"..When You're Digging For Artifacts...Don't Bury Your Reputation!" COMICS! Sometimes I Guess You Can't Trust An Orangutan!

In which I continue to drag you along on my cheerless trudge through all the 1970s Marvel UK issues of Planet of the Apes Weekly a man at work lent me that time. Doesn’t it just make everything in your life seem radiant with an inner light by comparison? Suit yourself.  photo PotAExcitmentB_zps7e195ca8.jpg

Planet of the Apes by George Tuska, Mike Esposito & Doug Moench

Anyway, this... PLANET OF THE APES WEEKLY #3 (Week Ending November 9th 1974) Edited by Matt Softley Planet of The Apes Chapter Three: In The Compound! Art by George Tuska & Mike Esposito Written by Doug Moench Based on the 20th Century Fox Motion Picture Planet of The Apes (1968) Based on the novel by Pierre Boulle Gullivar Jones, Warrior of Mars: River of the Dead! Art by Gil Kane & Bill Everett Written by Roy Thomas Lettered by John Costa Freely adapted from the novel Lt. Gullivar Jones  by Edwin L. Arnold Ka-Zar: Frenzy on the Fortieth Floor! Art by Jack Kirby & Stan Grainger Written by Roy Thomas Lettered by Sam Rosen Ka-Zar created by Jack Kirby & Stan Lee Marvel UK, £0.08 (1974)  photo PotA003CB_zps75537661.jpg

A quick note about the covers: Since Planet of the Apes Weekly appeared more frequently than its monthly US parent mag it required more covers. In this issue there's a note about who did what. So fair play to Marvel in this instance. And so let the record show:

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Planet of The Apes Chapter Three: In The Compound! Art by George Tuska & Mike Esposito Written by Doug Moench Based on the 20th Century Fox Motion Picture Planet of The Apes (1968) Based on the novel by Pierre Boulle

Being the third chunk of Doug Moench & George Tuska’s faithful replication of the 20th Century Fox motion picture presentation Planet of the Apes. Just to recap for those joining us late (yeah, right) or anyone who enjoyed their twenties a tad too much – it’s a very respectful adaptation which, in a sense, is nice. But then again it’s a bit too respectful. You’d think Planet of The Apes stormed the beaches of Normandy, invented the iPad or died for our sins. Heck (not Don; just the expletive), I like Planet of the Apes but, c’mon. Mind you, as we’ve also covered (and it will be on the Mid-Terms) there were probably reasons for that (you couldn’t watch the movie in the comfort of your own home, never mind on a tiny phone screen propped up on your dashboard while you drove, like some dangerous jackass.) But, forty years on I get a bit restless reading even these small chunks and my mind wanders and I find myself wasting time and energy making very poor jokes like this:

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Planet of the Apes by George Tuska, Mike Esposito & Doug Moench

I think Zira’s Little Rascals’ face seals that particular deal. But, no, it’s weak comedic tea indeed and I’m not proud of having done that, but it’s pretty clearly Doug Moench and George Tuska’s fault. So, um, Moench is mostly just aping the script and it’s up to Tuska to impress. And he does, really, in bits. In one smashing panel Tuska catches the body language of Doctor Zaius ("Doctor Zaius! Doctor Zaius!") just so. That’s no mean feat as the apes in the old movies walk in a kind of ambling shuffle which encompasses a kind of see-saw effect in the shoulders. Obviously Tuska is denied movement but the figure he draws is clearly frozen at a point in that process.

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Planet of the Apes by George Tuska, Mike Esposito & Doug Moench

Also, and crucially, Moench senses when to shut up and Tuska knows how to sell the pivotal moment when Dr Zaius’ stitched slippers sweeps Taylors words away. It’s not exactly a visual gift that scene, but it works on the page and it’s important that it works. As an entertainment Planet of the Apes keeps its momentum up by serving up a succession of uppercuts to expectations and this one is one of my favourites; when Dr Zaius reveals himself as a big furry shit.

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Planet of the Apes by George Tuska, Mike Esposito & Doug Moench

But it also, also, it puts a little bit of spin on the events. It’s a bit of a shocker isn’t it, really? So Zaius knows? What exactly does he know? How does he know it? Eh? And why doesn’t he have those funny big cheeks like the orangutan in that modern Apes movie? Not the new new one with Commissioner Gordon, no, the old new one. The old new one where Jess Franco, the world’s stupidest genius, ignores every single health and safety protocol (put there for your own safety, people) to save his Dad, who can’t remember how to play the piano anymore (not everyone else; just his Dad because his Dad’s special; fuck everyone else whose Dad can’t remember how to play the piano, or the tuba or whatever. And if your Dad wasn’t musically inclined in the first place, well, he’s just wasted everybody’s time and should lie down in a ditch and scrape the earth over his (rightly) weeping face.)  but instead ruins National Parks for ever. Or something. I don’t know, I had to stop watching when the ape went to stay at Brian (the stocky actor not the baby-faced physicist) Cox’s and it was all David Pelzer Time but, y'know, for motion capture fake animals. I can’t watch animals being sad anymore. Not even pretend ones. I don’t know what happened. I just can’t do that anymore. This is what age does to you; you can't even take pleasure in the suffering of fake animals. Enjoy your youth. But, yeah, the bit on the bridge was good (I came sashaying back in for that bit) and old floppy cheeks was in that bit. So, yeah, Dr Zaius  - did he evolve out of his floppy cheeks? Maybe there’s more than one kind of orangutan? There was “Right turn, Clyde!” Y'know, Clint and that. American Orangutan. Like An Orangutan Lining Up Its Shot. Oscars, yeah. America, I feel you. Sweet. So , yeah, January - not the month to ask a lot of me, I'm guessing.

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Planet of the Apes by George Tuska, Mike Esposito & Doug Moench

It’s kind of freaky that Tuska handles such a quiet (but momentous) moment so well because when action erupts Tuska’s super-heroic Marvel House Style reflexes kick in to ill effect. Muscles become swollen like boulders and a generic air descends on the combat. Super-hero comics (back then anyway) dealt in action rather than violence. (Yes, I’m archaic enough to think there’s a difference between a bit o’ colourful wrasslin’ and some guy in a domino mask dismembering some other dude and feeding him, piece by piece, into his own arse. Call me old fashioned. Call me Pappy!) But PotA isn’t about super heroes; it’s about animals and man and how the two are (SPOILER!) quite similar if you think about it (I hate that presumptuous phrase so much). Yeah, so, action is how humanity domesticates its violence and Tuska undercuts this point by portraying action when he should, I think, be upping the ante to violence. He does good monkey faces though. Sorry, ape faces. See fig. 1 above; that there’s as close to a jowl wobblin’ Elvis Double-Take (see Gigolo Rigmarole! or Clamgasm! for more face shakin’ Presley action!) as comics can come, I believe. In fact the expressions on Tuska’s apes are much better than those on his people. Yeah, Tuska’s Taylor (some might spy) is well served at the emotional extremes but in-between he looks like someone’s switched him off. Don’t get me wrong, with all this talk of lack of effect and lifelessness George Tuska’s art is still a far more amenable sight than , say, that of Greg Land. Tuska’s Nature may well be beige in tooth and claw but at least it isn’t shit. OKAY!


