Tentacle Tuesday: Into the Cephalopodic Underground

 « Slursh squirch! »

Greetings to saddle sniffers, subterranean dwellers and lovers of nasty fun! Today we take a little trip into the underground, where tentacles squirm in anticipation! Through some quirk, all of today’s covers involve aliens and spaceships – underground artists clearly also liked to speculate about the possibilities of inter-planetary travel.

If you’re a fan of those wild years of cartooning, visit out MEANWHILE, IN THE UNDERGROUND category!

Tentacle Tuesday opens up with a Nicola Cuti cover, whose cutesy style, albeit not particularly original, is pretty recognizable (for example, take a look at his Weirdlings, which has really grown on me over the years). His big-breasted, doe-eyed « intergalaxtic nymph » was not devoid of charm, although she only appeared in three issues (and issue no. 3 had a print run of a hundred copies, so I don’t think many people have seen it…) For more details about Moonchild Comics, consult the ever-useful Comixjoint.

Moonchild Comics no. 1 (1968, Moonchild Productions). Cover by Nicola Cuti.

Next up this lively cover by Spain Rodriguez, a WOT favourite. We haven’t posted that much about him, but co-admin RG did a lovely post about a surprisingly touching story from SR’s youth in Treasured Stories: «Tex’s Bad Dream or ‘The Egg Lady’s Revenge’» (1988).

Gothic Blimp Works no. 4 (Spring 1969, East Village Other). Cover by Spain Rodriguez.

The next cover is on a similar theme: mostly naked female, tentacled alien, the shaboodle, with an interesting choice of perspective to boot. And by “to boot” I mostly mean that it looks like somebody gave her a good kick on the shapely derrière.

Real Pulp Comics no. 1 (January 1971, The Print Mint). Cover by Roger Brand, who tragically died at 42 – read a heartfelt panegyric from Kim Deitch in A Lousy Week for Woods (Remembering Roger Brand).

Staying with the same publishing house (The Print Mint was a major publisher/distributor of underground comix in their heyday in the San Francisco Bay Area!) and the same theme, another damsel in the clutches of a (pretty cute, actually) alien. She’s wearing red, which of course is the traditional colour for cephalopod attacks.

Yellow Dog no. 20 (July 1971, The Print Mint). Cover by Trina Robbins, who designed the original Vampirella costume.

~ ds

Tentacle Tuesday: Unpopular Mechanacles

Greetings, tentacle lovers! After a hearty breakfast of cephalopod pancakes (no octopuses harmed), one can sit down with a quiet cup of tea and enjoy today’s crop of mechanical tentacles.

I tend to follow a chronological order, so our first is E-Man no. 1 (October 1973, Charlton Comics). The cover aside, these images have been taken from a recent reprint, which accounts for the somewhat garish colours. I am hardly a fan of Joe Staton, so this is starting off on a somewhat less aesthetically pleasing foot, but mechanical tentacles are en flagrant délit in the cover story. Besides, E-Man has a certain innocent charm.

The cover story is The Beginning, scripted by Nicola Cuti and illustrated by Joe Staton:

Going towards a much darker note (both in terms of printing and content – and to be honest, I by far prefer this dark-ish colour palette to the rainbow of E-Man colours), here is The Absolute Power-Play of the Parasite!, scripted by Martin Pasko, pencilled by Curt Swan, and inked by Frank Chiaramonte, and published in Superman no. 320 (February 1978, DC):

Next, dramatic Rebirth!, scripted by Marv Wolfman and drawn by Gil Kane (Tentacle Tuesday Dabbler!), published in Action Comics no. 544 (June 1983, DC):

There’s even a sort of pin-up in that issue: The New Brainiac, pencilled by Ed Hannigan and inked by Dick Giordano.

So much flair and poise!

In a previous post (Tentacle Tuesday: Mechanical Tentacles) I promised that I would stick to but a few instances of Doctor Octopus and ne’er again return to him. However, I would like to point out this familiar fellow in the lab coat (top right):

…So You Want to Work for Globex, Huh?, scripted by Gail Simone, pencilled by Óscar González Loyo and inked by Steve Steere Jr., was published in Simpsons Comics no. 66 (January 2002, Bongo). Sometimes Simpsons comics are real fun to read, and this is one of those instances.

~ ds

Tentacle Tuesday: How Does That Grab You?

Today’s TT is like one of those 5$ grab bags: you don’t exactly know what you’re going to get, but there will at least one thing you’ll find amusing! Unless the store has cheapened out and stuffed it with nonsense nobody in their right mind would want. This offering, on the other had, is full of our favourite artists, and is not nearly as disparate as I first thought 😉

I don’t always have an over-arching idea for a post, inevitably ending up with plenty of odds and ends that don’t neatly fit into any one category. Actually, some of those “scraps” are the most enjoyable finds for me.

