« Fistfightin’ may not be your style, Marshall Earp! If you want to crawl, I’ll let ye off easy! » « Crawl, Irish John? I’m going to tie a knot in your cauliflower ears! » — ‘Hired to Die’ (1965)
Happy one hundred and seventy-fourth birthday to Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp (March 19, 1848 – January 13, 1929), bison hunter, teamster, bouncer, saloon-keeper, gambler, brothel owner, pimp, miner, boxing referee, constable, city policeman, county sheriff, and, lest we forget, comic book hero… for several publishers at once!
Mr. Earp had an especially notable run at Charlton (and by far the best title logo), with sixty-one issues of his very own title published between 1956 and 1967. And with Joe Gill scripts, so it’s solid stuff. This is Wyatt Earp, Frontier Marshal no. 61 (Dec. 1965, Charlton); cover by Pat Masulli and Rocco Mastroserio. I’d saved this one for this occasion, having withheld it from my M/M showcase The Masulli-Mastroserio Cover Deluge of ’65!
«Then suddenly, like some gigantic serpent out of the deep, a huge, quivering tentacle tose from out of the sea — a sight from any seaman’s maddest, most impossible nightmare –! »
Today we pay another visit to Subbie (or Subby), which every bit as horrible an abbreviation as ‘hubby’ for ‘husband’. We’ve gone over his history in a previous post (see Tentacle Tuesday: Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner), so now we can concentrate on Action! Adventure!! Excitement!!! What’s on his charged schedule, you might ask? Why, a quick tussle with some Soviet submarines, a few pompous (I’m sorry, I meant ‘dramatic and exciting’) speeches, a plunge intro ‘wintry, unplumbed depths’, a lengthy trip to memory lane, and an epic fight with an unliving cyborg!
My favourite, naturally, are the Soviet submarines.
Moving forward by a little more than 15 years, we get embroiled in a slightly different kind of evil…
When Wakes the Kraken! was scripted by Roy Thomas, pencilled by Sal Buscema and inked by Mike Esposito. Aside from a lot of dialogue (check out the ‘ay, woman… but the time has come for battle… not words!‘), this story also has a lot of plump, high-quality tentacles.
This cover is fun, given that the Symbiotic Man appears to have tentacles on the soles of his feet and the ends of his hair as well. Did somebody actually demand that Namor should fight alone? I was under the impression that Marvel readers were more into ‘the more the merrier’ type of fun.
The cover story is titled Death Is the Symbionic Man!, scripted by Bill Mantlo and illustrated by Jim Mooney. Note the typo in ‘its’ in the second speech bubble.
« Drinking your own blood is the paradigm of recycling. » — Gary Busey
Say, isn’t there something… sorta quaint about that cover?
In the 1970s, while DC and Charlton consistently provided all-new material*, Marvel quickly switched to an all-reprint formula (the better to save money whilst flooding the market, my dear!), sometimes even on the covers, with some amusingly inappropriate updates at times.
Okay, here are another pair of before and afters:
*and if and when they didn’t, they’d tell you! Not so with Marvel. As for Gold Key, they would just pretend the material was ‘reprinted by popular demand’.
« The whole planet reeks of mysticism without revelation. » — Dan Simmons
Last May, when I showcased Joe Maneely‘s Atlas cover art (see Joe Maneely, Atlas of Versatility), I intentionally left out his pieces for the horror titles, knowing them worthy of some attention of their own, an ideal topic for the Hallowe’en countdown. Besides, it took some pressure out of the selection process if I could save one whole genre for a rainy day — and today’s most certainly that day!
“Mystic” is evidently one of Marvel’s pet titles: the title was first used by Timely in 1940-42, then again in 1944-45; once more, most successfully in this Atlas horror series, for 61 issues from 1951-57. And lately in 2009 and 2011. I’ll bet that tradition’s not yet done with, but why on earth?
« After that I never saw him again. He became the ‘phantom’ artist, whereabouts unknown! » — Bhob Stewart
Hello again. Last year, I touched upon the stint that Matt Fox (1905-1988) did as an occasional and unappreciated inker at Marvel in the Silver Age. While he’s assured a sort of immortality for the eleven winningly oddball covers he painted for Weird Tales, he also left his distinctive and lasting mark on horror comics of the 1950’s. Let’s give the old burying grounds the once-over, shall we?
Here’s one of Fox’s all-too-infrequent forays between comic book covers. This one appeared in Uncanny Tales no.6 (March 1953, Atlas). Writer unknown… though that’s no great loss to history.
« There is an air of disquiet to his vision, yet it charms through a surreptitious blending of the primitive with the mockingly insane. His characters border on the lunatic, seemingly at home in his landscapes, concealing a darkness corruptive of the soul. »
And I leave the final word to my trusted accomplice ds, who observed that:
« I find that the art of Matt Fox reminds me of Terrance Lindall… Both can create disquieting monsters with eyes that speak of inner torment, reminiscent of Christian Art (mostly Spanish, I believe) from a few centuries ago. »
The source of tentacles in Golden Age comics seems inexhaustible – every time I think I have reached the bottom of the well, I find myself awash in cephalopods. That being said, a lot of these octopusoid appearances are one-panel cameos, and even when the tentacles linger for a few pages, the shitty printing, questionable scans or bare-bones art don’t exactly incite me to use this material in a Tentacle Tuesday. Today’s crop is all Golden Age, running the gamut from 1939 to 1952, and composed of pages/covers I can enthusiastically endorse.
