The Octopus!

Medical Cephalopods. What?!

Once again there’s a remake/remodel thread over at Whitechapel, which I’d take part in if…

a) I wasn’t an anti-social weirdo with an aversion to message boards
b) I could draw

As neither of these conditions apply I shall instead dabble in the black arts of pen-portraiture to inflict my idea upon the world.

The brief from Warren, such as it is, is as follows… (as it is is as?)

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.

My idea is to turn this all on its head…

Observe if you will St Brendan’s Hospital, a run down and poorly funded medical facility on the waterfront close to where the river rolls it’s tribute of chemicals, fertilisers, PET bottles and dead dogs into the open sea. Twenty-five years ago a young octopus polyp was inadvertently sucked into the hospital’s cooling system. Against the odds it survived, feeding on biological waste, cafeteria remnants and bathing in the drug-residue soaked waters of the hospital drains – a lifestyle that caused it to change, developing super-human intelligence and a photographic memory…

Today the Octopus lurks in the hospital’s walls, pipes and air conditioning system. After a quarter century of observation (not to mention late night study in the medical library) it is a better diagnostician and surgeon than most of the hospital’s poorly paid staff. In the early hours it sneaks unseen from it’s bolt holes and performs life saving procedures on misdiagnosed patients, earning the hospital an increasing reputation for ‘miracle’ cures.

Posed against the Octopus is the dastardly Chief of Medicine, Doctor Jeffrey Fairchild. More than happy to pose for the press with the latest miracle recovery, he desperately searches the Hospital for the phantom that cures the patients he would rather let die. For Doctor Fairchild is embezzling the Hospital’s funding into his own personal accounts and every cure draws more attention, endangering his nefarious schemes…

So yeah, that’s my crazy idea. A medical octopus and an embezzling doctor. Surely that’d sell comics! 😀

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