Feature Comics no. 71 (September 1943, Quality Comics). Cover by Gill Fox. The octopus-in-plumbing theme is an oldie-but-goodie; the undaunted housewife may yet regret her cavalier attitude towards the tentacled one, who probably wants to move in with his family.
Nicola Cuti‘s Weirdlings was a charming little ‘filler’ gag page designed and drawn by him. This one was published in Haunted no. 14 (Sept. 1973, Charlton).  I think the octopus, that appears to be still alive, would also prefer a good old PBJ sandwich.
Midnight Tales no. 11 (February 1975). Cover by Wayne Howard, who’s a Who’s Out There? (oh, all right, mine) favourite. Read my take on his art in Tentacle Tuesday: Plants Sometimes Have Tentacles, Too.
Archie’s Pal Jughead no. 77 (October 1961). Cover by, dare I say legendary, Samm Schwartz; revisit (or discover!) some of the nicest covers he has drawn for Archie Comics in co-admin RG’s post.
Al Jaffee Sinks to a New Low (1985, New American Library). Visit Al Jaffee: Snappy Answer to Many a Stupid Question for Who’s Out There’s take on this quintessential Mad Magazine artist!

= ds

Hallowe’en Countdown IV, Day 4

« Things are never quite as scary when you’ve got a best friend. » — Bill Watterson

Hey, it’s our 500th post!

Who’d have the heart to resist Sheldon Mayer’s adorable toddlers (profiled here last year) if they came around trick or treating at your door? Even if you did resist, they’d be sure to get their grabby little mitts on the goods… some other way.

This is Sugar and Spike no. 25 (Oct.-Nov. 1959, DC).
This is Sugar and Spike no. 31 (Oct.-Nov. 1960, DC). Definitely my favourite of this splendid lot, largely thanks to that meticulous, understated colouring job. Jack Adler‘s doing, I’ll wager.
This is Sugar and Spike no. 37 (Oct.-Nov. 1961, DC).
This is Sugar and Spike no. 43 (Oct.-Nov. 1962, DC).
This is Sugar and Spike no. 49 (Oct.-Nov. 1963, DC).
This is Sugar and Spike no. 55 (Oct.-Nov. 1964, DC).
This is Sugar and Spike no. 61 (Oct.-Nov. 1965, DC).
This is Sugar and Spike no. 36 (Oct.-Nov. 1966, DC).
A reprint? Not quite. This cover scene, which originally appeared back in issue 55, was reprised (redrawn, not reprinted) for the series finale, Sugar and Spike no. 98 (Oct.-Nov. 1971). I’d hate to take part in a contest announced in the last issue of a series. There *was* a no. 99, but it was a one-shot that only followed… 21 years later.
This is The Best of DC no. 68: Sugar and Spike (Jan. 1986). Edited by Nicola Cuti, and with a new cover by Mr. Mayer. Mostly reprints, but with material of this calibre, who’s to quibble?

I was initially set to feature just a couple of Sugar and Spike Hallowe’en covers, but in the end, it seemed unfair to play favourites.

-RG

Tentacle Tuesday: Secrets, Both Sinister and Domestic

Random fact of the day: in Mandarin Chinese, secret is “mimi”, whereas in French “mimi” means something like “cute”. Today’s post is not cute, but it is very much about secrets – DC secrets, to be more precise.

KalutaSOHH14A
Secrets of Haunted House no. 14 (Oct-Nov 1978). Cover by Mike Kaluta.

The original art for this cover feels a little less cluttered:

SOHH_ORIG_A

Taking a peek at the insides, we will find that they have little to do with the cover, but tentacles are still present. The Discovery is scripted by Jay L. Zilber, pencilled by Juan Ortiz, and inked by Vince Colletta:

SecretsofHauntedHouse14-mechanical

Tentacles also rudely intrude in Selina, a story scripted by Nicola Cuti and elegantly illustrated by Ramona Fradon and Bob Smith

Selina-SecretsofHauntedHouse14

Selina-SecretsofHauntedHouse14-2
The thing about masks was too topical to not include.

KalutaSOHH29A
Secrets of Haunted House no. 29 (October 1980), cover by Mike Kaluta.

SecretsofHauntedHouse36A
Secrets of Haunted House no. 36 (May 1981), cover pencilled by Rich Buckler and inked by Dick Giordano.

