Tentacle Tuesday: Dark Horse, Pt. 3

Dark Horse seems to publish more mini-series heavily dependent on tentacles that you could shake a stick at, and enough spin-offs of spin-offs to make one’s head spin. Still, I have been dutifully saving the… shall we say, less ugly… tentacle-heavy DH covers I have come across, and since there is clearly little point in hoarding them, the time has come for a part III. Visit the previous instalments here: Tentacle Tuesday: Dark Horse, Pt. 1 and Tentacle Tuesday: Dark Horse, Pt. 2. Your mileage may vary!

I have to include at least a couple of things I actually somewhat like per post, whatever pleasure I may get from mocking the rest.

The first is the back cover of Madman Comics no. 4 (October 1994), with art by Dave Stevens, with well-defined, slimy tentacles and plenty of boobage. That’s Madman (created by Mike Allred) in the middle, but he surely ends up ending up in the background of his own adventure, courtesy of the cephalopod and skin-tight costumes of the damsels.

Continuing with the 90s, here are two Star Wars covers by Mark Schultz who’s, err, distinctly not at his best – though bringing one’s best to Star Wars would be a waste, anyway.

Classic Star Wars no. 8 (April 1993).
Classic Star Wars no. 17 (March 1994).

Continuing with the 90s…

Dark Horse Comics no. 15 (November 1993). Cover by John Higgins. The suggestive-yet-fuzzy shapes made me think that this woman is bare-bosomed and possibly vagina dentata-ed at first. The teeth belong to the tentacled monster, the nakedness is still a possibility.

This one I like far more:

The Thing from Another World: Eternal Vows no. 1 (December 1993). Cover by Paul Gulacy. Upon seeing this, co-admin RG quipped ‘oh, what’s left of Gulacy‘ (after his run on Master of Kung Fu, that is).

Finally, we have three Black Hammer-related covers, which made me look up this series since I didn’t even know of its existence before spotting these tentacles. Created by Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston, it’s apparently doing quite well (given that it started in 2016, and is still ongoing with many spin-offs, awards received, and a possible TV show).

Black Hammer no. 4 (October 2016). Cover by Dean Ormston.
Black Hammer no. 4 (October 2016). Variant cover by Jeff Lemire.
Black Hammer: Visions no. 6 (July 2021). Cover by Malachi Ward.

No Dark Horse post about tentacles can avoid the elephant in the room, namely Hellboy and Mignola. If that’s what floats your boat, I covered that ground in Tentacle Tuesday Masters : Mike Mignola.

~ ds

Tentacle Tuesday: Up From the Murky Depths

« Down metal snake corridors
Steely grey engines hum for nobody but me
No sound comes from the sea above me
No messages crackles through the radio leads
They’ll never know, never no never
How strange life in dark water can be…
»*

Now that we’re finally enjoying proper autumnal weather – which is to say, grey, rainy and beautiful – my thoughts turn to the dark and the wet. Aquatic octopus scenes fit this mood beautifully: those mute scenes where characters are as if frozen in the clutches of a gargantuan octopus. In which overeager octopod grabbers get ferociously punished for their ill-advised enthusiasm, winding up, more often than not, on the wrong end of a sharp… implement.

Original art by Mark Schultz intended for the Subhuman paperback collection (which, as far as I know, never saw print):

A few pages from Richard Sala‘s Mad Night (2005, Fantagraphics):

This book features not one, but two epic battle scenes with an octopus!

A painting by Vic Prezio, created for the front cover of a 1962 issue of Man’s Escape:

– ds

*Al Stewart, Life in Dark Water

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: “She was asking for it!”

You know how women aren’t advised to go out after dark, or to go to parties in revealing clothing because they might get raped and/or murdered? (This is purely a comic blog and we play nice, so I’m not developing that line of thought any further.) In the comic world, until relatively recently, that sort of thing couldn’t really be shown, but aren’t tentacles a rather handy stand-in for more realistic (and far scarier) violence? The only point I wish  to state is that a woman can’t even go for a fucking walk without encountering tentacles. Swimming? Just forgetaboutit. Sitting quietly on a log? As long as you’re female, the tentacles will still find you, it scarcely matters whether you’re clad in a swimsuit, a gunny sack, or a parka. If the monster finds you a tad overdressed, it will just rip your clothing off – problem solved!

