Tentacle Tuesday Masters : Mike Mignola

Because sometimes, for whatever reason, you just want to draw an octopus. — Mike Mignola, June 2019

I would say that this Tentacle Tuesday feature was started for a similar reason – sometimes one just needs to gather tentacled material, to share it more efficiently with like-minded weirdos.

The back cover of Hellboy: Seeds of Destruction no. 2

I don’t imagine writer and comics artist Mike Mignola (most notably, creator of Hellboy and its spin-off B.P.R.D.) needs much of an introduction – he’s fairly ubiquitous in mainstream culture, and his style has been aped by many, which according to the proverb is the most sincere form of flattery. I was aware of this already, and yet was staggered by the sheer number of copycats I stumbled across while seeking out materials for this post.

I also started suffering from tentacle fatigue: as much as I love octopuses, seeing dozens upon dozens of fairly similar images made me weary. Mignola draws tentacles well, but he also draws them very, very often, and he also likes to revisit scenes already depicted. The result is a sprawling mess of sketches, variant covers and spin-offs of spin-offs… perhaps not inappropriate, come to think of it. This particular octopus has far more than just eight limbs!

Enjoy this barrage of Mignola tentacles, just make sure you’re in the proper mood for them 😉

Hellboy: Seeds of Destruction no. 2 (April 1994).
Page from Hellboy: Seeds of Destruction no. 3 (May 1994).
Sketch from June 2019.
ZombieWorld: Champion of the Worms no. 2 (October 1997)

No post of this nature would be complete without featuring, in some form or other, H.P. Lovecraft, arguably the father of our modern obsession with tentacles. On that topic, I am linking to an excellent article about Mignola’s relationship with the creator of the Cthulhu Mythos (be warned that it’s in French, sorry!)

Art for the cover of Dark Horse Presents no. 142 (April 1999). Mignola made Lovecraft look downright dignified and borderline handsome, which is quite a feat, considering the latter’s unusual physiognomy.

Mignola revisited this very scene for his cover of Children of Lovecraft, and anthology of (non-comics) stories ‘inspired’ by Lovecraft (September, 2016). This was also published by Dark Horse.

More Victorian England and Lovecraftian archetypes can be found within the pages of Jenny Finn:

Artwork for Jenny Finn no. 1 (June 1999).
Back cover artwork for Jenny Finn Messiah no. 1 (2005).

Even Batman, in Mignola’s hands, gets tentaclefied!

A page from Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight no. 54 (November 1993).
Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham no. 2 (November 2000).

As a final note, I’d like to officially make a moue of distaste at people who share art without attribution, or without bothering to ascertain its source. To wit: a pair of images that are widely shared as Mike Mignola artwork… except that it isn’t by him at all, just by someone drawing in a similar style. Instagram and Pinterest are breeding grounds for such deplorable artistic credit robbery.

The following two illustrations are by Malaysian artist Daryl Toh.

∴ ds

Tentacle Tuesday Masters: Tom Sutton

« Gary Groth: You did — God help you — you did an Alice Cooper comic in ’79. Were you out of it or what?

Tom Sutton: I listen to Mozart. I don’t know. I guess Alice Cooper was a musician. Some kind of giant snake or some damn thing.

Gary Groth: So why the hell didn’t you do a Mozart comic?

Tom Sutton: Nobody asked me to. »

When I wrote Tentacle Tuesday: a Treasure Trove of Charlton Tentacles, I skipped Tom Sutton, vowing to return to him at a later date. If there was anyone deserving the title of Tentacle Tuesday Master (applause, please!), it is him. I don’t know what the appropriate cluster term for tentacles is, but Sutton has surely brought a, um, pandemonium (a terror? a trepidation?) of tentacles to Charlton‘s pages.

Even outside of his tentacles, Sutton is a truly interesting artist. I highly recommend An Odd Man Out: Tom Sutton, Gary Groth’s interview with him for The Comics Journal. Just read Groth’s introduction, if nothing else – he does an excellent job of summarizing Sutton’s singular career and the conflicting influences that shaped it. The interview is 11 web-browser pages long, and throughout Groth and Sutton’s conversation, one gets the distinct impression that Sutton is a witty, self-deprecating man, the kind you want to take to a bar or something to listen to his stories. At some point he mentions that the tape (to record the interview) is probably running out, and Groth responds with «There’s not enough tape in the world for you, Tom», which is, I think, a good example of their easy banter as well as obvious camaraderie.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand – the art and writing is by Tom Sutton, unless indicated otherwise. You know those over-the-top Russian buffets, where food is overflowing from the table? This post is like that, but with tentacles.