Gullivar Jones, Warrior of Mars: River of the Dead! Art by Gil Kane & Bill Everett Written by Roy Thomas Lettered by John Costa Freely adapted from the novel Lt. Gullivar Jones by Edwin L. Arnold

In this second episode of the adaptation of the original (cough) inspiration for John Carter our old mucker Gullivar Jones gets a bad case of worms. More pertinently the writing bloats with all the bad habits of Bronze Age writing. Which is a massive shame because it makes me look bad. After all, last time out, I made great play about how Roy Thomas’ writing was as verbose and purple as a Peter Ustinov made of plums. And yet, and yet, I maintained mulishly,  that approach suited the material perfectly. Obviously, I’m not saying I was wrong (what a terrible thing to say; wash your mouth out) I’m just saying I can’t say that this time out. What I was saying a lot while reading it was sub-vocal and largely consisted of instructions for Roy Thomas to get out of Gil Kane’s way. Quite forceful instructions, if you know what I mean.

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Gullivar Jones, Warrior of Mars by Gil Kane, Sam Grainger & Roy Thomas

Because, be still my beatin’ heart, Gil’s away again. He’s off at a proper canter all right with Gullivar hacking at big worms, then slicing up ape headed spiders (or spider bodied apes) before being crucified and fed to a giant Gil(a) monster. It’s all cavorting and chopping, nasal flare and sweeping hair. It’s Gil Kane with his ridiculously anatomical  antics on great form. The mere brow muscles of Gil Kane’s Gullivar Jones could crack walnuts. The stuff here’s a hair closer to violence than action with the odd gout of blood (ichor?) splashing up from a wounded worm. I remember that being a bit of a shock when I was little; the rarity of such signifiers of the effects of violence lending them weight and, yes, horror. But startling spurts aside, throughout the strip Gil Kane’s spectacular gymnastics have their energy stifled by the physical presence of Thomas’ clotted prose. Because that’s the thing about comics, the writing is there; like a fedora, it’s part of the image.

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Gullivar Jones, Warrior of Mars by Gil Kane, Sam Grainger & Roy Thomas

Now, I like writing. A good turn of phrase or a mot which is bon turns me on; I like words. But this is Comics so when they bog down the art I’m all rearing back like a horse at a cliff face and Unh-UH! Words that do that better be some special words indeed. Unfortunately the words here aren’t terribly special. I’ve not read the original Arnold novel so maybe Thomas is just adhering  to the source, and the source isn’t very good. Or it’s just not working this time out; it can happen to the best of us. In 1970’s Roy Thomas’ defence there are still, in 2015, plenty of writers who can’t find that golden balance twixt art’n’words. And there’s always the art, which is Gil Kane. Word. GOOD!

Ka-Zar: Frenzy on the Fortieth Floor! Art by Jack Kirby & Stan Grainger Written by Roy Thomas Lettered by Sam Rosen Ka-Zar created by Jack Kirby & Stan Lee

Ka-Zar tracks Kraven The Hunter to his swanky NYC hotel lair and battle commences  for the freedom of Zabu. I know what you’re thinking (ugh!) but, no, Ka-Zar doesn’t just barge in like some savage. Instead, like a latter day loin cloth clad Sun Tzu Ka-Zar stands in the lobby of the hotel and bellows…and then barges in like some savage. Kirby’s prime concern here is A!C!T!I!O!N! and he’s set his slobberknocker in the environs of the urban “jungle” to see how that shakes out visually. And visually it works a treat with swinging from balconies instead of branches and commuters hurriedly dispersing like startled rodents. Like an old timey wrasslin' match in the first episode Ka-Zar and Kraven wrassled on Ka-Zar’s home turf and Ka-Zar lost (because Kraven cheated, natch. Boo!) Here we get the rematch where, despite Kraven’s habitual cheating (boo!) and the unfamiliar environs, Ka-Zar is victorious.

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Ka-Zar by Jack Kirby, Sam Grainger, Roy Thomas & Sam Rosen

All Rascally Roy's Stan-tastic dialogue can do is cling on and hope to  convince via its relentless presence that it’s an integral part of the whole thing. Which it isn’t, so you get some dandy Faux-Stan Lee moments of Stan Lee’s patented (not really, legal eagles) “I knew you were going to do that, so I let you, so I can do THIS!” Manoeuvre. Which is a smarter move on his (Stan or Roy's) part than he’s generally given credit for. Such impromptu one-upmanship is, after all, a staple of the schoolyard play of the 1970s target audience.  Children, I’m talking about children there. Remember, children? They used to read comics. Or maybe they still do. Someone bought those 250 giga-billion copies of the first issue of that comic based on the children’s entertainment Star Wars. Children, obviously. Oh, or Retailers.

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Ka-Zar by Jack Kirby, Sam Grainger, Roy Thomas & Sam Rosen

This Ka-Zar strip here is a mess, but it’s fun, it’s daft too; it’s basically men in tights, but these are the kind of tights stretched out of shape by the girth of such 70s giants of the ring as Big Daddy, Kendo Nagasaki and Giant Haystacks rather than those that snugly cosset the somewhat more svelte Superman. Next time they want to make a Wallace Beery "B" they should nix that Barton Fink fella and go for that “Jack Kirby feeling”. It is preposterous stuff  that retains the attention thanks to its rowdy visual energy. Mind you, these visuals are strangely marred by touch-ups. It’s not even subtly done so I know it’s a fact that there’s definitely the hand of a Severin (Marie?)  in the mix here, which makes you wonder what strange set of circumstances must have arisen to occasion Jack Kirby’s art being footled with. I’m not saying Jack Kirby’s mind was on other things but I will say that this strip originally appeared in Astonishing Tales #2 circa 1970, which is when Kirby disappeared from Marvel and took a chance on DC. I’m just sayin’ is all! OKAY!

