Tentacle Tuesday: Sea Breezes

« Il vente — C’est le vent de la mer qui nous tourmente… »

Yesterday, I finished reading an excellent book by French author Pierre Mac Orlan, best known for Quai des brumes (Port of Shadows), written in 1927 and transformed into a movie in 1938. In other words, a while ago! The title of the novel I joyously devoured is Le chant de l’équipage (1918), and it’s a grand tale of swashbuckling adventure on the high seas. Well, actually it’s a lot more complex than that, and it’s beautifully written. As it’s in the public domain, you can read it online here (but in French only, I’m afraid). As I’m still digesting scenes from the novel, so to speak (no, the équipage did not encounter an octopus on its journey), my mind’s eye is focused on the far-away sea… so today’s Tentacle Tuesday has been rerouted from its original concept into everything nautical. Let’s spend a little time inhaling the healthy sea-breeze, in a world of handsome ships and the people who make them sail.

Perhaps the following story does not depict your standard encounter with an octopus… but it’s indubitably a seafaring tale. The Eyes, illustrated by Pete Tumlinson, was published in Astonishing no. 30 (February 1954, Atlas):

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In the next page, the octopus-balls steal a lot of sunglasses (their discovery that ears are needed to wear glasses is off-panel, though).

Monsters from a Thousand Fathoms, scripted by Carl Wessler and illustrated by the Redondo Studio (RG: with a heavy dose of E.R. Cruz), was published in The Unexpected no. 185 (May-June 1978, DC):

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Ads endeavouring to put the viewer into the shoes of an action-type he-man to sell some nonsense is nothing new. And yet, through this hackneyed jungle, sometimes a glimmer of real excitement comes through:

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An ad published in The Marvel Family no. 60 (June 1951, Fawcett). Never mind the Cola (it’s still around, incidentally), but that fight scene was pretty well orchestrated, if you ask me!

Those of us who like to dream of adventure, but preferably from the comfort of our own homes, I have this strip:

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You can read all about the comic strip The Tracy Twins by Dik Browne in a lovely article from Hogan’s Alley.

Since the aforementioned The Tracy Twins got its wings in a colour supplement of monthly scouting magazine Boys’ Life in 1952, I will now smoothly segue into a related topic, or a bit of warning, if you like.

If you start out as a wide-eyed kid in search of sea-faring thrills, and meet an octopus, just like this:

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An issue of Adventures for Boys (December 1954, Bailey Enterprises).

You might end up, many years down the road, growing up to be, well… a little peculiar, shall we say.

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I’m sure several parts of that 25-point check-list for sexual normalcy involves cephalopods. This is Men vol. 2 no. 8 (Aug. 1953, Atlas). Cover by Robert Emil Schulz.

And if that wasn’t sufficient, the same doctor has further advice for his readers in this slightly subsequent issue:

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Men vol. 2 no. 11 (Nov. 1953, Atlas). Cover by Robert Emil Schulz.

∼ ds

Treasured Stories: “Spawns of Satan” (1973)

« Hugs can do great amounts of good, especially for children. » — Diana, Princess of Wales

Today’s entry is a tale of vampirism from the typewriter of Jack Oleck (1914-1981). In the late 1940’s Mr. Oleck’s career in comics began promisingly with his brother-in-law Joe Simon and his partner Jack Kirby‘s Prize (Young Romance, Strange Worlds of Your Dreams, Black Magic and other anthologies), followed by a stint with EC late in the publisher’s classic, pre-Mad Magazine-only run (Crime SuspenStories, Shock SuspenStories, Vault of Horror, Incredible Science-Fiction, et al), along with assignments with Hillman, Atlas, Charlton and Harvey… among others.

Finding the décor of the Code-regimented funnybook industry a bit austere to his taste, he devoted the years of 1957 to 1969 to publishing and editing the magazine Decorator News and authoring the odd novel.

