Tentacle Tuesday: Mangled, Pulverized and Slashed Tentacles

« Men!! They are a worse menace than any octupus [sic] or shark that ever swam… »

Oh, poor octopuses. Authors use them as a (not very original) symbol of a terrifying, all-powerful force, and then get them (not very creatively) destroyed. An octopus is lucky to “just” get stabbed; everything seems to be fair play in this violent spree – dynamite, torpedoes, even freakin’ nuclear weapons. In most cases, the problem is definitely Man: man who enslaves sea creatures and makes them do his bidding with varied gadgets, man who intrudes on the octopus’ territory, man who sticks his nose where only tentacles should be.

« I only have to give him the claws of the killer lobster… the teeth of the tiger shark… and the heart of the barracuda! That is all! » Because any normal doctor has this stuff just lying around his operating theatre, obviously.


Spectacular, deadly monster created? Next thing to do is to rip an octopus to shreds, in a particularly gory eyeball-wrenching, tentacle-mincing scene.

BlueRibbon Comics#3-EddAshe
Seriously, just look at that eyeball getting pulled out by toes… Page from “Devils of the Deep”, scripted by George Nagle and drawn by Edd Ashe, published in Blue Ribbon Comics no. 3 (January 1940).

Next up, your standard slashing-at-tentacles-with-a-kitchen-cleaver. The guy must have been stashing it in his swimming trunks; there’s really no need for wearing an actual diving suit. That sap getting squeezed by a tentacle wore one… and look at all the good it did him.

Slam-Bang Comics no. 4 (June 1940), cover by Gus Ricca.
Don Winslow of the Navy no. 36 (July 1946). Created by Lieutenant Commander Frank V. Martinek as a newspaper strip, Don Winslow was meant to underline Naval courage and inspire American youth to orient their career paths in that direction. I dunno, maybe this particular issue was responsible for a new generation of oceanographers.

I love the idea of an eight tentacled obstacle, and shall aspire to insert that phrase into completely irrelevant conversations.

Don Winslow of the Navy #36-withthemarines
The story is called “With the Marines”, artist unknown.

I have to admit that Don Winslow (not the author) is the kindest octopus handler we’ve seen today. It must be part of those Naval traditions and courage Martinek insisted on. (He was quoted as saying “Since Don Winslow of the Navy is approved by the Navy Department, I cannot allow him to do anything that is contrary to the ideals, traditions or motives of the Navy.“)

Don Winslow of the Navy #36-withthemarines2
Blinding the beastie instead of stabbing – you go, Sir.

It takes cold, raw courage to step up to… This is the grandfather of all octopus… or is it octopi…?” Only a true hero starts fretting about the properness of his English while in proximity to a giant octopus. Are you wondering why that octopus looks distinctly fake? He’s actually made out of rubber, as Don Wallace, a.k.a. Torpedo Man discovers when he punctures the counterfeit cephalopod.

Blue Bolt Weird Tales of Terror no. 112 (Feb 1952). This is a page from “Strange Tale of the Sea Monster”.

In the 1950s, “atomic” was distinctly a cool word, which clearly inspired the creation of this Atomic Submarine (nuclear powered, that is) and its Atomic Commandos… a crew of, like, four people. To quote Toonopedia, “The real atomic sub was apparently a bit more complex and challenging to deal with than the comic book one. Commander Battle’s got along with only four men aboard — Bill Battle (the boss), Champ Ruggles (“the most powerful man on the American continent”, and maybe even the other American continent as well), Doc Blake (the scientific genius) and Tony Gardello (only mildly ethnic).

Commander Battle and the Atomic Sub no. 2 (Sept-Oct 1954), Cover by Ogden Whitney and Sheldon Moldoff.

The atomic commandos didn’t know that the way to the island was barred by an awful defender… by a gigantic nightmare creature that staggered the imagination! They didn’t see it as it rose from the depths behind them, flaring tentacles ready to pounce, clutch…” The octopus went from red to green – is that for better camouflage?

Commander Battle and the Atomic Sub #2-SheldonMoldoff2
Panels from the rather lengthy, 2-part story titled “Fight for Survival!”, drawn by Sheldon Moldoff.

The weird threat from the center of the earth is actually a nation of sea-dwellers who demand humans cease using atomic weapons, threatening to burn Earth’s surface if this is not done (and unleashing their almost-indestructible octopus, as well). When Commander Battle triumphs at the end of the story, all the “giant attackers” die from a radioactive cloud.  “And so it came to an end, this civilization of titans at the center of the earth… for now, not a single on was left alive! Let it be said that they were not evil! Destiny had willed it that they cross man’s path...” In today’s Tentacle Tuesday, this story takes the cake for its number of gratuitous deaths.

As for the octopus, he gets blown to smithereens…

Commander Battle and the Atomic Sub #2-SheldonMoldoff3

~ ds

Let’s All Go Down to the Catfights!

