Real Name: Al Clark

Identity/Class: Human (1950s era)

Occupation: Unrevealed

Group Membership: None

Affiliations: Adams, Lew Grover, Pete Knowles

Enemies: "Pop", totem pole creatures

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: "The mean one" (as called by totem pole creatures)

Base of Operations:  Mobile in Alaska;
   formerly San Francisco

First Appearance: Strange Stories of Suspense#6/2 (December, 1955)

Powers/Abilities: A greedy and unscrupulous man, Clark attempted to steal a gold-trimmed totem pole.  Due to the seemingly supernatural qualities of the totem pole, Clark and his men were reduced in stature to dwarfish proportions; Clark himself was eventually physically transformed into one of the components of the pole, and he literally became "the low man on the totem pole".

Clark owned a boat and a dog-sled team.

Height: 5' 10" (originally, by approximation); 3' 6" (after shrinking, by approximation)
Weight: 180 lbs. (by approximation)
Eyes: Unknown
Hair: Black

History (Strange Stories of Suspense#6/2 (fb) - BTS) -  The past of Al Clark is unknown, but he heard stories of a totem pole, trimmed with pure gold, located in northern Alaska.  He organized a crew of three cohorts--Adams, Grover, and Knowles--and sailed northward from San Francisco.  At some point, he acquired a dog-sled and a team of huskies, which he also transported in the crowded boat.

(Strange Stories of Suspense#6/2) - On a bleak seashore of northern Alaska, Clark and his men spotted the totem pole.  They waded ashore and Clark asked the lone Eskimo--"Pop"--who owned the golden totem pole with the ten smiling faces.  "Pop" responded that the totem had been there for two-hundred years, and warned that it was bad luck to move it.  Clark only wanted the gold, so he and his men used chisels to try to chip off the shining metal, but they couldn't even scrape a speck of gold off the pole.  Grover noticed that the once-smiling totem faces all looked angry, and "Pop"explained this was because the totem men were sad because they had been hurt.  Ignoring the old Eskimo, Clark decided to instead take the whole totem with them, so they could burn away the wood beneath and be left with only the gold.  While moving the pole, Clark had his men use it to smash "Pop's" igloo, then they carried it to the boat and lashed the pole to the side, and they sailed southward.  Two nights later, they dropped anchor off the coast of the state of Washington.  The four men rested for the night, but when they awoke the next morning, they discovered they had all shrunk in stature, for they were a foot shorter than they had been previously; but worse yet to Clark, the totem pole was gone.  As they looked to the distance, they saw the totem pole on the Alaskan seashore by "Pop" and his igloo, and realized that somehow they were back where they had started!

The four dwarfed men waded ashore to try again, and Clark figured that "Pop" had probably just hypnotized them to make them believe they'd shrunk; but the frightened Adams decided he didn't want any part of Clark's scheme, so Clark wouldn't allow him on his boat and ordered him to walk back home.  Clark, Grover, and Knowles loaded the totem on the boat again--out of spite, Clark once more wrecked the old Eskimo's igloo.  The three men sailed farther southward this time, anchoring off the coast of Oregon to rest.  When they got up the next morning, they found that the totem pole was gone, and they had shrunk further!  Then they looked overboard and saw the totem at the Alaskan seashore and realized they were once again back where they started!  The three waded ashore to get the totem, but this time Grover backed down in fear, so Clark ordered him to walk home as well.  Clark and Knowles used the totem to once more smash "Pop's" igloo, then the two carried the pole to the boat and sailed off.  Clark and Knowles went sleepless for sixty hours before giving in to exhaustion, and Clark was sure they were too far from Alaska to drift back.  But Knowles believed that they didn't just drift back, and he voiced his concerns about returning to his normal height; Clark seemed unconcerned, and told him they'd both be "big" men when they were rich from the gold,  

But the next morning, Clark and Knowles awoke to find they'd shrunk still further, and they were once again looking at the totem in its original location.  The frightened Knowles refused to wade to the pole, so Clark started the engine and headed for shore at full speed, and he rammed the boat aground.  As the dazed Knowles climbed from the wreckage and walked silently southward, Clark quickly unloaded the dogs and sled from his wrecked boat and loaded the totem pole on the dog-sled.  Clark used a sledgehammer to smash "Pop's" igloo, then he headed south.  All through the day, the gnome-like Clark drove the dogs, his thoughts filled with the glitter of gold.  But that night, as he lay in his sleeping bag, Clark was horrified when he awoke to find himself surrounded by the ten separated totem pole creatures.

