Tentacle Tuesday: Planet of Tentacles, part II

It was high time to finish what I started! Here is part two of Tentacle Tuesday: Planet of Tentacles, courtesy of Fiction House. I doubt I will exhaust Planet Comics’ source of tentacles when it comes to inside stories, but at least we’ll be able to say that we’ve completed our tour of its tentacle-bearing covers.

Planet Comics no. 2 (February 1940). Cover by, believe it or not, Will Eisner, a mere 23 at the time. If it’s meant to be scary, it is! Though perhaps the garish colours have something to do with it.
Planet Comics no. 15 (November 1941). Cover by Dan Zolnerowich, under his nom de plume Zolne Rowich.
Planet Comics no. 52 (January 1948). Cover by Joe Doolin.

Honestly, I wasn’t quite sure whether these were tentacles or what, but one look at the cover story dispelled my doubts. Does anybody care that the monsters inside look nothing like the ones on the cover? Naaah.

Mystery of the Time Chamber! was scripted by Ross Gallun and illustrated by Maurice Whitman.
Planet Comics no. 62 (September 1949). Cover pencilled by Joe Doolin and inked by John Celardo.

And, last but not least, look at these baby cephalopods! So cute.

Planet Comics no. 71 (Summer 1953). Cover by Maurice Whitman. Speaking of which, visit Ectoplasm-bedeviled pulchritude: Maurice Whitman’s Ghost Comics for more lovely art!

~ ds

Tentacle Tuesday: Remember Those Good Old Cephalopod Forties?

My grandfather, born around 1920, used to tell me tales of what life used to be like in the 40s for a young man. He skipped the salacious adventures, of course, as that would have been inappropriate fodder for a child, but another thing he seems to have omitted is the presence of all manner of tentacles in everyday life… I cannot ask him about it, as he passed away many years ago, but I nevertheless dedicate this post to his memory.

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Famous Funnies no. 83 (June 1941, Eastern Color), artist unknown. To be attacked by a sock puppet trying to pull you into the sea is tragic, not funny!

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Planet Comics no. 22 (January 1943, Fiction House), cover by Dan Zolnerowich. I somehow completely overlooked this cover when doing Tentacle Tuesday: Planet of Tentacles, courtesy of Fiction House.

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Air Fighters Comics no. 5 (February 1943, Hillman). Cover by Charles Biro.

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The United States Marines no. 3 (1944, Magazine Enterprises). Cover by Creig Flessel. I don’t know if fighting a Japanese head caricature attached to seven tentacles qualifies as an “authentic marine corps story”.

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Famous Funnies  no. 157 (August 1947, Eastern Color). Cover by Stephen Douglas.

∼ ds

Tentacle Tuesday: Tropical Foliage!

Greetings! I am on vacation this week – on vacation from work, that is, but never from tentacles! Stowed away on a tropical island (with a WiFi connection, ça va de soi),  hoping to glimpse an octopus going about his business in the ocean, enjoying the tropical foliage… Speaking of the latter, some of the plants that grow around here are distinctly tentacular in nature.

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So you see, I really had very little choice in regards to the topic of today’s Tentacle Tuesday installment! I’ve decided to stick to the 40s and 50s, as there are really many more cannibal plants out there than one could possibly shake a stick at.

Quite a few of these offerings are taken from the pages of Planet Comics, and if it rubs your fancy, our Tentacle Tuesday: Planet of Tentacles, courtesy of Fiction House post might be worth a visit.

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This installment of Red Comet is illustrated by Joe Doolin, and published in Planet Comics no. 14 (September 1941). Frankly, these things seem a little too bulky to carry about with you. Just imagine if somebody tried to walk around carrying a triffid.

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I believe the Red Comet had the ability to explode things with his mind, but clearly there were some restrictions.

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A page from an installment of Gale Allen and the Girl Squadron, illustrated by Fran Hopper. Gasp, a woman comics artist! A rare thing indeed, back in the Golden Age. Published in Planet Comics no. 28 (January 1944). Gale Allen ends up in this very position quite often, though tentacles aren’t always involved.

Incidentally, may I just point out that the Girl Squadron’s costumes (as they go on their intergalactic, dangerous missions) wouldn’t be out of place in a modern music video? Fran Hopper could draw cute girls with no trouble at all – and she also seemed aware that breasts are affected by gravity (but just a little bit, one wouldn’t want to be *too* realistic).

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The ruler of Carnivoria not only has poor taste in titles (most lands are governed by meat-eaters of one kind or another – in that sense, Canada could be called Carnivoria with the same degree of accuracy), but also poor taste in clothing: is that goofy hat supposed to be regal?

For a chuckle, visit the post about Gale Allen And Her Girl Squadron on the Stupid Comics blog, featuring fun images like this one:

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From the usual team: written by Douglas McKee and illustrated by Fran Hopper.

Eye candy for men *and* women readers! 😉

Back to tentacles… and on to Fred Guardineer, who also drew cuties of both sexes:

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The Harp of Death! is illustrated by Fred Guardineer. Printed in Manthunt no. 7 (April 1948).

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Evil Guy has the body of an eagle (with hands and feet, though), and raises deadly cannibal plants that respond to whistling. Does that seem a tad… random to you?

