Greetings, pretty cephalopods and cephalopodettes! This is the last Tentacle Tuesday of the year, and as is my custom, I return to a sub-topic close to my heart: women entangled in tentacles. Nothing crass, mind you – we have our standards!
As the signature attests, the artist is George Wolfe (1911 – 1993), who has had an illustrious, though mostly forgotten, career as a magazine cartoonist with published work in Esquire, Saturday Evening Post, New York Herald Tribune, etc. He also had a few syndicated comic strips under his belt, as well as winning several prestigious awards (namely, the Reuben, the highest award of the cartooning profession). Touring Tessie, created by Wolfe for Wolf Books (has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?), was the so-called hostess of this magazine, and its main attraction. Do yourself a favour and head over to The Wolves of Broadway VII: The Alpha Female to peruse more Tessie cartoons and learn more about just what kind of gal she was.
From the cartoony to a more realistic approach –
The following three covers are from Storie Blu, an Italian erotic, science-fiction comics series published by Ediperiodici (also known as ErreGI), Edifumetto’s main competitor in the adult comics sector. Ediperiodici disseminated a huge number of erotic series running the gamut from A all the way to B in terms of genre: erotic… horror, western, spy, jungle, military, fantasy, etc. If you want to get an idea of what the stuff looked like, take a peek at Lucifera, Maghella (in-house favourite) or Messalina.
Storie Blu ran between 1979 and 1990, for a respectable 122 issues and two supplements (click here for a full list in Italian).
Moving on to another European country… Gespenster Geschichten‘s sister publication Spuk Geschichten already has a Tentacle Tuesday: A Torrent of Teutonic Tentacles.
« You better watch out, you better not cry, better not pout, I’m telling you why —Santa Claus is coming to town. » — Haven Gillespie
Taking stock, I can’t help feeling that the singular Rick Geary (b. 1946) is a creative force that’s taken for granted. He’s been consistently chugging along at a dizzyingly high level of erudite inspiration and craft since the mid-70s. His work has been recompensed and saluted several times (an Inkpot from the San Diego Comic-Con in 1980; a Magazine and Book Illustration Award in 1994 and a Graphic Novel award in 2017, both from the prestigious National Cartoonists Society…) yet he’s remained kind of a well-kept secret, a cartoonist’s cartoonist. Even as he turned up in countless anthologies, in most cases, it felt as if he didn’t quite belong, didn’t exactly jibe with the respective audiences of, say, Dark Horse Presents or Pulse (on the other hand, High Times wasn’t a bad fit!).
Still, it’s fair to say that his following is one quite discrete from the comics mainstream. The Geary devotee must ever remain vigilant, for one never can anticipate his next move.
Which brings me to The American Bystander, which Newsweek deemed « The last great humor magazine », and to which Geary has been contributing since its second issue… and for once, it feels like home.
The Bystander, according to Wikipedia…
… features contributions from many notable comedy writers, illustrators and cartoonists. The Bystander is designed to provide a classic print humor magazine experience similar to that delivered by National Lampoon, SPY, Harold Hayes-era Esquire and many others in the pre-internet era. Yet according to The New York Times, The American Bystander “does not just belong to the tradition of defunct magazines like The National Lampoon and Spy. Its nostalgic, lightly witty style evokes influences that have been dead even longer, like the raconteur Jean Shepherd and the sophisticated stylist Robert Benchley.”
The Bystander‘s editor-publisher, Michael Gerber, exults: « In addition to his civilian fans, Rick Geary is one of those illustrators that other illustrators love, and I am with them all 100%. This drawing, entitled ‘New Mexico Christmas’, appeared in my inbox mere moments after I’d given Rick the assignment — which is why editors love him, too! »
While this ever-industrious auteur has produced graphic novels galore in the glorious Geary fashion, I remain fondest of his short-form pieces. Here’s a choice handful plucked from Bystander issues.
And while ’tis the Season, I would be remiss in neglecting to mention that TAB’s latest issue no. 18, is hot off the presses. More details here. And should you crave to sample the goods… gratis — that option’s on the table as well!
That said, Happy Holidays, everyone. Be merry but above all be safe!
« The vibrating tentacles produce hypnotic music that people can’t resist! »
This is the last Tentacle Tuesday before Christmas, so wishing all of our lovely readers a splendid (and safe) evening, whether you celebrate Christmas specifically, something else altogether, or nothing at all.
As far as I’m concerned, one of the most important components to creating a holiday mood (aside from being with my family, of course) is music. If it’s played by an octopus, so much the better – and one not? Having a lot of arms is surely handy for playing many instruments at the same time. One must say this is a musical edition of Tentacle Tuesday – so put on a record, preferably of the old-school vinyl variety, and swing your tentacles (or whatever appendage you do possess) along!
Speaking of Topo… he’s been getting some attention recently, and unsurprisingly his musical talent is involved:
And to prove that octopuses dig LPs, too, I’ll include this nifty poster:
On a connected subject, I heartily recommend this Soviet cartoon, which involves all manner of sea-creatures (yes, including several octopuses!) playing all sorts of instruments – don’t worry, it has subtitles in English.