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This issue of PotA-W is rounded out by a pulse-pounding pin-up. So, I leave you, gentle reader, with this thought: some under-tens didn't put aspirational pictures of sportsmen and women on their wood-chipped walls, but plumped instead for “MARCUS, Gorilla Head of Security Police specialising in violence and torture. Look out for him!” Look for that kid, I say!

NEXT TIME: Hopefully the snow will have melted enough to let the Royal Mail drop off my first comics parcel of the new Year. Then I can stop entertaining myself at your expense and get stuck into some modern – COMICS!!!

"Man HAS No Understanding, Dr. Zira! He Can Be Taught A Few Simple TRICKS Nothing More!" COMICS! Sometimes I'm Just Glad I Don't Have Ka-Zar's Vet Bills!

In which I continue to fly in the face of popular opinion, medical advice, and common sense to continue my languorous amble through Marvel UK’s Planet of the Apes Weekly.  photo SeeDoB_zps620cfde7.jpg Planet of the Apes by Tuska, Esposito & Moench

Anyway, this… PLANET OF THE APES WEEKLY #2 (Week Ending November 2nd 1974) Edited by Matt Softley Planet of The Apes Chapter Two: World of Captive Humans Art by George Tuska & Mike Esposito Written by Doug Moench Based on the 20th Century Fox Motion Picture Planet of The Apes (1968) Based on the novel by Pierre Boulle Gullivar Jones: Warrior of Mars Art by Gil Kane & Bill Everett Written by Roy Thomas Lettered by John Costa Freely adapted from the novel Lt. Gullivar Jones  by Edwin L. Arnold Ka-Zar: The Power of Ka-Zar! Art by Jack Kirby & Stan Grainger Written by Stan Lee Lettered by Sam Rosen Ka-Zar created by Jack Kirby & Stan Lee Marvel UK, £0.08 (1974)

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Planet of The Apes Chapter Two: World of Captive Humans Art by George Tuska & Mike Esposito Written by Doug Moench Based on the 20th Century Fox Motion Picture Planet of The Apes (1968) Based on the novel by Pierre Boulle

In which Doug Moench and George Tuska continue to place scenes from the 20th Century Fox motion picture Planet of the Apes in front of you with all the vigour and drama of a tired vice cop at the end of his shift showing you mugshots while preoccupied with remembering where he stashed that fifth of Old Grandad. (No one's judging you; we’ve all been there.) Once again then, it’s Yeoman’s work all the way, with such little spark on the part of the art that at times Tuska’s people are so drained of emotion and animation they resemble big, stiff dolls. Still, George Tuska does wrench himself out of his torpor for a couple of panels where Taylor reacts badly to talk of brain surgery and experimentation but that’s the last page. To be fair, George Tuska had his moments. But few of them are on these pages. I know I said that’d be in the last one; I’m just keeping you on your toes. While faithful replication remains the paramount concern of the adaptation overall, there's still quite a bit of chicken fat about this thing.

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Everything feels dragged out as though the problem isn’t the allotted space but the filling of it. I guess this is why Moench expands on the movie dialogue to ensure every point is made at such ambiguity trepanning length that the movie seems subtle in comparison. (And it’s very much not a subtle movie; it isn’t supposed to be.) Turn that CAPS LOCK off, Moench fans, because I might seem to be giving Moench a hard time but, luckily, he does most of the Marvel Apes material and I’ll be saying far nicer things further down the line. Sure, this is just a weird isolated chunk of a story transformed into an episode by the weekly nature of UK comics production but there’s still a good bit or two. Certainly the bits where the chimpanzees are arguing about tenure, office supplies and quota systems was funnier after several decades sitting at a desk praying for my pension to kick in than it was at age four. While there are bits to like here, they were already in the movie. There’s nothing yet about the adaptation as a comic to cause anyone to start bouncing up and down, teeth bared, while slapping the top of their head. So far even the action scenes have been consistently spuffed down the comic’s leg. This issue's section is mostly talk, and it's all so enervating you pine for the inactive action of last issue. Tuska’s art is just too tentative here to engage for long when limited to talking heads. Heck, they are talking ape heads and still my mind wandered off and…well, I hope it gets back soon, I kind of need it. Meat‘n’taters this strip remains then. OKAY!

Gullivar Jones: Warrior of Mars Art by Gil Kane & Bill Everett Written by Roy Thomas Lettered by John Costa Freely adapted from the novel Lt. Gullivar Jones  by Edwin L. Arnold

The personal highlight of issue 2 is Gullivar Jones, Warrior of Mars by Gentleman Gil Kane and Rascally Roy Thomas. Now y’all know by now I’m a bit of a one for a GilRoy© Joint, but what y’all don’t know is this particular GilRoy© Joint is the exact and precise one to blame. But before we get to that we have the bit where I prove I can look stuff up on the Internet - this strip originally appeared in issues 16 to 21 of Creatures on The Loose in a series of 10 page instalments with the rest of the comic bulked out by reprints. The perfect size for its slot in PotA-W. This is the one about a Confederate yanked off to Mars where he meets a steel bikini clad princess and kills the stuffing out of a load of bad dudes. It is not to be confused with John Carter of Mars which is the one about a Confederate yanked off to Mars where he meets a naked princess and kills the stuffing out of a load of bad dudes. The two are not to be confused largely because Edwin Lester Arnold’s Gullivar Jones: His Vacation was published in 1905 and Burrough’s (Edgar Rice not William) first John Carter book arrived in 1912. I think, I was kind of losing the will to live reading about all that so feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. Anyway, I'm sure they are totally different because the last thing we want is lawyers developing time travel so they can go back and get dead people suing each other as well. Because they will. They will. Hasslein knew. The similarities between the two properties are certainly, um, arresting but then I don’t know how faithful GilRoy©’s adaptation is; there’s always the possibility they blended the two.

 photo WhiteTopB_zpsaa022b3a.jpg Gullivar Jones by Kane, Everett, Thomas & Costa

It can’t be all that faithful to the source because here Gullivar is a ‘Nam Vet (no, not an Indo-Chinese animal doctor; the other kind.) and instead of a magic carpet he is Mars borne on a sort of cloud composed of Gil Kane’s ™ and © cosmic amoebas. Gullivar also has a sweep of ice creamy hair atop his chiselled head not unlike Gentleman Gil’s artic topping. Gully’s hair turns white during his transportation from Earth to Mars; when Gil Kane’s hair turned white is anyone’s guess. (Probably thirty seconds after he started working in comics. Only kidding! It’s just one big fun club-house of magic!) Keen Kane Watcher’s will note quite a lot of Gil Kane’s heroes spurn Just For Men. I don’t know if GilRoy© threw that bit in nor if they gave Gullivar enhanced muscle powers like ERB’s Jon Carter because…I haven’t done my due diligence. Anyway, Gullivar lands on Mars and without checking much out immediately wades in and starts killing things while immediately pairing up with the swellest gal round, Heru by name. It’s a ridiculously propulsive chunk of bounding, swashbuckling, romance, leaping, jumping, violence, buckswashling, torn shirts, and heterosexual male wish fulfilment. It is fantastic stuff if you are partial to GilRoy© Joints, barbaric tomfoolery or, um, John Carter (Shhh!)

