Tentacle Tuesday: ACG’s Adventures Into the Tentacles

Today’s Tentacle Tuesday comes courtesy of American Comics Group, which delighted its readers with horror, satire and other strange offerings between 1943 to 1967.

ACG’s Adventures into the Unknown is now recognized as comics’ first continuing horror title. A good variety of horror tropes (though I imagine that back then, the clichés we’re painfully familiar with today weren’t quite as clichéd) , from the amusingly bizarre to the genuinely scary, could be found within its pages: killer puppets, homicidal ghosts, murderous mummies, vicious dinosaur relics, spooky skeletons… and tentacles, of course. Unlike many of its brethren, the series survived the fall-out of the 1954 comic book hearings that were started by the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency, but the title did drop its creepier storylines in favour of goofiness. Not a bad way to go, really, as long as the result is entertaining!

I’d like to welcome you to Tentacle Tuesday by kicking things off with this unnecessarily graphic cover in which somebody’s tentacle is getting lopped off. Note that the she-octopus also has vampire fangs. Beautiful? I wouldn’t go that far… or anywhere near it.

…A monster which exists! I know — for I have met her face to face! Picture a face gigantic, beautiful — on a huge and monstrous body which reeks of evil — and death!Adventures into the Unknown no. 49 (November 1953), cover by Ken Bald.
A panel from « The Kraken », drawn by Jon Blummer. Geez, poor kraken. Later on, she (?) gets attacked with a “corrosive acid – with a nozzle activated from within “… Mona can’t bear to watch, and I agree.

There are five Adventures in the Unknown covers that feature octopuses (or someone’s nightmarish and anatomically ridiculous idea of an octopus, at any rate). We’ve already featured no. 157 (revisit the past here – Nemesis is waiting for you!); the remaining four were published between August and November of 1953 and illustrated by Ken Bald (who drew the covers for issues 21 through to 50). Didn’t he get tired of drawing tentacles? Was it his idea? Did he have nightmares afterwards?

(A little aside: speaking of Mr. Bald, he’s been in the Guinness book of records for a couple of years now, for being the “oldest artist to illustrate a comic book cover”. The comic in question is Contest of Champions no. 2 (2015, Marvel Comics), which he drew at the age of 95.)

I’ll skip no. 48 for now, as its tentacles are plant-like in nature, but onward with the other two!

« Tale of Terror » from Adventures into the Unknown no. 46 (January 1953). Illustrated by Lin Streeter. It’s a well known fact that monsters on a diet are very irritable (and he’s still got a long way to go, judging by his chubby midsection).

“Breakthrough!”, the title story, is beautifully illustrated by Harry Lazarus and brimming over with tentacles. Take a peek:

The main tenta-gonist of “Breakthrough!”, drawn by Harry Lazarus.
In “Breakthrough!”, even cables have tentacles!


It’s no use strugglin’ — not when ye’ll be the sea hag’s slaves forever!” Adventures into the Unknown no. 47 (September, 1953). Cover by Ken Bald.
Ruthless pirates! A sea hag! Tentacles and “evil specters of the past!” All can be found in “The Derelict Fleet!”, illustrated by Jon Blummer in an interestingly fluid style.


Naturally, there is some tentacle goodness *inside* some issues of Adventures into the Unknown, despite an utter lack of cephalopods on the cover. I’ll give two examples (gracefully scanned by co-admin RG from the collected Adventures into the Unknown: Volume 8, published by PS Artbooks in 2014).

A panel from « Tale of Terror », published in Adventures into the Unknown no. 39 (January 1953) and Illustrated by Lin Streeter. This panel was wisely used for the PS reprint tome’s front endpapers, to great effect.
Page from « Mystery of the Marie Celeste », published in Adventures into the Unknown no. 41 (March 1953), pencilled by Al Camy and inked by Edvard Moritz. How (and why) did the octopus manage to climb atop a ship?

~ ds


3 thoughts on “Tentacle Tuesday: ACG’s Adventures Into the Tentacles

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s