In 1969, he sauntered over to DC, where he cranked out quite a caboodle of scripts over the following decade-or-so, mostly in the horror (as it couldn’t be and shouldn’t be called under The Code) genre (“Mystery”, they called it), but also the occasional bit of romance, science-fiction and adventure. I’d like to say he was great, but frankly, he was pretty much a page-filling hack.

This is probably his finest script from this most prolific period, and it’s still full of plot holes and other inconsistencies. But that’s market reality for you: Oleck was consistently readable, he was fairly competent, he turned in his work on time, and he got along with the editors. Sometimes that’s all you need.

So why am I featuring Spawns of Satan if I seem to think so little of it? Well, obviously, there’s the luxurious grace of Nestor Redondo‘s art, granted here a specially generous setting to display its virtues. The middle act of the story is virtually mute, and all the more effective for it.

Read it first, then I’ll tell you more.

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Okay, if the town’s taken care of them, how come no-one’s found it unusual that the kids aren’t around during the daytime? Doesn’t anyone go to school?
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It certainly tips the scale in the miscreants’ favour that the sheriff just shrugs and admits he hasn’t a clue. I guess it just wasn’t an election year.
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Wait… kids (with one or two tackling most of the grunt work) burying five coffins on grassy ground, and “not a sign that the ground’s been disturbed“? Mighty vampire powers, I say! And can you imagine the torment and frustration of the little ones, knowing they’ll never grow up, never get to take charge or be taken seriously? This story is just honeycombed with potential avenues of exploration.
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One slight problem: hypothermia should not affect undead creatures without a beating heart nor, necessarily, blood circulation. A little too convenient, Mr. Oleck. But fine, you’ve got them to the bottom of the lake.

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For me, one of the tale’s chief assets had been Aaron’s characterization. Now how is it that suddenly, this cool-headed and calculating leader just loses his shit and gives up*? As depicted earlier, Aaron would have ordered a retreat to the lake and formulated another plan. But no, there had to be a ‘sting in the tail’. Also, if the town knew full well they were dealing with vampires, why do bodies turned to dust suddenly seem “impossible”? Finally, did you get the impression that the Baker kids killed out of hate (well, except for Holly; that girl had a bad attitude), as stated in the final panel? I think not: the clan was portrayed as a predator pack, who merely killed to survive, no sentiment allowed.

SOS is otherwise mainly notable in its introduction of themes and ideas that would be brought to full miasmic flowering by (of course) Alan Moore in issues 38 and 39 of Swamp Thing (July and August, 1985), namely the family unit of underwater vampires. Moore’s set of toothsome nasties was more-or-less introduced, but not fully-fleshed out, by his predecessor, Martin Pasko, in July, 1982’s Saga of the Swamp Thing no. 3‘s A Town Has Turned to BloodMoore’s keen eye caught the spark of potential and set the hills ablaze. However, it seems unlikely that Moore’s research hadn’t trailed back  a few years to the lacustrine lair of the parasitical Baker brood.

While slaughterous children were all the rage from the late 50s (John Wyndham’s The Midwich Cuckoos, its filmic adaptation Village of the Damned and its sequel, Children of the Damned) and into the 70s, Oleck’s Spawns still preceded Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot (1975), The Omen (1976) and the 1976 Spanish shocker ¿Quién puede matar a un niño? / Les révoltés de l’an 2000 (boy, did that one scar me as a kid), and given the comics field’s penchant for cribbing ideas *after* they had run their course, that’s another feather in Oleck’s fedora.

Speaking of editors, I’ve long suspected that this particular issue of House of Secrets was the dumping ground of an aborted experiment by its editor, Joe Orlando. Orlando had clearly been trying to shake things up a bit, running two longer, less compressed stories per issue instead of the usual three… as DC’s available story page count had dropped from 24 to 20 (and would reach a woeful 17 by 1976!); the two-story practice lasted but a few issues. After no. 117, it was jettisoned. It would appear that at least one of House of Secrets 113’s stories had been scheduled and delayed: eight months earlier, Jack Sparling’s grey-tone lovely cover for House of Secrets no. 105 (Feb. 1973) was a perfect illustration for Doug Moench‘s, Mike Sekowsky and Nick Cardy‘s fascinating ‘Not So Loud– I’m Blind’… which finally turned up in this issue as the lead story. Sombre and rambling, Moench’s likely first sale to DC lacks the usual forced twist ending, opting instead to trail off into darkness. In fact, when I first read it, I thought my copy was missing a page.