 photo PositionB_zpsf50d9993.jpg Gullivar Jones by Kane, Everett, Thomas & Costa

Gil Kane’s on top form here despite the muting effect of the B& W art’s none too precise reproduction. I think some of it’s been redrawn to make it pop out of the monochrome slurry the colour has become, and I’d suggest there looks to be some redrawing around the cups area of Heru's bikini as well if that didn’t make me seem like a creepy weirdo. ( I am a creepy weirdo, of course, but apparently lot of adult life is spent hiding what really you are so no one burns you in public.) Mostly though, I’d say Gil Kane was into this one, which I certainly was. So much so that I know this strip here is where Gil and I struck up an immediate bond; one whereby I would forever after be willing to pay him for his services. Hmm, that sounded a lot less seedy in my head. Because I remember (and I do remember this) reading this exact strip in this issue and feeling Kane’s hit me like Larkin's “enormous yes". Seriously, somewhere in pages 4 and 5 I was lost; Gil and I were in bonded by the chains of art/commerce for life after that. So, you know, if I can just address every comics publisher everywhere, I find the lack of Gil Kane reprints pretty ridiculous. Sort it out, please. Pronto, if you would.

 photo WhenDoThisB_zpsb9f994ed.jpg Gullivar Jones by Kane, Everett, Thomas & Costa

We’ll take about Gil Kane more later no doubt, no doubt. But what about Roy? Roy Thomas plays a big part in making this strip work as well as it does, and I think it works pretty well. I like Roy Thomas; Roy’s okay by me. He likes order to excess and can probably find his apple peeler in the dark but he can write. He can write pulp, anyway. There are plenty of words on these pages; perhaps too many for today’s prose averse readers, but I like ‘em and I think they’re needed. It’s written in a really butch pulp style - this prose stops off in a bar after a hard day riveting to catch the game and sink some brews; this prose buys its shoes by mail because no way is another man touching its feet; this prose wonders why Walter Hill never won an Oscar; this prose totally tucks hard packs of cigarettes under its rolled up sleeve; this prose is macho stuff all told. Which is great, it keys you in, it cues you up - this is beefy pulp action soaked in bourbon, and apologies and poetry aren’t happening tonight, baby! And that’s intentional, “With a cording of throat muscles” is no one’s first choice of wording. We all know what he means but how he says it means something too. Writing there; it’s not just putting one word after another. Gullivar isn't like Roy, Gullivar doesn’t work with words, he works with his hands and his hands are killing hands. Thomas' lurid insight into the mind of the protagonist makes it a much richer and more immersive experience. It's still pulp nonsense but you're paying attention. Here the clumsy carnality of Thomas’ prose couples with the sensual elegance of Kane’s practically throbbing visuals to make a heated experience indeed. Captions aren’t always necessary but also captions aren’t always redundant; captions are a tool - one of many. You choose the right tool for the job. And Gullivar Jones is a right tool. Or something. Someone should reprint this stuff, it's VERY GOOD!

Ka-Zar: The Power of Ka-Zar! Art by Jack Kirby & Stan Grainger Written by Stan Lee Lettered by Sam Rosen Ka-Zar created by Jack Kirby & Stan Lee

This starts off with one of those great full page panels which make no sense whatsoever if you think about it for a second - Kraven is thrusting a newspaper at the reader and bellowing about something that’s really getting his balls in an uproar. But, and trust me on this, we aren’t actually there so I don’t know what that all’s about. It’s like we aren’t meant to take it literally or something! Turns out Kraven is on his own in his Kirby-esque study built of, as so many Kirby studies are, antique Lego. Kraven’s plan is to talk out loud about everything he knows concerning Ka-Zar into a “recording device” and when he’s done that, having kick started his little grey cells into unconscious ratiocination, I guess, he will know where Ka-Zar and Zabu are. As plans go this seems pretty flimsy, but it works so, hey, what do I know. Surprisingly, despite being dressed like an Earth-2 Liberace Kraven doesn't want to adopt Lord Peter Whimsy (aka Ka-Zar); Zabu is his real target because, well, Kraven has issues - check out his name! He’s gonna find that sabre-toothed tiger and give it a good wrasslin’!

 photo GoZabuGoB_zpsb4338e0e.jpg Ka-Zar by Kirby, Grainger, Lee & Rosen Preventing you from registering how none of what you read so far makes a lick of sense the story suddenly hurls images of Ka-Zar and Zabu saving some dinosaurs from their own stupidity at you. At this stage (quite early; "Ka-Zar first showed up in the now legendary X-Men#10 (1965). Joltin'John.") in his career Ka-Zar is still talking like he’s got something lodged in his brain. Ka-Zar is basically a blonde Tarzan who lives in the pocket of prehistoric throwbackery known as The Savage Land, and is accompanied by a sabre-toothed tiger rather than a cheeky chimp. I don’t know about you, but by the time I finished that sentence we seemed to be a long way from Tarzan, and yet the jungly musk of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ creation still permeates everything about Ka-Zar. Go figure. Kraven’s a wrasslin’ man with wrasslin’ on his mind so there’s a whole lot o’ wrassling in this one with some characteristically dynamic Kirby panels. I am always particularly taken by the one where bodies explode away from a figure at the epicentre of a panel and the one where someone cranes their neck to look back out of the panel with a big old “Oh Shit!” expression on their strangely blocky face. Both of which are here but my favourite was a trio of tusslin’ panels which brought to mind a famous Harvey Kurtzman sequence:

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Ka-Zar by Kirby, Grainger, Lee & Rosen

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Cover Detail from "Corpse On The Imjin" And Other Stories by Harvey Kurtzman (Fantagraphics, 2012)

Just a fun collision of images in my head with no deeper meaning or import, I’m sure. But I think we can all agree that Kirby’s use of the foot there is pretty funny. There’s no way this strip wasn’t driven by Kirby’s art and the proof is in the patter Lee provides. Patter which is almost puce in the face as it struggles to both keep up and pretend something sensible is happening. Nothing sensible is happening here but who gives a cheesy toupee when there’s a whole lotta Kirby goin’ on ! GOOD!

