This feels like a portentous occasion: the last Tentacle Tuesday of 2019. The mind boggles at the sheer number of tentacles we have released into the wild this year! As far as the splendour of this moment is concerned, there’s no reason for me to fight this feeling. Yet my general tendency at the year’s end – to throw in a lot of women fighting off tentacles (witness last year’s TT – “Foul as Sewer Slime!”) – is slightly one-track-minded, and it’s probably going to be my new year resolution to curtail that. Nah, just kidding.
Still: what *is* good is saying goodbye to the year in colour. So enjoy these not-quite-good, garishly coloured tentacle fiestas, and Happy New Year!
You know how I said, earlier, that I was one-track-minded? I’m not the only one. Yikes. This is a tame image, but the… wilder… ones were in black and white, and I had to stick to my theme. See the sacrifices I make?
Do visit Maroto’s website, tentacles abound (generally revolving around naked women).
While we’re at it, from the same artist, here’s his Elvis‘n’tentacles:
…. preceded by “The Rocket Girls run into a thing that is all tentacles and eyeballs.”
« Man’s constitution is so peculiar that his health is purely a negative matter. No sooner is the rage of hunger appeased than it becomes difficult to comprehend the meaning of starvation. It is only when you suffer that you really understand. » — Jules Verne
For my final post of the year (my co-admin ds yet holds one more Tentacle Tuesday instalment), I turn to crusty Joe Gill and a surprisingly cheerful tale of elder abuse (one of his pet topics, see The Night Dancer! for another example). Herein, a quite horrifying situation is leavened by Gill and his Billy the Kid acolyteWarren Sattler‘s graceful, humorous handling… with the moral still clear. This is one of Sattler’s few forays into the spooky at Charlton, and I hope you’ll agree it’s worth the detour.
I love Gill’s use of the principle of communicating vessels as a means of poetic retribution. Or is it a feedback loop? I’m also very fond of Agatha’s characterization: she’s hardly the picture of evil, blandly accepting each new bend in the road as if morals never entered into the equation. But you just know that, once Jerome is laid to rest, she’ll simply find another man to feed and breezily carry on. In a sense, she’s the main character: doesn’t the whole thing hinge on her fine cooking?
It’s not every day that Tentacle Tuesday lands on Christmas Eve! I hope you have pleasant plans for the night, if not involving an epic Christmas tree and impeccably-wrapped presents, then at least a lot of booze. In the meantime… I present you with this short and sweet gallery of classy black and white images by some quite well-known illustrators (with one foot, or more, in the comic world, this being, after all, a blog about comics).
*The article I linked to also contains this not entirely tentacle-related, but amazing (especially if, at heart, you’re a kid who’s into creepy things) explanation:
Dog Vomit Slime Mold: This creature isn’t technically a plant or a fungus, but it is one of the most fascinating creepy-looking things in nature. “It’s basically a giant amoeba,” Hodge says. “Usually, you can’t see an amoeba with the naked eye. But the dog-vomit is the size of a dessert plate.” She adds that she gets a lot of phone calls about the dog vomit slime mold, which often turns up in people’s garden mulch. “They look weird, and they freak people out.” she says. Even creepier, this huge single-celled blob can crawl. “They ooze around for a while, and then they convert themselves into spores,” Hodge says. “Although it’s not really a spore,” she adds, “because it hatches like an egg and a little amoeba crawls out.” That’s the point when I almost dropped the phone. But Hodge was nonplussed. She teaches a summer course about fungi, and she gives her students slime molds to take home and raise. “You can watch them just cruising around on the petri dish, eating oats.” Some of the students really bond with their slimy little pets, she says: “It’s my campaign to convert people to lovers of stinkhorns and slime molds.”
« … every idiot who goes about with a ‘Merry Christmas‘ on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. » — Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol (1843)
Whoa, is the accursed Holiday Season upon us again already? Given the rather baffling (but greatly appreciated) popularity of our previous brochette of Christmas-themed Playboy cartoons, which took off in… April and just kept gathering steam, we’ve chosen to just go with the flow and present you with a sequel. We’ve had more time and opportunity to dig further, so we’ve cherry-picked a dozen, both naughty and nice, with plenty left over for next year. We’ve taken pains to include some of the worthy cartoonists who were somehow left out of last year’s legendary Playboy Cartoons for a Festive Mood.
Here we go, then. Season’s greetings and all that rot!
« … there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash, tore open the shutters and threw up the sash. » ― Clement C. Moore, A Visit From St. Nicholas (1823)
Not too long ago, we glanced at the interesting case of Tower’s teen line, another instance of works insufficiently popular to be properly reprinted, yet still sought after by collectors and aficionados and consequently on the pricey side. And so it is within this limbo that Tippy Teen and Go-Go and Animal find themselves consigned, in the rather fine company of Sugar and Spike and Angel and the Ape. Let’s not strand them there for the duration, please.
So why do I consider Tippy Teen superior to Archie? For one thing, while there’s some underwhelming artwork to be found here and there (sorry, Doug Crane), there’s nothing dismal (no Al Hartley, no Dick Malmgren, no Gus Lemoine, no Stan Goldberg…), and the writing is generally superior, thanks to, among uncredited others, the great Jack Mendelsohn (recycling and updating his old scripts, but that’s not the end of the world).