Moench went off to be arguably (well, he’s my pick) Marvel’s most consistent writer of the 1970s, and only returned to DC in the ensuing decade.

-RG

*short answer: The Comics Code Authority.

Tentacle Tuesday: Goodbye, 2019

This feels like a portentous occasion: the last Tentacle Tuesday of 2019. The mind boggles at the sheer number of tentacles we have released into the wild this year! As far as the splendour of this moment is concerned, there’s no reason for me to fight this feeling. Yet my general tendency at the year’s end – to throw in a lot of women fighting off tentacles (witness last year’s TT – “Foul as Sewer Slime!”) – is slightly one-track-minded, and it’s probably going to be my new year resolution to curtail that. Nah, just kidding.

Still: what *is* good is saying goodbye to the year in colour. So enjoy these not-quite-good, garishly coloured tentacle fiestas, and Happy New Year!

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A painting by Esteban Maroto, a Spanish comic book artist whom you might know for his large body of work for Warren Publishing. He drew a hundred-and-one (presumably because that sounded good!) stories for Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella, which is a record only beaten by José Ortiz, another Spanish illustrator.
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Another one by Esteban Maroto. Are either of these fetching lads Dax the Warrior? I honestly have no clue. Anyone? (I’m told it’s the Masters of the Universe’s He-Man)

You know how I said, earlier, that I was one-track-minded? I’m not the only one. Yikes. This is a tame image, but the… wilder… ones were in black and white, and I had to stick to my theme. See the sacrifices I make?

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Maroto’s hommage to Serpieri’s Druuna (see Tentacle Tuesday: tentacles that get in your face.)

Do visit Maroto’s website, tentacles abound (generally revolving around naked women).

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Is it redundant to have yet another illustration by Nestor Redondo? (I featured one in last week’s Tentacle Tuesday). Perhaps. But it has many intriguing details: the octopus is both scarily human and quite alien (also, in bad need of braces!), the young maiden looks far too young to be subjected to the lascivious caress of a tentacle, and the old witch’s breasts are… a strange combination of realistic and anatomically suspect.
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Illustration by Manuel Sanjulián, a Spanish painter and fellow Warren alumnus. Hey, this is shaping up into some sort of celebration of Spanish art. That’s all right with me.
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Cover for Robot 13 no. 1 (cover variant B), July 2009, art by Jeff Slemons.

While we’re at it, from the same artist, here’s his Elvis‘n’tentacles:

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Distinctly in the category of “why the hell not?”
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A Frazetta-ish painting titled Rocket Girls by Don Marquez, in which, as per the official description, “the girls meet the Tentacle Thing!” The Tentacle Thing has a bloodshot eye because he’s had too much bloody champagne.

…. preceded by “The Rocket Girls run into a thing that is all tentacles and eyeballs.

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The girls all look like clones… except for varying bust sizes. Marquez really went overboard with the one on the left, if you ask me – I’m surprised she can hold up a gun at all. The gals seem to be consumed in increasing order of bra size… that monster is a connaisseur.

And on that fitting note, happy celebrating!

~ ds

Tentacle Tuesday: Inky Black and Snowy White

It’s not every day that Tentacle Tuesday lands on Christmas Eve! I hope you have pleasant plans for the night, if not involving an epic Christmas tree and impeccably-wrapped presents, then at least a lot of booze. In the meantime… I present you with this short and sweet gallery of classy black and white images by some quite well-known illustrators (with one foot, or more, in the comic world, this being, after all, a blog about comics).

