Let’s not, shall we? We can admire his trademark bright colours, eye-popping attention to detail and impeccable compositions *and* celebrate Tentacle Tuesday. And there’s all kinds of tentacles in these covers – organic or motorized, animal, mineral, or… plant-like. (I refuse to use “vegetable” as an adjective.)

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Mighty Samson no. 11 (August 1967). This might just be the most random menace (and the most ridiculous set-up) I’ve seen in a while.

Mighty Samson was created by writer Otto Binder and artist Frank Thorne, and involved a heroic barbarian-type sword-and-sandaler loitering around a dystopian, post-nuclear disaster world that has reverted to something resembling the Stone Age. One thing that amused me – not only is our dashing hero blond, but so is his love interest (apparently recessive traits help survive radioactivity). The evil temptress-cum-scientist is a dark-haired femme fatale, obviously. You can read each and every issue of Mighty Samson here.

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Panels from “The Swamp Rats“, written by Otto Binder and drawn by Jack Sparling, whose art is for some reason hated by many (the same many who have no trouble with bad art from other, more publicly accepted artists).

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Doctor Solar, created by writer Paul S. Newman and editor Matt Murphy, was fairly humble at first, despite his somewhat ponderous moniker. (« The Man of the Atom »!) Originally clad in a normal lab-coat, he acquired his red costume in issue #5. The source of his super-powers? A nuclear disaster, of course. It’s difficult to be impressed by that when everyone and their auntie is getting exposed to radioactivity. I try to keep in mind that Doctor Solar was one of newly-formed Gold Key’s first publications, and in 1962, a nuclear war seemed imminent whatever side of the continent you were on… but I’m still bored. There’s a list of Atomic Superheroes with 27 items in it here, but it only includes public domain characters.

Of special interest are the first two issues of this series because they boast glorious covers by Richard Powers. Go look at them. That’s an order.

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Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom no. 21 (October 1967).

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Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom no. 24 (July 1968).

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Page from “The Deadly Trio”, written by Dick Wood and drawn by Ernie Colón. That “monstrous master of the sea” is so freaking cute!

All of Gold Key’s Doctor Solar run is available here. How much time do you have on your hands, anyway?

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Fantastic Voyage no. 2 (December 1969).

This two-issues “series” features « adventures based on the cartoon about the Combined Miniature Defense Force (CMDF) with Jonathan Kidd, Erika Lane, Dr. Guru, and Busby Birdwell. » Clearly, nobody cared about the comic. Maybe someone cared about the animated TV series the comic was based on.

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Speaking of boring… I haven’t yet encountered *one* issue of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! that wouldn’t cause me to yawn or start rolling my eyes. However, painted covers are often worth dwelling on, and the inside art is also occasionally quite nice (especially when it’s by Luis Dominguez).

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Ripley’s Believe It or Not! no. 12 (February 1969).

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The Microbots no. 1 (December 1971). The tentacled monster was designed by Jack Sparling, who illustrates This Is the Way the World Ends and Day of the Juggernaut, but the cover art is by George Wilson.

There’s an excellent (and suitably sarky) review of this one issue of Microbots on Gone & Forgotten. Here’s a little taste: « Superstitious, parochial, and frequently eaten alive by mutated elephants, the people of the future world have turned their backs on technology. » Bet you’ve never seen *that* sentence before. Or — « The Microbots are the creation of Dr. Norman Micron (of the Connecticut Microns, I presume), a scientist living in the dire times of a world succumbing to man’s pollution. ‘Mankind had ample warning that he was destroying the world around him’ he muses, standing by a window with a highly-desirable garbage view. »

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The crew of the Starship Enterprise keeps running into tentacles, it seems. (Presumably, they couldn’t do it as convincingly on the TV show, as the visual effects weren’t quite up to snuff.)

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Star Trek no. 24 (May 1974). Gold Key published Star Trek comics between 1967 and 1978, for a total of 61 issues. They weren’t a rehash of the TV series, and featured original characters and stories, although later issues included sequels to a couple of episodes (which is pretty cool, if you ask me).

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Star Trek no. 29 (March 1975).

Gail O’Brien shared this snippet on a forum about Wilson’s art, sadly a fairly typical story: « You might be interested to know that George’s widow (a friend of mine) has had no income from his paintings as they “disappeared” from his estate at his death while they were separated. She is presently living on small retirement from teaching. I’ve tried to influence her to seek legal advice to acquire her share of George’s sales, but she feels it is impossible… hope there is a lawyer who enjoys George’s work, who would want to go on a 50/50 basis to acquire what is rightfully belonging to my friend. » |source|

Look at more (less tentacle-centric) George Wilson art here.

~ ds

Tentacle Tuesday: “Foul as Sewer Slime!”

This is the final Tentacle Tuesday of the year (the next one falls on January 1st). As few tentacles venture out into the snow, I had to find something else to celebrate the occasion. I’ve been hoarding some images for sharing at some later date, and I feel the moment has come to return to a topic that’s dear to my heart – for each girl, there must be some tentacles…

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Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld no. 4 (August, 1983). This is a page from the story Dark Journeys!, drawn by Ernie Colón. I can’t vouch for the quality of the writing of this series, but the covers are a lot of fun for those of us who like Colón (I’ll hold my hand up there).

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Cinema Sewer no. 17 (2005), cover by Mike Hoffman. CS, in case  you didn’t know, is a movie magazine (a mix of articles, illustrations and comics), the brainchild of Canadian Robin Bougie. Let’s give a polite round of applause to the strategically placed tentacles!

As long as we’re in the gutter, err, sewer… Sewer slime!

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A page from “Marada the She-Wolf” , written by Chris Claremont and illustrated John Bolton,  from Epic Illustrated no. 23 (April, 1984). I was convinced the octopus was attacking a pregnant girl until I looked closer. Damn deceptive black-and-white!

Next, a window with the world of superheroines… in which zippers magically stop just before full frontal nudity, every woman boasts a F cup size, hair writhes passionately all by itself, and pain looks like lust. “Nothing… beats these tentacles.” Thank you, Beatriz da Costa, for those immortal words.

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Justice League America no. 100 (June, 1995, DC). Opening Up the Game is scripted by Gerard Jones, pencilled by Chuck Wojtkiewicz, inked by Bob Dvorak and Doug Selogy. Wait, how many people had to get involved in this?!

The next one is an obvious – even boring – scene: girl tied up, blah blah, tentacles reaching for her *yawn* nether regions… Bonus points if she’s wearing some terrifically overwrought hair decoration/jewelry/shoes (and nothing else).

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Original art for Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris no. 10, variant cover A by Joe Jusko (Feb. 2012, Dynamite).

Here’s to a new year of grabbery and slimy appendages, then!

~ ds