Tentacle Tuesday: Don’t Miss the Boat!

« Don’t change your tack when the timbers crack
On the dark and the rolling sea…
» *

I am relatively indifferent to tales of adventure, but the siren song of the ocean sometimes prompts me to venture into reading tales about ruthless pirates or valorous seafarers and the perilous voyages they undertake on ships big and small, magnificent or modest. Who hasn’t felt a thrill at spotting a handsome vessel on the water, even if that water is but a canal running through the city? The other point of interest of this discussion is that where there’s an ocean and a ship upon it, there is a (preferably) giant octopus somewhere nearby, only waiting to shred the ship’s hull to smithereens and voraciously gobble up its shipmates.

I’ve talked about consumed shipmates before (see Tentacle Tuesday: Seafaring octopuses and the men they have shamelessly devoured), so today let’s focus on some nautical vessels!

Here is a modestly-sized yet utilitarian boat with a handsome octopus in tow. Maybe he just wanted to climb on deck to rest a while, like this otter?

More Fun Comics no. 44 (June 1939). Cover by Creig Flessel.

A similar boat (I don’t know whether it’s my profound lack of knowledge of boats that makes it seem that way) was attacked by a bigger, scarier – downright malevolent! – octopus some twenty years later. See Kyle “Ace” Morgan, Matthew “Red” Ryan, Leslie “Rocky” Davis and Walter Mark “Prof” Haley scramble for safety while an enraged octopus seeks to devour them! Oh, sorry, I’m being melodramatic.

Challengers of the Unknown no. 77 (Dec. 1970 – Jan. 1971, DC). Pencilled by Jack Kirby, inked by Jack and Rosalind (Roz) Kirby.

This cover has actually been recycled from Showcase no. 12 (Jan.-Feb. 1958, DC), where the background was yellow and the water a more normal shade of blue-white. I do like how the octopus stands out against a black background, however (and the multi-coloured water really sets off his beady, evilly-glowing green eyes!)

Of course these encounters also take place within the stories, as opposed to on the cover.

Page from The Outcasts of the Seven Seas, scripted by Bob Haney, pencilled by Howard Purcell, and inked by Sheldon Moldoff, was published in Sea Devils no. 23 (May-June 1965).

Time to move underwater, a very natural setting for an octopus attack. Here we have a submarine tenderly wrapped in tentacles:

Page from The Human Torch in the Clutches of the Puppet Master!, (over)scripted by Stan Lee, pencilled by Dick Ayers and inked by George Roussos. This story was published in Strange Tales no. 116 (Jan. 1964, Marvel).

Last but not least, I’ve kept this neat little submarine until the end:

Voyage to the Deep (IDW Publishing, 2019), a collection of Dell Comics’ short-lived, four-issue series published from 1962 to 1964 and illustrated by Sam Glanzman. Note the introduction by WOT favourite Stephen Bissette!

Glanzman is also a favourite of ours, though we haven’t talked about him much (yet). In case you’re wondering what the insides of one of those issues looked like – good, they looked really good! Note the octopus proudly perched in the middle of the page.

Page from Voyage to the Deep no. 1 (September-November 1962, Dell). Art by Sam Glanzman.

~ ds

Treasured Stories: “The Organist and the SS” (1972)

« They were bitter, war-weary men and the old woman’s music was comforting — perhaps too comforting… »

Writer and occasional penciller William ‘Willi’ Franz (born 1950) broke into the comics industry at the tender age of 15, selling his first script to Charlton editor Dick Giordano in 1966.

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Will Franz, September 1971. A photo « …taken at the Manhattan insurance company where I worked as an accounting technician. My wall is covered with cartoons I made of various office friends and personnel. » Source: Will Franz and Charlton Spotlight.

While best known for his fruitful collaborations with his mentor, the great Sam Glanzman (1924-2017), namely The Iron Corporal, The Devil’s Brigade and most enduringly The Lonely War of Willy Schultz, Franz also scattered a few gems that the light has mostly missed.

My favourite among these has to be his final story for Charlton, The Organist and the SS, published in Attack no. 8 (Nov. 1972). Franz’s bleak, nuanced and markedly pacifist tales had drawn the military’s ire, back in the late ’60s, and this somber little piece of doom might have, too, if anyone had been paying attention.

