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So I do this thing on Whitechapel most weeks where I name an old, old character, usually from the public domain, and set the artists on the board to re-interpreting it for the 21st century. This week, I called The Octopus. Look at what Jess Nevins has to say about this character:

One of the more outré of the pulp characters-and given the genre, that’s quite saying something, believe me-the Octopus was actually the villain of the piece in his single issue, The Octopus v1 #4, 1939, written by…well, it’s not exactly clear. It might be Norvel Page, or it might be Ejler and Edith Jacobsen. A rather over-the-top mad scientist, the Octopus worked from a big city hospital and plotted world conquest. His appearance might explain his desire to dominate the world; he’s sea-green, with four "suction-cupped weaving tentacles" set above "hideously malformed" legs. He wears a small mask, and behind it can be seen two enormous, luminous, purple eyes. He was the leader of the Purple Eyes, a cult bent on world domination and mass destruction. The Octopus’ chosen method was an "ultra-violet ray" which devolved men and women and turned them into deformed, life-hating monsters hungry for human flesh and glowing with “ultraviolet purple.” Against the Octopus was set Jeffrey Fairchild, a young millionaire philanthropist (he eventually stopped the Octopus, of course). He had three identities. The first was Jeffrey Fairchild, hospital administrator. The second was was kindly Dr. Skull, the old man who made a practice of helping the poor in the slums. (His good works didn’t help him when everyone thought that he was the Octopus, however) In his other identity he was the “Skull Killer,” who fought crime and left a skull-imprint, ala the Spider, on his enemies. Fairchild was assisted by Carol Endicott, Dr. Skull’s nurse.

Firstly: isn’t that fucking brilliant?

Secondly: here’s a taste of the hundred-odd posts it’s generated so far:

Egypt Urnash:


Karl Christian Krumpholz:


Pia Guerra (wouldn’t you love to see her draw an entire book in that style?):


Paul Sizer’s entry needs to be seen in a size I can’t provide here.

(also, this)

Published in brainjuice


  1. Rey Rey

    Reminds me of all those stories in the news of naughty city aquarium cephalopods who get caught on cctv slinking out of their tanks and filching expensive fish dinners.

  2. […] Ellis set his readers to a task: to draw an old pulp comic book character, the Octopus. The Octopus had a stunning description. One of the more outré of the pulp characters-and given […]

  3. Thanks for the mention, Warren.
    Onward to more re-making!

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