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A page from Appetite for Death, drawn by Henry Kiefer. Published in Beware no. 12 (November 1954).

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There’s something distinctly wrong with the guy’s anatomy.

~ ds

Tentacle Tuesday: Planet of Tentacles, courtesy of Fiction House

In today’s Tentacle Tuesday, I’d like to demonstrate that Planet Comics, a sci-fi comic series published by Fiction House from 1940 to 1953, liked to tantalize its rapt audience by featuring tentacled monsters as often as basic decency permitted. Not to say that they limited their cheap pandering to tentacles; other tropes reared their ugly head, too. Faithful to its pulp magazine roots (Planet Comics was a Planet Stories’ spinoff), there’s always some stunning damsel in distress on the cover, and often some dashing muscle-head to rescue her. Mike Benton summarized Planet Comics’ raison d’être beautifully, if somewhat cruelly, in his Science Fiction Comics: The Illustrated History (1992) as «the barest smattering of sense and substance».

In its defence, P.C. also often ran stories in which female protagonists saved their friends’ bacon. How oddly progressive: the gals were clearly dressed to impress, but their skills and smarts repeatedly allowed them to overcome the odds while the big hunks stood helpless. Between that and all the tentacles, there’s a warm spot in my heart for Planet Comics.

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Let’s start with no. 42, which features Gale Allen, a Venusian princess with a knack for getting into trouble and the courage for getting herself out of it. Her Girl Squadron, comprised of female pilots and soldiers, may have been an excuse for drawing yet more pretty girls, yet in the stories the squadron was still a force to be reckoned with, by friend or foe.

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Planet Comics no. 42, May 1946. Cover by Joe Doolin, adept at depicting the female form in an aesthetically pleasing way. Here Gale is being rescued by some dark-haired stud with a laser gun (who cares about him?), but let’s peek inside…

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This is what Gale has to deal with in « Slave of the Hydra », also drawn by Doolin. This toothy beast is supposed to be a Hydra. Hydra of the Hydridae family, or the Greek many-headed serpent? Neither supposition makes sense.

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Our plucky heroine manages to save the day by escaping a certain drowning! It’s a little known fact that girls can actually store extra oxygen in their boobs. Kidding aside, I can understand why Planet Comics had a female readership that must have enjoyed reading about women who don’t crumble under pressure, and sometimes even kick monster tush.

Moving on to the next cover, an odd one even by Golden Age sci-fi standards:

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Planet Comics no. 44 (September 1946), cover by Joe Doolin. She’s a generic damsel-in-distress, I get that, but the alien is strange – even for an alien. I imagine that the artist’s internal conversation went something like this: “okay, I’ll give him arms that double as tentacled snouts, and snail eyeball stalks. Oh, and I’ll make him a cyclops while I’m at it. And he’ll be drooling. And I’ll make him look black because that’s more exotic.” Yikes.

A glimpse at the stories inside quickly proves that the cover has nothing to do with Mysta of the Moon, or any of the “many others” advertised on the cover. There is, however, an octopus in the Futura story. Futura was another recurring heroine, an ordinary girl abducted by Brain-Lords of Cymradia and “improved” into a stronger, smarter version of her old self. Smart, resourceful and a damn good fighter, Futura is fun to watch in action. Especially when tentacles are involved! Take a look:

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Officially signed by John Douglas; pencils and inks by Chester Martin. I feel oddly sorry for the crocodile.

Let’s have a look at several covers where tentacles are actually used as the good lord has intended, i.e. for grabbing pretty girls:

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Ah, yes, the old “reptiles with tentacles” scare. Planet Comics no. 51, November 1947. Cover by Joe Doolin (again). Man, his girls are pretty delectable.

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Planet Comics no. 67, summer 1952. Cover by Maurice Whitman. There are absolutely no tentacles in any of the stories. Boo, I say.

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Planet Comics no. 70 (spring 1953), cover by Maurice Whitman. I like the alien’s get-up in general: his flappy ears, the motorcycle helmet, the hip lip piercings… He’s one cool cat. I am equally impressed by how he’s managing to fire a gun when he doesn’t have opposable thumbs (maybe the pistol is specially tentacle-adapted; instead of a trigger, some sort of squeeze sensor). Disappointingly, the insides of this issue don’t have any tentacles whatsoever, although there are some dinosaurs and giant man-eating spiders (and most of us will be happy to settle for that).

Oh, perhaps I have been neglecting burly heroes a tad. Those of us who prefer muscle to curve deserve some eye candy, too! So here’s good old Reef – and some green men in Speedos.

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Planet Comics no. 17, March 1942. A Reef Ryan story, possibly pencilled by George Appel and inked by Al Gabriele, though it’s credited to Hugh Fitzhugh, a funky nom-de-plume for parties unknown.

And men get grabbed by tentacles, too:

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Planet Comics no. 32, September 1944. Art by Lee Elias.

There’s about 10 more Planet Comics covers with tentacles left, and quite a few more interior pages showcasing the beauty of the octopus, or tentacled alien, or cephalopod reptile, or whatever else the kooky minds writing and drawing for Fiction House have dreamed up… but that’s enough for now. There’s only so much probing appendage the human mind can take in one go, so I’ll say Auf Wiedersehen.

Until the next time our paths (and tentacles) cross again!

~ ds