Tentacle Tuesday: Gardening Woes

This year, since I am currently working from home and spending a lot of time on the balcony, I decided to take another crack at planting a few things in containers and taking a chance with the local squirrels’ tendency to root through soil and munch on whatever’s planted. Still, for all my adorable-yet-annoying rodent problems, I have to admit that I have it much better than some folks: there are no tentacles in this garden, thank you very much.

If you should ever see something of this sort emerging from the pot, run the other way!

ACG’s Adventures into the Unknown can always be relied upon for an octopus or two (or ten) – just see Tentacle Tuesday: ACG’s Adventures Into the Tentacles, for example. Tentacles of the plant variety also make a frequent appearance, of all shapes and sizes and degrees of grabbiness.

The Plant That Lived, illustrated by Harry Lazarus, was published in Adventures into the Unknown no. 38 (December 1952, KenACG). What happens when a young woman is forced to tend to a plant’s roots against her will?

It all starts with a dog in a botanical garden.

An interesting plot point, revealed at the end of the story, is that the plant’s fervent desire to become human is explained by his love for Phil Benson, the young botanist. I kind of want to see a follow-up story about that couple and the problems a plant-man pairing would be confronted with. And the classy blonde? She can find somebody else to hang out with.

A very similar blonde in a red dress was featured on the cover of an earlier issue, Adventures into the Unknown no. 32 (June 1952, ACG). It may not explicitly feature tentacles, but it is close enough in spirit for me to happily welcome it to the fold!

Cover illustrated by Ken Bald.

Another plant-tentacle offering from ACG comes from The Garden of Horror, illustrated by Lin Streeter, published in Adventures into the Unknown no. 48 (October 1953, ACG). This somewhat wordytale concerns itself with an archeologist who comes upon some strange seeds in a ruined temple in an unspecified ‘remote corner of Africa’. Arriving home, he plants them, and – surprise, surprise! – gets a little more than he bargained for. A dog is also involved, though this time it does not escape unscathed.

Carla gives her unscientifically-minded beau (strangely unconcerned with the killed dog, and later in the story, a similarly-dispatched burglar) an ultimatum: either he destroys this evil plant, or it’s all over between them! He chooses the plant – what the hell, she was a nag, anyway.

A subsection of mansplaining is giving directions that are not needed – I think Carla had the idea of ‘cutting the coils’ long before Roy told her to.

Continuing the theme of the strangulated man and the tentacle-throttled dog, we have two pages from a The Vision story (without a title) published in Marvel Mystery Comics no. 26 (December 1941, Marvel). A scientist finds some strange seeds and plants them. Does that sound familiar?

The tentacled creatures look like they’ve just woken up after a long night of partying with a terrible hangover. I love it!

Fortunately, the brave doggo that gets trapped by tentacles is saved in the nick of time by the Vision. Aarkus, aka The Vision, was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby (much like all roads once led to Rome, sometimes it seems that the latter has had a hand in creating nearly everything), as an alien enforcement officer from a dimension called Smokeworld. I stand by the side of any alien who saves braves doggos from a ‘horrible fate’!

This is neither here nor there, but The Vision has been repurposed by Roy Thomas in the late 1970s as part of the Avengers. I quote: « A great fan of Golden Age heroes, [Roy Thomas] first thought to bring back Aarkus, a 1940s hero who had been called the Vision due to his spectral appearance and smoke-based abilities. He discussed the matter with Marvel editor Stan Lee, who enjoyed the idea of a new member, but didn’t want it to be an alien or visitor from another dimension. After he suggested creating a new character entirely and that it could be an android instead, Thomas compromised by creating a new android character who resembled Aarkus and also called himself Vision. » Err, how is using the same name/moniker and a differently-coloured, but otherwise very similar costume considered “creating a new character”?

