Diggin’ Up the Bone Orchard: Beasts of Burden

Our heatwave is nowhere as bad as the one afflicting Europe right now, but it’s a heatwave nevertheless, and to cool off I felt like traipsing down the icy corridors of horror. Evan Dorkin‘s series Beasts of Burden, the tale of a (predominantly) canine crew who fight the supernatural to keep their small town community safe, fits the bill: though including elements of adventure, mystery, and humour, it’s genuinely tense in places (and features enough blood and grue to keep the average gorehound satisfied). One expects a comic in which all protagonists are animals to evoke baby-talk sounds of endearment, not send chills down the spine of the more sensitive reader, and yet…

Beasts of Burden no. 1 (September 2009), cover by Jill Thompson.

However, I’ll warn you that a fondness for animals is a prerequisite for enjoying this comic, lest you miss the emotional punch to the gut of moments like a dog searching for her lost puppies, or animals mourning the loss of their friend. Despite the paranormal threats these pooches (and cat!) have to deal with, I would say that it’s that emotional horror that makes these stories memorable, especially to a modern reader well-versed in zombies, werewolves, and witchcraft (yawn, how cliché…) I am quite allergic to animals getting hurt in stories, but Beasts of Burden never feels manipulative in that regard: shit definitely happens, but is overcome through teamwork and courage.

This comic also features loving watercolours by Jill Thompson (according to the DC Comics website, ‘most well-known female comic book artist‘… not sure how they measured that), who’s not only great at evocative woodsy landscapes in all seasons, but also a deft hand at convincing portraits of animals. I have seen too many comic artists who cannot draw a convincing cat or dog (let alone a horse, a true test of artistry…) to take that for granted. This post only spotlights material from the collection Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites (2010, Dark Horse), as Thompson was later on replaced by Benjamin Dewey, whose art I suppose I could bear… if only the standard desaturated colouring job wasn’t the final nail in that coffin. It’s a bitter pill to swallow after Thompson’s bright, organic art.

All stories featured in this post are written by Evan Dorkin and illustrated by Jill Thompson.

A page from Stray, published in Dark Horse Book of Hauntings (August, 2003). This was the first Beasts of Burden story to be published; the characters got more fleshed out, both in writing and in art, later on.
Page from The Unfamiliar, published in The Dark Horse Book of Witchcraft (July 2004). My favourite season is fall, so I couldn’t resist featuring a page of autumnal-blaze trees and black cats.
Another page from The Unfamiliar, published in The Dark Horse Book of Witchcraft (July 2004). The normally orange Orphan (who needs a better name, but at least he gets called ‘Orph’ a lot later on) gets dyed black as a subterfuge. This story is pretty goofy (two witches come to town to summon Sekhmet), and my least favourite of the early batch, but at least it has a lot of black cats.
Pages from Let Sleeping Dogs Lie, published in The Dark Horse Book of the Dead (June, 2005), in which Daphne (the black witch cat, who later becomes a part of the regular cast) returns with revenge on her mind.
Page from A Dog and His Boy, published in The Dark Horse Book of Monsters (December 2006).
Page from The Gathering Storm, published in Beasts of Burden no. 1 (September 2009), the moment at which this became an official series, as opposed to a series of one-shot stories. The whole ‘plague of frogs’ thing is of course instantly reminiscent of B.P.R.D., a Dark Horse series that originally appeared in Hellboy.
Another page from The Gathering Storm, published in Beasts of Burden no. 1 (September 2009); the moment when the gang officially becomes watchdogs. Most of the dogs have collars, but can dash around with ease, barely ever running into humans.
Art for the cover of Beasts of Burden no. 2 (October 2009).
Pages from Lost, published in Beasts of Burden no. 2 (October 2009), a genuinely shocking moment – hurting a human goes against these dogs’ normal code.
Pages from Something Whiskered This Way Comes, published in Beasts of Burden no. 3 (November 2009). This story highlights the somewhat tense relationship between Orphan and his romantic interest/enemy Daphne, the black magic cat from an earlier story.
Page from Grave Happenings, published in Beasts of Burden no. 4 (December 2009).