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Bruce Timm‘s portrayal of Red Sonja. Has he made her into a blonde? It’s possible. Blondes do have more fun… grappling with tentacles.
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Illustration from The Art of Nestor Redondo (Auad Books, 2016). I can’t guarantee that these are indeed tentacles, and not sea serpents or something… but hopefully the spirit of festive generosity will ensure my audience forgives me.
Art by Virgil Finlay for the 1949 Memorial Edition of "The Ship of Ishtar" by A. Merritt
Including a Virgil Finlay damsel-with-tentacles in this post isn’t as much of a stretch as one could think – he has done *a few* comic stories, and besides surely influenced more than a generation of cartoonists and illustrators. This is a vision he created for the 1949 memorial edition of Abraham Merritt’s The Ship of Ishtar.
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Another Virgil Finlay illustration with adorable octopuses (whose gills make them look rather like mushrooms with tentacles – not unheard of; this link, though awesome, is not for the faint-hearted*).
zak-17-cent-sss«Luxúria no fundo do mar», n.º 7, 15 junho 1976
Zakarella, a comics magazine launched in 1976 in Portugal, mostly re-published choice stories from Warren’s Creepy.  Zakarella herself was the Portuguese version of Vampirella, but considerably more twisted… or, rather, put into some rather fucked up situations and subjected to the perverted sexual whims of monsters from Hell and whatnot. Her stories were drawn by Roussado Pinto (under Ross Pynn) and illustrated by Carlos Alberto Santos. Please visit the blog Almanak Silva for a wittily-written history of Zakarella… or, if you don’t read Italian (personally, I used Google translate), just ogle the images. This is a panel from Luxúria no Fundo do Mar, published in Zakarella no. 7 (June 1976).

~ ds

*The article I linked to also contains this not entirely tentacle-related, but amazing (especially if, at heart, you’re a kid who’s into creepy things) explanation:

Dog Vomit Slime Mold: This creature isn’t technically a plant or a fungus, but it is one of the most fascinating creepy-looking things in nature. “It’s basically a giant amoeba,” Hodge says. “Usually, you can’t see an amoeba with the naked eye. But the dog-vomit is the size of a dessert plate.” She adds that she gets a lot of phone calls about the dog vomit slime mold, which often turns up in people’s garden mulch. “They look weird, and they freak people out.” she says. Even creepier, this huge single-celled blob can crawl. “They ooze around for a while, and then they convert themselves into spores,” Hodge says. “Although it’s not really a spore,” she adds, “because it hatches like an egg and a little amoeba crawls out.” That’s the point when I almost dropped the phone. But Hodge was nonplussed. She teaches a summer course about fungi, and she gives her students slime molds to take home and raise. “You can watch them just cruising around on the petri dish, eating oats.” Some of the students really bond with their slimy little pets, she says: “It’s my campaign to convert people to lovers of stinkhorns and slime molds.”

Tentacle Tuesday: Rooks, Epics, an Eclipse and a Web

This Tentacle Tuesday is a magazine edition.

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Web of Horror no. 1 (Major Magazines, December 1969). Painting by Jeff Jones.

I understand that the artist left quite a lot of empty space on purpose – to be filled with pointless text – but still, was it necessary to plaster nearly every inch of the image with captions yellow, red and purple? (I do like how the WEB seems to be made out of plasticine… and likely was.) Here’s the cover without all that wordy fluff:

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“Oooh, lookie, tentacles!”

I’ve already covered most Warren tentacles in Tentacle Tuesday: Warren and its many tentacles and Tentacle Tuesday: Warren and its many tentacles, part II, but handsome, gun-toting, time-travelling The Rook got left over. I’d like to rectify this omission. Admire the fight to the death of the scientist-who-likes-to-dress-up-as-gun-slinger and a tentacle-bearing fish-lion!

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The Rook no. 4 (Warren, August 1980). Cover by Nestor Redondo.