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Blackstone no. 1 (Fall 1947, EC). Blackstone, Master Magician was created in 1946 by Elmer Cecil Stoner (1897-1969; one of the first black comic book artists!) for Vital Publications. The comic had a remarkably short life – one issue published by EC Comics (the one you’re currently looking at), and three more issues published by Timely. Somehow this was enough to spawn a radio series that aired from 1948 to 1950.

Stoner, who worked for a plethora of golden age companies (Timely, Fawcett, EC, Dell…) attracted some pretty heavy criticism in recent years. « Stoner’s drawing is the visual equivalent of fingernails scraped across a slate, and whenever he had a chance to botch the perspective, the composition, or even the inking, he did so with brio », opines Ron Goulart in his Great History of Comic Books. One could make the point that the above cover demonstrates this: the characters seem to be floating, not connected at all with one another or the landscape. However, whatever one thinks of his art, it has to be admitted even by the staunchest critic that Stoner was a pioneer who carved out a path for other African-American artists.

« On December 16, 1969, Elmer Stoner passed away. Since then he has been largely forgotten by the comic book industry and overlooked as a trailblazer. He was no Jackie Robinson, his presence in the comic industry didn’t alter its course. He did, however, pave the path for Al Hollingsworth, Matt Baker, Ezra Jackson, Cal Massey and for every African-American artist who followed. Stoner’s life is worthy of further exploration and his story deserving of wider recognition. He should not remain invisible. » |source, an article by Ken Quattro that’s well worth reading!|

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Vampirella-TheNamelessRavisher
« Miriam and Hester were insane. They took the severed head of a dead man, and sewed it back onto his body. Then, they stripped away their clothes and conjured up a demon! » As usual, Vampirella stories make perfect sense. The Nameless Ravisher, scripted by Flaxman Loew and drawn by Leopold Sanchez, was published in Vampirella no. 40 (March 1975, Warren). Flaxman Loew, by the way, was the somewhat ridiculous nom-de-plume of British Mike Butterworth. His stories seemed to get criticized a lot in the letters’ section, so maybe he deliberately picked a moniker guaranteed to be misspelled. One thing’s for certain – he had a vicious streak, qualified by a fan as a “fizzy, nasty run”. Read the full issue here, if you must; I can’t recommend it.

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Thank you for underlining the VIOLATING in the narration, Mr. Script Writer (what can you expect out of a man named Flaxman Loew?) – otherwise we would have never figured it out. This story also contains awe-inspiring quotes like « Vampirella! Rend her! Rip her! Now! », and « the water comes… and comes… ravishment by water…! »

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You know how I said that swimming is not recommended unless you want a tentacular encounter? Do keep that in mind, especially with summer just around the bend:

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Alpha Flight no. 14 (Marvel, September 1984). Cover by John Byrne. Co-admin RG would like to inform everyone that Lake Ontario is not teal-coloured. I’d rather take my chances with the octopus rather than be rescued by that horrible-looking man, but that’s just me (or Byrne’s so-called art).

A closer look at Heather’s rescuer:

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Puck is a dwarf, okay, but why does it seem like Byrne has never seen an actual dwarf in his life?

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A page from « Biology Class », scripted and drawn by John Byrne. So why doesn’t the athletically-minded Puck jump into the water instead of Heather? She tells him not to: « Stop! You know you can’t swim worth spit! » (Err…?)  Is it just me, or do the “deep and dark waters of Lake Ontario” look like a swimming pool?

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O, cute Demi with your gleaming hooves, beware of the quiet before the (sexy) storm! Demi the Demoness no. 2 (1993, Rip Off Press). The cover is by Demi’s Canadian creator, Steven S. Crompton.

Crompton’s art is not *great*, but it has definite charm: somewhat childlike and proudly cartoony, it underlines Demi’s innocence perfectly, her huge puppy eyes beckoning to the reader while she gets ravished by yet another toothy monster, well-endowed Pegasus, or frisky cat goddess. And I don’t mean to make it sound like she’s lying back and thinking of England, either – in most cases, she’s an enthusiastic participant in the sexy shenanigans.