Catfight (noun): A vicious fight between two women that features biting & scratching and often involves clothes being ripped off.

To which I’ll add that if you put two women with different hair colours in one room, it’s like there’s a chemical reaction that makes them instantly aggressive. In comics, at least – and we all know that comics reflect real life accurately, right? The resulting combativeness is especially obvious when the encounter is between a blonde and a brunette. The women involved must also be beauties – presumably, plainer girls resort to verbal assaults when provoked, eschewing physical violence, unlike their flashier counterparts.

Or it could have something to do with the mostly-male audience who actively likes watching belles brawl. (Perhaps “ogle” would be a better description.) Let’s move on to the ogling bit, then!

Err, agreed on the “talking too much” bit. Manhunt no. 9 (Magazine Enterprises, June 1948). That art’s by Ogden Whitney.

“Jeepers! Baldy’s been skewered through the ticker! He’s defunct!” This charming scene with boob grabbery and skirt rippery (I know, don’t I have a way with words?) is from “Off Stage Kill”, a Dan Turner Hollywood Detective story from Crime Smashers no. 7 (Trojan Magazines, 1951).

Script by Robert Leslie Bellem, pencils and inks by Adolphe Barreaux (who was also the editor). Read the issue here. In case you were wondering, Fifi and Brenda are just acting out a fight scene for a movie, although they do get a little carried away (and accidentally skewer Baldy in the process). How many women have a knife tucked away in their garter belt?

Skipping ahead ten years or so…

EricStanton-Steve Ditko-DivorceAgreement
Ditko shared a studio in NYC with artist Eric Stanton between 1958 and 1968, and they collaborated on some bondage comics (or at least it’s commonly assumed that they have – for more information on that, dive into a discussion on the Four Realities blog, or read this excerpt from Fantagraphics’ Dripping with Fear: the Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 5.) This page is from a story published in 1966 and entitled “Divorce Agreement”.

The clothes-shredding and breast-mauling (ouch) continues…

Newspaper comics do it, too! This is Teena A Go Go from December 4th, 1966, written by Bessie Little and illustrated by Bob Powell.

Sometimes Betty and Veronica associations are hard to avoid. These girls also made sure to wear contrasting costumes while fighting, for maximum visual appeal, proving it’s possible to be fashion-conscious even in prehistoric times.

Anthro (the happy teenager watching this scene, and normally a redhead) will marry the victorious maiden… but the fight is a draw, and so he has to marry both in this “The Marriage of Anthro” story. This is Anthro no. 6 (July-Aug. 1969). Pencils by Howard (Howie) Post (who created Anthro, the “first boy”, a Cro-Magnon born to Neanderthal parents) and inks by Wally Wood. Let it be mentioned that Anthro is an immensely fun series, and that I love Howie Post’s art with or without Wood’s beautifying influence.

Women of other cultures aren’t immune from this phenomenon, by the way. Witness Italian chicks fighting:

Maghella13-Averardo Ciriello.
Maghella no. 13 (Elvifrance, 1975), cover by Averardo Ciriello. ” The title is something like “a scalded pussy doesn’t fear cold water”, a play on “chat échaudé craint l’eau froide“, an idiom that means roughly “twice bitten, once shy” or “a burnt child dreads the fire” and translates literally to “a scalded cat fears cold water”.

Italian erotica can be so entertaining! Maghella means a “young witch” in Italian. “The girl is identified by two braids of black hair and giant breasts with unspecified powers“, reads Wikipedia… Odd, I would have thought that her breasts have very specified powers, indeed. 😉

Moving on to French damsels…

Natacha (hôtesse de l’air) is a Franco-Belgian comics series, created by François Walthéry and Gos.  This page is from an adventure (one of the final stories scripted by the great Maurice Tillieux) called Le treizième apôtre (The Thirteenth Apostle), published in 1978. The blonde is Natacha, our heroïne.

If you want to emphasize the catfight aspect, dress your girls in feline-motif outfits. Oh, I’m sorry – this is no quotidian quarrel, it’s professional wrestling!

Bunty no. 352 (1992) – unfortunately, I don’t know who did the cover. British Picture Story Library was a 62 page a comic digest, published weekly. If you’d like to know how Leopard Lily overcame Tiger Tina, visit Assorted Thoughts from an Unsorted Mind.

I think we need one even more literal interpretation of “cat fight”:

A snippet from “Meow Row”, published in Betty and Veronica no. 59 (January 1993). Script by George Gladir, pencils by Dan DeCarlo, inks by Alison Ford. Now guess who is who. (It’s obvious: Tiger Girl is Betty, and Veronica gets Meow Girl’s sexier costume.)

This is a fairly inexhaustible topic, but one must quit sometime. Cold shower, anyone?

~ ds

Update from January 2023 – now we also have Let’s All Go Down to the Catfights — Again!