« Aren’t we forgetting the true meaning of Christmas. You know, the birth of Santa? » – Matt Groening
We’re back with another piping hot batch of Holiday cartoons from the pages of Playboy. I have striven mightily to represent most of the big guns (Kiraz and Smilby are among the missing — better luck next year, gents!) whilst keeping it to a tidy, cherry-picked dozen. One can only take so many ‘Randy Santa’ gags, even when they’re lavishly illustrated… that’s only a fraction of the culling process.
And that’s our crop for this year… hope your holidays are bright and merry, under the circumstances. Joyeux Noël, one and all!
Today’s TT is like one of those 5$ grab bags: you don’t exactly know what you’re going to get, but there will at least one thing you’ll find amusing! Unless the store has cheapened out and stuffed it with nonsense nobody in their right mind would want. This offering, on the other had, is full of our favourite artists, and is not nearly as disparate as I first thought 😉
I don’t always have an over-arching idea for a post, inevitably ending up with plenty of odds and ends that don’t neatly fit into any one category. Actually, some of those “scraps” are the most enjoyable finds for me.
« She kept her ears permanently tuned to the chicken voices outside, so knew immediately when a coyote had crept into the yard, and barrelled screaming for the front door before the rest of us had a clue. » ― Barbara Kingsolver
Given how muted the holiday season is likely to be for most of us, and in light of how much our readers appear to enjoy our past Christmas offerings — (all year long!), I’d thought I’d get an early start on the festivities.
Here’s a fine, but truly obscure little Christmas fable. It was buried in the back of an issue of The Unknown Soldier, at a time when the DC war line was well into its final decline.
According to editor Paul Levitz, Christmas Dinner‘s script had been purchased six or seven years earlier by his predecessor Archie Goodwin but had lain fallow in the interim. It was written by one Janus Mitchell (his sole credit in comics, but we may be in the presence of pseudonymous shenanigans) and was finally assigned for illustration to Teny Henson (often credited in the US as ‘Tenny Henson, as he is here), one of my favourite creators from the ranks of the Filipino Komiks community. In America, Henson’s work mostly appeared in DC publications for about a decade (1974-83), beginning with the plum commissions of inking a returning Sheldon Mayer (post-cataract surgery) on his Rudolph the Red-Nosed ReindeerLimited Collectors’ Edition giants, and inking Ramona Fradon‘s pencils on DC’s underrated second revival of Plastic Man for a pair of issues. All in all, Teny flew under the fanboy radar, chiefly providing artwork for mystery and war short stories, and always at a high level of craft and inspiration.
I love the economy and precision of his line, his limpid storytelling, and his mastery of an aesthetic merrily at play in the sweet spot between the cartoonish and the representational. Fittingly, he went on to work in the animation field.
Christmas is approaching fast, so naturally it occurred to me that I have never really done a proper H.P. Lovecraft Tentacle Tuesday. What, does the idea of a festive Cthulhu sound strange to you? But he’s the one who brings nameless horror… err, gifts to little children!
I’d like to put us all in the proper chipper mindset, especially since cheer (festive or otherwise) is so hard to come by this horrendous year. For starters, I can make a few decorating suggestions. How about some Christmas ornaments with tentacles? Or perhaps a Cthulhumas wreath? You say your partner would most certainly object… Well, how about an ugly Cthulhu sweater to impress people at your next Zoom meeting? No, not your cup of tea, either? Some people are so hard to please! Well… in that case, let’s just check out some comics.
I actually think that there’s not much point in attempting to adapt Lovecraft stories into comics – it’s just too hard to do properly, and few (if any) people have managed it. How can you transform a description like « the words reaching the reader can never even suggest the awfulness of the sight itself* » into images on paper? Yet I can sympathize with artists who tried to do just that – the grandeur of Lovecraft’s visions is a compelling force. At the same time, he has become a bit of a ridiculous figure by now, his legacy awkwardly stuck between reports of his racism and misogyny and the current ubiquity of the characters he created. Oh yes, it’s tentacles all the way down for this father of our (nearly) collective tentacular obsession… down into memes and light-hearted pokes that abound online, spanning the range between ‘amusing’ and ‘blatantly stupid’. It is possible to buy a cuddly baby Cthulhu toy, for instance (and I would have purchased it, if it hadn’t gone out of stock).
First we’ll take a look at a few serious attempts to adapt HPL stories into comics… ones with tentacles, of course, as this is Tentacle Tuesday, after all. Let’s face it, there have been many, many comics series (and I do mean many) based on, vaguely or directly, on Lovecraft material… and the bulk of this has horrible (in my humble assessment) art, and stories to match. I’m really not interested in reading about how Lovecraft teamed up with Houdini to save Arthur Conan Doyle’s life, but it may be the coolest thing somebody has ever heard. Your own mileage may vary – for every Lovecraft fan who shudders at bad adaptations of his oeuvre, there’s one (or two) who just want to “get to the good stuff, not be derailed by a rambling description of the bloody countryside” (actual quote).
I mentioned earlier how the Great Old Ones have been repurposed as butts of jokes and tropes for memes. Well, I’m not here to share memes (other than very occasionally), but I do have a few nice illustrations-cum-cartoons to share.