Glancing at some previous Tentacle Tuesdays, I realize I’ve actually built up a healthy nursery of plant instalments. If you’re still in a horticultural mood, here are some of them:

Tentacle Tuesday: Tender Tendrils of Vernal Bloom

Tentacle Tuesday: A Child’s Garden of Carnivorous Plants

Tentacle Tuesday: Plants Sometimes Have Tentacles, Too

Tentacle Tuesday: Spring Has Sprung… Its Snare!

Tentacle Tuesday: Tropical Foliage!

Tentacle Tuesday: The Hungry Greenery

~ ds

Tentacle Tuesday: Tender Tendrils of Vernal Bloom

« 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.

Horror: The Illustrated Book Of Fears no. 2 (February 1990, Northstar). Cover by Mark Bernal.

ACG got its tentacle parade in Tentacle Tuesday: ACG’s Adventures Into the Tentacles, but as usual, some material didn’t quite fit the theme, and I saved the following cover for a more appropriate occasion. This, I do believe, is the moment.

Adventures into the Unknown no. 48 (October 1953, ACG), cover by Ken Bald.

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. »

Page from The Case of the Martian Witness!, scripted by John Broome, pencilled by Mike Sekowsky and inked by Bernard Sachs, published in Strange Adventures no. 114 (March 1960, DC).

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.

A page from Super-Athlete from Earth!, scripted by Gardner Fox, pencilled by Gil Kane and inked by Bernard Sachs, published in Strange Adventures no. 125 (February 1961, DC).

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.

Baffling Mysteries no. 19 (January 1954, Ace Magazines). Cover is presumed to be by George Roussos. I think strangulation is not even the worst option here.

One more happy tromp through the jungle? Sure, why not!

Kona no. 12 (October-December 1964, Dell). Cover by Vic Prezio. This giant ant-crab (?) is but one in a long line of supersized animal threats Kona has had to defeat.

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.

Happy gardening to all! And have a look at last spring’s tentacled plant post Tentacle Tuesday: Spring Has Sprung… Its Snare! while you’re at it!

🌱 ds

Mother Earth’s Plantasia

« Unless you’re some kind of masochist, I would imagine that you’d like to begin your plant experience with the easy, almost impossible-to-kill group. »

A sunny reminder of some of the plant world’s myriad of virtues, from 1973’s Mother Earth’s Hassle-free Indoor Plant Book by Lynn and Joel Rapp, a terrific little tome that bears the probably unique distinction of having yielded its own soundtrack. Not only that, but its own *excellent* soundtrack, Mother Earth’s Plantasia by Canadian-born songwriter, producer and electronic music pioneer Mort Garson. The LP was distributed through one of the wackiest marketing schemes I’ve ever encountered: it was given away with the purchase of a Simmons mattress from Sears. Uh?

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« A green thumb is simply a positive state of mind about growing things. »

I see Plantasia’s even been reissued a few years back on fancy 180 gram vinyl (along with other formats and impressive ancillary products). But you can hear it in its entirety without making the considerable financial investment, thanks to this lovely tribute on the Music Is My Sanctuary blog.

The book (and LP booklet) are illustrated by « Marvelous » Marvin Rubin… who quite deserves the sobriquet, if you ask me.

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« I was first introduced to Bromeliads by a 75-year-old semi-retired mechanic named Rafe ‘Frenchy’ DeLago. At least I thought I was. It turns out that I was actually first introduced to Bromeliads by my mother and the Dole Company, but neither my mother nor I knew it at the time. Truth is, my mother still doesn’t. You see, all pineapples are Bromeliads. In fact, all Bromeliads are pineapples! »

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As confirmed by George Orwell’s sole comic novel, Keep the Aspidistra Flying.

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« Those plants will grow in your house, all right, but they’d grow better if you lived in a greenhouse. »

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« It is well known that plants grow best to classical music, but we have been told about a hip Dieffenbachia who loves The Rolling Stones. »

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« As people in the plant business, take it from us: the worst pest when it comes to killing plants is Homo sapiens. »

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– RG