The Rook couldn’t quite kill the fishy brute’s whole family in #4, so he had to confront its slightly more colourful cousin in issue 7:

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The Rook no. 7 (Warren, February 1981). Cover by Jordi Penalva. It’s nice to see that men (not exclusively Doc Savage) get strategically ripped shirts, too, sometimes. Eye candy!

Co-admin RG suggested I check Eclipse Magazine‘s tentacular offerings for this post, and he was correct, there was one issue involving an octopus used as a coffee table.

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Eclipse Magazine no. 4 (Eclipse, January 1982). Cover by Carl Potts. I went snorkeling a few months ago and the scene was not dissimilar (minus, sadly, the mermaid).

Marvel’s Epic Illustrated, with its 70-odd pages per issue, surely offered something for everyone. The aforementioned offerings were quite hit-or-miss, but the occasional presence of Stephen Bissette, Rick Veitch, Basil Wolverton (in reprints), Berni Wrightson, Ernie Colón, Craig Russell, et al. makes it worthwhile to go through its 34 issues (okay, maybe not all in one sitting, unless you have quite a few thermoses of tea prepared – or something stronger).

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Epic Illustrated no. 12 (Marvel, June 1982), cover by Frank Brunner. You can read the whole issue here.

Brunner’s painting is rather nice – the mermaid and her friendly octopus both look so serene! – that here it is again. And read an interview with him while you’re at it: Legendary Feathers: Interview with Frank Brunner. (I apologize for linking to a website titled Fanboy Nation, though. Erk.)

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Issues 10 to 17 of Epic Illustrated featured Rick Veitch’s Abraxas and the Earthman, a purported retelling of Moby Dick (although frankly, aside from a vengeful squid, the similarities are not striking). Naturally, tentacles abound. Really freaky, creepy tentacles, much like the rest of the story.

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Page from “The Hunt: Chapter Three”, written and drawn by Rick Veitch, printed in Epic Illustrated no. 12.
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Epic Illustrated no. 17 (Marvel, April 1983), cover by Tim Conrad. Read it here.

Veitch’s fucked-up (I mean that as a compliment), imaginative tale continues with “Man and Whale (Chapter Eight)”, the final installment. Alongside a plethora of sea-creatures (no longer  in the sea), there’s this Devourer of Awareness, Bearer of Tentacles:

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(Incidentally, though somewhat off topic, I’d like to mention that Veitch did a bloody good job on Swamp Thing, for which he does not get enough credit.)

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Epic Illustrated no. 22 (Marvel, February 1984). Cover by John Bolton. Read the issue here. It’s a bad, unconvincing cover, but hey, this is an inclusive post.

Speaking of Bolton, he drew “Wizard’s Masque” (another chapter in the cycle of Marada the She-Wolf), a story scripted by Christopher Claremont.

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~ ds

Tentacle Tuesday: Warren and Its Many Tentacles

Welcome to Tentacle Tuesday! Today’s edition features beautifully painted covers from series published by Warren, and oh boy oh boy, are there are a lot of tentacles to be found there! To borrow a title from the first cover we’ll be ogling today, “THE SLIMY, CRAWLY SLITHERING GROPIES DO TERRIBLE THINGS TO PRETTY LITTLE GIRLS!” It’s a tad lacking in subtlety, but summarizes the state of things quite nicely.

On with the show…

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1994 no. 12 (April 1980). The cover was painted by Sanjulián (his real name is Manuel Pérez Clemente), a Spanish painter who started working for Warren publishing in 1970. The girl’s demure pose coupled with her terrified eyes is quite striking.
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1994 no. 20 (August 1981). Cover by Nestor Redondo, an exceptional Filipino artist.

I wouldn’t expect cephalopods to care for patriarchal, machismo standards of female purity, but apparently Lecherous Groatie (great nickname) wants his maidens virginous (which isn’t even a word, you guys). “Little Beaver!”, you say? Way to go in being offensive to both tentacled creatures *and* Indians. This issue also contains the story “The Russians Are Coming… All Over America!”, a title which I, for one, find hilarious.

