« You know, the dog food that Billy Jack loves! » — The Firesign Theatre
Ah, September the 18th. Today’s the birthday of the staggeringly accomplished William Stout (born in 1949), master of ancient reptiles, bootleg record covers, friend of The Firesign Theatre, former Russ Manning assistant (none but the best would do!), and I’ll spare you the illustrious details of his career in cinema. Still, let’s look around a bit, shall we?
Speaking of ’74, isn’t that rhino a dead ringer for Swan’s oleaginous right-hand man, Philbin, from Phantom of the Paradise?
And that’s Bill Stout for you: stunningly versatile, but always himself. Could any artist strive for more?
« I hate war, Steve! I hate the people who cause it and I hate them with very atom of my being! So I pretend to respect the enemy, even like him. I try to minimize him with love! » — Gen. Maximillian R. Hart, The Zanti Misfits
Feast your rheumy peepers on Bernard Baily‘s (co-creator, with Jerry Siegel, of The Spectre) famous cover for issue 4 of Gilmore Publications’ Weird Mysteries, April 1953. The cover’s creepy promise was squandered, since Baily’s friendly lil’ fella never appears within the issue.
Rogers was a right mother from the start, but when his captain had his fill of his homicidal shenanigans, dropping him off on a remote island to cool him off, a funny thing happened. He found nothing in the place save ants, which had made short work of the unlucky goat population and the local flora. So what did the crazy bastard do? He gobbled ants. For weeks. And became a giant ant himself, it follows. You are what you eat, right?
Anyway, Rogers has got to be the most pragmatic villain ever, quite content, in the end, to be The Thing on the Beach!
Which brings me back to where I started: some say (okay, well, I do) that Baily’s WM4 cover may have inspired The Outer Limits’ ultra creepy The Zanti Misfits. Or maybe they’re just oddball products of the same era.
*That’s Not Safe For Work, for those unfamiliar with the acronym. Turn back while you still can!
We all know that tentacles are often used in comics as a substitute for other, err, organs. Tentacle porn is nothing new. Still, occasionally I stumble upon something that’s just outstandingly odd and perhaps even depraved. Would one be able to find stuff online that’s far stranger and more degenerate? Indubitably. Still, within the context of Tentacle Tuesday, I’d like to think that the following offerings are firmly in the realm of “well, that was strange…”
Our first example of WTF is this cover, drawn by good ol’ William Stout.
« One of the great series in underground history, Denis Kitchen’s Bizarre Sex was launched in May, 1972. One could discern that this would be a “no-holds-barred” type of publication upon perusing the first issue, as the first two stories were about brother/sister incest and interracial homosexuality. Bizarre Sex became best known for issue #9, which introduced Omaha the Cat Dancer with a story that took up the whole book. After another appearance in Bizarre Sex #10, Omaha moved on to its own successful serial. The great thing about Bizarre Sex is the series matured through the years, evolving from a comic book about atypical sex into more of an in-depth review of sexual relations and the human condition. »
As this is no. 10, the last issue of Bizarre Sex, presumably that “in-depth review of the human condition” part is applicable here. The cover could have fooled me… If anyone out there has read it, do let me know!
Chester Brown has always been one sick puppy. If by now his work is creepy and boring, back in the earlier days of his career, his stories were often fascinating… for those of us who enjoy a good mindfuck and have a strong stomach, that is. As for me, I never liked his stuff: far too disturbing, in a viscerally-uncomfortable kind of way. A good demonstration of his typical sense of humour is the following 2-pager with a characteristic blend of onanism, body fluids and irony. This instalment of Adventures in Science was published in Yummy Fur no. 4 (1984).
A little bit of comic relief: a cartoon from “How the Animals Do It” by Larry Feign. Make sure to visit this page for a little video preview of this book: a little animated tale of the barnacle’s super long penis and what s/he does with it, including the brilliant quote « if no resistance is met, in it goes ».
Okay, I’ll bite. Why did the chicken cross the road? Why did the male octopus lose an arm due to sexual promiscuity?
« Male octopuses have a big problem: female octopuses. Each male wants to mate and pass on his genes to a new generation. The trouble is, the female is often larger and hungrier than he is, so there is a constant risk that, instead of mating, the female will strangle him and eat him. The males have a host of tricks to survive the mating process. Some of them can quite literally mate at arm’s length. Others sneak into a female’s den disguised as another gal, or sacrifice their entire mating arm to the female and then make a hasty retreat. » [source: Mystery of Cannibal Octopus Sex ]
Next time we encounter difficulties with our romantic entanglements, let’s remember not to complain.
Our last entry is a little more standard from the perspective of shokushu goukan. The blend of sex-and-religion is also nothing new, although some people seem to be labouring under the impression that it still has some sort of shock value in this day and age (My sleazy ex-boss from the framing store, I’m looking at you.) However, I think these scaly tentacle-penises are a reasonably original take on the theme, and I also like the choreographed sisters, who seem to be doing some sort of interpretative dance while a-waiting to be ravaged.
You can read the whole thing here – very NSFW, obviously.
Some people would shudder at the idea of having « literary » and horror and / or science-fiction within the same sentence, but I firmly believe that some of this oft-despised « genre » oeuvre is worthy of that (somewhat pompous, anyway) moniker.
To open the proceedings, here’s a page from a graphic adaptation of « Shattered Like a Glass Goblin », written by the venerable Harlan Ellison in 1968 (and first published in 1975, in Deathbird Stories: A Pantheon of Modern Gods.) One of the showier pieces featured in the anthology The Illustrated Harlan Ellison(1978), it is drawn by William Stout, who does a great job translating the story into no-longer-just-mental images – and sneaking in a tentacle or two in the process (if you think that’s just a tail, shhh, don’t ruin it for the rest of us). People who dislike a vivid palette, beware: the bright, vivid colours just emphasize the terror felt by the main character (and the readers, if said readers have any imagination to speak of).
Apparently, poor high-school kids are often forced to analyze « Shattered Like a Glass Goblin », because upon Googling it to check the year of its creation, I stumbled upon a bevy of study resources that explain what the story is about and what techniques Ellison used to make this point. Yawn, and yuck. There’s nothing that ruins a good time like having to dissect it.
Now we come to Marvel’s short-lived Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction series, which often published adaptations of short stories and novels by well-known writers into a comic format (Mostly with lacklustre results, as far as I’m concerned, but then I’ve always preferred to stick with the original medium of things.)
Since I’m talking about tentacles and literature, I am contractually obliged to include something Lovecraftian as part of this post.
My colleague R.G. has already talked about the H.P. Lovecraft edition of the anthology Graphic Classics (head over here to check it out ), but I’d like to share two illustrations from the inside. Both are by Allen Koszowski, whose work is a feast of tentacled beasts and Lovecraftian horrors.
Koszowski got the similarity down pat: Lovecraft was mighty weird-looking (in a stately kind of way) – which seems quite appropriate. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but he certainly looks like he’s just seen something terrible just behind his interlocutor’s back, but he was half-expecting it, so he’s not too startled, even though someone’s probably about to get gobbled up.
(Cats have that look periodically, too, down to the dilated pupils.)
Incidentally, I said that Koszowski’s art was full of tentacles, so here’s one more taste of his proclivities: