« I will eliminate this ignominious blot on the city’s reputation. I will correct this annoying oversight. And so Ostap undertook the actions dictated to him by his reason, his sound instinct, and the situation at hand. » – the magnificent Ostap Bender, from 12 Chairs by Ilf & Petrov
With considerable dismay, I recently realized that Gahan Wilson had yet to be featured as a Tentacle Master, despite having thoroughly deserved this title not only with the sheer number of tentacles in his cartoons, but their impeccable quality as well. Co-admin RG wrote a lovely piece on this prolific artist in Gahan Paints What He Sees!, and we’ve included his work in a multitude of posts, but he certainly deserves this official TT accolade.
Without further ado… and with many thanks to co-admin RG, who figured out where these were published and on what date, as well as doing a lot of scanning and editing while I was grappling with myriad technical issues at work (instead of grappling with tentacles, he-he).
A friend sent recently sent me an issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction from November 1974 that has that characteristic, lovely aroma of aged paper. Lo and behold, some Gahan Wilson tentacles lurked within! I came for Mushroom World by Stephen Tall, and stayed for the charming doodles introducing different sections of the magazine… Here are the three together, once again scanned & processed by RG:
« Aren’t we forgetting the true meaning of Christmas. You know, the birth of Santa? » – Matt Groening
We’re back with another piping hot batch of Holiday cartoons from the pages of Playboy. I have striven mightily to represent most of the big guns (Kiraz and Smilby are among the missing — better luck next year, gents!) whilst keeping it to a tidy, cherry-picked dozen. One can only take so many ‘Randy Santa’ gags, even when they’re lavishly illustrated… that’s only a fraction of the culling process.
And that’s our crop for this year… hope your holidays are bright and merry, under the circumstances. Joyeux Noël, one and all!
Until the Beetle hit the market, automotive marketing copy was full of bluster, and the images (often illustrated) were flights of fancy, emphasizing low, long lines and a fantasy lifestyle.
The clean, simple photography on a white background that emphasized the Beetle’s compact, practical form may seem commonplace these days, but it was a revolution in a world where Americans grew up obsessed with muscle cars, horsepower, and tire smoke. Making the car small, when the convention was to make it fill the page, was also novel. The simplistic approach to design and layout was totally contrary to the advertising conventions of the time. [ source ]
While I object to the misuse of the rather pejorative “simplistic” to denote what is instead commendably strippeddown, uncluttered, or if one must, ‘simple‘… that’s the gist of it. After all, these folks are gearheads, not graphic designers.
One of the lesser-known components of the long-running campaign was a nifty 1967 promotional book that was graciously given away by one’s friendly Volkswagen dealer.
« … every idiot who goes about with a ‘Merry Christmas‘ on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. » — Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol (1843)
Whoa, is the accursed Holiday Season upon us again already? Given the rather baffling (but greatly appreciated) popularity of our previous brochette of Christmas-themed Playboy cartoons, which took off in… April and just kept gathering steam, we’ve chosen to just go with the flow and present you with a sequel. We’ve had more time and opportunity to dig further, so we’ve cherry-picked a dozen, both naughty and nice, with plenty left over for next year. We’ve taken pains to include some of the worthy cartoonists who were somehow left out of last year’s legendary Playboy Cartoons for a Festive Mood.
Here we go, then. Season’s greetings and all that rot!
« I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea. » — Fyodor Dostoyevsky
A colleague at work labelled me a “tea whore” the other day. I don’t think that’s an official expression (though apparently one can purchase tea mugs with this message), but I’ll take that as a badge of honour. And therein lies my similarity to my beloved octopods: they never say no to a nice cup of tea, either. Evidence, you may ask? I’ve a-plenty of it. Pour yourself a steaming cup of oolong and join me!
The following pages are from Disney’s The Little Mermaid no. 10 (June 1995). No, no, stick around, it’s worth it. You can read the full issue here.
