Tentacle Tuesday: Brushstrokes

« A painting requires a little mystery, some vagueness, and some fantasy. » ~ Edgar Degas

… and some tentacles, of course!

This painting of a chained barbarian confronted by an octopus (here to collect his liver, no doubt?) is the work of Bob Juanillo, an artist of which little is known, other than that he was active in the late 60s and early 70s, contributed to a lot of comics fanzines, and died at 30 (source). At least we know it from 1974!

To follow, the original art for a variant cover for Red Sonja vs. Thulsa Doom no. 1 (February 2006). The painting is by Gabriele Dell’Otto, an Italian artist who has done work for Marvel and DC. Tentacles or enormous snake-tail, you be the judge. As for powerful necromancer (and shape-shifter) Thulsa Doom, he is the brain-child of American author Robert E. Howard.

This painting by John Totleben appeared (as far as I can tell) somewhere in Timeslip Special Vol 1 no. 1 (August 26th, 1998). « The isotope itself was eventually dumped, as garbage, into the oceans, where it began mutating the ocean life. One of the mutates was an octopus who, developing high intelligence, and through unknown means, donned a mechanical suit. The isotope itself eventually went on to mutate all life on the planet. » (source) I giggled at the idea of an octopus donning a mechanical suit ‘through unknown means’. These cephalopods get into everything!

Finally, voici an unfinished painting by Frank Frazetta, entitled Death Dealer VII (the first Death Dealer was painted in 1973). Health issues (blurry vision, and a series of strokes) prevented Frazetta from finishing it, though his preliminary sketch was published in Rough Work (Spectrum Fantastic Art, 2007).

~ ds

Tentacle Tuesday: Barbarian Fatigue

Greetings all! Today we play whack-a-mole with a few warriors in loincloths – or at least that’s how I felt when looking for material in this post. Every time I found an instance of tentacles in some Conan the barbarian or Kull the destroyer tale, there was yet another one just an issue or a couple down the line. Let’s then consider this the end of a story begun with Tentacle Tuesday: the Savagery of Conan’s Savage Sword and continued with Tentacle Tuesday: Conan-o-rama: after this, I’ll be all Conan-ed out for a few years to come. So drink a shot of some concoction you like (be it coffee or the potent Zombie), and join me for this last foray into the dark, mysterious, predictable world of sword-and-sorcery heroes who run around half-naked (for better freedom of movement, no doubt).

Poor octopus, by far the most tragic figure of this story… These two pages are from The Dweller in the Dark, scripted by Roy Thomas and illustrated by Barry Smith, was published in Conan the Barbarian no. 12 (December 1971, Marvel).
You can’t have it both ways – praising a woman for exhibiting quintessentially ‘feminine’ characteristics and then getting pissed off at her dismay and fright when grabbed by a murderous monster.
The Sunken Land, scripted by Denny O’Neil (from a short story by Fritz Leiber), is pencilled by Walter Simonson and inked by Al Milgrom. This story was published in Sword of Sorcery no. 5 (Nov-Dec 1973, DC). I like Leiber, and I’ve been meaning to get to the Gray Mouser for a while – but I’m reading Andrzej Sapkowski’s Witcher right now, and one sword-and-sorcery saga at a time seems reasonable.
Page from Flame Winds of Lost Khitai!, scripted by Roy Thomas, pencilled by John Buscema and inked by Ernie Chan, published in Conan the Barbarian no. 32 (November 1973, Marvel). Interestingly, barbarians seem to universally abhor striking a woman; an attempt at primitive ethics from the part of the scripters.

One more Conan before we move on to Kull…

Page from Isle of the Dead, scripted by Bruce Jones and illustrated by Val Mayerik, published in Conan the Barbarian no. 138 (September 1982, Marvel). This page has the rare distinction of having the warrior-hero being less clothed than the girl he’s with.

As promised, here’s Kull the destroyer, engaged in battle with an eighties octopus (check out that mohawk!)

Two pages from The Thing from Emerald Darkness, scripted by Doug Moench, pencilled by Ed Hannigan and inked by Alfredo Alcala. This story was published in Kull, the Destroyer no. 17 (October 1976, Marvel). Why does a traitor (that’s not ‘traiter’) deserve better than to die from tentacles? That seems like no worse a death than any other in battle.
A page from City of the Crawling Dead, scripted by Don Glut, pencilled by Ernie Chan, and inked by Rick Hoberg. It was published in Kull, the Destroyer no. 21 (June 1977, Marvel).

Just before you pass out from over-consumption of alcoholic drinks (I’m having a gin and tonic over here!), I’d like to enliven this parade of humdrum tentacles a bit with this Conan pin-up:

This scene by Mike Zeck featured on the cover of long-running ad zine Rocket’s Blast Comicollector no. 119 (June 1975, James Van Hise).

~ ds

Tentacle Tuesday: Conan-o-rama

There’s some sort of Conan-mania around these parts. I’ve never understood the fascination with the Barbarian Hero (associated terms, in case you go barbarian-spotting: loin cloths or Pelts of the Barbarian, taut rippling muscles, oiled back, impressive weapons, the beard of a grizzly bear – or inexplicably clean-shaven at all times – and glorious manly manes), but clearly others go for sword-and-sorcery stuff in a big way. Conan sure puts the ‘sword’ in… err… well, he puts the sword into *everything*, slashing, hacking and dismembering his way through tedious comic after tedious comic.