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Ghostly Tales no. 106 (August 1973).

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This story, titled simply (and à propos) Those Tentacles!, scripted by Nicola Cuti and illustrated by Sutton, has already been mentioned in Tentacle Tuesday: Domesticated Octopus Seeks Soulmate, but I’ve never posted this page. Dang, gave away the ending.

This story was repurposed as a cover for Ghostly Tales no. 130 (May 1978):

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Ghostly Tales no. 113 (February 1975). Isn’t it a beautiful cover?

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Page from Through a Glass Darkly, the (surprisingly, black and white; Sutton evidently knew it wasn’t feasibly colourable… and his publisher respected his wishes! As opposed to…) cover story of Ghostly Tales no. 113. Good thing we we treated to all those eye-pleasing blues and greens on the cover!

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Creepy Things no. 2 (October 1975). You can read the full issue here. This is my favourite cover of this lot, both for the parent creature’s sad, slightly sleepy expression, and for the crispness of greens against black.

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Creepy Things no. 4 (February 1976). I’ll bet that slug-thing glows in the dark.

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Page from Man’s Best Fiend, scripted by Joe Gill (as Tom Tuna) and illustrated by Sutton, printed in Creepy Things no. 4.

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Ghost Manor no. 27 (January 1976)

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Scary Tales no. 4 (February 1976). Scary Tales hostess Countess Von Bludd tackles tentacles! Now you can’t say this post doesn’t have any cleavage.

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Haunted no. 20 (February 1975). My second favourite cover, for the completely horrified, totally Sutton-esque faces of the creature’s victims. I also like the way his signature is hiding at the foot of the tentacles.

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Pages from Mountain of Fear, published in Haunted no. 20. This is likely the most Lovecraftian (and epic) of Sutton’s Charlton tales.

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Page from Out of the Deep, published in Haunted no. 21 (April 1975). This panel was later used as the cover for Haunted no. 55 (May 1981). Read the full story here.

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Page from Fear Has a Name!, scripted by Nicola Cuti and illustrated by Tom Sutton, published in Haunted no. 22 (June 1975).

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Page from The Thing in the Hole, published in Ghostly Tales no. 111 (September 1974). Read the whole issue here.

For more Tom Sutton, head over to the great blog The Horrors of It All, where a fellow admirer has posted a bunch of his stories. I’m happy to say that Sutton aficionados are legion and they’re fairly rabid, so to speak.

Furthermore, you can read co-admin RG’s Mind the Quirks and Glitches: Petrucha & Sutton’s Squalor for one more, more modern, facet of Sutton’s varied career. And if you’d like a little piquant in your life, his post even includes links to Sutton’s erotic comics!

~ ds

Tentacle Tuesday: Literary Grapplings

Some people would shudder at the idea of having « literary » and horror and / or science-fiction within the same sentence, but I firmly believe that some of this oft-despised « genre » oeuvre is worthy of that (somewhat pompous, anyway) moniker.

To open the proceedings, here’s a page from a graphic adaptation of « Shattered Like a Glass Goblin », written by the venerable Harlan Ellison in 1968 (and first published in 1975, in Deathbird Stories: A Pantheon of Modern Gods.) One of the showier pieces featured in the anthology The Illustrated Harlan Ellison (1978), it is drawn by William Stout, who does a great job translating the story into no-longer-just-mental images – and sneaking in a tentacle or two in the process (if you think that’s just a tail, shhh, don’t ruin it for the rest of us). People who dislike a vivid palette, beware:  the bright, vivid colours just emphasize the terror felt by the main character (and the readers, if said readers have any imagination to speak of).

Apparently, poor high-school kids are often forced to analyze « Shattered Like a Glass Goblin », because upon Googling it to check the year of its creation, I stumbled upon a bevy of study resources that explain what the story is about and what techniques Ellison used to make this point. Yawn, and yuck. There’s nothing that ruins a good time like having to dissect it.

