Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Beast from the Deep!

In June 1951, The Saturday Evening Post published the short story The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (aka The Fog Horn) written by sci-fi master Ray Bradbury. Two years later in the summer of ‘53 the story became the inspiration for the very loosely based, though none the less fantastic big screen film of the same name, featuring jaw dropping stop-motion FX by master animator Ray Harryhausen. It didn’t take long after the film’s release for Toby Press to jump on the source material the same year, as the October 1953 issue of Tales of Horror #7 hit comic book stands with it’s own excellent, uncredited, though much closer adaptation of Bradbury’s original tale, and drawn by ACG / DC legend John Rosenberger.









(Reprinted / recolored in Seduction of the Innocent #4.)
UPDATE: Mr. Cavin requested a page from the original Toby Press version so here it is, as mentioned I opted for the recolored Eclipse reprint for today's post because as you can see the print job here is practically a quarter inch off target. Other pages look even worse!



21 comments:

Horror pariah said...

AWWWWW.poor monster.very good art and scripting,too bad EC.never tackled this one(?),Al Williamson could have done wonder's creating a fog effect.i always viewed this monster sympathetically,until i found an anthology book called MONSTERS,MONSTERS,MONSTERS which had a really disturbing illo of the monster with glowing eyes,ever since then,brrr.

Patrick said...

The colors are really clean and crisp on this one- the artwork is very well done too, the monster was a little goofy looking in some of the panels, I definitely prefer the look of the monster from the 20,000 Fathoms film- but hey, a fun read regardless! Thanks for keeping us entertained Karswell!

Hex_Enduction_Hour said...

Loooove that artwork!

silvano said...

I remember this comic from Eclipse's reprint , nonetheless great artwork and a classic story !

Mr. Cavin said...

Patrick touched on the things I was thinking when I read this, but we disagree some. I was really jarred all the way through by the silly colors. Only when I'd finished did I see Karswell's note about this being a reprint. Does anyone have an example of what this originally looked like? I love the art, but that representational "modern" prismatic coloring can't be as interesting as the moodier four-color originals. Well, not as interesting to me, at least.

And. I really loved the monster for two competing reasons. One: I really appreciated the expressive and animal way it was presented in movement. It's body seems natural, bestial, and relatively grounded in real physiology. I don't see that very often.

Two: I am a big fan of art that accidentally (and wrong-headedly this time?) restricts itself to to the parameters of something else--costuming in this case. For example, have you ever wondered why most people paint mermaids with knees? Because that's what mermaid costumes look like. (Examples of that, if you are interested, here, here, here, here, and here.) Well, even while lauding the beast's body, it doesn't escape my attention that the beast's head looks exactly the same in almost every frame. It has its mouth wide open (like real mammals and lizards rarely walk around doing). Mad? Amorous? Getting Shot? All the same expression. It looks just like a scary costume, sculpted to be completely frozen in its most terrifying aspect. I can just picture the snout wobbling slightly whenever the beast takes a shambling step (or any of those hunched, animal-like lunges presented in the story).

Tim Tylor said...

Mermaids are anatomically absurd anyway, so I imagine those artists fudge the construction in what ever way fits the eye best. A "realistic" mermaid probably wouldn't have buttocks, which would limit her human sex-appeal and make it hard to sit around on rocks. And then there's the old weird tails-for-legs model, now shilling for Starbucks.

I wonder if anyone ever did a "straight" adaptation of Bradbury's story. It would have been perfect for one of Arch Oboler's radio plays - he was a genius with fear, loneliness and monsters. (If you've never heard his old-time radio Lights Out series you're missing something really good.)

Mr. Cavin said...

"artists fudge the construction in what ever way fits the eye best."

Right. See, I'm not shilling for some anatomic plausibility. Actually, I'm doing the opposite. I'm shilling for the fantasy. In these flights of fantasy, the artists are merely driving; they're harping on anatomy too much. So much, in fact, that they are painting pictures of women dressed up as mermaids, even when they possibly intend to paint, you know, mythology.

Still, your point about the adult nature of the fantasy here is a really good one I hadn't thought of. If they are intending to paint a sexual fantasy instead of mythology, the costuming fetish makes a little more sense.

Thanks for the thoughts.

Absinthe said...

I always feel sorry for the poor monsters in these tales. All he wanted was a friend. But the drawing is excellent - really great stuff.

fishmorgjp said...

I was always amused by that "Beast from 20,000 Fathoms" poster, because of the guy yelling "It's alive!" No sh*t, Sherlock, a gigantic dinosaur is tearing down the city... good thing you told us it's alive!

The Vicar of VHS said...

Boy, the writer really wants to make sure we understand that the foghorn and the lighthouse are analogous to a monster calling for love--"A forghorn voice like the call of a monster!" "Like the phosphorescent orb of some thin-necked monster looking vainly for something..." OKAY, WE GET IT!

For some reason, that panel with the Keeper gasping, "T-Th.....THROATIER?" makes me laugh. I need a t-shirt with just that panel on it.

