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Here you will find hard-to-locate images of science fiction, fantasy, and adventure pulp and comic covers featuring the wily octopus, courtesy of your hostess Francesca Myman.
You will find that this is a reader-driven site, and one way to make my day is to email me with information about another delectable cover you've found. The eternal gratitude of the Mistress of the Tentacled Oblivion has many, many benefits. We're not sure what they are just yet, but we're sure they exist. . . so keep the covers coming.
To view a larger version, click on any image.
IMAGE CREDITS (in order of appearance)
The mechanical octopus attacks the fleeing heroine, who has no need for an oxygen mask. With all that leg she absorbs more O2 from the surrounding atmosphere than our hero (who needs an oxygen mask but not a space-suit!) (Is he wearing a skirt? It's very fetching, whatever it is.)
The All-Top title is clearly a veiled reference to the heroine's hardly all-encompassing top.
"Satan of the Sea Spreads Evil Tentacles to Guard the Treasures of the Deep" in a Vivid Short Novel, Gateway to Oblivion by Donald Barr Chidsey. Yee-haw!
From DC Publications. Octopus Man cover by Russ Heath. Gasp at the underwater thriller as the Sea Devils battle the Octopus Man!
Cover art by Rudolph Belarski. Notice the "Gods Hate Kansas" byline.
From Warren Magazines. "My shield appears to serve merely decorative purposes," the Viking said, "since I am not aiming it at your tentacle as it creeps slowly up my leg."
From DC Publications. "Arms to Spare" cover. Grahhh! Yummy scuba-divers!
This is just fabulous - octopus cheesecake. "The White Goddess" by Lew Merrill.
"The Tentacles from Below: An Astounding Novelette of the Ocean Floor" by Anthony Gilmore. "Aiieee, you're blinding me with your flashlight!"
"Sunken Cities" by Douglas Newton. This is an advertisement for ways to increase ankle strength.
A. Merritt's "The Dwellers in the Mirage." Priest of the Octopus. Naked Lady. Purple tentacles. Only 10 cents!
Do rifles work under water? (And again with the red swimming suits!)
"The Boats of the Glen Carrig," by William H. Hodgson. "Ahoy maties, it's that pestering polyp again!"
"Marooned Under the Sea" by Paul Ernst. The octopi have invaded the land wearing diving suits. The desperate landlubbers fend them off with the air-breather's last line of defense: fire.
Space Harpoons! "Nowhere In The Void Was There A Greater Menace Than The OCTOPUS OF SPACE," by Alexander Blade.
Cover Art by Frank R. Paul. This is my favorite octopus pulp cover of all time. (This strongly reminds me of the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus.) Serious sci-fi authors are frequently reminded that outsized insects wouldn't work in our gravity -- but this really takes the cake. What the heck is holding these 50-feet-tall octopodes UP? Also check out Frank Wu's Frank R. Paul site for more information about this influential early sci-fi artist (and, incidentally, more info about a Japanese version of this cover!) Fabulous, fabulous.
How can you not love Wonder Woman battling the pink octopus? This is the newest cover shown in this gallery, from 1993, but it's in the grand old pulp tradition and deserves to be shown. Thanks to Jen Santarelli of Brian Bolland Image Gallery for this one.
Avon Books circa 1950s. That's a conveniently-placed tentacle. . . Courtesy of Vintage Paperbacks.
A sensational true adventure, "Devil out of the Deep". Attacked by a Giant Octopus off Newfoundland. Shares a byline with "The Incredible Harem of Doctor Heeber" and an insert on the dangers of DDT.
"Tentacles of Death!" My second favorite octopus pulp cover of all time. I love the veiny eyes. Image courtesy of Collectors Assemble.
This octopus has had too much caffeine. Yes indeed.
This actually looks rather touching, like the octopus is a child looking up a toy or a balloon. These octopodes are very innocent in appearance, with their big round eyes. Very naïf.
He Lived For Danger - Below the Sea! Image courtesy of Steve at Finkbuilt.com. Thanks Steve!
Cover Art by Frank Frazetta. Buck Rogers featured in "Famous Funnies". I can almost hear the sound effect: "splork!"
More space octopi. Image courtesy of Collectors Assemble.
Well, I'm not sure WHAT this is, but it sure looks like an octopus with those tentacles and suckers. And again with the conveniently placed (and very phallic) tentacle. Image courtesy of Noosfere.
"He Lives! He Moves! He's MONSTRO! The Menace from the Murky Depths!" I love this. It's all about the tiny guy attempting to scale Monstro's enormous yellow forehead. Hours of entertainment just looking at this cover. Image courtesy of China Miéville. And now that I know what to look for, you can read the entire comic here. It's a fascinating historical document representative of the Cold War era -- a time in which fictional monsters proliferated.