He also runs into tentacled monsters, like, every 5 seconds. It seems that whatever tentacles existed in the Hyborian Age, they all made a point of appearing in concentrated clusters in whatever geographical area Conan was passing through. I understand, it’s difficult to come up with a decent monster for an Epic Fight Scene every month. Tentacles were clearly Plan B for days when nothing more exciting came to mind.

I’ve actually skipped some Tentacle Tuesday-relevant covers of this Conan the Barbarian series (275 issues published between October 1970 and December 1993) because they were just too ugly… or too boring. Can you imagine a cover with tentacles on it that’s boring?! Well, I can, now.

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 Conan the Barbarian #25 (April 1973), penciled by Gil Kane and inked by Ralph Reese. I actually sort-of like this cover. Nice totems!

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Conan the Barbarian #32 (November 1973), penciled by Gil Kane and inked by Ernie Chan. “Give the woman tentacles, but make sure she has huge boobs, too. And make them flesh-coloured, otherwise it’s too weird. And give her fangs because she’s also a vampire.

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Conan the Barbarian #41 (August 1974), penciled by Gil Kane and John Romita (?), inked by Ernie Chan and John Romita.

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 Conan the Barbarian #45 (December 1974), penciled by Gil Kane and inked by Neal Adams. What a cutie! I bet he was just minding his own business in a cave when he was rudely interrupted by Conan and his blondie.

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Conan the Barbarian #86 (May 1978), art by John Buscema.

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 Conan the Barbarian #116 (November 1980), penciled by John Buscema and inked by Klaus Janson; the latter information has been suggested by co-admin RG, whose artistic eye I unreservedly trust. To quote him directly: «another misattribution from the GDC. They think it’s Neal Adams inking, toss in Dick Giordano’s name to try and explain away the too-thick-for-Adams lines, and still get it wrong. Giordano’s inking is sloppy and random, never ‘organic’. This, despite clearly being a rush job, isn’t botched. The main inker: Klaus Janson, then-member of Adams’ Crusty Bunkers, and an inker with a very distinctive style. Dead giveaway, if you need just one: Conan’s left boot, bottom right corner. It’s likely a group effort, but there’s no trace of Adams nor Giordano on this page. Adams does pop up later, mostly inking Conan faces and some figures.» See how hard we work to bring you not only entertainment, but also edification?

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« Is that you, Conan? » Conan the Barbarian #117 (December 1980), art by John Buscema. Why is Spidey’s face in the bottom left corner?* Everyone looks half-hearted on this cover – the tentacles are only making a half-assed attempt at grabbery, Conan’s in the middle of some sort of intricate ballet footwork, and the girl seems a little bored. It’s not a good sign when I start reminiscing about the good old Gil Kane covers… I don’t even like Gil Kane (although I’m gradually warming up to him, I admit).

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Conan the Barbarian #136 (July 1982), art by John Buscema. I’m fascinated by the sword’s arc: what direction is it going in? From the bubbles, it’s a swing backwards, but why is the tentacle in the path of that art unaffected? And why is Conan swinging backwards? That child’s face is enough to give one nightmares.

In the mood for more Conan? Visit another Tentacle Tuesday entry, the Savagery of Conan’s Savage Sword, for a gallery of painted Conan covers, replete with mostly nude cuties and of course a great heaping helping of tentacles.

~ ds

*because it’s a direct sales edition, as opposed to a newsstand edition, which would bear a barcode.

Happy Birthday, by Crom!

« Whatever got Juan is coming for me, too! »

It’s birthday number one hundred and twelve for pulp wordsmith Robert Ervin Howard (January 22, 1906 – June 11, 1936) who, in his tragically short lifespan, yet found time to unleash upon the world Conan the Barbarian, Solomon Kane, Kull of Atlantis and, more significantly for this reader, the chilling classic Pigeons From Hell, a short story posthumously published in Weird Tales’ May, 1938 issue.

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Howard’s The Horror From the Mound, originally published in the May, 1932 issue of Weird Tales Magazine, presumably had its title sanitized here because the H-word was still verboten in the early 1970s. Hailing from the second issue of Marvel’s Chamber of Chills (January, 1973), it was reprinted in glorious black and white in 1975’s Masters of Terror no. 1 (original title restored, hurrah!)

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And here it be. Seems a bit inaccurate to refer to a group of mostly pulp writers (some long dead) from the 30s to 50s as “Modern-Day Masters of Terror”, but I suppose it depends on one’s definition of “Modern-Day”. Cover illustration by Gray Morrow from a drawing by noted fabulist, fervent Trump supporter and fellow Hair Club for Men habitué Jim Steranko.

Gardner Fox and Brunner give it their all, but the story could have used more pages to truly do justice to Howard’s moody proto-weird western.

Read the full adaptation here:
http://thehorrorsofitall.blogspot.ca/2009/02/monster-from-mound.html

Better yet, read Howard’s tale:
http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0601761h.html

And Pigeons From Hell, while you’re at it:
http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0600721h.html

-RG