The Keeper's speech at the bottom of pg. 3 is awesome too--though later he does get a little carried away with the "Keeper Explains It All" episode. Nobody in these stories ever jumps to the WRONG conclusion about the monster's motivations. Then again, I guess it was pretty obvious.

"In his STUPID mind! Do you see? STUPID! STUPID!"

Nice one today, Karswell, though I do agree with Mr. Cavin that the colors were kind of jarringly clean and crisp. Like we expect mermaids to have knees, we expect pre-code stories to have aged, cracked, "distressed"-looking colors!

BTW, I love the discussion of fantasy anatomy here. Though everyone seems to be assuming that the mermaid should be more fish-like on the tail end, which is not necessarily the case. After all in evolutionary terms, whales and dolphins were land animals that returned to the sea and still possess vestiges of their land-dwelling forms--wrist bones, finger bones in the flippers, etc. If the same were true of mermaids, then it wouldn't be that unexpected to see vestigal leg-joints in the tail, or for the swimming method to be more like that of dolphins or Olympic swimmers making the turns in a race than like sharks or other fish.

Yes, I have given this some thought.

AndyDecker said...

Great artwork. I am always astonished to find artists here who I never heard anything about beforehand and who are so good. God, what did all those guys do when the market changed after the Code. Must have been an ugly time.

Karswell said...

Interesting disccusions this morning gang, keep it going...

And yes Mr C. I do have the original 4-color Toby version of this story, but the blue registration is sooooo far off the mark in misprint it makes everything practically illegible. I opted for the Eclipse reprint / recolor version here so everyone could merely enjoy the tale itself. You ever get your THOIA shirt all the way out thar in Viet Nam by the way?

Kitty LeClaw said...

Stephen, Stephen, Stephen... Why you have to go and make me all sad for the monster? He never hurted nobody... He just wanted lahve.

Okay, so maybe he hurt a few d00ds, bustin' up San Noble the way he did. Still...

The monster is in Heaven now, with Harry. And Ol' Yeller. And Bambi's Mom.

Jeffos said...

The artwork and coloring were very distinct -- like an Illustrated Classics. A nice change, but I enjoy the look of the oldies.

The monster reminded me of T-Rex from Dinosaur Comics. I was expecting the stomping of San Noble to be followed by a conversation with Utahraptor and a humorous ending.

The Fortress Keeper said...

Another great story with wonderful art. I feel bad for the monster too, although I guess destroying a city isn't the best way to work out your relationship issues.

Karswell said...

I also wanted to say Happy Birthday to Ray Bradbury who turned 88 last week. A true hero of mine, I was lucky enough to meet him at San Diego Con about 5 or 6 years ago. Met Ray Harryhausen that same day too, if that makes this all the more poetic for today's post.

Mr. Cavin said...

"And yes Mr C. I do have the original 4-color Toby version of this story, but..."

Do you mind maybe tossing up one page of that, a post script for comparison? I know with the lousy blue pass it'll never really wok as an example of what this is supposed to look like, but maybe we can extrapolate....

"You ever get your THOIA shirt all the way out thar in Viet Nam"

Not yet. This week's first mail call was preempted by a typhoon in Hong Kong. All the week's mail should come in on Friday if the weather clears. If it's been over eleven days, I'll probably get it then. I've been brainstorming on what kind of picture to send you.

Vicar: yeah, I wouldn't argue against whatever latter-day science you want to use to support the theory of mermaid knees. I guess the nice thing about fantasy is it's made up, therefor the fantasizer can get as creative as he or she would like. In defense of fantasy then, here's a surreal analogy instead of an argument.

Back when I was a kid, I was certain that, since Micky Mouse was just a series of drawings advancing at such a speed as to fool the eye (I didn't know the term "persistence of vision" back then), it just followed that the picture of Mickey on my band-aid was really, actually him. Other stars, like Han Solo on my lunch box or the Duke Boys on my Trapper Keeper were photos or artistic representations. But Mickey was actually there, as real as he ever was, on my finger.

Mermaids are totally made up. I have no doubt that if mermaids had never been a costume gimmick, then there would also be no artwork with mermaid knees. But, as something totally figurative anyway, once it's drawn a new way, well, that's just as true as anything else, right? There's no real arguing it. But it still seems like a trap for fantasizers, again excepting the more risqué applications of mermaid imagery, to stray so close to the reality of a costume when that isn't really necessary.

Happy Birthday, Ray!

Patrick said...

Those press men must have been sniffing too much newsprint the night they printed this comic up! Great registration job guys!!

Joe said...

I must be in the minority, but I far prefer the Eclipse re-colored version. I bet if you asked original artist John Rosenberger which he prefers, he'd say the same -- as horrible as some of the coloring choices are in today's comics, the printing choices of golden age comics had to be a source of great irritation and disappointment to any artist who took his work seriously back then.

joe bloke said...

beautiful art. i seem to remember another version of the same story in a Topps' comics series of Ray Bradbury comics. weren't quite as cool as this, though. do love me a sea monster.

joe bloke said...

tim tylor, the Topps' comics story? that would be the straight version of the story.