BONUS: Rejected visual pitch for Just Imagine...Stan Lee Creating V For Vendetta!

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NEXT TIME: George Tuska starts livening up! Jack Kirby clearly has other things on his mind! And Gil Kane's work forces me to don flame retardent pants! All this and a whole lot less in Part 3 of Planet of the COMICS!!!

“You Who Are Reading Me Now Are A Different Breed - I Hope A Better One.” COMICS! Sometimes You Stop And Find Forty Years Have Slipped Down The Back of The Sofa!

Yes! This is a thing which is happening! It’s the second patience sapping instalment of the world’s slowest and most digressive crawl through Marvel UK’s Planet of the Apes Weekly (1974 - 1977). O ye of little faith! Run, you fools!  photo PotAStartB_zps37829286.jpg Planet of the Apes by George Tuska, Mike Esposito & Doug Moench

Anyway, this… PLANET OF THE APES WEEKLY #1 (Week Ending October 26th 1974) Planet of The Apes Part 1 Art by George Tuska & Mike Esposito Written by Doug Moench Based on the 20th Century Fox Motion Picture Planet of The Apes (1968) Based on the novel by Pierre Boulle Marvel UK, £0.08 (1974)

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Blame it on The Roy. For Rascally Roy Thomas was the one. The one who personally bagged Marvel the rights to produce original material based on the 20th Century Fox motion picture presentation Planet of The Apes. That movie was released in 1968 so why a push for a comic in 1974? Why, Roy? Why? Good question; Roy’s glad you asked. Because Television. You know how important Television is to comic creators today? Well, Television was that central to everyblummingbody back in 1974. Albeit less for monetary reasons, and more for distractions-from-the-hideous-reality-of-the-1970s reasons. There was comparatively very little Television programming at this point in time (the 1970s, keep up!) which tended to lend it all an importance out of all proportion to its quality. It was still early days so there was only a limited array of TV programmes – ones where a pair of caucasian, heterosexual males (one blond, one brunette) had adventures in a variety of settings, ones where a mishap prone heterosexual couple inhabited a house filled with invisible laughing maniacs, ones where someone, usually a caucasian heterosexual male (blond or brunette), was pursued from town to town for eternally unresolved reasons, ones with news on them and then documentaries about corned beef manufacture in Argentina. When the Planet of the Apes TV (PotA-TV) series was broadcast in 1974 it was a daring evolutionary step forward for Televisual entertainment - it was about a pair of caucasian, heterosexual males (one blond, one brunette) having adventures on the Planet of the Apes WHILE ALSO being pursued from town to town for eternally unresolved reasons. As artistically modest as it may appear to audiences raised on The Wire and Mr. Bean it remains a fact that PotA-TV was a smash-hit with the simple, clueless, happy-go-lucky folk of 1970s Britain.

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Planet of the Apes by George Tuska, Mike Esposito & Doug Moench

Luckily for all their lovely share-holders Marvel UK were Johnny-on-the–Spot with Planet of the Apes Weekly (PotA-W) which basically acted like a papery pocket money attractor. So successful was the comic that it ended in 1977 not, as is traditional, for want of sales, but rather because APJAC international Productions raised their licensing fees and Marvel balked. Marvel UK was a bit different from Marvel proper in that it was formed in 1972 (said Wikipedia, yesterday) to publish comics in the UK but with editorial direction via Noo Yawk. While it’s true that Neil Tennant, long before becoming a pop colossus, did work for Marvel UK in an editorial capacity, he denies anything to do with PotA-W. This is a shame because I’d have liked to have mentioned Neil Tennant, being a big fan of The Pet Shop Boys as I am. As it is any mention of Neil Tennant would just unnecessarily cloud the issue. And I think we all know I just cannot be doing with unnecessary digressions. In 1976 Marvel UK would produce its first original material in the form of Captain Britain Weekly, which I liked (Herb Trimpe, oh yeah!) Since PotA-W was produced prior to 1976 all its content (bar the letters page) was produced in the Land of The Free and the Home of The Brave. America, I’m talking about America there. And the face of American comics in 1974 was a Smilin’ one. So, opening the painted cover, the first thing you saw in 1974 was Smilin’ Stan Lee. Caught there for posterity in a comic book store somewhere, in a picture bearing mute but unarguable testament to the sublimity of craft imbuing his hairpiece, Stan Lee welcomes us to this, the first issue of PotA-W. Thanks, Stan! Don’t mind if I do.

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The comic strip bits of the first issue of PotA-W consist entirely of the first part of Marvel’s “6 part adaptation” of the movie (PotA-M). Before the children’s entertainment Star Wars (1977) happened science fiction in movies was, mostly, telling us that the future was going to be even worse if we didn’t get our act together. PotA-M is very much in that grand, finger wagging tradition and it stars Charlton Heston, who I will always adore for a number of reasons. I shall now bore you with them. Obviously, and most pertinently, he would eventually star in three of my favourite Pull Your Socks Up, Humanity! movies – Soylent Green (1973), The Omega Man (1971) and Planet of the Apes (1968). Those were all movies I saw slightly later in life because they were on later in the evening, but I was still primed for Charlton Heston. For, when younger, I had spent many a happy Sunday afternoon drinking Cresta in front of the Television watching The Hest’s parched delivery save such historical and long movies as El Cid (1961), The Warlord (1965) and Khartoum (1966) from my childish disinterest. Best of all the many Sunday Afternoon Hest Fests was The Naked Jungle (1954) which was about Charlton Heston and Eleanor Parker learning to love among the marabunta ants. Unstoppable killer ants aside, the scene where the widowed Eleanor Parker character tells Hest that the best piano is one that's been played remains kind of awesome to me even now. Then, later, I found out about Charlton Heston insisting Orson Welles be allowed to direct Touch of Evil (1958), Charlton Heston marching for Civil Rights and, naturally, Wayne’s World 2 (1993). Probably other things in there as well. Yes, for a very long time there was no question about Charlton Heston. But then I made the mistake of watching some Michael Moore thing which had Charlton Heston brandishing a firearm and yelling about his cold dead hands. Unbeknownst to me, apparently in the 1980s (that heinous decade), Charlton Heston threw liberalism over for conservatism. If he’d just called I might have been able to talk him out of it, but he was a proud man and, perhaps unconsciously sensing his error, never sought my advice. Yes, there were sure some mixed feelings in my head that day. But those feelings, that head and that day itself were in 2002; which, in line with Haslein’s theory, hadn’t happened in 1974 when PotA-W started.