Beasts of Burden is still ongoing, with the latest installment, Occupied Territory (illustrated by Benjamin Dewey, alas), published in July 2021.

~ ds

Hallowe’en Countdown V, Day 31

« Carve out a pumpkin and fill it full of cake mix and raisins and bake for half an hour and then write me and let me know how it turns out. » — one of Patrick Dean‘s ‘Party Tips’

I never met Patrick Dean in person, but I did consider him a friend. I became aware of his work when we both contributed to the second issue of Danny Hellman‘s Legal Action Comics anthology, back in 2003. Looking back, it strikes me that we were among the very few participants not going out of their way to offend.

We began to correspond. Geography aside, we had plenty in common, and so we kept in touch over the years. Then poor Patrick was diagnosed with ALS and fell victim to that relentless degenerative disease a couple of years later. But that’s a well-documented tragedy, so I won’t dwell on it.

I know I’ll always be thinking of Patrick when the leaves turn to red and gold, and I do believe he would have liked to be recalled in that fashion. His own countdowns to Halloween were always heartfelt and delightful.

My partner ds is also a fan, and she shared her own appreciation here.

Patrick’s indispensable guide to all things Hallowe’en, The 2013 Haint Book (2013, of course).
An early-ish strip, from Big Deal Comics & Stories no. 4 (Winter, 2004).
Illustration for The Legend of the Jack-O-Lantern, from The 2013 Haint Book.
From Big Deal Comics & Stories no. 7 (Spring 2006).
From The 2013 Haint Book. If you must ask, a haint is « a type of ghost or evil spirit that originated in the beliefs and customs of the Gullah Geechee people, descendants of African slaves who live predominantly in the Low Country and on the barrier islands off the coast of the Carolinas, Georgia, and north Florida. » [ source ]
A brew only a witch could love, presumably. From The 2013 Haint Book.
With the passing years, Patrick’s work was just getting deeper and (yet) more emotionally layered. This is the opening page from Sometimes I Think About You at Night, the overlapping stories of two estranged couples, one living, one deceased, from Big Deal Comics & Stories no. 11 (2012).
Over the course of our correspondance, Patrick never failed to winningly personalise his mailings: this envelope features a shared favourite, Charlton Comics host Dr. M. T. Graves, he of the Many Ghosts.
A fitting coda to this (or any) edition of our Hallowe’en Countdown. See you next year, hopefully!

If you’ve missed any of our 154 previous instalments, here they are in handy and tidy fashion:

Hallowe’en Countdown I (2017);

Hallowe’en Countdown II (2018);

Hallowe’en Countdown III (2019);

Hallowe’en Countdown IV (2020);

and, bien sûr, Hallowe’en Countdown V (2021).

For the optimal Hallowe’en experience, you may kiss the Old Witch’s Finger (discovered on a beach while on vacation, earlier this month) and make a wish: a pox on your enemies or a tremendous candy bounty… you call it.

-RG

Hallowe’en Countdown V, Day 14

« Upon its head, with red extended mouth and solitary eye of fire, sat the hideous beast whose craft had seduced me into murder, and whose informing voice had consigned me to the hangman. » — The Black Cat (1845)

What can I tell you about the legendary English cartoonist and bon vivant Hunt Emerson — born in 1952 in Newcastle and still devilishly active these days — that he can’t tell you in his own words?

Mr. Emerson has recently (and I do mean recently!) contributed a series of hi-concept short strips to Ahoy Comics’ gamut-running Poe-themed humorous horror anthology. Taking his place in a thematic thread that includes Tom and Jerry, Antonio ProhíasSpy vs Spy, Brian McConnachie and Warren Sattler‘s Kit ‘n’ Kaboodle, Massimo Mattioli‘s Squeak the Mouse* and Simpsons cartoon-within-a-cartoon Itchy and Scratchy, Emerson merrily escalates the hostilities launched in Poe’s The Black Cat, with Poe himself in the rôle of the narrator. Assume the position!

