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? »
I wasn’t around in the 70s. (Literally, as in “I hadn’t been born yet”.) So when somebody – in, oh, say 2008 or so – handed me a copy of some ghost comics printed by Charlton Comics (I don’t remember what exactly), that was my first exposure to this publishing company. I wasn’t aware that I wasn’t « supposed » to like this stuff… and by the time some kind soul pointed out that it’s not exactly orthodox to seek out Charlton publications, it was too late to change my mind. Clearly, that’s how monsters with no taste are created.
Charlton Comics had the reputation for inferior printing (as one of my friends put it, « godawful colours and reproduction and paper ») and low quality control. I’d say that when one contemplates the variety of artistic styles and the dizzying panoply of artists published by them, the quality of the printing distinctly becomes a less important consideration. Charlton paid badly, sure, but since when do people decide what they like and what they don’t based on how artists are treated? (Just look around – companies that trample on creators’ rights are doing very well indeed.) It seems like a knee-jerk reaction; I often wonder if people who automatically react with sneers to the very mention of Charlton have actually read any of the comics this company printed. Or perhaps they’re scared by some of the artists’ styles which are just too wild, too squiggly, just not clean enough. (Sloppy line work! Anathema to any comic book lover worth his salt, right?)
Anyway, Charlton’s « loose editorial oversight » meant there was no house style to speak of, and artists with highly idiosyncratic styles could let their eccentricities shine.
You may notice some names are conspicuously absent from today’s post. Tom Sutton, exhibit A of the “chaotic, scratchy art” category, will get a Tentacle Tuesday post all to himself at a later date. Some beloved artists just didn’t draw any tentacles for Charlton (as far as I know!): Warren Sattler, Don Perlin, Sam Glanzman, Don Newton, Rocco Mastroserio, etc. Wayne Howard is already part of a Tentacle Tuesday (see Plant Tentacle Tuesday), as is Enrique Nieto (Tentacle Tuesday: Spunky Skirmishes).
« When the blast of a rocket launch slams you against the wall and all the rust is shaken off your body, you will hear the great shout of the universe and the joyful crying of people who have been changed by what they’ve seen… »*
Greetings, dear astronauts! Today’s Tentacle Tuesday concerns itself with that “religious experience”, space travel… with tentacles in tow, of course. Some comics may announce their interplanetary theme by putting SPACE into the title of the series (and making sure it’s big and bold!), while others deploy a little subtlety and coyly refer to the unknown, or the unexpected. Either way, we’re in for a grand old time exploring space along with the brave men and women (err, mostly men) who found themselves exclaiming “ooh, tentacles!” while exploring some mysterious planet.
Incidentally, today I was given a nice gift at work: Buddha’s Hand, or the fingered citron, a type of citrus someone described as a “Monsanto-produced cross between calamari and a lemon”. How very appropriate for Tentacle Tuesday! Here’s a picture of my very own tentacled beauty:
« I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.»*
Heigh-ho, it’s off to work we go. Octopuses have to work, too (at least occasionally). (And while they work, they have to restrain from grabbing unwilling passersby, as they don’t want to get slapped with a sexual assault lawsuit. I present to you a list of some of the professions that cephalopods excel at… no hanky-panky involved.
« We are all susceptible to the pull of viral ideas. Like mass hysteria. Or a tune that gets into your head that you keep humming all day until you spread it to someone else. Jokes. Urban legends. Crackpot religions. Marxism. No matter how smart we get, there is always this deep irrational part that makes us potential hosts for self-replicating information. » — Neil Stephenson
True story! It happened to a friend of a friend of a relative of an acquaintance of the hairdresser of the nephew of the uncle of the garage mechanic of the girdle maker of a cousin of a U.F.O. abductee ex-classmate of my brother’s. Or so he obliquely claimed under hypnotic regression.
Apparently, this tale gave rise (I know, I know) to a variant called The Cucumber in the Disco Pants.
And remember, always check with Snopes.com before propagating dubious claims.
Spider in the Hairdo! is a juicy excerpt from Dark Horse’s one-shot Urban Legends no. 1 (June, 1993). Adaptation by the self-proclaimed « World’s Best Artist », Mitch O’Connell. I can think of far less worthy candidates for the position.
And if, like me, you can’t get enough of such urban folklore, check out any of Jan Harold Brunvand’s score of splendidly compelling books on the subject. When it comes to urban myths, Dr. Brunvand is the authority.
As a bonus, here’s Arthur Adams‘ slightly subsequent take on the same myth, published in DC/Paradox Press’ inaugural entry in its ‘Big Book of…’ series, The Big Book of Urban Legends (1994).
By their very nature, the Big books (seventeen in all) tended to be pretty hit or miss, not, for once, because of the writing, but chiefly due to the evident paucity, in the current comics industry, of artists versatile enough to credibly depict low-key, quotidian, humorous or historical situations. Is it counterintuitive, or fitting, that artists on the cartoonier end of the scale (Rick Geary, Roger Langridge, Gahan Wilson, Hilary Barta, Ty Templeton, Danny Hellman, Sergio Aragonés…) tended to fare best in producing this type of « documentary » work? I haven’t quite made up my mind. All I know is that the superhero specialists and photo tracers just brought embarrassment upon themselves *and* the unfortunate reader.