[identity profile] dr_hermes.insanejournal.com
Here's a sample of the Heap from a late 1940s issue of AIRBOY. The character started in the Skywolf strip but proved popular enough to get his own back-up and even took over the covers a few times. Obviously inspired by Theodore Sturgeon's great 1940 story "It" in UNKNOWN, the Heap was himself echoed a quarter-century later in Marvel's Man-Thing and DC's Swamp Thing. By this point, the half-alive walking pile of moss and muck surrounding the corpse of a WWI German ace has come under the guidance of the goddess Ceres. It's great to see such an overlooked Olympian get some time onstage. Naturally, storytellers over the ages have gone for the more flamboyant and glamorous of the gods and goddesses (sex and violence always sell), but Ceres deserved her place in the pantheon. After all, if she chose, she could see that the other Olympians would have no worshippers.

Wellll, the writer didn't know much about octopuses if he thought they only had one vulnerable spot. They're not exactly armored. And Ceres is seriously deluding herself with this talk about how no one has to fear the Heap because he means no harm, etc. This is the same creature that used to drink blood and which left a trail of broken corpses all over Europe in its rampages. Maybe she means that now, under her control, the monster can survive as a vegetarian but he sure wasn't always that way. (The art is by reliably good Dan Barry, I don't know the writer.)
[identity profile] dr_hermes.insanejournal.com
Thinking about the Golem legend a few days ago made me remember a similar theme in fantasy and horror stories. This is one the rare new additions to the pantheon of vampires, werewolves, zombies, etc... the pile of undead muck and vegetable debris (usually surrounding a corpse or skeleton). The Swamp Thing, Man-Thing, the Heap, Solomon Grundy.. they all derived from a short story by Ted Sturgeon, "It." From the August 1940 issue of UNKNOWN this is thirty pages of pure nightmare. Theodore Sturgeon was only twenty-two when he came up with this vision. Already, his earliest stories showed the flair for word choice and intense visual images that would make his work memorable. I first happened upon "It" when I was about eleven or so, and it darn near electrocuted me. Reading it again all these decades later, I find the story is still genuinely frightening and unnerving. SPOILERS AHEAD, Just so you know.


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