Beware the Sea Hag, the cover story,  is scripted by Carl Wessler and drawn by Wade Hampton:SecretsofHauntedHouse36-bewareoftheseahag

SecretsofHauntedHouse36-bewareoftheseahag2

But, wait, this is not what the Sea Hag normally looks like! This is more like it:

SagendorfPopeye73A
Popeye the Sailor no. 73 (August 1964), cover by Bud Sagendorf. I wonder if the Sea Hag realises how much spinach reduces under heat.

Shifting to another sort of secrets (these are sinister rather than haunted), we have another tentacle apparition —

SecretsofSinisterHouse11-MonsterofDeathIsland
The Monster of Death Island is scripted by Maxene Fabe and drawn by Ruben Yandoc (i.e. Rubeny). It was published in Secrets of Sinister House no. 11 (April 1973).

This story, a sort of take on Bluebeard, is well worth reading, for the plot as well as the stunning art. I don’t want to reveal spoilers – you can read it here.

SecretsofSinisterHouse11-MonsterofDeathIsland-2-Rubeny

Since we’re discussing secrets, I might as well throw in The House of Secrets… I will willingly admit that I have the hardest time keeping track of which is which.

HouseOfSecrets101A
House of Secrets no. 101 (October 1972), cover by Mike Kaluta. This could have been a Mike Kaluta Tentacle Tuesday!

HouseofSecrets100-Abel'sFables
From House of Secrets no. 100 (September 1972). This page of Abel’s Fables is by Lore Shoberg.

house of secrets 103
Cain & Abel by Sergio Aragonés, printed in House of Secrets no. 103 (December 1972).

∼ ds

Strange Sports, Weird Kids and More: Don Maitz at Warren

« Naturally there was quite a ruckus when everyone found out who… and what Rah was. But there wasn’t any rules concernin’ the eligibility of a mummy to play ball, so the Jets’ victory stood… » — from Roger McKenzie’s The Return of Rah

Carrying on with our irregular survey of significant Warren cover artists whose names and reputations are somewhat less inextricably linked with the publisher than the usual suspects, and thereby sometimes overlooked. Fresh out of art school, and on his way to a truly remarkable, award-peppered career, Don Maitz (born 1953, Plainville, CT) graced a brace of Warren Mags with some of his earliest professional imaginings, which I’ve gathered here.

MaitzCreepy93A
A lot of people apparently don’t much care for Warren’s late 70s sports-themed issues, but I like ’em, given that they feature a trove of gorgeous Carmine Infantino artwork, when he was experimentally-paired with a dizzying assortment of inkers (in this issue, John Severin, Alfredo Alcala, Alex Niño… and, well, Dick Giordano). At their best, the sports issues allowed him to revisit with more latitude (though less ingenuity, I’d argue) the Strange Sports Stories format he’d initiated in 1962 with writer Gardner Fox and editor Julius Schwartz. This is Creepy no. 93 (Nov. 1977, Warren). Senior editor Louise Simonson* (née Mary Louise Alexander) was commendably trying to spice up what had become a stale formula, but it turned out that there just wasn’t sufficient overlap between Warren readers and sports fans. A more staggered release programme might have cushioned the blow: as it was, Warren readers got two sports-centric issues in November 1976, then another pair in November 1977.

MaitzEerie88A
I hope that headline was meant ironically, because (spoiler alert), the humans are the monsters and the aliens… aren’t, in Bill Mohalley and Nicola Cuti’s Deathball 2100 A.D., a sordid, derivative (Rollerball + Death Race 2000, geez) and heavy-handed tale made uglier by Dick Giordano’s usual stiff, graceless visuals. Nice cover, though. This is Eerie no. 88 (Nov. 1977, Warren).

MaitzCreepy94A
Well, now! This marvellous vision, marking quite a tonal break from the usual Warren diet, corresponds to no particular tale within this ‘bad seed’ issue, yet teems and brims with story, with nary malice… but so much wonder. A bold move on the part of editors Simonson and Nick Cuti. This is Creepy no. 94 (Jan. 1978, Warren).

MaitzCreepy95A
This handsome simian trio deserves better than their association with Cary Bates and Esteban Maroto‘s rather juvenile, Lord Greystoke-slandering Murder on the Vine. You’ve done better, boys. This is Creepy no. 95 (Feb. 1978, Warren), a cover bearing more than a mere whiff of Frazetta.

MaitzEerie91A
The probability of violent demise aside, isn’t this just the most unctuously idyllic autumnal scene? This is Eerie no. 91 (March 1978, Warren).

MaitzEerie93A
Though this one is to my mind the lesser entry in the parade, I must concede that it’s presented in exemplary fashion: the colour choices, the placement of the type, even the integration of that unholy blight, the bar code. This is Eerie no. 93 (June 1978, Warren).