Our hero: "The Octopus. . . following. . . HER bidding!" The witch: "Ha-ha! Now do you know me for what I AM?" You gotta love that dialogue. Image courtesy of Heritage Comics.
I never expected to see Katy Keene, the prim fashion maven, entangled with a giant octopus. (And again with the bathing-suited beauty!) Cover by Bill Woggon. Image courtesy of Trade A Tape Comic Center.
Don Winslow of the Navy; America's Most Valiant Fighter! When he joined the Navy, little did Don know that octopus wrangling was part of the job description. Image courtesy of Heritage Comics.
I found this one after following the link from Monsterblog while seeking Monstro info. According to Monsterblog, "In an attempt to dig a sub-oceanic tunnel from the United States to Europe, engineer Robert Saunders built a gigantic atomic-powered drill vehicle. He and his crew began to drill on the New England coast. Weeks into the project, the work crew ran into a huge, air-breathing octopus." Visit Monsterblog to read the rest of this delightfully ludicrous plot.
A Rick Brant Science Adventure Story. One wonders why the octopus is "wailing," since octopuses don't communicate through sound. . . is this really a science adventure?
This is great. Tarzan dives into the waters to rescue his pet monkey. Beware the Jungle Octopus! Cover by Hogarth. Image courtesy of David T. Alexander Collectibles.
This image is rather ambiguous -- it looks like Captain Marvel is embracing the octopus-creature and leaving the lady to her own devices. Image courtesy of Heritage Comics.
Captain Freedom saves Black Cat from the clutches of an octopus. And actually, it does seem they have uncovered a "clutch" of octopuses -- really, I think that should be nominated for the group name of octopuses, since it's so appropriate -- that is scurrying across the ocean floor. Cover by Rudy Palais. Image courtesy of Heritage Comics.
This image made my day. Thank you Jorge Insa from Spain. Jorge found this comic on the web three years ago while doing a university marine sciences job. Superman to the rescue! I can't stop laughing. And I love the composition of this piece -- a little different from the usual octopus cover, though perhaps not so streamlined as the "Sparkler" cover above.
I received a fabulous promotional postcard from Wildside Press, which holds a special place in my heart as the first novel publisher of fave author Vera Nazarian. Wildside is now living up to its obvious talent-spotting and sci-fi promotion potential as a new magazine publisher in the field -- view a list of their titles here. What a wonderful postcard to receive -- my first reaction upon seeing the tentacly promo comp was "Just for me?" Cover by Rowena Morrell.
This is the French version of Marvel's Epic Magazine, featuring cover art by Frank Brunner. Thanks to reader Mike Leary for pointing out the existence of this publication. You can see the original (uncensored) Red Octopus artwork here.
This gorgeous piece of kitschy pulp was submitted to me by fabulous reader Mike Leary (thank you Mike!) What a wonderful image. Can anyone tell me anything about it? It seems like it MUST have been designed for a book or magazine cover (the blue space at the top is ripe for a title) -- but which book or magazine was graced by this image? Or perhaps it's an illustration. A mystery I hope one of my readers can solve. Footnote: Mystery Solved!
What an unbelievably wonderful cover. The Shadow knows. . . everything about the urban octopus. . . Image courtesy of Heritage Comics.
The urban octopus theme continues: "The most dangerous jungle in the world was just beneath the streets of New York City!" (Sewer Patrol!) Oh my.
And yet another urban octopus, who is apparently devouring "The Vicious City." It's a bit ambiguous -- is this octopus literally rampaging about the city, or has the artist used the "Octopus of Crime" metaphor as an excuse to get sensational, thereby selling more copies? I really hope it's the former. I have the same question about the urban oct in "Shadow Comics" above.
Cover art by E. E. Hibbard. Image courtesy of Heritage Comics. I believe that this is another metaphorical octopus (as indicated by the surrounding cloud of vapors.) Speaking of clouds, while driving down the highway yesterday I saw a huge, lowering, octopus-shaped cloud. Perhaps this is a sign that I am spending too much time on this site. I also saw a series of tentacles in a movie-theater carpet. (Verified by independent viewers. . .)
I've had this cover for awhile. Several viewers have requested it, so I've retouched my copy. This is a surprisingly wooden octopus by genius artist Frank R. Paul, for my tastes. . . but he makes up for it with the delightfully steampunky red submarine, IMHO.
Cover art by Ogden Whitney featuring a gigantic red octopus with a taste for crunchy atomic submarines.