So far so good, even though this begs some questions (such as “how do you pour a cup of tea underwater?”) But the following dialogue suggests that things other than tea-drinking were on the mind of *this* octopus:
You know how all this ends, don’t you? That’s right:
Gahan Wilson is always, always good and ready for tentacles. (By the way, he is financially struggling and has dementia, which is both stupefying and depressing. I never cease to be amazed at how someone with such a wide-ranging and fruitful career can end up impoverished… His family raised enough money on GoFundMe – for now – to take care of him, but you should still visit that page for recent pictures and updates about his health.)
In 1986, British cartoonist David Leach unleashed Psycho Gran upon an unsuspecting world. The « five-foot high, mauve-haired, bespectacled psychotic granny with a pan-dimensional, sentient handbag called Percy, a flying dog called Archie and a pathological loathing of rudeness » first appeared in British children’s comic Oink!, where she lingered for 15 issues, pummeling purse snatchers, clobbering office workers and disciplining rampaging monsters until 1988. In 2011, she came back – her hair more purple than ever, her lust for authoritarianism unabashed – and is currently involved in a four-part mini-series.
« We all have grannies. I think there’s something wonderfully exciting, mischievous and dangerous about them, or was that just mine? They’re old and they’re the mum of your mum, plus they spoil you rotten, but they can also tell you what to do, like your own mum does! That seemed so strange when I was a kid, the idea that they could boss not only you but also your mum or dad around. And I think we’re all a little scared of the elderly, no one likes to think that one day they’ll be old themselves, I think we resent them for showing us what we’re going to become. Psycho works because she looks frail and yet she’s super strong and batty. She’s the classic sheep in wolf’s clothing. And there’s something funny about an old granny being lethal and crazy to boot, especially since usually the elderly are portrayed as figures of fun to be mocked and laughed at. » (Look Out, Britain! Psycho Gran is Back!)
And by the way, I wasn’t exaggerating about Psycho Gran’s passion for control (and tea).
Drink tea with your octopus today… and if you don’t have an octopus, borrow one from a friend. I don’t have a dirigeable (that would be a zeppelin for younger people in the audience) , but I manage. Toodle-oo!
Has this ever happened to you? You’re sailing along, just minding your business, concentrating on fishing or just taking a pleasure cruise, when suddenly you’re abruptly attacked by shifty tentacles. What do you do? Defend yourself with a tickle assault!
Some octopuses sneak onboard to be helpful…
… And some are just pissed off about their dwindling food supply. (Or perhaps that fish was a personal friend.)
If there’s any moral to these tales, it’s that fishing is hazardous business.
With every passing year, I have more and more trouble getting into the spirit of Christmas (especially since all the snow has now melted). An early present of Rodney Crowell’s Christmas Everywhere helped a bit, but to speed things along some more – and before Christmas Eve takes me by surprise – I’d like to titillate everybody’s taste buds with this spread of Playboy Christmas cartoons.
« It’s astonishing how terrible people can be. » – Gahan Wilson
Chez Gahan Wilson (as with his esteemed colleagues Charles Addams and Edward Gorey, for instance), it’s always Hallowe’en! Here’s a trio of particularly fitting cartoons published over the years in Playboy magazine, always one of the finest homes for wayward cartoonists. Gahan was pretty much the only guy Hugh Hefner didn’t encourage to draw buxom females.
Early in the magazine’s existence, Hef was looking for a Chas. Addams to call his own (the man himself was under exclusive contract with The New Yorker), and he found him. Yet, as Hefner said in his introduction to Fantagraphics’ extraordinary collection, Gahan Wilson: Fifty Years of Playboy Cartoons: « I don’t think I could have imagined before the fact how Gahan was going to grow. What one saw in the beginning was only the promise. »
I’d like to interrupt the regularly scheduled Tentacle Tuesday with the double whammy of tentacles and kiss-me-I’m-Irish:
Shamrock Squid, created by Clowes, is an “open source” character, which is to say that other cartoonists have official permission to use him in their work.
