Friday, January 30, 2009

The Rest Of The Story

No, not these two. We're talking 'bout those lovable, bulbous-headed,
bubble-helmeted, drooling, one-eyed, tentacled aliens,
made famous by their recurring roles on the Treehouse of Horror.


Just the other day, The Grasshopper was watching the 1959 production of "The Atomic Submarine". Along with other movies of it's ilk, this flick formed an indelible impression on the young 'hopper's psyche. Seeing the movie after all these years didn't just sooth my nostalgia jones. When the monster appeared to confront the submariners--as seen in last week's post--he(?) instantly brought to mind The Simpsons twin green Rigellians.


And, so, this set the Grasshopper on a google-and message-board fueled quest to discover the origins of the Groening/Kogen/Wolodarsky creation.

First off, to IMBD, where the influence of "Atomic Submarine" was implied. There was mention of the 1954 Roger Corman-produced "Monster From The Ocean Floor" as well. As you can see, the antagonist (?) in the poster bears a striking resemblance to K&K. (editors note: The moster in the poster is a lot better than the one in the movie. Don't bother seeking it out unless you're in the mood for a MST3K-worthy movie. On the bright side, it's only 64 minutes long.)


Let's not forget the 1958 Forest Tucker vehicle (?), "The Crawling Eye". Originally entitled "The Trollenberg Terror", the film spins a yarn of gigantic radioactive telepathic creatures causing mischief in the Swiss Alps. Did I mention that they cruised around in icy fog banks and got their jollies by decapitating folks? A much better film than Mr. Corman's.


Then, it was off to wiki world, where Al Feldstein's cover art from EC Comics was given credit. But--which cover? We decided to call in the SDMB braintrust...within minutes of asking, "What EC Comic Inspired Kang and Kodos?", a comic book guy (ha) came up with two covers.

First off, WS #6, with the green bodies and one eye--but the tentacles here are supplemented by flipperish appendages. Not quite a match, but the family resemblance is undeniable.

And finally, the cover of WS #16 was suggested. Here we see the familiar glass-bubble helmet, but this creature isn't monocular and it has "legs".

So it seems that Kang and Kodos' heredity can't be traced to a single source. Clearly Matt Groening was inspired by all of these icons of 50s popular culture.

The End

editor's note: whew! that was a lot of work!


Parm said...


Well, that was an enjoyable ride. Put in another quarter!

I don't recall the Atomic Sub whatsoever. Which makes me suspect that somehow I missed all mention of it completely, cuz I was (am) totally a sub-nut. May have to hunt that one down and give it a viewing.

And, just to toss in more fuel into this fire, the ugly green guys in bubble helments to me seem like more than just a nod in the direction of the Mars Attacks! bubble gum cards of the '60's as well (though I readily agree that the latter lack tentacles, have two eyes, big exposed brains, legs, and so forth).

Perhaps the drool is the real hint, here? Follow the drool, and perhaps the one, true source of inspiration will out itself.

Willard Biscuit said...

Ah yes, Mars Att(ack! ack!! ack!!!)s. I have a vague memory of the cards, but get this: when the Tim Burton movie opened in '96, Ed and I stood right behind Itzhak Perlman when we bought our tickets. True story--he was in town for the Grammys, apparently.

p.s. check out the trailers for "Monsters vs Aliens"...where do you think the Pixar folks got their inspiration?

Parm said...

I remember Mars Attacks! cards vividly, cuz I was in business at the time. In Jr. High (salinas style, not when Muiring it), I was a small businessman selling firecrackers, pranks (made from firecrackers), Creepy Crawlers (name your color(s)), Goop, and, yes, stickers and cards of various kinds. I cornered the market (for a very short time) on Mars Attacks! cards and did quite well selling them for a penny up to around a dime or so. One huge regret - I neglected to keep a full set for myself!!!! I can still see most of the cards in my minds' eye along with the lurid prose on the reverse side. Those cards were absolutely the best thing that happened to me that entire year, I think.

The trailer you spoke of is cool. As for sources of inspiration, what classic imagary did they NOT borrow from? Which is not, by the way, a complaint! Mothra meets the Blob meets the 50-Foot-Woman meets . . . hey, is that cockroach actually Dr. Phibbes!!!!

WB said...

Ahem...that would be Dreamworks. Pixar's 1-eye (aka Mike Wazowski) was in "Monsters, Inc"