Originally published in Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Terror no. 2 (Nov. 2018, Ahoy).
Originally published in Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Terror no. 4 (Jan. 2019, Ahoy).
Originally published in Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Terror no. 5 (Feb. 2019, Ahoy).
You’ll get all these, and plenty more besides, in Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Terror Volume 1 (Oct. 2019, Ahoy), collecting the title’s first six issues. Cover art by Richard Williams, with a title logo by Todd Klein.

-RG

* not, by a long shot, Mattioli’s best work. *That* would be, without question, his nonpareil M le magicien (1968-73).

Tentacle Tuesday Masters: Sean Äaberg

« Every Goblinko product is a seed of a better world. Better because it is built to last – built for relevance – built for survival – built for buttermilk – built for speed – built for living the chaos – built for you! Everything else sucks! Go Goblinko! »

My path to discovering Sean Äaberg‘s art was rather tortuous.

On one hand, I’ve liked Goblinko t-shirt designs for a while – co-admin RG is a big fan, and given my love for pickles, so am I. Somehow I was not aware of those was creating these designs, however.

As for Äaberg art, it all began when I saw some very striking Tarot cards on some forum discussion – I have no interest in Tarot, but these were hitting all the right buttons, with their super bright green-magenta-yellow colour scheme and lush artwork. I looked up the artist, and landed on his Dungeon Degenerates on the wonderful Monster Brains blog.

As I am one of those silly people who want to own stuff on paper, I looked for a book and found Acid Vomit! The Art of Sean Äaberg on Kickstarter. When I received this (glorious, by the way) compendium, something clicked into place and suddenly I realized that Sean Äaberg = Goblinko!! (Well, to be fair, Sean’s wife Katie is part of it, too.) Nothing like one of those ‘well, that should have been obvious a long time ago…’ realizations to put one into a philosophical mood.

Another Kickstarter campaign is currently taking place, this time for a Halloween book (which this household is of course supporting, given that Halloween is our favourite holiday!) Please lend a much-needed (financial) hand to this worthwhile project!

« Crammed to the gills with real Street Rocker junk scraped from the mean streets of Porkland. » This is Pork no. 20. It was, indeed, free as the cover promises – you can admire the covers of other issues here. Yes, the tentacles are subtle, but they’re nevertheless lurking!
A cutie pie! Scanned from Acid Vomit! The Art of Sean Äaberg (Gingko Press, 2012).
Some classic plant tentacles. Scanned from Acid Vomit! The Art of Sean Äaberg (Gingko Press, 2012).

~ ds

Tentacle Tuesday: Dark Horse, Pt. 3

Dark Horse seems to publish more mini-series heavily dependent on tentacles that you could shake a stick at, and enough spin-offs of spin-offs to make one’s head spin. Still, I have been dutifully saving the… shall we say, less ugly… tentacle-heavy DH covers I have come across, and since there is clearly little point in hoarding them, the time has come for a part III. Visit the previous instalments here: Tentacle Tuesday: Dark Horse, Pt. 1 and Tentacle Tuesday: Dark Horse, Pt. 2. Your mileage may vary!

I have to include at least a couple of things I actually somewhat like per post, whatever pleasure I may get from mocking the rest.

The first is the back cover of Madman Comics no. 4 (October 1994), with art by Dave Stevens, with well-defined, slimy tentacles and plenty of boobage. That’s Madman (created by Mike Allred) in the middle, but he surely ends up ending up in the background of his own adventure, courtesy of the cephalopod and skin-tight costumes of the damsels.

Continuing with the 90s, here are two Star Wars covers by Mark Schultz who’s, err, distinctly not at his best – though bringing one’s best to Star Wars would be a waste, anyway.

Classic Star Wars no. 8 (April 1993).
Classic Star Wars no. 17 (March 1994).

Continuing with the 90s…

Dark Horse Comics no. 15 (November 1993). Cover by John Higgins. The suggestive-yet-fuzzy shapes made me think that this woman is bare-bosomed and possibly vagina dentata-ed at first. The teeth belong to the tentacled monster, the nakedness is still a possibility.