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Mind you, reading George Tuska and Doug Moench’s comic book adaptation of PotA-M you’d be hard pressed to guess Heston was the star. In the old days, with their old ways, licenced comics had to get some kind of likeness agreement from the people in the movie concerned; otherwise there’d be some legal unpleasantness. Apparently Marvel didn’t bother with that, because Tuska was, so it’s still claimed in smoky back rooms and seedy dance halls, explicitly told not to make anyone “look like Charlton Heston”. A bit of a drawback really when adapting a movie starring Charlton Heston. And so Tuska’s art compliantly contains no one who could even charitably be said to “look like Charlton Heston”. I’ve had food that looked more like Charlton Heston. If anything Tuska overplays his underplaying as all the human faces resemble cereal boxes bearing variations on the same generic visage. This pretty much sums up Tuska’s performance here – he does as he’s asked, but little more. There’s a lot of chops involved in just doing that well, I’m not unaware of that, but Time lacks mercy and while in 1974 this was probably pretty good stuff, by 2015 I (and this is just me, never mind someone actively involved with comic art) have seen Sienkiewicz & Macchio’s Dune, Bissette & Veitch’s 1941 and Simonson & Goodwin’s Alien: The Illustrated Story. Tuska’s stuff here is never not going to look rough in that company. Audrey Hepburn would struggle in that company, and George Tuska is no Audrey Hepburn. Gamine or no, what George Tuska is though, is competent.

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Planet of the Apes by George Tuska, Mike Esposito & Doug Moench

He’s certainly as competent as Franklin J. Schaffner’s unspectacular direction of the source movie. But Schaffner had advantages denied to Tuska. Schaffner had Jerry Goldmith’s appropriate pandemonium of parping brass and screeching strings to load even the stillest moments with foreboding, and he had a cast comprising Roddy McDowell, Kim Hunter and Charlton Heston. Poor old George Tuska has none of these things; Hell, he’s even denied anyone who even “looks like Charlton Heston”. He does a decent job; even though I kind of tense at the meagreness of his line and the inertia soaking everything so that even the rough and tumble in the reeds which ends the issue struggles to excite. But it’s doubtful if excitement was even on their agenda. What Tuska and Moench have done here isn’t so much an adaptation as a documentation of PotA-M. Moench & Tuska are obviously attempting to replicate the movie as rigorously as possible on the printed page. Of all the comic options this is the most literal and least interesting approach. But, again, I wrote that in 2015 and this comic was made circa 1974 when the idea that the mass of the UK population might own and view movies in their own home was the stuff of unhinged fantasy. (The exception was a minority of film buffs and onanistically inclined gentlemen for whom select movies were available for home projection; but it was hardly a widespread practice. The projection of movies in private domiciles that is; onanism is ever at hand.) The ephemerality of the movie viewing experience at the time meant that a comic such as this would act as a substitute to a repeat viewing. Once a movie’s theatrical run ended usually the next time you’d see it would be five years later on Television. So there are certainly reasons for Tuska and Moench’s, to modern eyes at least, tiresomely literal script. Yet, what was once a boon has become a burden thanks to that unstoppable bastard, Time.

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Planet of the Apes by George Tuska, Mike Esposito & Doug Moench

Basically, in 2015, I’d rather watch the movie but in 1974 I didn’t have that option, and neither did anyone else. Because I do like the movie, don’t get me wrong. While I may have found Pierre Boulle’s original 1964 novel torpidly unengaging someone liked it enough to get Rod “Twilight Zone” Serling (and Michael Wilson) to punch it up with sensationalised action and on-the-nose allegory to the point where someone as uncouth as I is still quite happy to watch it. Sure, there’s more than the one odd thing about PotA-M, not least Taylor himself. When we first meet Taylor, and Taylor is the first person we meet, he is not only hubristically huffing a cigar in a high pressure oxygen environment but also helpfully setting up the themes and basic gist of the movie about to unfold. He does this via a Hestonically delivered misanthropic soliloquy. Taylor’s basic distaste with the Human Race persists throughout the movie until it is knocked off its perch by his distaste for the simian usurpers. He’s just not a people person, Colonel Taylor, and I don’t think putting him in charge of a space mission speaks highly of NASA’s (or is it ANSA's?) screening processes. And that NASA mission’s a bit odd as well. It looks like someone’s had the bright idea of throwing three men and a woman into space with the intention of setting up a new franchise of Humanity. “She was to be the new Eve”, yeah? Now, when it comes to biology my interest is purely amateurish and recreational, but it strikes me that three men and a lady is a breeding fast-track to kids with more thumbs than fingers. I could be wrong; I’m no science-tist. Or maybe two of the blokes were a couple or something. As it happens the, biologically speaking, weird science doesn’t matter much because quicker than you’d Adam and Eve it Stewart (the female crew member) is both old and dead which, even in the swinging ‘60s, is enough to dampen the crew’s ardour. Gerontophilia, perhaps. Necrophilia maybe. But both together’s a bit rich, or am I just being old-fashioned? Then there’s a long mostly quiet bit full of rocks, wandering about and Taylor winding up his crew before we get to the big shock reveal, which is that they are on a (SPOILER!) planet of apes! Boy, it’s a good job it isn’t called Planet of the Apes or something, he said sarcastically. Mind you, at least they left The Big Twist (they’re all dead!) until the end back then, nowadays even that one’s spoilt by the box cover. All of which spoilery matters a lot less than you’d think because back in 1968 they made movies that were so well made that they could survive as satisfactory viewing experiences even with all the surprises sucked out. Alas I can’t say the same for the comic adaptation which is just OKAY!

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NEXT TIME: The back-ups are coming! The back-ups are coming! Gil Kane! Jack Kirby! Can poor printing mute talents so large? Sabre-toothed tigers and horse riding lobster men! It’s even better than an offer to groom you for nits - it’s Part 3 of Planet of the COMICS!!!

“...His Wisdom Must Walk Hand In Hand With His Idiocy." INSANE RAMBLING! COMICS! Sometimes It’s Context Of The Planet Of The Apes!

Laydeez enn gennelmen! Please be seated for tonight’s presentation. Refreshments are available from the kiosk. Smoking is permitted in the auditorium because this is the 1970s and we are all going to live forever. Yes, your eyes do not deceive you, this is the 1970s. This is the Bronze Age. And this? This is the Preamble to The Planet of the Apes. (Again.)  photo CherapesB_zpse2a07346.jpg Cher on The Planet of the Apes. Yes, Really.