As Franz recalls in a 2015 interview with Richard Arndt, published in Charlton Spotlight no. 9 (Winter-Spring 2015-2016):

« I was told that a lot of Charlton sales were on military bases. They were a staple on Army bases. I, and my stories, were dropped in 1969, out of the blue. Things were heating up in Vietnam.

I was blacklisted at Charlton because a guy had put my name and stories down as one of the reasons he registered as a conscientious objector. I found out other people were throwing my name around. Someone in the army apparently said that my stuff, maybe like [Archie] Goodwin’s stuff, was too blood and guts. It was going to make soldiers *not* want to kill the gooks. The army can’t have that! »

Well, evidently Charlton (presumably managing editor George Wildman, bless his heart) let Will sneak back into the fold, if briefly, after the heat was off, otherwise I’d be writing about some other topic entirely.

Without further preamble, please savour this pitch-black, existentialist play of war and death, but mind the thorns.

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Will’s layout for the opening splash of our story. It’s always a treat to see what liberties the illustrator takes… or doesn’t.

This issue is chock-full of arrivals and departures: it opens with a story from new recruit Warren Sattler, trying his hand at a few short mystery and war stories before he found his niche in excellent collaborations with Joe Gill on Billy the Kid and Yang; next up is Jack Keller, who was winding up his comics career, what with Charlton’s remaining pair of hot rod books, Drag ‘n’ Wheels and Hot Rods and Racing Cars, soon to be scrapped. He would move, appropriately enough, to making a living selling cars. Finally, Argentine ace Leo Duranoña (b. 1938) was just passing through Charlton, crafting a handful of finely-hewn tales before moving on to DC and Warren… among others.

-RG

Tentacle Tuesday, from goofily scary to scarily goofy

It’s that time of the week again!

Let’s start with something hair-raising. Well, not really – we’re a blasé audience, and it takes something special to truly scare us. Yet can you deny the foul-smelling, palpable sense of foreboding, the billowing and swirling nightmare that beckons from the elegant inks of this page?

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« She boiled up out of the sea that hellish night — a monstrous hideous creature, she was, with the craggy face of an evil eyed witch! » Giant-Size Chillers no. 1 (February 1975). The cover promises a « frightful, fearful first issue! » Does it deliver? Eh, not really. Here’s a page of the best story in it, The Gravesend Gorgon, scripted by Carl Wessler and pencilled + inked by Alfredo Alcala.

Gravesend is an ancient town in northwest Kent, England; as for the gorgon part, it’s not entirely accurate, but it’s clear that comic writers cannot resist an alliteration.

On a slightly more humorous front (unless one is directly involved with this green monstrosity, in which case the situation would quickly lose its humour), here’s a page that hails from Jonah Hex: Riders of the Worm and Such no. 4, (June 1995). The story features the half-worm, half-human albino Autumn Brothers, whom you can see here greeting the big worm-momma. Texas blues rockers Johnny and Edgar Winter attempted to sue, but the suit was dismissed after a judge begrudgingly ruled that « the First Amendment dictates that the right to parody, lampoon and make other expressive uses of the celebrity image must be given broad scope. » Thank you, Los Angeles court. Frankly, it seems that the brothers are more remembered for the lawsuit than their music.

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« Sure like to make big worm happy, whatever she want. Not care much for tentacle down throat. » Jonah Hex: Riders of the Worm and Such no. 4, June 1995. Scripted by Joe R. Lansdale,  pencils by Timothy Truman, inks by Sam Glanzman.

Jonah Woodson Hex, created by writer John Albano and artist Tony DeZuniga in 1971, curmudgeonly and disfigured but bound by a personal code of honour, is a favourite character of mine, although I only like the way he is written for DC’s Weird Western Tales. Well, with one exception, this one! I most tentacularily recommend Jonah Hex: Shadows West, a collection of the three Vertigo-published mini-series scripted by Lansdale and illustrated by Tim Truman and Sam Glanzman, containing the stories Two-Gun Mojo, Shadows West and Riders of The Worm and Such.

And to wrap this up, on an even goofier note, here’s Jughead getting into yet another weird situation, which is pretty standard for him.

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This page from The Eyes Have It comes from Jughead no. 77 (October 1961). Script by George Gladir, pencils by Samm Schwartz, inks by Marty Epp. Schwartz is absolutely the best Archie artist to draw tentacles; most everybody else would have made a mess of it.

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~ dsTentacleTuesdayIcon