This one I like far more:

The Thing from Another World: Eternal Vows no. 1 (December 1993). Cover by Paul Gulacy. Upon seeing this, co-admin RG quipped ‘oh, what’s left of Gulacy‘ (after his run on Master of Kung Fu, that is).

Finally, we have three Black Hammer-related covers, which made me look up this series since I didn’t even know of its existence before spotting these tentacles. Created by Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston, it’s apparently doing quite well (given that it started in 2016, and is still ongoing with many spin-offs, awards received, and a possible TV show).

Black Hammer no. 4 (October 2016). Cover by Dean Ormston.
Black Hammer no. 4 (October 2016). Variant cover by Jeff Lemire.
Black Hammer: Visions no. 6 (July 2021). Cover by Malachi Ward.

No Dark Horse post about tentacles can avoid the elephant in the room, namely Hellboy and Mignola. If that’s what floats your boat, I covered that ground in Tentacle Tuesday Masters : Mike Mignola.

~ ds

A Secret, Silken World: Max Andersson’s “Lolita’s Adventures” (1995)

« Most of us will still take nihilism over neanderthalism. » — David Foster Wallace

It’s become so quiet” “Yes“; from Galago no. 40 (1994, Atlantic Förlags AB)

Today, let’s dip a toe (at the risk of losing it) into the midnight domain of Swedish cartoonist and filmmaker Max Andersson (b. 1962). It’s a relentlessly-perilous scene, but like Kaz’s Underworld comic strip or Arnt Jensen‘s Limbo video game, I find it unexpectedly comforting in spite of (and thanks to) all the darkness, both thematic and in density of ink. In Andersson’s case, might it be owing to the author’s kindness to his protagonists? That’s a factor with odds I rather favour.

I don’t doubt that certain readers of a more sensitive cast will differ, but I posit that the cheerful lack of clemency the artist affords the callous, the cruel and the pernicious makes Andersson’s universe a profoundly moral one. Contrary to, say, your average American action blockbuster, such a purge of the villainous doesn’t restore the status quo… because here, malevolence is the status quo. Andersson’s put-upon little people are true outsiders, and his stories feel like Kafka, but blessed with dénouements far merrier yet merited.

Jolly carnage! Lolita’s Adventures appeared in the third issue (July, 1995) of Fantagraphics’ outstanding anthology title Zero Zero (27 issues, 1995-2000).

See? A happy ending and all, and even a rare glimpse of daylight.

Soon after he began to publish his work, Gary Groth spoke with Andersson (The Comics Journal no. 174 (Feb. 1995, Fantagraphics):

Groth: What would you point to as your defining influences? How did you develop this approach, style and point of view?

Andersson: What I always have in my backbone is the style of classic comics, the stuff I read when I was a kid.

G: I don’t see much Tintin.

A: No, but it’s there if you look closely. The basic technique of how to tell a story well. I try to do that because I want the storytelling to work, to be easy to read.

G: Were you influenced by sources outside of comics — film, literature?

A: Yeah, more of those than comics. The German Expressionist movies of the ’20s, Nosferatu; and artists from the period, like George Grosz.

And don’t leave out old cartoons! Andersson’s thoroughly animist way dovetails neatly with early animation’s unhinged, anything-can-happen mode. By which I mean that anything and everything possessed motion and sentience, be they boulders or pebbles, thunderclouds, petals or creepers, sparks or flames, pantaloons or braces, blunderbusses or bassoons…

As a bonus, a sequence from Andersson’s breakthrough work, Pixy (1993). The title character is the fœtus with a pistol, and the happy little fellows on the counter are units of money. Highly recommended, and likely available in the language of your choice.

About Pixy, fellow dweller-in-darkness Charles Burns exulted: « So you think it’s a cold, creepy, world out there, huh? Hah! Just wait’ll you get a load of Max Andersson’s Pixy… safe sex suits, buildings that eat people, drunken fœtuses with bazookas, money that shits on you, recyclable bodies… hey, wait a minute, that’s not creepy, that’s fun. MY kind of fun. »

For more dope on this important creator’s endeavours, do sidle over to his official website!