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1994 no. 25 (June 1982). Cover by Lloyd Garrison. Aaah, a rare silent cover. It’s clear enough: Ukranian Santa will surely rescue the maiden, if he doesn’t get too distracted by her ass or Chinese-takeout container-inspired undergarment.

Leaving 1994 behind (although technically we’re going back in time), and moving on to Eerie, we get to tentacles that look like worms coming out of a lumpy, squishy brain – the joy of any good anatomical pathologist.

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Eerie no. 76 (August 1976). The cover the aforementioned Sanjulián, who has quite the talent for painting extremely realistic textures, as demonstrated by this rather unsettling cover.

One understands the guy’s desperate attempts to get free, but why is the woman so placid, serenely exposing herself to the creature’s grasp? I guess Tentacle Tuesday doesn’t have the same effect on everyone. Interestingly, Sanjulián seems to have tweaked his art  for the cover – here’s his original painting, in which the girl’s face is clearly visible.

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Let’s visit good old Vampi and see what sort of cephalopod encounters she’s had.

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Vampirella no. 101 (December 1981); art by Noly Panaligan (who, by the way, is another Filipino artist).

The tentacled creature in question is the “star-beast” advertised on the cover – an alien (suspiciously similar to an octopus) who, as usual, tries to take over the earth by breeding (which for some reason involves a lot of nude & nubile college students as sacrifices) and is killed when Vampirella crashes a car into it. Starting on an epic, inter-planetary scale and ending it all with a banal road accident is a bit of an anti-climax.

Is this Vampirella’s last encounter with tentacles, you ask? Don’t be silly – of course not. As the Russians say, « and yet again the little hare will go out for a walk. »

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Vampirella no. 95 (April 1981), cover by Ken Kelly. “O Mr. Walrus-with-tentacles, please don’t hurt little old me!”

More? Well, okay, one last cover.

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Creepy no. 67 (December 1974), cover by Ken Kelly (not one of his better efforts, to be honest). We’ll return to sweet ol’ Bowser on another occasion.

Could I continue? Yes, absolutely… so expect Tentacle Tuesday: Warren part 2 at some point.

~ ds

Tentacle Tuesday: the Filipino cavalry

Today’s Tentacle Tuesday honours Filipino artists who laboured in the comics industry in the 70s. To quote from Power of Comics: Filipino Artists (read the essay here),

« The Filipino talent began to arrive in 1970, when immigrant Tony DeZuñiga began to work for National Comics. DeZuñiga began with assignments on various romance, horror, western, and war anthologies—a combination that many Filipino artists coming after him would also follow—but he made a lasting mark when he co-created Western anti-hero Jonah Hex in All-Star Western #10 (1972). By then, DeZuñiga had convinced then National Comics publisher Carmine Infantino that other talented artists were awaiting discovery back in his nation of origin. With a stable of graying veterans working for him, Infantino was faced with a paucity of new talent in the early 1970s and had trouble finding gifted artists who could work for what the going page rate in American comics would pay at the time. DeZuñiga accompanied Infantino on a recruiting trip to the Philippines in 1971.

As noted, first among the Filipino artists to make a move were Redondo and Alcala. Among his works, Redondo turned in a memorable run on Swamp Thing, and the prolific Alcala picked up a considerable fan following for his work on series like Batman and Arak. Other Filipinos followed. Alex Niño brought a distinct style to Warren Publishing’s 1984 and 1994 series. Ernie Chan’s talent for composition led to his becoming National’s principal cover artist between 1975 and 1977. Gerry Talaoc enjoyed an extended run on The Unknown Soldier. »

Without further ado, let’s have a look at some of the tentacles the artists mentioned above have dreamed up. In no particular order…

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I like the styles of all the artists mentioned in this post, but a couple of these names will make me do a little dance of joy when I encounter their art. Alfredo Alcala (b. 1925, d. 2000) is a definite favourite. He could draw anything he wanted, convincingly… at an amazing speed, and with the sort of detail that other artists would kill for.

