Tentacle Tuesday Masters: Rich Larson

American artist Richard Larson has had his ink-smeared fingers in many pies. He has drawn ghost stories for Charlton Comics (see our posts dealing with that here and here), followed by some underground comics, followed by Marvel super-hero portfolios, followed by his own series Demon Baby, followed by…. He often works in tandem with other artists, most notably with Tim Boxell and with painter Steve Fastner (see a gallery of their collaborations here).

« Steve Fastner and Rich Larson have been working in concert since 1976, and together they create one entity of staggering abilities. Rich will lay down the structure of an illustration in pencil form, and then Steve will attack it with army of airbrushes – and when the dust clears – a magnificent painting stands proudly. For over a quarter of a century, they’ve been able to do this, working for comics, book publishers, advertising agencies, movies and television, and now the web. » (quote from Fastner and Larson Gallery, 2002)

RichLarsonSpace

tothesurface-Rich Larson-Steve Fastner
Have you ever seen anybody looking so smug after having stabbed some creature to death?
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Does the wild, groping beard of the old sea pirate count for tentacles? Indubitably. So does at least one of his hands.
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This may be just a sea-serpent, but there are no pedants in this audience, right? Besides, those suckers are distinctly tentacle-like.
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Fastner & Larson’s Beauties & Beasts (2010)

I would be remiss in not including a collaboration between Larson and underground comix artist Tim Boxell, whom I mentioned at the beginning of the post and then proceeded to neglect.

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Art by Rich Larson and Tim Boxell

Speaking of beautiful women in varying states of undress… if I mention Haunted House of Lingerie to you, does it ring any bells? Does it sound like an intriguing concept? Then the first thing you should do is visit our Tentacle Tuesday: a Day at the Beach. Nothing like shameless self-promotion! But afterwards, you might want to seek out the three volumes published so far before the whole thing goes completely out of print.

~ ds

Tentacle Tuesday: a Treasure Trove of Charlton Tentacles

I wasn’t around in the 70s. (Literally, as in “I hadn’t been born yet”.) So when somebody – in, oh, say 2008 or so – handed me a copy of some ghost comics printed by Charlton Comics (I don’t remember what exactly), that was my first exposure to this publishing company. I wasn’t aware that I wasn’t « supposed » to like this stuff… and by the time some kind soul pointed out that it’s not exactly orthodox to seek out Charlton publications, it was too late to change my mind. Clearly, that’s how monsters with no taste are created.

Charlton Comics had the reputation for inferior printing (as one of my friends put it, « godawful colours and reproduction and paper ») and low quality control. I’d say that when one contemplates the variety of artistic styles and the dizzying panoply of artists published by them, the quality of the printing distinctly becomes a less important consideration. Charlton paid badly, sure, but since when do people decide what they like and what they don’t based on how artists are treated? (Just look around – companies that trample on creators’ rights are doing very well indeed.) It seems like a knee-jerk reaction; I often wonder if people who automatically react with sneers to the very mention of Charlton have actually read any of the comics this company printed. Or perhaps they’re scared by some of the artists’ styles which are just too wild, too squiggly, just not clean enough. (Sloppy line work! Anathema to any comic book lover worth his salt, right?)

Anyway, Charlton’s « loose editorial oversight » meant there was no house style to speak of, and artists with highly idiosyncratic styles could let their eccentricities shine.

You may notice some names are conspicuously absent from today’s post. Tom Sutton, exhibit A of the “chaotic, scratchy art” category, will get a Tentacle Tuesday post all to himself at a later date. Some beloved artists just didn’t draw any tentacles for Charlton (as far as I know!): Warren Sattler, Don PerlinSam Glanzman, Don Newton, Rocco Mastroserio, etc. Wayne Howard is already part of a Tentacle Tuesday (see Plant Tentacle Tuesday), as is Enrique Nieto (Tentacle Tuesday: Spunky Skirmishes).

Without further ado, but with lots of tentacles…

First, two beauties from Steve Ditko (if you’d like more Ditko – and who wouldn’t? – visit my co-admin RG’s lovely posts about him: Ditko’s Ghostly Haunts and Happy 90th birthday, Mr. Ditko!), both featuring “70s Ditko green“. (It’s that characteristic green hue that often appears on his covers, a fitting term coined by erudite Professor Fester.)

GhostlyTales#111-SteveDitko
Ghostly Tales no. 111 (September 1974), cover by Steve Ditko. « The Thing in the Hole » is a really cool story, but it’s written and drawn by Tom Sutton, and as such it’s off-limits for now (I’m hoarding material for a different post.)
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Ghostly Tales no. 122 (August 1976), cover by Steve Ditko.
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Do these green noose-appendage-things count as tentacles? Sure they do! Panel from The Crew That Was Hanged!, illustrated by Steve Ditko and written by Joe Gill.