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Page from the graphic adaptation of Shattered Like a Glass Goblin, written by Harlan Ellison and illustrated by William Stout, published in The Illustrated Harlan Ellison (1978). Stout cleverly refrains from showing everything, instead suggesting the unimaginably horrifying in a series of fleeting, clipped images.

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Now we come to Marvel’s short-lived Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction series, which often published adaptations of short stories and novels by well-known writers into a comic format (Mostly with lacklustre results, as far as I’m concerned, but then I’ve always preferred to stick with the original medium of things.)

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Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction no. 1 (Marvel, January 1975). The cover is by Frank Kelly Freas. It has nothing to do with either the Day of the Triffids nor with Ray Bradbury (is he *really* the ‘most famous SF author of all time’?) but it features aliens with stylish tentacle-hair (how much hairspray did it require to hold, I wonder?)

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Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction no. 4, (Marvel, July 1975). Cover by Frank Brunner. I say the guy looks much handsomer with a mess of tentacles sprouting randomly from his torso! Bonus: a newly-materialized, huge tail that no doubt ripped his pants apart, even if the artist demurely decided not to draw attention to this fact.

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Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction Giant Size Special no. 1 (Marvel, 1976). Cover by Don Newton. Number 1 it may be, but this was the final bow of Unknown Worlds. Note that the tentacles sought out the woman first! (Coincidence, you say? I think not.)

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Since I’m talking about  tentacles and literature, I am contractually obliged to include  something Lovecraftian as part of this post.

My colleague R.G. has already talked about the H.P. Lovecraft edition of the anthology Graphic Classics (head over here to check it out ), but I’d like to share two illustrations from the inside. Both are by Allen Koszowski, whose work is a feast of tentacled beasts and Lovecraftian horrors.

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Illustration by Allen Koszowski of « Fungi from Yuggoth ». Published in Graphic Classics: H.P. Lovecraft, Volume 4, 2002.

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A portrait of Mr. Lovecraft himself, in all his striking glory, accompanied by some of this unholy creations. Illustration (also by Allen Koszowski, which was accidental on my part) from Graphic Classics: H.P. Lovecraft, Volume 4, 2002.

Koszowski got the similarity down pat: Lovecraft was mighty weird-looking (in a stately kind of way) – which seems quite appropriate. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but he certainly looks like he’s just seen something terrible just behind his interlocutor’s back, but he was half-expecting it, so he’s not too startled, even though someone’s probably about to get gobbled up.

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(Cats have that look periodically, too, down to the dilated pupils.)

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Incidentally, I said that Koszowski’s art was full of tentacles, so here’s one more taste of his proclivities:

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Aliens at Stonehenge” (1984) by Allen Koszowski.

~ ds

 

Gahan Paints What He Sees!

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.

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« Well, it certainly is nice to know someone’s looking out for us old folks! » (Playboy, November, 1987.)

He’s also been a regular contributor to The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction since 1964, again gathered by the reprobates at Fantagraphics, this time in a tome entitled « Gahan Wilson’s Out There » (2016). Significantly, the book includes Wilson’s prose works for the magazine, gems of concision and dark wit.

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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. »

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« Our intrepid gamesman gathers his courage… »

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« … tests his luck against the dark gods… »

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« … reads his fate in the faces of the dice… »

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« … and when the smoke clears, is seen no more. »

Happy Birthday, and thanks for all the tentacles, Mr. Wilson!

– RG

Hallowe’en Countdown, Day 8

« But the Ancient Evil remains… waiting to rise and prey on an unsuspecting humanity »

Adapting Howard Phillips Lovecraft’s sinister literature to other media has always been as tempting as it is daunting. It absolutely requires the discernment to know when to hold back and when to go all out, and therein lies the difficulty: it’s a rare gift.

Eureka Productions’ Graphic Classics series of anthologies wisely chose, for the cover of its HPL entry (from 2002), a detail from Todd Schorr’s wry 1993 painting, H.P. Lovecraft’s Fried Seafood Cart.

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Schorr, born in 1954 in New York City, first became aware of HPL in high school and « became totally consumed in his writings. » « When read now », continues Todd, « Lovecraft’s work still retains the same spine-shivering thrills I first experienced. »

More Schorr: http://www.toddschorr.com/

And a view of the full painting (taken in a gallery, pardon the reflections):

– RG