Alcala drew for all genres in the early portion of his career, and developed the speed and work ethic for which he later become known amongst his fellow professionals. His fastest page rate was 12 pages in a nine-hour sitting, while in one 96-hour marathon he produced 18 pages, three wrap-around covers and several color guides. During the portion of his career where he worked solely for Filipino publishers, Alcala worked without assistants and did his own inking and lettering. “I somehow always felt that the minute you let someone else have a hand in your work, no matter what, it’s not you anymore. It’s like riding a bicycle built for two…” (source)

Here’s a gorgeous sequence from « The Night of the Nebish! », scripted by Arnold Drake and illustrated by Alfredo Alcala, published in House of Secrets #107 (April 1973).

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Ruben Yandoc (also known as Rubeny, 1927-1992) isn’t nearly as well-known as Alcala, yet he has a beautiful, half-decorative, half-sketchy style. He excelled at horror stories (published in DC’s Witching Hour, House of Mystery, Ghosts, House of Secrets..), and was a master at creating mood. His perfect grasp of architecture and anatomy enabled him to draw believable characters in incredible settings – none of this “figures floating about aimlessly” shit that you sometimes get from artists who can’t imbue their objects and subjects with mass. When Stefan gets grabbed by tentacles, you can feel their weight on his torso and feel the heat and painful brightness of the torch he’s holding, dammit!

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« The Monster of Death Island », plotted by Maxene Fabe and illustrated by Ruben Yandoc. Published in Secrets of Sinister House no. 11 (April 1973).

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Alex Niño’s art doesn’t give me butterflies. His stuff is quite weird, sometimes far too detailed, but his talent is nevertheless undeniable. For a good appreciation of his style (and more examples of it), go to this entry from Wizard’s Keep. As for me, I’ll limit myself to this humble, one-panel mass of tentacles, eyes, teeth, spikes, and god knows what else.

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“Something on me”, indeed! A panel from « Evil Power », plotted by Jack Oleck and illustrated by Alex Niño from Weird Mystery Tales no. 9 (December 1973-January 1974). Niño was born in 1940, which makes him 78. He’s officially retired, but still holds art classes and takes commissions, as well as making the occasional appearance at conventions.

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Redondo’s “memorable run on Swamp Thing” was mentioned at the beginning of this post. Well, we’ve already featured the tentacled robot who tries to finish Alec Holland off here, but rest assured – there’s more tentacles than just that in the career of Nestor Purugganan Redondo (1928-1995)! For example, this:

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Original art for “Monsters From a Thousand Fathoms”, published in The Unexpected no. 185 (May-June 1978). You’ll note the art is attributed to the “Redondo Studio”; Nestor and his brother, Frank, often collaborated under that name.

By the way, he’s most assuredly another favourite in this household. His women are believably sexy, his monsters inventive and scary, his animals pitch-perfect… His style is realistic but lush, his nature almost prettier than in real life. And I like him much, much better than Bernie Wrightson, as far as Swamp Thing is concerned 😉

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A perfect fit for any Tentacle Tuesday, here’s the requisite damsel-in-distress-with-tentacles:

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Wench & Co. Book 1, a collection of drawings – of mostly naked women, what else? – by Ernesto Chan (1940-2012), born and sometimes credited as Ernie Chua. Published by Big Wow, 2005. Sadly, we will never get a Book 2.

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We shouldn’t forget Tony DeZuñiga (1932-2012), who after all started all this. Among other accomplishments, he co-created Jonah Hex and Black Orchid, two pretty damn cool characters.

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Page from “Home is the Sailor”, plotted by Len Wein and illustrated by Tony DeZuñiga, published in The Phantom Stranger no. 18 (March-April 1972).

I hope you enjoyed this (non-exhaustive) romp through Filipino-American tentacles! As historian Chris Knowles (1999) has noted about Filipino artists, « Here was a group of immensely talented and hard-working draftsmen who could draw absolutely anything and draw it well. They set a standard that the younger artists would have to live up to and that the older ones would have to compete with. » Amen to that!