MaitzEerie94A
Young master Maitz’s final Warren cover (chronologically speaking): this is Eerie no. 94 (Aug. 1978, Warren), illustrating Nicola Cuti and Leo Durañona‘s Honor and Blood. « Can the child born out of an unholy union between man and vampire grow up to lead a ‘normal’ life? You can’t escape the sins of your parents. Their errors ripple faintly down the generations! » “Er, what’s with the deer head?”, you may ask. The answer, from the story: « The bride was never to see the weak, corrupted face of her human husband. She wedded the Elk, symbol of the Beast. »

BlackGoatA
« A lowly elk, “symbol of the Beast”? Maaa, you’re just making shit up, Nick. » The feeling on that point seems, in fact, quite unanimous.

MaitzUnsafeFootingORIG_A
And here’s a privileged peek at Mr. Maitz’s Creepy 94 cover painting original (Mixed media on Masonite, 24” x 18”), which, as it turns out, is entitled Unsafe Footing, which makes me love it even more.

CapnMorgA
As a rum enthusiast, I am naturally aware of the Captain Morgan brand… whose mascot (circa 1982) is, as it happens, Maitz’s most familiar creation… to date. Prost!

-RG

*Yes, that Louise Simonson (Jones à l’époque)

Treasured Stories: “I Wonder Who’s Squeezing Her Now?” (1979)

« When a man steals your wife, there is no better revenge than to let him keep her. » — Sacha Guitry

Here’s my contender for the most adult thing ever published in a Warren Magazine, as opposed to adolescent. It was also Wally Wood’s final significant contribution to his bibliography (though it was created around 1971); by the time of its belated publication Wood’s work had degenerated into depressing, crude porn before he tragically took his own life in November, 1981. As Witzend sadly proved, most comics creators, when handed a creative carte blanche, would merely regurgitate the same old thing they were doing for the mainstream, but with the addition of tits and/or gore. This, however, whilst featuring a generous dollop of T&A, is another breed of beast. It was published, of all places, in Warren’s SF anthology 1984 (issue 5, Feb. 1979). Go figure.

IWonderWho01AIWonderWho02AIWonderWho03AIWonderWho04AIWonderWho05AIWonderWho06AIWonderWho07AThe marvellous Bhob Stewart queried Nick Cuti about the story during a roundtable gathering of former Wood assistants in Derby, Connecticut, in July 1985. The discussion later appeared in Against the Grain: MAD Artist Wallace Wood, edited by Stewart (2003, TwoMorrows Publishing)

Bhob: You worked on “Last Train to Laurelhurst“? [the story’s original title]
Cuti: « As a matter of fact, I’m in it on the opening page. That’s me — right there [points to foreground figure in splash.] I used to wear muttonchops in those days. We wrote that together; Woody came up with the basic storyline, and I wrote a lot of dialogue. I hated his ending. I said, ‘Woody, you really ought to change the ending.’ The ending was that the guy blasted his faithless wife and her lover and then walked away. I said, ‘Gee, that’s what he’s intending to do in the very beginning. There’s no switch at the end. If you change it around somehow, it would make it a little bit more surprising.’ So he went home and rewrote the ending. I thought that the ending he came up with was far superior and made it a really brilliant story, to really tell you what life can be like.

Ernie Colón did the pencils. It was Woody’s idea, and I wrote some of the script, I don’t know how much because we used to toss things back and forth all the time when I was at the studio.It was for a magazine called Pow that never came to be. [Jim] Warren had approached Wood to do an adult humor magazine which would have had serious stories, very sexy, something that adults would enjoy reading. Unfortunately, Woody and Warren had diametrically opposed personalities, and they couldn’t seem to get together on it.

There was a funny story: Ernie had done the pencils with a soft pencil, and Woody and I were wondering what the heck we could do to make sure it didn’t get smudged. I was very carefully going over the pencils with an eraser to get out the smudges. I came in the next day with the pencils and said, ‘I found the perfect way to avoid smudging the pencils.’ Woody said, ‘What?’ And I said, ‘I sprayed them.’ Woody’s face dropped, and he almost reached over the strangle me before I stopped him and said, ‘Hey, Woody, I’m only kidding!’ [laughter] Because when you spray something, you can’t erase the pencils any more. You would have ink and pencil on the same paper. He almost had a heart attack right there; his mouth dropped open, and he said, ‘Oh, no!’ Then he started laughing after I told him it was only a joke. Later, when I walked into the house, and Marilyn said, ‘Oh, Woody, Nick’s here. You know, the fellow who sprays all your pencils?’ Obviously, he had thought enough of the joke to tell her about it. »

Speaking of Pow, here’s a cover sketch Wood did in 1971.WallyWoodPowRoughAAn adult humour magazine? I guess they hadn’t quite settled on the tone.

-RG