Anyway, this… 1. Being A Very Special And Very Personal Note From I, The Author, To You, the Reader (or Sorry, But There’s Nothing for You Here.)

Hello. The bulk of what follows was written in an attempt to write something. 2014 was a difficult year writing-wise, personally speaking, hence the large gaps between posts, the often stilted content, the unconvincing feints at seriousness and the occasional veer into fully fledged nonsense. No change there then! Oh, my! Looking back I don’t remember much of it but I remember having trouble doing it. Very much how I imagine I will feel about life when on my death-bed. Anyway, at one point things got so bad I wrote the following. I just started writing it to see what fell out. At worst, I figured, I’d use it as an entry in The Savage Critics annual Christmas tradition of my putting up a post about Planet of the Apes Weekly and then failing to follow through. (This failure to follow through would have been a lot handier in my drinking days, but there you go. That’s right, a joke about self-soiling – Happy New Year!) When I read it back I was not only surprised at its awfulness (I’ve edited it extensively since then; still awful, but hopefully less so) but also by the weird attempt I was apparently making to contextualise a certain time. I realise now why I was doing that but that reason was hidden from me back then. But, um, I don’t know, as I say, I’ve messed about with it and thrown it up. Largely because I think I need to lighten up about this whole writing about comics thing and I think putting up something this inane will help. I don’t know. I do know that “thrown it up” is pretty apt. So this one’s for me and, no, it doesn’t work; I’m particularly fond of the bit where I excoriate comedians for lazy stereotyping of the 1970s and then do the exact same thing in very short order. But in return for this I will write about Planet of the Apes Weekly. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow but soon and for what will feel like the rest of my life.

2.What Went Before (or Previously on Middle Aged Public Nervous Breakdown Theatre):

In 2012 a bloke at work lent me his collection of Planet of the Apes Weeklies. I promised to get right on that and write about them for The Savage Critics. I patently failed to do so. The year is now 2015…

Now read on...

3. The 1970s (or “And I Only Am Escaped Alone To Tell Thee…”)

The 1970s! Space hoppers, Spangles and white dog shit! As only the most hatefully predictable stand-up comedian will tell you. Also, perhaps, other things. I don’t know about this bit, I don’t know if I need to tell you about the 1970s, or more specifically 1974, the year in which Planet of the Apes Weekly was launched. I did think maybe a few words of explication might be necessary because of a conversation I recently had with “Gil”, my under-10 spawn. Now, I realise most of you might have more of a grasp on the 1970s than a small child, so if you are au fait with the 1970s or could, frankly, not give a shit please do feel free to entertain yourselves in some other fashion. After all there is a rumour going around that this is a comics blog rather than my personal forum for tearful elderly reminiscences. On reflection then I’m not going to go on about the 1970s, nor 1974 in particular. You have The Internet as well, so you don’t need me to tell you that in 1974 the crew of Skylab returned to mother Earth, a WW2 Japanese soldier surrendered having missed the news about the war ending in 1945, Stephen King published Carrie and the Irish began their UK mainland bombing campaign. In 2015 space is full of junk, nobody surrenders anymore because the wars don’t end, Stephen King is a much wealthier writer and the Irish and the English are both mostly behaving in an adult fashion (at the time this went to press at least). So, a bit of a mixed bag progress wise. On balance Stephen King seems to have come out best from the last 40 or so years. So, well done there, Stephen King.

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4. Intermittent Television (or The Beast That Shouted “Crackerjack!” At The Heart of the Living Room!)

Anyway, back at the bit where I try and strike up some cheap emotional connection with you like it’s the back matter of an Image book: me and the kid are talking and I’m trying to explain to him how in the past not only would I not have been able to ‘freeze’ the ‘streaming’ SpongeBob episode while I went and did my ‘business’ , but if it had ended before I had returned (having flushed and then washed my hands; I place particular stress on that part to him) I would have been unable to watch the episode by selecting it from a ‘cache’ of ‘stored’ programmes via the use of a ‘handset’. I would have had to wait for the programme to be repeated at some uncertain point in the future, probably at teatime because children’s programming was on only at specific points in the schedule, rather than running 24/7 on an array of dedicated channels. As for that handset, well, since there were only three channels most of the buttons wouldn’t have been there, and, anyway, the handset itself in all likelihood wasn’t there; thus sadistically requiring people to actually get out of the chair, travel across the length of the room to the television itself and thereupon physically turn a dial or press a button set into the fascia of the crate sized behemoth; the bulk of which was not screen and the screen of which displayed only fuzzy pictures, allegedly in colour but certainly fond of lurching up and off the side of the screen like an aunt startled by a flasher. In the 1970s, I stress, all this was state of the art. However, I note that such picture quality is now used in movies as shorthand for the presence of a malefic supernatural force. Which is how I also like to think of the ‘70s. This Television then, the notional one I’m using as an example, would squat in a front room, a room heated by a real gas fire with real flames; the danger of which would also be real, and so it would likely have a kind of portable metal mesh screen set in front of it to avoid real children getting too close and receiving real burns. The room’s walls would be adorned with wallpaper the thickness of today’s carpets while the carpet would be thicker than a bear’s pelt . It would have been on just such an apparatus as that Television in just such a room as that just described that the Planet of the Apes TV show would have been aired by the commercial UK TV channel ITV on Sunday 13th October 1974. (I looked it up.)

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5. Second-Hand Treasures (or The Unfeasibly Long Half-Life of Comic Books)

It would be this very show it has taken me so very, very long to mention and its audience of thrilled children that the comic (can you remember back that far?) was aimed at. One such thrilled child would have been me, age 4. Now, as important as it is to me that you think I’m bloody super I am not going to pretend to have read Planet of the Apes Weekly when it came out. I doubt my reading skills at age 4 were all that, brah. I would have read it later and I would have read it from the second hand book shop in the market in the centre of town. This is where your Mum would get most of your comics because even back then your Mum was just doing the best with what she had, just trying to give her magical little boy the best she could despite paltry wages earned at exhaustive cost. And this magical little boy would grow up and repay her in the coin of resentment and ingratitude because, kids! (Did you enjoy the distancing language I unconsciously employed there?) Certainly when I was a child I thought like a child but when I became a man I kept all my childish things inside my head for later, because being a grown-up isn’t, surprisingly, all it is cracked up to be. And one of those things retained in my head is an abiding enjoyment of Planet of the Apes…and at that point I noticed…I was alone. At some point “Gil” had wandered off and was playing virtual murder on his X-Box360. Thinking back, the point of his prudent departure was probably where I seemed to start addressing an invisible audience of two bored people on The Internet. It may well be a bad thing to lose your audience but it is a worse thing not to know at which point it happened. Hello? Oh, I’ll go on.