-RG

Guy Davis: Quietude and Cataclysm

« It’s a lot easier to draw rubble when deadlines hit. » — Guy Davis

Today, on his birthday, we seize the occasion to salute prodigious autodidact Guy Davis and to look upon his works, no despair necessary.

Born in Michigan on November 20, 1966, Guy Davis started out in comics in 1981 with a SF strip, Quonto of the Star Corps, published (he suspects his dad had something to do with it) in local newspaper The Clarkston News.

From there, he delved into sword and sorcery with The Realm (1986-1988, Arrow), then made significant strides toward his mature style with punk saga Baker Street (1989-1991, Caliber).

He then hit the majors, devoting most of the 90s to pencilling and inking the bulk of Sandman Mystery Theatre‘s quite respectable run (70 issues + 1 annual, 1993-1999, DC/Vertigo), Matt Wagner‘s darkly revisionist chronicles of Wesley Dodds, the Golden Age Sandman… pre-yellow-and-purple togs.

I must confess that I wasn’t, at this point, particularly fond of Davis’ style. His endearingly schlubby, potato-schnozzed characters had yet to work their charm upon me. But the writing was compelling, Davis’ storytelling was strong and clear, so I stuck around.

However, I’m not ambivalent at all when it comes to his subsequent work, wherein he ditched his often awkward cross-hatching, his inking improved by leaps and bounds in expressiveness, and he was at long last paired with a colourist that fully grasped his singular style.

This is The Nevermen no. 4 (Aug. 2000, Dark Horse). Cover by Guy Davis.
Page 22 of Nevermen no. 1 (May 2000, Dark Horse). Written by Phil Amara, pencils and inks by Davis, colours by Dave Stewart.
Page 8 of The Nevermen no. 4 (Aug. 2000, Dark Horse). Same personnel…
Page 15 of B.P.R.D. Plague of Frogs no. 1 (Mar. 2004, Dark Horse). Story by Mike Mignola, pencils and inks by Davis, colours by Dave Stewart.
Page 22 of B.P.R.D. The Dead no. 3 (Jan. 2005, Dark Horse). Story by Mignola and John Arcudi, pencils and inks by Davis, colours by Dave Stewart. Shot from the original art, courtesy of, er… the author’s collection.
And in case you’ve ever wondered just what a good colourist can contribute to the finished product, let alone the finest colourist in the business. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Dave Stewart!

Guy Davis on his collaboration with Dave Stewart:

I was never never happy with my work in color — I hated the idea of it — until [ Dave Stewart ] started coloring me in B.P.R.D. He had this textured brush look that was just perfect for my linework. My linework is not clean, and before Dave, everybody who’d color me would do a standard house style. They wouldn’t adapt for each artist, and that’s what makes Dave so amazing is that he adapts his style for the art as opposed to trying to shoehorn one style of coloring — which a lot of colorists do — into every artist’s style.

(from an interview conducted by Eric Nolen-Weathington and published in Modern Masters Volume 24: Guy Davis, 2010, TwoMorrows)

Page 22 of B.P.R.D. The Dead no. 3 (Jan. 2005, Dark Horse), by the aforementioned.
This is B.P.R.D. The Dead no. 4 (Feb. 2005, Dark Horse). Cover by Davis and Stewart.
Page 11 of B.P.R.D. The Dead no. 4 (Feb. 2005, Dark Horse). Note that Stewart doesn’t fall back on one go-to, characteristic colour palette; he has range. Muted, saturated, bright or dark… he uses what the situation calls for. That’s what a true artist does.
Page 18 of B.P.R.D. The Dead no. 5 (Mar. 2005, Dark Horse). Now *that* is a library.
With his love and mastery of period detail and the human proboscis, wouldn’t you say that Davis would have been the ideal candidate to depict legendary pulp hero The Shadow? A 2005 drawing excerpted from Guy Davis Sketch Macabre Volume 2 (Oct. 2006).