Here’s a little seasonal piece I find quite witty and charming. The well-paced work of an anonymous scripter and my beloved Samm Schwartz, it appeared in Tippy Teen no. 18. The whole issue’s quite solid, and since it’s in the public domain, you can enjoy it right here.
In my ceaseless quest for tentacles, once in a while, I return to a previous theme – in this case, the Franco-Belgian tradition of comics. To start at the beginning, visit Tentacle Tuesday, Franco-Belgian edition parts 1 and 2, and Tentacle Tuesday: Tentacules à la mode.
We start some 70-some years ago, with an issue of Bob et Bobette, a Belgian feature created by Willy Vandersteen in 1945. Well, to be more precise, the latter created Suske en Wiske — when the strip became popular in its native De Standaard (a Flemish daily newspaper), it was picked up by Tintin magazine, after Vandersteen agreed to modify it somewhat according to Hergé (who was the magazine’s artistic director) and his Ligne claire guidelines. The main characters were renamed – far from the last time that happened: in Britain, they were known as Spike and Suzy, and as Willy and Wanda in the United States.
I’ve never read a whole album of The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec, though I like its premise (an intrepid, independent héroïne? yes, please) and Jacques Tardi‘s art (depending; sometimes I love it, sometimes I’m indifferent, but it’s certainly good enough for purposes of following a story). Chalk it down to something I never got around to, I guess. Irritatingly, in 2010 we have been *ahem* ‘blessed’ with a movie based on this comic, directed by the ever sharp-witted Luc Besson (who royally fucked up a movie adaptation of Valérian et Laureline in 2017, so he seems to be making this into a specialty).
I mentioned the comics magazine Le journal Tintin earlier – here’s a cover from its competitor, Spirou (Le journal de Spirou), published by Éditions Dupuis since 1938. The respective publishers (Raymond Leblanc for Tintin, and Charles Dupuis for Spirou) of these magazines had a gentleman’s agreement: an artist’s work could only be published in one or the other, never both. Incidentally, there was an interesting exception in the case of André Franquin, who moved his wares from Spirou to Tintin after a quarrel with its editor – and, contractually obligated to work for Tintin for five years, simultaneously continued to provide Spirou with stories.
Valentin le vagabond was created by René Goscinny et Jean Tabary in 1962 for publication in Pilote. After 1963, Tabary carried on alone, scripting and illustrating all by his lonesome, Goscinny having his hands full with other projects. Valentin le vagabond et les hippies is the final story of this series, originally serialised in issues 709 to 719 in 1973.
The French are surely not immune from scatological humour. The Kaca fairy (I’ll give you three guesses for what “kaca” means in French) is a rather inept witch. She accidentally conjures up an octopus who’s a little too intent on being liked, and the rest of the comic deals with the attempts to whisk him away again.
« So to this my life has come: there’s meaning in a piece of gum » — Parthenon Huxley, Bazooka Joe
We recently lost another fine cartoonist in Howard Cruse (May 2, 1944 – Nov. 26, 2019), and while he’s most frequently celebrated for his pioneering work in Queer comix and his graphic novel Stuck Rubber Baby, I’m much fonder of his comparatively ‘lightweight’ humorous work. In other words, I’ll take the wacky short stories over the Ponderous Magnum Opus, thank you.
And things don’t get any lighter than Bazooka Joe, now do they?
In 1983, Howard Cruse was engaged by Topps to redesign Bazooka Joe and illustrate a new set of strips, the series’ first true update since co-creator* Wesley Morse‘s passing in 1963. Topps, figuring on more-or-less total turnover of its kiddie audience, had been rotating batches of strips every seven years, drawing on the vast hoard of unpublished strips left by Morse, and now and then hiring freelancers to pad out the lot.
Then, in 1990, when the time came for another series, Topps opted to subcontract the work to a marketing company that dismissed Cruise’s work as « too goofy », according to Jay Lynch. Then Lynch, Pete Poplaski and Grass Green took up the gauntlet, which is a fascinating tale in itself… but one for another day.
If such lowly cartoon ephemera hold even the slightest sway over you, you’ll likely be very interested in Topps’ Bazooka Joe and His Gang (2013, Abrams ComicArts, edited by Charles Kochman), which proved an invaluable resource in cobbling together this post.
« Bazooka Joe has become the personification of the lowest form of humor. And this is why he’s one of the most widely known comics characters on the planet. Sure, the jokes were cornball. But that’s their appeal. » — Jay Lynch
*with Topps executive (and Golden Age comic book artist) Woody Gelman.
« Make it a rule never to give a child a book you would not read yourself. » ― George Bernard Shaw
Indoctrinating children has to start early – if you want to make sure the aforementioned little ones will share your obsessions and spend their lives in a futile quest for the same peccadilloes you wasted your youth on, it’s best if you start proselytizing even before they can read. To that effect, quite a few authors of children’s comic books made sure to focus on cephalopods. I am happy to provide you with this abridged list of where to start when you need to convince some tot in your care that 1. octopuses are cool and 2. that they are entirely too intelligent and fascinating to ever be eaten.