~ ds

Tentacle Tuesday: Mechanical Tentacles

Mechanical tentacles! Cephalopod monsters communicating by mental telepathy! Even Jimmy Olsen playing the part of a monster in an alien horror movie! Yes, it’s all this and more in this Tentacle Tuesday post (after which I’ll quit bugging you with various cephalopods until next Tuesday).

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There’s nothing quite as annoying as someone who wants to be your friend against your wishes. Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen no. 43 (March 1960), pencils by Curt Swan and inks by Stan Kaye.

Head over to the Fourth Age blog for a further discussion (with pictures!) of the cover story from this issue, “Jimmy Olsen’s Private Monster!”, written by Jerry Siegel (ahem…) and illustrated by the aforementioned Curt Swan (pencils) and John Forte (inks).

The two-eyed, many-tentacled mechanized wonder appears again in Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen no. 47 (September 1960):

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It’s the same cast: pencils by Curt Swan and inks by Stan Kaye; letters by Ira Schnapp.
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Freaking cute.

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In a similar line of thought (but some 15 years later), a more steampunk relative of the creature above appears in Swamp Thing.

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Swamp Thing no. 17 (July-August 1975). In case the credits are too small to read, script by David Michelinie, pencils and inks by Nestor Redondo, colours by Tatjana Wood, letters by Marcos Pelayos.

And here’s a peek at the glorious (I’m a fan of Redondo) inside:

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« But destroying that thing doesn’t answer the questions it brought up… like what a stainless-steel octopus is doing in the middle of a jungle… » That’s an excellent question – but destroying this mechanized, tentacled abomination was still a good idea, answers or no.

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Here’s another file for our records of Tentacular fascination: the Boy Commandos’ intrepid gang of feisty moppets, tired of fighting Nazis, switch it up by doing battle with some tentacled robots.

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Boy Commandos no. 17 (September-October 1946). Cover by Jack Kirby.

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I couldn’t very well have a mechanically-minded Tentacle Tuesday without mentioning Dr. Octopus, one of Spider-Man’s most famous foes! Otto Gunther Octavius, a.k.a. Dr. Octopus, a.k.a. Doc Ock was created by Steve Ditko, and first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man no. 3 (July 1963). Obviously I could feature a gallery of Dr. Octopus tentacles as long as your arm (pardon the confused anatomical terminology on my part), but I’ll limit myself to a couple.

First, The Amazing Spiderman no. 12 (May 1964), cover by Steve Ditko. The “Look who’s back!!” caption pointing to the Doc is rather mystifying, given that he was there in the previous issue.

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Second, an underwater scene, because what element more appropriate for tentacles? Kudos to Doc Ock for making his perfectly watertight.

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JFC, does this guy ever shut up? Especially given that Spiderman can’t even hear him? Splash (no pun intended) page from The Amazing Spider-Man Annual no. 1 (September 1964), with art by Steve Ditko.

Dr. Octopus’ metallic appendages, resistant to radiation and of great strength and agility, were originally attached to a harness…. but became fused to his body after an explosion involving radioactivity (what else?) They were surgically removed, but he could now control them telepathically from a distance. Spooky.

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Poor Spider-Man is always getting attacked by tentacles, even when Doc Ock isn’t around! These belong to a robot built by a “nutty professor” to trap anything spider-related. A prize will go to the perceptive reader who can tell us how many tentacles this thing possesses – like, a million, would be my guess. The Amazing Spider-Man no. 25 (June 1965); cover by Steve Ditko.
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Smythe’s robot in action, ensnaring Parker instead of the spider he’s holding in a globe (and nobody but us readers knows why!) J. Jonah Jameson, publisher of Daily Bugle, watches enthusiastically from the sidelines.
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Okay, maybe the robot doesn’t have as many tentacles as the cover seemed to suggest. Here’s Spidey hotly pursued by Mr. Jameson, whose maniacal glee is a little scary. (I will readily admit I partially chose this panel because of Parker’s jiggly butt).

~ ds