« I saw old Autumn in the misty morn stand shadowless like silence, listening to silence. » — Thomas Hood (1799-1845)
Jim Woodring‘s Frank, cogently termed « a bipedal, bucktoothed animal of uncertain species » was introduced to readers on the cover of Jim no. 4 (Dec. 1990, Fantagraphics), virtually straight from his genitor’s id. He would turn out to be Woodring’s most enduring creation. I was absolutely in awe of Woodring’s original, somewhat autobiographical showcase title, Jim. But it practically sold in the negative numbers (I recall an admiring / dismayed Dan Clowes stating something to that effect during an interview), and dammit, a genius like Woodring should be able to earn a living in freedom and dignity, so I understand the slight shift in gears. Though I miss Woodring’s tremendous verbal gifts, Frank’s is a rather extraordinary universe.
Speaking of Tundra, its tale is quite a colourful one: it was the publisher that The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles built; an act of atonement? « Tundra was certainly, not to put too fine a point on it, the biggest and most absurd (as well as the most idealistic) publishing catastrophe in the history of comics — maybe in the history of the print medium. » [ source ]
Woodring, nearly three decades down the line, has stated that he’s ‘extremely interested’ in wrapping up Frank’s adventures.
« Yet another bloodthirsty alien invasion, led by a mad dictator with a brain harvested from a 60 year-old corpse. I get one of those every third Thursday… »
D’you know what today is? Well, Tentacle Tuesday, obviously. It’s also Radio Day. More relevantly to this post, however, May 7th is also the birthday of one Michael Terry Gilbert, confidant to the formidable Mr. Monster (a.k.a. Strongfort “Doc” Stearn) and fellow tentacle lover (at least judging from how many cephalopod-shaped creatures appear in his stories).
We’ve briefly mentioned Mr. Monster in Tentacle Tuesday: Superheroes Redux; now is the time to joyfully gallop through some more tentacle offerings from the merry crew of psychotic artists led by that sagacious shepherd, Michael T. Gilbert. Many happy returns, Sir!
« The original Doc Stearne was a two-fisted adventurer along the lines of pulp hero Doc Savage, of whom he may have been intended as a knock-off. He was created by cartoonist Fred Kelly, whose other known credits are somewhere between sparse and nonexistent. Kelly did him for a small, virtually unremembered Canadian publisher called Bell Features (probably not related to Bell Syndicate, distributor of Mutt & Jeff, Don Winslow of the Navy and more). When Gilbert was asked to contribute to Vanguard Illustrated, the apparent purpose of which was to develop new properties for Pacific Comics to exploit, he drew on Kelly’s character as inspiration. The first new Mr. Monster story appeared in the seventh issue, which came out in 1984 without a specific cover date. Gilbert’s version was a fanatical monster hater, extreme not only in his attitude, but in his design and in every move he made. » |from Don Markstein’s Toonopedia|