George (of Harry J. Tuthill’sThe Bungle Family, ‘one of the most under-rated comic strips in the history of American cartoonery’ according to Art Spiegelman,‘one of the top hundred comics of the 20th century‘, according to The Comics Journal) may be thoroughly bundled up in tentacles, but he still keeps a sort of prosaic calm that I admire.
Just look at the canines the red devil is ready to plunge into Black Hood’s leg! Throw in a fanged octopus, and this cover has as much action as one would possibly want. Sadly, nothing of the sort actually goes on in this issue.
« I don’t mind if my skull ends up on a shelf as long as it’s got my name on it. » —Debbie Harry
A couple of years back, I spotlighted a story by a neglected Golden Age favourite of mine, Anthony Lewis “Tony” DiPreta (July 9, 1921 – June 2, 2010), the wacky The Hidden Vampires! I advise reading it first for comparison (and a bit of background on the artist).
« ‘A face like an oyster, huh?‘ Danny Lomax repeated, and swallowed hard. ‘That’s what it’s going to look like?‘ Nick Deene chuckled and nodded. ‘If there’s anything deader-looking than a watery blue oyster that’s been open too long,‘ he said, ‘I don’t know what it is.‘ » — Robert Arthur, The Believers (1941)
Today, we’ll peer through filmy years past at another example of cultural cross-pollination: a notion is born, seemingly out of nowhere, then it ineffably catches the collective fancy and is in some fashion absorbed into folklore, scattered like grain by wind and whisper. Then some soul, blessed with a way with words, polishes it for publication and some editor buys it for peanuts. Another wordsmith reshuffles and refines it, sprinkling some notions of his own, perhaps a glint of sardonic humour. Hungry for material, radio gets hold of the setup and reshapes it a little to fit another medium. Late one night, some comic book hack hears that presentation, and recollects its essence, some years on, in a frantic rush to fill some pages and scrape together a meagre living. Or perhaps he saw it in a competitor’s rag. Bah, no-one’ll remember… or give a toss. “I’ll give it a stab from another angle!“
First, there was… well, I’m not sure. But let’s begin with Henry Russell Wakefield‘s short story Ghost Hunt (either 1938 or 1948… sources differ), in which…
A radio host broadcasts a live ghost hunt in a house in London where there have been “no less than thirty suicides”. Most have run from the house at night to throw themselves off the cliff and into the nearby river. The radio broadcaster is joined by a paranormal investigator. The investigation proves all-too successful in this chilling story.
The Believers is a classic horror story by Robert Arthur. It’s about a radio host who decides to broadcast a live show from a haunted house. This story is also known as “Do You Believe in Ghosts?” and it was based on an older story by H. Russell Wakefield called “Ghost Hunt”. It also inspired a horror comic story and an episode of Tales From The Crypt, both of which were called “Television Terror”.
And more that just the one ‘horror comic story’ was inspired by this singular scenario. In 1952, The Unknown (or at least uncredited, which amounts to the same thing) Writer came up with The Walking Ghost, which will now break up the tedium of text, text, text, and provide you with some welcome visuals by Messrs. Mike Sekowsky on pencils and Bill Walton on inks.
The Walking Ghost was reprinted decades later in Crypt of Shadows no. 3 (May, 1973, Marvel), where I first encountered this tale, and this bit of dialogue was modified to better (but not by much) fit the times:
It occurs to me that I haven’t focused on the good old mademoiselle-embraced-by-tentacles cliché in a while. If today has a further theme, it’s of women (both human and alien) being grabbed by the midriff. Polka-dotted tentacles in a swamp and furry tentacles on Venus, whether they’re latching on to a humanoid woman with four breasts or a blue-skinned Talokian, all basically behave the same way.
As usual, this is a chronological progression that takes us from early Golden Age days all the way to mid flamboyant 80s.
I agree that having one’s ribcage crushed does not help with breathing, but still, I am not sure why Shadow Lass is choking on the panel on the right when the vege-demon has her by the midriff.
For a little variety, I’m also including the following warrior vixen as a pleasant exception to the rule – she is not only not being grabbed, but also has an octopus for an obedient pet.
Our next stop is a proposed illustration for the 1984 movie The Warrior and the Sorceress, painted by Bob Larkin. The movie in question (which I have never seen) is apparently “noted chiefly for containing extensive nudity and violence and for being one of the more extreme examples of the sword-and-sorcery genre. It is also considered by some to be a cult classic.“
As… questionable… as this is, the illustration that was chosen in the end is in a whole other class of cheesiness. The sorceress has also died her hair blonde, presumably because she wants to have (even more) fun! We also lost the cephalopod, unfortunately, but the maxim “one can’t have everything” comes to mind – and David Carradine in a pearly loincloth is plenty.
After *that*, the following cover looks quite humdrum by comparison. It’s difficult to imagine how Red Sonja will extricate herself from this situation…
Incidentally, there are tons of Red Sonja cover with tentacles, mostly of recent vintage, and most of them are ugly as sin. This one is decent:
Clearly, some cravings die awfully hard. This is Strange Tales no. 28 (May, 1954, Atlas), featuring a most claustrophobic… cuddle. The rest of this scarce issue contains artwork by Pete Tumlinson, Jack Katz (who recently — just last week! — turned 93), Bob Forgione, Don Perlin (who recently turned 90) and Tony DiPreta.