And moving on to other series, other artists:

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Haunted no. 8 (October 1972), cover by Jack Abel (1927-1996), perhaps best known as an inker for DC and Marvel.
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Newly-weds that are half-squid, half-fly, but newly-weds nonetheless. Page by Peter A. Morisi (1928-2003), who went by the nom de plume of PAM (or, since his signature’s M looks like a triple “I”, “PAIII!”). He was a NYC police officer, and moonlighted as a comics artist. I really like his calm, easily recognizable style and the way his characters seem to be frozen in each panel. There’s something quite effective about this stillness, a pleasing contrast between the drama and action of a story and the way people are staring off-panel in quiet contemplation, even when terrified. This story is called “Wrong Turn” and comes from Haunted no. 13, 1973.
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(Baron Weirwulf’s) Haunted (Library) no. 28 (July 1976), cover by Mike Zeck, whose career actually started at Charlton (he later moved on to Marvel to work on Master of Kung Fu, Captain America, etc.).
Haunted#28-FrankBolle-TheSource
« The creature’s tendril closed so gently around his leg, he didn’t notice it at first. Then a second grasped his arm! » The Source is the cover story of Haunted no. 28. Is old Thomas Willet mad? Well, he just has unusual taste in pets, that’s all (and, as tradition demands, he will pay dearly for his extravagance). Pencils and inks by Frank Bolle (born in 1924), who worked for Gold Key and Charlton, illustrated horror stories for Warren titles, and also had a hand in several newspaper strips (Winnie Winkle, Apartment 3-G, Stan Drake’s The Heart of Juliet Jones, and Gil Thorp).
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Ghost Manor no. 1 (October 1971), cover by the ever-masterful Pat Boyette (1923-2000), who’s a big favourite at Who’s Out There. Go read a whole story by him: Pat Boyette — Hillbilly Makes Good

We couldn’t find a good enough scan of this issue online, and it’s one of the rare Ghost Manors co-admin RG doesn’t actually own, so here’s a cover photostat (slightly coloured):

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Ghost Manor no. 58 (August 1981), cover by the Recreo Studio.
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Ghostly Haunts no. 48 (February 1976), cover by Rich Larson (we’ve seen him before in Haunted House of Lingerie — see Tentacle Tuesday: a Day at the Beach).
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Ghostly Haunts no. 52 (October 1976), another cover by Pat Boyette, this time gorgeously painted.
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Beyond the Grave no. 11 (October 1983), cover by Mitch O’Connell (also present in Have Tentacles, Will Space Travel).

~ ds

Tentacle Tuesday: a Day at the Beach

I am on vacation! (Or I will be, by the time this post is published.) I have no idea what sort of beaches I will have the pleasure to encounter, but I doubt it’s the kind that’s depicted below.

And now, everyone to the beach! Orrore sulla spiaggia!

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Page from Rich Larson‘s Haunted House of Lingerie, Vol. 2 (July 1999). I’m pleased to see that the octopus seems to have undressed the man as well.
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This is the original art for the cover of Sukia no. 89. Art by Emanuele Taglietti, whose specialty was sex and horror! Sukia, already part of one T.T. roster (see Tentacle Tuesday: Euro Tentacles Unto Horror), was an erotic Italian comic that ran from 1978 to 1986, published, as is often the case for such things, by Edifumetto. Sukia’s alluring form is based on that of actress Ornella Muti, though it’s probably somewhat less obvious from this cover.

I’m getting carried away here with sun-tanning and babe-centric pastures and whatnot. People also go fishing on vacation, right?

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Cartoon by Charles Addams.

Or just walking along the beach…

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A panel from “Lord Octopus Went to the Christmas Fair”, a poem by Stella Mead. Art by Walt Kelly; published in Santa Claus Funnies n° 2, 1943. Slightly unseasonal, sorry.

Or just flingin’ an octopus about… The local authorities might object, however.

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Whiz Comics n° 115 (November 1949), art by Kurt Schaffenberger.

A little knitting, perhaps? Don’t mind if I do!

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Festival Tartine n° 54 (November 1971). Grand-mother Nonna Abelarda, created in 1953 by Italian Giulio Chierchini, came to France in 1956 and was renamed Tartine Mariol. This intrepid granny appeared in Presto and in Arc en Ciel until her popularity prompted the publishers to give her her own series in 1957.

~ ds

P.S. A little bonus, though only involving an off-screen sighting of an octopus:

beach-RobertCrumb-Aline
Cartoon by Robert Crumb, as if you needed to be told, featuring Aline Kominsky-Crumb.

Hallowe’en Countdown, Day 31

« I’m going to die and they’re laughing! »

It surely won’t shock you that the most difficult decision, in such a countdown, lies in crowning numero uno. There are, after all, plenty of worthy candidates. But one also seeks to avoid undue repetition. After a couple of false starts, I opted for a long-time favourite that’s never received its due.

Here, then, is Steve Ditko (and an unknown scenarist)’s expertly-paced department store nightmare, “Halloween Scene”, from Scary Tales #7 (Sept. 1976, Charlton). It occurs to me that Mr. Ditko is about to turn 90 in a couple of days… they didn’t call him “Sturdy Steve” for the alliteration alone, as it turns out.

HalloweenScene1AHalloweenScene2AHalloweenScene3AHalloweenScene4AHalloweenScene5AHalloweenScene6A

HalloweenScene7A

As a bonus (Hallowe’en comes but once a year, after all!), have a peek at the issue’s fine cover and its original art.

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Pencils by future “Good Girl” specialist (see his Haunted House of Lingerie series, in the name of research, of course) Rich Larson (with ink and airbrush work by artistic partner Tim Boxell).
ScaryTales07A
The published version offers reasonably accurate reproduction, though one misses some of the details hidden behind the logo. Nature of the Beast of Commerce…

Well, that’s it for this year. Happy spookfest to all, and see you next time, hopefully.

I pity inanimate objects
Because they cannot move
From specks of dust to paperweights
Or a pound note sealed in resin
Plastic Santas in perpetual underwater snowstorms
Sculptures that appear to be moving but aren’t
I feel sorry for them all.

Godley and Creme – I Pity Inanimate Objects (1979)

-RG