Frankly, I don’t think Mr. Davis ever received his due in comics; he remained an artist’s artist, reliable and productive, but relatively unsung. On B.P.R.D., he allowed Mr. Mignola to envision events and visions on a far, far grander scale than Hellboy’s creator could have realised by himself. After Davis resigned from the title and exited the comics field for challenges and well-earned success, artistic and financial, in the realms of film and video games, there simply wasn’t anyone able to fill the void he’d left.

Just check out that résumé

Happy birthday, thanks for everything and all the best to you, Mr. Davis!

-RG

p.s. In selecting artwork for this essay, I forced myself to exclude any and all instances of tentacles, and trust me, there were plenty. We haven’t made it official yet, but if anyone ever deserved the title of Tentacle Master…

Tentacle Tuesday: Dark Horse, Pt. 2

Back in August, I promised to follow Tentacle Tuesday: Dark Horse, Pt. 1 with another instalment of cephalopod material issued by this publisher. The time, as they say, has come! While I’m not always on board with the comics they opt to publish (rarely, I might even say), I do like today’s selections.

Dark Horse obtained the licence to produce James Bond comics in 1992. The result is a number of series and stand-alone comics – Serpent’s Tooth was the first, a three-part miniseries. The following two pages are from Serpent’s Tooth Part III: Mass Extinction, scripted by Doug Moench and illustrated by Paul Gulacy, published in James Bond 007: Serpent’s Tooth no. 3 (February 1993).

You decide for yourself which James Bond this is .

In 2007, Dark Horse stepped into a partnership with New Comic Company, who had earlier acquired from Warren the rights to Creepy and Eerie. The result was the gradual publishing of ‘archival’ hardcover collections of all issues of Creepy and Eerie magazines. In 2009, DH launched the ‘new’ Creepy Magazine, which mostly featured new stories, sprinkled with the odd reprint. A revived Eerie soon joined it.

Dark Horse’s revival of the classic Warren magazine is a mixed bag – this issue for instance, features several new stories and a reprint from 1970 (Life Species by Bill DuBay). This is Eerie no. 1 (July 2012). Cover by Jim Pavelec.

Incidentally, if you’re a Warren fan, we’ve covered a lot of tentacled ground with Tentacle Tuesday: Warren and Its Many Tentacles, Part I and Tentacle Tuesday: Warren and Its Many Tentacles, Part II.

The next story is Tentacle Master Mike Mignola‘s ‘Champion of the Worms‘, which held my lazy interest for a few pages… until I found out that it’s actually quite good. What a pleasant surprise for one who had such low expectations! It also brims over with tentacles. The following three pages are from ZombieWorld: Champion of the Worms (October 1997), scripted by Mignola and illustrated by Pat McEown.

Not everybody can boast to such a classy octopus hat!

Last but not least… Scarlet Traces is a sort of sequel to Ian Edginton and D’Israeli‘s adaptation of H. G. WellsThe War of the Worlds, with heavy Dan Dare and Doctor Who references. This story wears its Englishness on its sleeve!

Scarlet Traces: the Great Game no. 4 (October 2006). Art by British artist D’Israeli, whose real name is actually Matt Brooker.

~ ds

Tentacle Tuesday Masters : Mike Mignola

« Because sometimes, for whatever reason, you just want to draw an octopus. » — Mike Mignola, June 2019

I would say that this Tentacle Tuesday feature was started for a similar reason – sometimes one just needs to gather tentacled material, to share it more efficiently with like-minded weirdos.

The back cover of Hellboy: Seeds of Destruction no. 2

I don’t imagine writer and comics artist Mike Mignola (most notably, creator of Hellboy and its spin-off B.P.R.D.) needs much of an introduction – he’s fairly ubiquitous in mainstream culture, and his style has been aped by many, which according to the proverb is the most sincere form of flattery. I was aware of this already, and yet was staggered by the sheer number of copycats I stumbled across while seeking out materials for this post.