« Over 35 different Demi the Demoness comics have been published. Numerous artists and authors have worked on Demi comics over the years, including Frank Brunner, Tim Vigil, Seppo Makinen, Philo, Ryan Vella, Gus Norman, Enrico Teodorani, Silvano, Diego Simone, Jay Allen Sanford, and many others. Demi has appeared in numerous comics crossovers with other characters, including Shaundra, Captain Fortune, Mauvette, Vampirooni, Cassiopeia the Witch, Djustine, Crimson Gash, and adult film stars Tracey Adams, Tabitha Stevens, Deja Sin, and Bonnie Michaels.» |source|

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Page from « The cumming of Lamasthu », published in Demi the Demoness no. 4 (1994, Rip Off Press). Art by Steven S. Crompton.

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Page from « The Cumming of Lamasthu », published in Demi the Demoness no. 4 (1994, Rip Off Press). Art by Steven S. Crompton.

You can read a dozen Demi issues on My Hentai Comics… the link is very much not safe for work, unless you work for a sex-obsessed Lord Cthulhu or something. But I can guaran-damn-tee a lot of tentacles!

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Cadillacs and Dinosaurs no. 2 (March 1994, Topps). Cover by Dick Giordano, who shouldn’t have been let anywhere near Mark Schultz’ characters. I see the lizard has decided to photobomb this romantic scene (the skeleton guy is clearly about to drop Felicia into the murky swamp water.. that’s teal-coloured for some reason… hardly swampy!)

Inside, we get Blood and Bones, Part II: Swamp Things (scripted by Roy Thomas and drawn by Dick Giordano), a Mœbius 2-pager, a couple of pages of captioned Schultz dinosaur illustrations, and – just in time to save this issue from being thoroughly dreadful – Sailor, Take Warning!, scripted by Roy Thomas and drawn by Steve Stiles.

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See? Definitely tentacles. Every self-respected brain has ’em.

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Felicia’s pose looks distinctly unnatural, but she’s doing a good job of letting everyone know she has an impressive bust (a girl has priorities, even while unconscious). Giordano doesn’t seem to know that human hands curl up when at rest.

You know what Blood and Bones, Part II: Swamp Things has, aside from a suspiciously blue and limpid swamp? Dinosaurs. More specifically a T-Rex skeleton controlled by a brain with tentacles, who’s actually the father of one of the characters! It takes a Roy Thomas to cobble up such classic plots.

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Maybe, instead of Brainosaurus Rex, he should have been called Daddysaurus, or maybe even Papasaurus Rex?

Read the issue here.

I hope I have impressed upon you the absolute necessity of caution when taking a stroll – whether your path lies next to a large body of water or leads through a forest. Above all, do not perch on a log when you need a rest, or lean against a tree. Hanging out with magicians is also not recommended.

Until next Tentacle Tuesday, I remain tentacularily yours…

~ ds

One Summer Solstice at the Old Fishing Hole…

« I had me a scientific career before… ah… circumstances forced me to take up fishin’… »

In case it’s escaped anyone’s notice, summer’s officially arrived.

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This is Xenozoic Tales no. 7 (Oct. 1988, Kitchen Sink), a series that presented, wonder of wonders, a post-apocalyptic future that wasn’t strictly doom and gloom. Cover by Mark Schultz. This issue features « The Growing Pool », written and drawn by Schultz, and “Crossed Currents”, written by Schultz and illustrated by Steve Stiles.

The lady is Hannah Dundee, and she may soon have to share her lunch. Something tells me this illustration is a pastiche of some The Saturday Evening Post-type cover.. there’s something charmingly old-fashioned about it, and I don’t mean Cambrian Age old.

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You know, that sort of thing. The Saturday Evening Post‘s August 5, 1933 cover by… who else? Norman Rockwell.

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It’s the new falconry! Xenozoic Tales’ coexistence of humans and dinosaurs is not your run-of-the-mill anachronism: this is the world of tomorrow, not yesterday’s. This striking portrait of Ms. Dundee was conceived as a t-shirt design in the late 1980s. I should still have mine stashed somewhere…

– RG