The next morning, the totem pole creatures returned to "Pop's" igloo to tell him what had happened to Clark, and "Pop" told them to attend to their "guest"--Al Clark, whose angry countenance had become the eleventh gold-trimmed face at the bottom of the totem pole.  But "Pop" assured Clark he would soon have all the gold he wanted, and that he would smile like his "brothers" of the totem.

Comments: Created by an unidentified writer and Bill Everett (artist)

The origin of the totem pole creatures is unknown--perhaps they were the creations of the Inua/Northern Gods.

Profile by Ron Fredericks.

Al Clark has no known connections to:

"Pop" has no known connections to:

The totem creatures have no known connections to:

Adams, Lew Grover, Pete Knowles

Al Clark's three cohorts, they accompanied him on his boat and sailed to the northern shore of Alaska, where they found a gold-trimmed totem pole.  They tried to take the totem pole, despite the warnings of an elderly Eskimo ("Pop") that doing so would bring them bad luck.

All four men later found themselves reduced in stature, and the totem pole somehow returned to its original location.  They made subsequent attempts with Clark to retake the totem pole, and the three became frightened, for they knew they were dealing with forces beyond their understanding.  During each repeated attempt, one by one they abandoned Clark--first Adams, then Grover, and finally Knowles--and Clark told each that he was on his own to find his way back to civilization.  Their final fates remain unknown.

--Strange Stories of Suspense#6/2


An unidentified elderly Inuit/Eskimo man, Clark addressed him as "Pop".  "Pop" lived in an igloo on a bleak Alaskan shore, where he watched over a golden totem pole.  When Clark and his men took the totem pole, "Pop" warned them it was bad luck to move it, for it had been there for two-hundred years (...exactly how "Pop" knew this was not explained--perhaps he was far older than he looked).

"Pop" knew that the totem pole was actually a grouping of ten separate creatures, with whom he was on a friendly basis.

--Strange Stories of Suspense#6/2

Totem pole creatures

Al Clark thought it to be an immobile wooden totem pole (approximately 20' tall) with ten smiling faces, all trimmed with pure gold.  But he eventually learned the totem pole was actually ten distinct creatures (none identified) who could separate and become ambulatory.  The totem pole creatures transformed Clark into the eleventh face and reassembled themselves, with Clark at the bottom of the pole.  Their origins are unknown (see comments), and they were said to have been on an Alaskan shore for two-hundred years; they were friendly with "Pop," an elderly Eskimo.

They seemed to posses supernatural powers, possibly teleportation (e.g. transporting Clark's boat) and the restructuring of matter (e.g. Clark's transformation).

--Strange Stories of Suspense#6/2

Al Clark's boat

Probably an old fishing boat, it was owned by Al Clark.  It transported Clark, his three cohorts--Adams, Grover, and Knowles--along with six huskies and a dog-sled to a bleak shore of northern Alaska.  It later had a golden totem pole lashed to its starboard side.

It was eventually run aground by Clark and wrecked, and Clark unloaded the dogs and sled for his return journey southward.

--Strange Stories of Suspense#6/2

images: (without ads)
Strange Stories of Suspense#6/2, p5, pan4 (main image, Al Clark (shrunken), laying in sleeping bag, menaced by totem creatures)
Strange Stories of Suspense#6/2, p4, pan4 (headshot)
Strange Stories of Suspense#6/2, p2, pan7 (Grover, Adams, Knowles, and Al Clark discover they've been shrunk)
Strange Stories of Suspense#6/2, p5, pan7 (Al Clark's final fate as "low man on the totem pole" ("Pop" at left))
Strange Stories of Suspense#6/2, p1, pan2 (Adams at wheel of boat)
Strange Stories of Suspense#6/2, p3, pan7 (Lew Grover, totem creatures scowling in background)
Strange Stories of Suspense#6/2, p4, pan4 (Pete Knowles)
Strange Stories of Suspense#6/2, p1, pan3 ("Pop" by totem pole and igloo, warning Clark and his men)
Strange Stories of Suspense#6/2, p1, pan1 (Totem pole by "Pop" and his igloo)
Strange Stories of Suspense#6/2, p5, pan5 (separated totem pole creatures speaking to "Pop")
Strange Stories of Suspense#6/2, p5, pan6 (Totem pole creatures talking with "Pop")
Strange Stories of Suspense#6/2, p1, pan1 (Clark's crowded boat, with Clark, Adams, Grover, Knowles, and dogs with sled)
Strange Stories of Suspense#6/2, p3, pan4 (Clark's boat with totem pole lashed to starboard side)

Strange Stories of Suspense#6/2 (December, 1955) - unidentified writer, Bill Everett (artist), Stan Lee (editor)

Last updated: 05/19/16

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