« While Shamrock Squid was originally featured in Clowes’s comic book Eightball as a comic companion to “Grip Glutz” in a one-page ‘gag’, he has also made surprise or cameo appearances in other alternative comics such as Peter Bagge’s Hate and Rick Altergott’s Doofus. The most detailed, epic and perhaps final use of Shamrock Squid was done by Adrian Tomine and Peter Bagge in a 7 page piece in Hate #28 entitled “Shamrock Squid: Autobiographical Cartoonist”, which lampooned autobiographical alternative comics, teen angst, and fandom. It would seem that the gag has gone as far as it can. » (source)
I’m not sure what is implied by “the gag has gone as far as it can”, but since Adrian Tomine is involved, I’ll happily agree that enough is enough.
So if you’re planning to booze your woes away this Saturday on St-Patrick’s, happy drinking!
Moving on to the goofiness promised, here’s Tentacle Tuesday in all its glory.
Many women get killed. Their corpses are covered in doughnut-shaped marks. A killer in a trench-coat sporting a wide-brimmed hat has been spotted retreating into the city’s aquarium after his crime. “Who Doughnut?”, the story’s title asks, and it is indeed a stumper.
The intrepid detective follows the killer! His mind struggles with the vital question of who or what could have possibly left such bizarre marks on his victims…
… and comes up with the answer! It’s…. (drumroll, please)…
Well, duh. Everyone knows octopuses suck blood (and have a weakness for stylish hats). « Who Doughnut? », written by Al Feldstein and drawn by Jack Davis, was published in Vault of Horror no. 30, April-May 1953. The art is glorious, and the story – while preposterous – is moody as hell, so do yourself a favour and read it here. As a matter of fact, it’s so well drawn that one forgets the farcical plot and shudders along with the protagonist.
Quite on a different note, meet an alien lifeform with an appetite for self-destruction. Which is to say: it likes to be eaten.
Canadian Stokoe is probably best known for his take on Godzilla, which comic left me frankly underwhelmed. However, I heartily recommend the unfortunately unfinished Orc Stain. As for Wonton Soup, it was loads of fun to read. Here’s a summary from Publisher’s Weekly: « Stokoe’s wittily vulgar debut graphic novel follows former-cook–turned–space trucker Johnny Boyo as he fights off space ninjas, returns to the planet of his ex-girlfriend Citrus Watts, and finally faces a cook-off duel with a pair of alien twins who’ll stop at nothing to achieve culinary victory. » That covers the gist of part 1; to which I’ll add that part 2 of Wonton Soup concerns itself largely with Johnny’s buddy Deac’s reminiscences about his mad escapades with a sex bear, which are not for the squeamish.
Let’s end this cephalopod festival not with a bang but with a whimper… the whimper of a wife who’s getting carried off by tentacles, that is.
Another day, another birthday, it would seem. Well, I feel this one’s of particular importance… Gahan Wilson, born February 18, 1930, turns 88 today. As you may know, many an artist burns bright and burns fast, enjoying a peak of a handful of years followed by a settling into habit or mediocrity. That’s not our Mr. Wilson, who’s been prolific, reliable and versatile for over a half-century. That makes him, I suppose, easy to take for granted. Let’s not, shall we?
Most visibly, he’s built up a splendiferous body of work at Playboy, which was collected in exemplary fashion (2010), for your convenience, by the fine folks at Fantagraphics (in case you don’t have room for the entire magazines.) With the possible exception of Shel Silverstein, Gahan was perhaps the only cartoonist Hugh Hefner didn’t habitually encourage to throw in some buxom females.
Which brings us to another facet of Gahan’s œuvre: his writing. I greatly enjoyed his regular film column in Twilight Zone magazine (1981-89). For the publication’s August, 1985 issue, he provided, in addition to his regular contribution, an eye-catching (watch out!) cover illustration and a feature article « I Hear You Callin’ Cthulhu », a review of the role-playing game Call of Cthulhu. « Hot on the trail of Dagon, the shoggoths, and other Lovecraftian horrors, the noted cartoonist (and intrepid TZ columnist) finds himself drawn into a labyrinth of secret caverns, sinister intruders, tentacled monstrosities — and a terrifying thing called the Insanity Table. »
Happy Birthday, and thanks for all the tentacles, Mr. Wilson!