Monday, October 5, 2015


It seems like every major comics company needs to have one swamp monster in the lineup, but leave it to Atlas-Seaboard to put their own peculiar spin on things.

To start with, the name Bog Beast is, strictly speaking, a misnomer. The brackish, red-skinned critter who crawled out of Atlas-Seaboard's black-and-white horror magazine Weird Tales of the Macabre (Vol.1 No.2, "Bog Beast," March 1975) and into the pages of Tales of Evil (Issue Nos. 2 and 3, April and July 1975) emerged from the La Brea tar pits. He only emerges from a bog in the loosest sense of the word, but for many reasons I can assume they wisely chose not to dub the monster "Tar Baby."

"Like our knowledge of how to terrify people"
Secondly, he's far from a beast. Apparently a representative and explorer from an ancient, subterranean race which once shared the surface of the Earth with humanity, the Bog Beast has emerged once again into the upper world to catalog the changes to the surface world, make contact with humanity, and to share with them his people's many discoveries.

It's likely that those discoveries are "how to be super gross" and "best ways to terrify people." Despite the alleged peacefulness of his mission, the Bog Beast spreads fear, terror, shock and violence wherever he goes. This may be partly due to the fact that he looks like a movie theater floor given life, or a ventriloquist dummy made of blood blisters, or a spaghetti and meatball platter that came alive and ran through a pile of autumn leaves and pine needles.

The other part of the problem is that the Bog Beast's people have apparently lost the ability to form speech, and communicate largely by sneaking up on people when they're asleep and reaching out for them with a steaming, skinned, claw-like arm. I dunno why people don't warm up to that, I really couldn't say.

Because everyone hates nerds.
Meanwhile, despite the terror he inspired in others, the Bog Beast maintains a clinical distance from the festivities. His thought balloons catalog the observations he makes of the outside world, stuff like "The female seems confused by my appearance" and "these men in uniform must be the authorities" and "probably the best way to make my presence known will be to lurch out of these shadows and rake my scarred talons at these fine folks' faces, I'm sure they'll understand that for the gesture of open love and peace as it's intended."

For the Bog Beast's part, it's lucky that he's apparently made of some spongy material through which bullets pass harmlessly (although it still confers on him tremendous strength), given the number of times that the cops just plug him fulla lead.

Whatever became of the Bog Beast's exploration of the surface world is, as it were, "up in the air," inasmuch as Atlas-Seaboard shut its doors before, really, ANY of its characters could enjoy any kind of satisfying conclusion. I like to think he would have become the runaway smash hit of the line, given time, and headed up an Atlas team-up book; lurching out of dimly lit corners at his guest stars and pawing morosely at them until, in their terror, they lashed out at the nearest target and defeated whatever passed for a villain in that particular issue ...

Bog Beast's been watching the news lately.

No comments:

Popular Posts