Tentacle Tuesday: The Friendly Octopus

So far, we’ve leaned heavily in the direction of the aggressive octopus, the hoggish, ill-mannered brute who grabs people without so much as a how-do-you-do. Even when the multi-tentacled beast has self-defence as an excuse, the gory results are often not for the weak-hearted. Yet, like any complex creature, it has many personality facets; let’s have a look at the friendly cephalopod, the octopus-next-door type, the one who’s willing to let you use its tentacles in lieu of swings and lend a feeler’d arm with your fishing.

In 1946, Belda Records came up with the concept of a “komic book & plastic record”. The series was called Talking Komics, promising (and delivering!) kids a “record-music-story-comic book” experience. There were 8 characters, one per book-cum-record, in all. Our friend the Lonesome Octopus is one, although he seems to be doing all right socially. The other 7 are Grumpy Shark, Happy Grasshopper, Chirpy Cricket, Flying Turtle, Blind Mouse, and in a slightly different vein, Enchanted Toymaker and Sleepy Santa.

The records were written & produced by Bob Bellem and narrated by Marvin Miller (a well-known voice actor – to name a few well-known shows, he was Robby the Robot in Forbidden Planet and in  The Pink Panther Show he voiced the Inspector, Deux-Deux and the Commissioner), the music was composed & conducted by Frank Hubbel, and the comic was illustrated by Mel Millar, who may or not be Marvin’s brother. Cartoons were created for at least some of the records/comics (so it’s more like “record-music-story-comic-book-animation”) – some of them used to be findable on Youtube some time ago, but the years seem to have swept everything away.


Another octopus who kindly consented to let his tentacles be used as swings. He apparently sings, too!

Mutt and Jeff is a newspaper strip created by Bud Fisher in 1907, generally believed to be the first daily comic strip (or at least the first really successful one). It featured Augustus Mutt (the tall fellow swinging on the right tentacle), greedy and highly inventive (if not downright insane) with his parade of get-rich-quick schemes, and bald Jeff, his reluctant sidekick, whose sideburns would surely get him accepted as a hipster in these modern times. Go here to read an enthusiastic article about this cultural phenomenon, and here to read some comics.


Little boys who over-work an octopus are going to end up as his dinner, I say. Still, for the time being, here’s a sweet scene of inter-species coöperation.

I sure hope that this octopus gets his share of fish at the end of the day! Also, wouldn’t it be more efficient to just grab the fish directly with tentacles instead of using man-made contraptions like fishing lines? This is The Funnies no. 23 (Dell, August 1938). Does anybody know the artist?


Orrible Orvie and Awful Annie will help us wrap up this Tentacle Tuesday. This octopus isn’t assisting the kids directly, but the kind smile on his, err, face radiates benevolence (well, not to the fishes, but one has to feed on *something*, right?)

This is The Little Monsters no. 41, 1977 – only three issues away from the series’ end (it ran from 1964 to 1978 for a total of 44 issues, plus a giveaway issue of March of Comics). Artist unknown.

~ ds

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