So we’ve got another dour, dark, mumbly, violent, grim ‘n’ gritty Batman movie making the rounds. I’ll pass — I’m afraid that’s not my Batman of choice. But I’m certainly game to provide an alternative view.
*the second-funniest Bat-related thing I encountered online this week is this attribution of a Batman (created in 1939) quote to Marx (1818-1883).
The funniest was the following deeply ironic quote from pathological liar and glory hog Bob Kane: « How can an article about me or the Batman be the true story when I am not consulted or interviewed? »
« When I was a young writer if you went to a party and told somebody you were a science-fiction writer you would be insulted. They would call you Flash Gordon all evening, or Buck Rogers. » —Ray Bradbury
We’ve talked about newspaper strip Flash Gordon in Tentacle Tuesday: Lurkers in the Newsprint, and now it’s time for its comic book version! Although I normally have very little interest in FG, this is no second-rate Tentacle Tuesday: there is some prime tentacular material to be enjoyed.
We first concern ourselves with the Flash Gordon Charlton Comics run, which picked up the count where King Comics had left it in 1967. From 1969 until 1970, Charlton published issues 12 to 18, all of which but the first had glorious covers and cover stories by Pat Boyette, an absolute WOT favourite ( you can visit co-admin RG’s Pat Boyette — Hillbilly Makes Good* for a deeper exploration of his career).
The cover of issue 14 has an octopus shortage (a serious flaw affecting many, many comic book covers!), but the monster o’nine-tentacled-tails the ’emotionless killers’ encounter is a beauty. The following page is also a good example of Boyette’s imaginative page layouts, in which things are kept dynamic, but never engender confusion about who is doing what and to whom.
Then we come to a real bevy of Boyette tentacles a few issues later –
The Creeping Menace, the cover story, is scripted by Joe Gill and illustrated by Pat Boyette. I am including two pages (and a panel) because it’s too difficult to choose between them – all boast the aforementioned dynamic layouts and striking tentacles.
The publishing history of comic-book Flash Gordon was an interesting relay race: Gold Key Comics resumed the run with issue 19 (1978), and kept it up until issue 27 (1979); finally, issues 28 to 37 were published under its Whitman imprint between 1980 and 1982. The latter category offers two tentacled covers, and some inside goodies.
The cover story The Deadly Depths is scripted by John Warner and illustrated by Carlos Garzón. Oh, this thing is not hostile… just hungry.
The last Whitman issue also is of some interest, though on the cover Flash looks like he’s fighting caterpillars with an martini olive for a head.
Cover story My Friend, My Killer! is scripted by George Kashdan and illustrated by Gene Fawcette and features cute serpent plants that look like they’re wearing little hula skirts.
And that concludes our tour of Flash Gordon tentacles in the Silver Age (and with some forays into Bronze).
« Once you’ve lived the inside-out world of espionage, you never shed it. It’s a mentality, a double standard of existence. » — John le Carré (1931-)
Here I go again, featuring yet another 1970s Alfredo Alcala story. This time, Fate, writ large, has forced my hand, and it’s unofficially Contagion Week here on WOT?
I’ve always had a soft spot for writer-editor George Kashdan (1928 – 2006). While he wasn’t what you’d term an outstanding writer, he was the most consistent bright spot of DC’s mystery books in the late ’60 to early ’80s. As opposed to the other workhorses in the stable, one still found trace amounts of passion and personal quirks in his work. His recurring themes for simply more fun than his colleagues’: he loved Sinister gentlemen’s clubs, wild conspiracies, strange carnivals, pre-ordained, thematically-twisted deaths (think of those Final Destination movies)…
In a thoughtful obituary, Mark Evanier tells us: « In 1968, as part of a program of editorial restructuring, Kashdan was let go by DC. Several people who worked with him said it was because he was “too nice” and had occasionally clashed with management in arguing that freelancers should be paid and treated better. » Ah, another victim of the anti-union purge of ’68*.
No-one comes off particularly well in this one, really: Croker the spy is an impenitent, petulant slime bucket right to the finish, and the military, for their part, have been conducting sloppy biochemical experiments… for purely defensive purposes, I’m sure.
While the Geneva Protocol has prohibited the use of such barbaric means of warfare since 1925, the US didn’t sign on until… 1975, just before the fall of Saigon, marking the end of the Vietnam War. Let’s not ever forget the US Armed Forces’ generous and indiscriminate dispersion of Napalm and Agent Orange upon troops and civilians during the course of that conflict.
Given the timing, perhaps that bit of news inspired Kashdan to pen this sour little parable.
The guard’s high moral stance, « No one has the right to endanger the whole human race! » may ring a bit hollow and ironic given the circumstances, but he’s still right.
On a smaller, but no less tragic scale, consider the real-life story of what happened when a fan broke quarantine to catch a public appearance of her idol, actress Gene Tierney.
One simply can’t afford to mess around when it comes to quarantines and contagion.
Incidentally, Alcala really seemed to have a yen for those flay-headed mutants of his. To wit, here’s the opening page of The Children of the Bomb, Part 5, from Planet of the Apes no. 10 (July 1975, Marvel), written by Doug Moench and illustrated by Alcala.
* « [In 1968] Fox had joined other comics writers like Otto Binder, John Broome, Arnold Drake, Bill Finger and Bob Haney, signing a petition to ask DC for more financial benefits, particularly regarding health insurance. Since the company regarded writers as expendable people they were all fired without mercy and replaced by more obedient newcomers. » [ source ]