Pages from Tomi Ungerer‘s Emile: The Helpful Octopus (first published in 1960):
Pages from Octopus Escapes! (2018), written by Nathaniel Lachemeyer and illustrated by Frank W. Dormer:
A page from Also an Octopus(2016), written by Maggie Tokuda-Hall and illustrated by Benji Davies:
Page from Touchy the Octopus Touches Everything(2019), written by Amy Dyckman and illustrated by Alex Griffiths:
Before someone complains that this post doesn’t include any “real” comics (what kind of pedant are you, bubba?):
Finally, as a treat for the adults in the audience, I’ll end on an uplifting note (quite necessary after all that carnage by Dexter et al.): a cartoon by Jüsp (who ist tot, which is to say is dead – he died in 2002), published in Die Woche, an German illustrated weekly newspaper published from 1898 to 1944.
« Slap him up and down upon the floor Tickle his feet and hear him giggle Then unzip him down the middle Give that gibbon what he’s hollerin’ for! » — Stuff That Gibbon (words and music by Bill Oddie)
Back in the late 1970s, before I had even heard of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, nor even of Benny Hill, for that matter… I discovered The Goodies, thanks to the CBC’s belated programming of their exploits*. While The Goodies do share a *lot* of DNA with the Monty Python gang (they were school chums, close friends, collaborators and friendly competitors practically all along the way), this trio’s comedic format veers sharply away from the Pythons’ methods: Graeme, Bill and Tim play ‘amplified’ versions of themselves, and use the skit format sparingly, reserving it for mid-show intermission ‘blackouts‘.
While the trio was formed in 1970, it only made its comic strip début (and bow) in 1973**, where they held a weekly feature in the pages of Cor!!, also making an appearance in the magazine’s 1974 annual and The Goodies Annual, the whole lot hitting kiosks in ’73.
« Apparently licensed for just the one year, The Goodies were unique in the fact they were the only adapted characters featured with the comic’s pages with copyright credit being given to Bill Oddie, Tim Brooke Taylor (sans hyphen) and Graeme Garden. According to Robert Ross’ book The Complete Goodies, the strips were all authorised and approved by The Goodies prior to publication and Tim still displays an original Cor!! strip in his study. »
Scans (and detailed synopses!) of The Goodies’ Cor!! shenanigans are helpfully provided by their fan site, goodiesruleok.com.
And now, some introductions from the aforementioned The Goodies Annual 1974 (the only one of its kind, poor thing):
Take a little good advice, try a trip to paradise It’s not hard to find, you’ve got it on your mind Can’t pretend it wouldn’t be nice It’s whatever turns you on, Goodies
A circus or a seaside pier, a sausage or a can of beer A stripper or a clown, prices going down You can make it happen here Fun for all the family, Goodies
*« In Canada, the series was shown in on the CBC national broadcast network during the late 1970s and early 1980s, in the traditional “after school” time slot, later a Friday night 10 pm slot, and occasionally in a midnight slot. Several episodes were also shown on the CTV Television Network. In the mid-1970s it was shown on TVOntario on Saturday evenings, repeated on Thursday evenings, until being replaced by Doctor Who in 1976. » [ source ]
**I hear they’ve turned up in The Beano, circa 1994.
« Drosera’s snap tentacles — which can sense moving prey — catapult insects directly onto the glue tentacles at the plant’s center, where the prey is digested. What’s more, the catapult system is very effective—the insect almost never escapes. » (source)
Which child hasn’t passed through a temporary fascination with Venus flytraps in particular, and carnivorous plants in general? From there it only takes a tiny shift of the imagination to arrive at man-eating plants, which grab their victims with murderous tentacle-like tendrils, crawling vines and grabby creepers. Today we delve into one of my favourite sub-categories of tentacle obsession: plant tentacles.
This spine-chilling greenery often deploys its lethal vines in some remote corner of the Earth (well, in comics, at any rate). This, I firmly believe, is far scarier than the idea of other planets harbouring these carnivorous forms of life. After all, our chances of landing on Mars or somesuch are slim, and we’re a lot more (though not very) likely to wind up in some mysterious jungle.
But first, we deal with that old trope about a power-mad scientist breeding some man-devouring monstrosity in a pot, garden or greenhouse.
When I was a wee girl, my dad would give me piles of adventure books to read. Quite a few of them involved some intrepid explorers discovering (or literally falling into) a jungle (often hidden in some volcanic crater) in which prehistoric creatures had somehow survived (among the novels I remember reading were Sannikov Land and Plutonia by Vladimir Obruchev, The Lost Worldby Conan Doyle,Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne, The Land That Time Forgot by Edgar Rice Burroughs, etc.) Cue dinosaurs and woolly mammoths! As I loved dinosaurs, I didn’t mind this recurring theme, which by now seems a little, shall we say, hackneyed.
The cover story, The Deadly Jungle, is scripted by Paul S. Newman, penciled by Giovanni Ticci and inked by Alberto Giolitti.