In 1942, I'm sure "beating the octopus" had all sorts of political overtones. I just love how the "Fighting Yank, Super-Patriot" is still wearing his bizarrely large chapeau while underwater. And the little "United We Stand" inset. . . how can you beat this way of demonstrating Patriotism? Image courtesy of comics.org.
I just can't get enough of this cover, featuring a dome-headed octopus and three futuristic warriors in catsuits and toting standard-issue undersea blasters. Image courtesy of comics.org.
"Nemesis pitted against Terror from the Deep! It's all in that great thriller, 'The Case of the Tittering Texan!'" Image courtesy of comics.org.
Alex Schomburg cover art. I don't know about you, but I'm startled by the itty-bitty octopoids. Thanks to Christian Vallini Lawson from Argentina for suggesting this cover.
I love this. The "Captive Queen of Beast Island" stands atop an enormous yellow octopus. The background is strangely pink and feminine. Cover by Dick Dillin (Pencils) and Sheldon Moldoff (Inks). Image courtesy of comics.org. Also suggested by the inimitable Richard Marvin, who should be named a contributing editor, as you will see when the next major update comes out.
Nice old noir. Courtesy of Richard Marvin.
Wow, where else can you see an American Indian astride Pegasus, battling an octopus while hovering miles above a small town? Cover by Frank Springer. This is actually in my possession, and it still doesn't make sense.
This is a very busy cover. It attempts to accomplish a great deal. It features a disgruntled diver, a scary-lookin' fish, a skeletal Captain Hook, a tomahawked skull with a tentacle emerging from its eyesocket, and as if that wasn't enough, an octopus with The Eyebrows of Doom. I don't think the diver stands a chance against those eyebrows, let alone any of the other threats arrayed against him.
I only wish that I could find something like this 2000 leagues under America! If only America was that interesting in that way. By an Italian author of science fiction - it's always easier to see how exotic a country might be when one is far from it. First published in 1888. This edition was published a hundred years later in 1988. I really need to learn more about this author. He seems like something of an Italian Jules Verne, crossed with a "Boy's Own Adventure" streak. Thanks to Christian Vallini Lawson from Argentina.
A grumpy-looking diver tangles with a single menacing tentacle while in the background his compadres commune with shadowy octopodes. What "new race" is referred to in the title? One can only hope it is an unholy union of man and octopus. Thanks to Christian Vallini Lawson from Argentina.
From a different political era. The Submariner takes on an octopus, a shark, a sharpshooting diver, and an embodiment of the "Red Menace" in the form of a submarine emblazoned with the hammer and sickle and bursting with angry gun-toting soldiers. Apparently the Sub-Mariner intends to defeat them using only his trusty Bowie knife and, possibly, the superpowers granted to him by his pointy, pointy ears.
"Men who defy death for a living!" Via comics.org.
A "leisure book" published in 1966. "Agent 0008 dives into the Voluptuous Peril of. . . the Merciless Mermaids!" I love this glamorous, pin-up mermaid. Cover illustration by Robert Bonfils. Thanks to Mike Leary for this lovely cover.
What's going on here? "Hands off my outboard motor?" Courtesy of Heritage Comics.
I love the solidity of this goofy octopus, and his anatomically-correct tubular water siphon. Classics Illustrated. Thanks to Richard Marvin, who
Grumpy, grumpy alien octopus. Thanks to Christian Vallini Lawson from Argentina.
Urania #278, March 1962. Now this, this is just beautiful. Magnificent, mysterious, stunning, outstanding. My favorite Urania cover. I would really love to own a poster of this for my wall. Apparently Urania is an Italian magazine of fantascienza, with an incept date of 1952 and still going strong. They are famous in Italy for publishing novels as well as short stories. Many thanks to Jordie Yow for turning me on to MondoUrania.
Another beautiful cover from Urania - octopus ink bleeding into the sky. Cover by C. Caesar. Thanks to Jordie Yow and MondoUrania.
Urania #231, 1960. Outstanding cover. A volcano, a crowned woman with bat wings, a bloody octopus. Has a bit of the feel of some of the early Fantastic Adventures covers with the monumental, iconically lovely 1950s-style women. Thanks to Jordie Yow and MondoUrania.
The Titan of Heaven. Yay! Another space octopus. These make me so happy. So happy! Thanks to Jordie Yow and MondoUrania.
A drippy, gooey octopus. Thanks to Jordie Yow and MondoUrania.
Romanzi di Urania, October 1952. All aboard! Thanks to Jordie Yow and MondoUrania.
Urania #1000, 1980. Harpooning the pesky octopus caught in the spaceship air duct. Thanks to Jordie Yow and MondoUrania.
The tentacles obey my bidding, raaar! Cover by J. G. Jones.
