Tentacle Tuesday Masters: The Stylish Richard Sala

Today’s Tentacle Tuesday is a really fun one, given that its focus is the snazzy art of Richard Sala (1954-2020), deceased, alas, far too soon at 65, when he was about to launch a new webcomic.

Granted, perhaps the plots of his stories often don’t make that much sense. But! they’re awash in half-naked damsels, sad-eyed defeateds, vampires and ghouls of all kinds, a mad scientist or two, dark alleys and schoolgirl academies and strangely ominous museums and… all of this drawn in Sala’s easily recognizable, deliciously scary style. Peculia is definitely involved in this post (see co-admin RG’s Hallowe’en Countdown IV, Day 17), but so is Judy Drood, girl detective, plucky heroine and first-rate fighter… and a host of other characters! So follow me as I kick things off with some beautifully painted Evil Eye covers (and backs!) – Sala had an impeccable sense of colour.

Back cover of Evil Eye no. 2 (October 1998). An actual octopus and reasonable-cause-for-belief plant tentacles!
Evil Eye no. 4 (August 1999, Fantagraphics). Perhaps it’s a bit of a stretch to call these arms ’embracing’ Peculia tentacles, yet there’s always room for poetic licence.
The back cover of Evil Eye no. 8 (September 2001, Fantagraphics).
Back cover of Evil Eye no. 9 (July 2002, Fantagraphics). Judy is caught between a rock and a hard place, as usual, but fear not! She’ll bash her way out, sooner or later.
Peculia, a 2002 collection of the titular heroine’s strips (published by Fantagraphics, as usual).

I complimented Sala’s beautiful colour work earlier (and hopefully demonstrated this point!), but Sala’s black-and-white work is equally satisfying. Shall we have a look-see?

Some plant tentacles make an appearance in Peculia and the Groon Grove Vampires (2013, Fantagraphics):

The Grave Robber’s Daughter (2007, Fantagraphics) spins the yarn of what happens when Judy Dredd is stranded in a strangely empty town… empty until the clowns come out, that is. I really enjoyed this 96-page tale (read it here), with its quick-paced, cohesive plot, top-notch art and of course a good dose of Coulrophobia. I don’t like clowns, either. Here are two pages highlighting Freddie, ‘the Crawling Thing’, and his manifold tentacles:

Finally, as a little bonus, I am including a pin-up that doesn’t have any tentacles to recommend it, but is otherwise perfectly appropriate to this not-quite-end-of-September. Co-admin RG has plenty up his sleeve with his upcoming Hallowe’en count-down, but I am allowing myself just one furtive foray into vampire territory…

This sweet, lovingly-coloured gag cartoon was created in 2013 and intended for Playboy (but unfortunately never published).

Sala explains: « According to the editor, I was one of only a few of the cartoonists asked to submit ideas whose submissions were ‘sex positive’. That is, according to him, most of the submissions by younger cartoonists were more in line with the kind of scatological, angry, ‘gross-out’, excretion-happy humor more typical of today, or focused on the adversarial relationship between men and women. My somewhat sweet oral sex joke seems pretty quaint in comparison, I guess. »

~ ds

Hallowe’en Countdown IV, Day 17

« I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion. » — Henry David Thoreau

Have you picked out that special pumpkin for your fast incoming (dark, presumably) celebrations? If not, better get on it — someone (or something) else may be casting covetous glances and about to call dibs.

The lovely barefoot damsel is Richard Sala’s plucky heroïne (well, one of them!) Peculia. She was the star of Sala’s showcase title Evil Eye (1998-2004, Fantagraphics), as well as the graphic novel Peculia and the Groon Grove Vampires (2005). Fret not, she can fend for herself.

This is Evil Eye no. 2 (Oct. 1998, Fantagraphics).
This is Evil Eye no. 3 (Apr. 1999, Fantagraphics).
This is Evil Eye no. 5 (Mar. 2000, Fantagraphics).

As you may or may not have heard, Mr. Sala was one of the many notables we lost over the course of this nearly unparalleled Annus horribilis. Let’s remember him through this heartfelt eulogy penned by his closest friend and esteemed colleague, Mr. Daniel Clowes.

A fetching pinup from the back cover of the 2002 Peculia collection (2002, Fantagraphics).

– RG

Tentacle Tuesday: Up From the Murky Depths

« Down metal snake corridors
Steely grey engines hum for nobody but me
No sound comes from the sea above me
No messages crackles through the radio leads
They’ll never know, never no never
How strange life in dark water can be…
»*

Now that we’re finally enjoying proper autumnal weather – which is to say, grey, rainy and beautiful – my thoughts turn to the dark and the wet. Aquatic octopus scenes fit this mood beautifully: those mute scenes where characters are as if frozen in the clutches of a gargantuan octopus. In which overeager octopod grabbers get ferociously punished for their ill-advised enthusiasm, winding up, more often than not, on the wrong end of a sharp… implement.

Original art by Mark Schultz intended for the Subhuman paperback collection (which, as far as I know, never saw print):

A few pages from Richard Sala‘s Mad Night (2005, Fantagraphics):

This book features not one, but two epic battle scenes with an octopus!

A painting by Vic Prezio, created for the front cover of a 1962 issue of Man’s Escape:

– ds

*Al Stewart, Life in Dark Water