I also started suffering from tentacle fatigue: as much as I love octopuses, seeing dozens upon dozens of fairly similar images made me weary. Mignola draws tentacles well, but he also draws them very, very often, and he also likes to revisit scenes already depicted. The result is a sprawling mess of sketches, variant covers and spin-offs of spin-offs… perhaps not inappropriate, come to think of it. This particular octopus has far more than just eight limbs!

Enjoy this barrage of Mignola tentacles, just make sure you’re in the proper mood for them 😉

Hellboy: Seeds of Destruction no. 2 (April 1994).
Page from Hellboy: Seeds of Destruction no. 3 (May 1994).
Sketch from June 2019.
ZombieWorld: Champion of the Worms no. 2 (October 1997)

No post of this nature would be complete without featuring, in some form or other, H.P. Lovecraft, arguably the father of our modern obsession with tentacles. On that topic, I am linking to an excellent article about Mignola’s relationship with the creator of the Cthulhu Mythos (be warned that it’s in French, sorry!)

Art for the cover of Dark Horse Presents no. 142 (April 1999). Mignola made Lovecraft look downright dignified and borderline handsome, which is quite a feat, considering the latter’s unusual physiognomy.

Mignola revisited this very scene for his cover of Children of Lovecraft, and anthology of (non-comics) stories ‘inspired’ by Lovecraft (September, 2016). This was also published by Dark Horse.

More Victorian England and Lovecraftian archetypes can be found within the pages of Jenny Finn:

Artwork for Jenny Finn no. 1 (June 1999).
Back cover artwork for Jenny Finn Messiah no. 1 (2005).

Even Batman, in Mignola’s hands, gets tentaclefied!

A page from Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight no. 54 (November 1993).
Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham no. 2 (November 2000).

As a final note, I’d like to officially make a moue of distaste at people who share art without attribution, or without bothering to ascertain its source. To wit: a pair of images that are widely shared as Mike Mignola artwork… except that it isn’t by him at all, just by someone drawing in a similar style. Instagram and Pinterest are breeding grounds for such deplorable artistic credit robbery.

The following two illustrations are by Malaysian artist Daryl Toh.

∴ ds

Tentacle Tuesday Masters: Rich Larson

American artist Richard Larson has had his ink-smeared fingers in many pies. He has drawn ghost stories for Charlton Comics (see our posts dealing with that here and here), followed by some underground comics, followed by Marvel super-hero portfolios, followed by his own series Demon Baby, followed by…. He often works in tandem with other artists, most notably with Tim Boxell and with painter Steve Fastner (see a gallery of their collaborations here).

« Steve Fastner and Rich Larson have been working in concert since 1976, and together they create one entity of staggering abilities. Rich will lay down the structure of an illustration in pencil form, and then Steve will attack it with army of airbrushes – and when the dust clears – a magnificent painting stands proudly. For over a quarter of a century, they’ve been able to do this, working for comics, book publishers, advertising agencies, movies and television, and now the web. » (quote from Fastner and Larson Gallery, 2002)

RichLarsonSpace

tothesurface-Rich Larson-Steve Fastner
Have you ever seen anybody looking so smug after having stabbed some creature to death?

Steve-Fastner-and-Rich-Larson-Mermaids-and-Davey-Jones
Does the wild, groping beard of the old sea pirate count for tentacles? Indubitably. So does at least one of his hands.

RichLarson-StarWars
This may be just a sea-serpent, but there are no pedants in this audience, right? Besides, those suckers are distinctly tentacle-like.

RichLarson-Beauties-and-Beasts
Fastner & Larson’s Beauties & Beasts (2010)

I would be remiss in not including a collaboration between Larson and underground comix artist Tim Boxell, whom I mentioned at the beginning of the post and then proceeded to neglect.

Rich-Larson-and-Tim-Boxell-
Art by Rich Larson and Tim Boxell

Speaking of beautiful women in varying states of undress… if I mention Haunted House of Lingerie to you, does it ring any bells? Does it sound like an intriguing concept? Then the first thing you should do is visit our Tentacle Tuesday: a Day at the Beach. Nothing like shameless self-promotion! But afterwards, you might want to seek out the three volumes published so far before the whole thing goes completely out of print.

~ ds