This book may be new, but it has inspired a cover in the grand pulp tradition. (It's good to know that, in the distant future when Venus is terraformed, huge octopodes will rule the waves. With any luck, by the end of the book they'll take over.)
"Provocative Illustrated Adult Fantasy." Oh my! Thanks to Michelle Farran for pointing out this cover.
"Squeeze, my beauty - Squeeze!" That's my new favorite phrase. I shall use it as often as possible. I can think of many uses beyond the obvious. Maybe I should change the name of this site to "Main Squeeze." Thanks to Richard Marvin.
"How to tell if you're sexually normal: a personal 25-point checklist." How indeed? Apparently this rigorous personal test involves an octopus with long, long tentacles. This is an outstanding piece of artwork. Many thanks to author China Miéville for sharing this pulpy gem from Cover Browser.
Headlines include "Your sexual dreams explained!" and "They blew me out of a sub!" (Oh my, the latter can be read in so many ways. So very many.) This manly man is in touch with his tentacle.
"The Price of her Sinning" is only 25¢! I acquired this cover because God loves me. There is no other explanation. Cover art by Walter Popp. If anyone has a scan of the original artwork, without the inset text box, I'd love to see it.
One enormous tentacle says it all. Art by Jerry Lofaro, 1991.
Classics Illustrated #56, 1949. Cover art by August Froehlich. Thanks to reader Richard Marvin for this one.
This leviathan with woogly lavendar eyes has it in for the
I love this barely-suggested octopus, with tentacles and glaring red eyes. (And again with the menacing eyebrows!) Courtesy of reader John Ashmead.
And now, another winner from cephalopunk China Miéville: The Savage Sword of Conan. Conan obviously has some gender identity issues (no surprise there), as he's doing battle with an enormous and very pink octopus.
OK, yeah, so I thought I was happy before. Now SFWA Grand Master Robert Silverberg likes the site too. Of course, I know him through my work (yay, my work!) but still. Still. This guy, just so you know, is one of the most elegant and funny in the SF field. I know it's an odd combination, but if you've met him, you know what I mean. I got permission to reproduce the text of his email to me:
Karen sent me a link to your octopulp site, which has just consumed twenty minutes of my remaining lifespan. What a wondrous bit of specialized scholarship you have assembled here! What delight to see these silly old things again! What will come next -- sea-urchin covers? Cockroach covers? No, no, the obvious one is giant-ant covers, of which there surely are many in the archives.
You probably aren't aware that I have a vast collection of pulp magazines, going back to the first issues of Amazing and Weird in the 1920s, that I assembled as a young fan more than fifty years ago. (Almost sixty, actually.) The problem is that these poor old things are now so brittle that they threaten to fall apart when I handle them, so I rarely take one down from the shelves. Having the covers pop up on the Internet allows me a bit of cheap and easy nostalgia without getting bits of yellowed paper scattered all over the carpet. Thank you,
Yeah. So that is of the cool. This developed into a lengthier email correspondence about the pulps. It took only a few paragraphs to make me realize that I HAD to share what I was learning. It would have been too selfish to keep it to myself. So I've created a featurette. Poor man can't send an email without getting interviewed. Just think, he was THERE. He even worked as a staff writer for Amazing Stories. Yeah. *breathes a satisfied sigh*
That's right, Cory Doctorow likes my site. As a certified sci-fi geek, you can't imagine how ecstatic that makes me. And it should make you ecstatic too. Share the joy, right?
Here's the text of his email in full:
Hi, I wanted to say three things. i) Your pulp octopus page is the best thing ever for which thank you for eternity. [Look at that! I have China Miéville's eternal thanks! I am just a pitiful, pitiful geek girl, because that makes me very happy.] ii) I didn't find it via boingboing, I found it by virtue of the fact that I regularly search for octopoid bits and pieces on line. (Just proving my cephalopod geek cred) And iii) WHERE did you GET all these pulps? Do you have the magazines or just the images? If you have spares do you ever sell them? Partly this is just nebulous molluscphilia, and partly because I'm trying to collect octopoidia and would be grateful for any tips.
Cheers, China Miéville
Here is My Reply.
I should also mention that China Miéville contributed the above fabulous Monstro cover which is now contending with the Amazing Stories 50 foot octopus for my favorite.
And now for another amazing email from a member of the sci-fi community: artist Craig Maher. Craig sends his appreciation for the site, and avers that he is not a time-traveling pulp artist (which is debatable, because he has a wild sense of color, and one of his paintings even has a tentacle in it. . .)
Artist and fan of cinema and pulp fiction, Alex Wald, writes to express appreciation for Octopulps!
Outstanding artist Ryan Heshka writes to let me know he LOVES seeing all of the great octopus covers of the golden age and pulp era collected onto one site!