Readers, do you have any favourite comics adaptations of Lovecraft?
While concocting a post on a favourite oddball obscurity, the one-shot Alphabet Soup Kitchen (1990 Jabberwocky Graphix), I decided to reach out to one of its co-creators, the dapper Wayne ‘Wayno’ Honath, to see if he could shed some light on this delightfully batty project of yore. And did he ever come through!
In one of those happy cases of talent and perseverance rewarded, Wayno®nowadays splits creative duties on syndicated strip Bizarro with its originator, Dan Piraro (since 2018, though he’d been part of team Bizarro going back to 2009), with Wayno® ably handling the dailies and Mr. Piraro the Sundays. It’s a fact: Wayno®, thanks to his crisp visual style, sharp gag writing and encyclopedic grasp of cartooning history and archetypes, was just the right ink slinger for the task.
Without further delay, I cheerfully yield the floor to Wayno®, his superbly lucid recollections, and some choice letters from the Alphabet Soup Kitchen!
Sure, I remember doing Alphabet Soup Kitchen! Ted Bolman and I had traded minicomics through the mail, and appeared in some of the same publications. We may have collaborated earlier, but I don’t think so.
I don’t recall whose idea the book was, but it sounds like something I’d have done. I liked to define parameters or constraints for projects, and then work to complete the parts. We split up the alphabet so Ted would do the first half of “A,” then I’d do “B,” and we’d alternate to the end. We sent the pages to each other by mail.
There were two different printings. I printed it as one of my “No Way Comics” minis. The interior was black & white, and the wraparound covers were brown ink on an off-white textured stock. I used a local printer for my minis, and most of them were offset printed, not Xeroxed. (I did several “secret” publications in editions of 50 or fewer, and those were Xeroxed.) They’d offer a free ink color once a week, and that’s how the brown ink on the cover came about. I drew the inside cover endpapers.
After my minicomic version was published, Brad Foster contacted me about doing a larger reprint under his Jabberwocky Graphix imprint. I drew a new wraparound cover featuring characters from the interior. I included a photo of two men wearing some sort of jaw-braces to represent the Boho Brothers, and also drew these guys on the cover. I can’t recall whether the endpaper drawings were included in this edition. I have a copy somewhere, probably in my office/storage space. I believe that Brad Foster may have done the color work on the cover. Yes, just confirmed that on the Poopsheet Foundation webpage (a good source of minicomics images and info).
I also included copies of my original printing in one of two multi-packs I offered for sale. This was in a set called THE NO WAY MINICOMIC FUNBAG, which included Boho, Uncontrolled Copy, The World’s Most Dangerous Animal, and one bonus minicomic from my backstock. They were packaged in a plastic bag with a wraparound cover.
That’s as much as I can come up with off the top of my head!
I mentioned to Wayno® that I enjoyed his cover work for Dana Countryman’s Cool and Strange Music magazine (28 issues, 1996-2003), to which he responded:
Cool & Strange Music was great! I’m still friends with Dana Countryman, and I still admire that he was able to continue self-publishing it for so long, and always on schedule, and he always paid for the art. He was more reliable and professional than a lot of bigger mainstream publications I worked with!
Once more, three cheers and my most heartfelt thanks to Wayno® for his generosity and kindness. Best of luck with everything!
One might call the illustrator and comics artist Kellie Strøm a bit of a cosmopolitan – born in Denmark, he grew up in Ireland and, in adulthood, made London his place of residence. He has accomplished much, but seemingly obtained little recognition for it – his graphic novel (The Acid Bath Case, 1992, published by Kitchen Sink), a collaboration with Stephen Walsh, seems to have been lost in the rivers of time, despite being a striking showcase of Strøm’s black-and-white, precise-yet-graceful style. He also has a great eye for colour, as becomes evident from a quick glance at Star Wars comics he’s illustrated (but does anybody read Star Wars comics?), or, in a much more pleasant and hopefully longer-lasting and farther-reaching vein, his paintings for children’s books.
Personally, I have a soft spot for his illustrations in glorious full colour – I believe that it’s a rare skill to be able to use a full rainbow palette and not end up with gaudy or downright ugly results. Let’s have a look!
The following are pages from Fortune, Fate, and the Natural History of the Sarlacc, written by Mark Schultz and published in Star Wars Tales no. 6 (2000, Dark Horse). Watch an unfortunate victim plunge into the gullet of a merciless tentacled beast!
For comparison purposes: this is the original art…
And the following are pages from the printed comic:
I also mentioned Strøm’s career as an illustrator in children books. The results are beautiful, and, I sincerely hope, well-remunerated.
Panels from Het Zeemans – ABC (2008, Rubinstein Publishing) – or, in other words, Sailors’ ABC:
2014 saw the release of the tentacle-wealthy Worse Things Happen at Sea(Nobrow Press), in which « historical ships are attacked, enveloped and engorged by monstrous sea creatures surfacing from the deepest depths of the darkest oceans. » Must be Strøm’s Nordic roots re-surfacing, though apparently he cannot swim!