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6. Thunder Underground (or “It was The Boogeyman.”)

What I’m saying is there wasn’t much television back then and what there was you made a date to catch because it wouldn’t wait for you and you’d never know if it it’d be back again. Also, brace yourselves, there was no Internet. In truth I think the lack of the latter was hardly felt as people were quite openly racist, misogynistic and homophobic right to each other’s faces; arguing about meaningless shit until violence erupted was no problem either since everyone drank booze like someone was going to snatch it away; pornography was everywhere anyway in the form of savaged jazz mags badly hidden in bushes and your uncle’s airing cupboard, so men of all ages were still able to achieve physical satisfaction while avoiding interacting with real women; in the 1970s life itself was the Internet. On the upside kids spent a lot more time outdoors but life loves balance so they also spent a lot more time never being seen again and dying in quarries. So much so that Donald “Death has come to your little town, Sheriff.” Pleasance was hired to scare them out of such activities. Of course there were worse things than those happening to kids out there in the 1970s but people didn’t like to talk about it much. Surprisingly, ignoring it and hoping it went away turned out to be a terrible idea of truly titanic proportions. Witness the last couple of years of our news sheepishly revealing the fact that both the light entertainment industry and the ruling elite have been treating the children of Britain as a big old Paedo pick’n’mix for the last four decades at least. Imagine a world where the very people entrusted with the entertainment and, yes, the very care of the most vulnerable in society just get stuck in like pigs; it’s easy if you try. Imagine a world in which David Peace’s Nineteen Seventy Four undersold the situation; don’t bother, you’re sat in it. Shit, that got dark quick. Look, I'm not angry; just disappointed (I am angry; I'm fucking livid).In 1974 had I written myself into a hole like that I'd have then had to exercise some serious literary muscles to get you all back on-side but it's 2015, and so with a wave of The Internet I instantly salve all wounds:

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7. News From The Future (or Invasion of the Format Snatchers)

In summation then: there weren’t many distractions for kids in the ‘70s but amongst their limited number we can count comics (!!!) and Television. One thing which combined both was Planet of the Apes Weekly. It’s unfortunate that while in the past there was no shortage of children there was a very definite shortage of distractions, and so the need for cheap entertainment for the sedation of offspring was at a premium. This is where comics came in. Cheap and plentiful they were back there, back then, in the 1970s. There were two kinds of comics: home-grown and imported. I lie; there were three kinds of comics: home-grown, imported and mongrels. Home-grown adventure comics were effectively black and white, gender segregated and sedately content to pimp the increasingly archaic values of the previous generation. (i.e. before Pat Mills et al. happened) Imported genre comics came from The Americas and were suffused with the glamour of bubble gum, nylons, gun crime, Howdy Doody and Television. Yes, that list is supposed to be a bit anachronistic. Like their star spangled land of origin the yank mags were more colourful and vibrant because America was where The Future was happening, and the comics which landed on our shores felt very much like vulgar intrusions from The Future. Yes, in the 1970s everyone in Britain knew America was where The Future was happening. Here in the science fictional year of 2015 of course those very comics look as fresh and progressive as a white man in a suit drunkenly pinching his secretary’s bum. And then there were the mongrels, of which Planet of the Apes Weekly was one. These curs of the comic book world took their content from American sources, reprinted it in black & white to avoid over stimulating the easily excited British audience and chopped it up so several “episodes” of different series could be bodged into one comic . This made a lot more sense than you might think. In Britain, see, comics were weekly, (mostly) B&W anthologies and someone in Marvel’s Mighty Marketing Department had obviously read their Jack Finney, so when they set out to infiltrate the British market they did it via imitation. (Also, it was flattering, I guess.)

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8. Nearly There (or The Secret Origin (Not Really) of the Direct Market.)

The American source in this case was the magazine format Planet of the Apes which was already B&W, so that worked out okay, but in America books were monthly which meant an inescapable content deficiency loomed over the project. Never more innovative than when cutting corners, Marvel hacked the yank stuff up into chunks, with only that chunk rather than the whole strip appearing in a single weekly issue. British kids then had their comics beefed up with behind the scenes articles (also from the American magazine) and backup strips. Once we get past the novelty of reading about the adaptations and the Mike Ploog brains-in-jars stuff these back-ups will be the most interesting thing about Planet of the Apes Weekly. Should you ever chance upon a physical copy of Planet of the Apes weekly, or indeed any 1970s British weekly comic, the chances are high that on the cover (front or back) in a top corner will be a surname in biro. This is where the newsagent would put your name were you to answer the call printed in every issue of your top weekly funny paper to place an order with your newsagent (“Never Miss An Issue!”). This was a kind of Palaeolithic version of having a pull list with a comics shop. True or not, I like to think that the 21st Century’s sexy rebels of Comics Retailing, like Brian “Two Shops” Hibbs, evolved directly from small men with brilliantined comb-overs and braised faces who could spin on a penny when the bell above their door tinkled announcing the entry of an all too likely larcenous child. And so, there in 1974 in a cramped den of cigarette packets and serried sweet jars somewhere in there, usually at ground level and braced between puzzle magazines and the sexy lure of Look-In, lurked Planet of the Apes Weekly. Let’s reach down now and take a look at issue 1…

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NEXT TIME: Cold dead hands, marabunta ants, and somewhere in there I'll probably say, “To be fair, George Tuska had his moments. But few of them are on these pages.” It’s all in the first real instalment of Planet of the COMICS!!! Yes, it is coming and I shit you not, kids!

"Why Did You Turn Us From Pets Into Slaves?" COMICS! Sometimes It Is Christmas On The Planet of The Apes (Part 4)

Believe you me when I say I share your relief as we thunder into the fourth and final part of what people as far away as the chair next to me are calling a Planet of The Apes Weekly gallery! Merry Christmas! Ho ho ho! photo ENDB_zps7b672cf9.jpg

Anyway, this...

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After all that it turns out the guy I borrowed these off was just shy of the complete run. Sigh.

So 'almost' only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades and - COMICS!!!

My name's John Kane and I wish you all, every man Jack of you, a very Merry Christmas!

"Because I Loathe Bananas!" COMICS! Sometimes It Is Christmas On The Planet of The Apes (Part 3)

"Beware the beast Man, for he is the Content's pawn. Alone among God's primates, he scans for the attention of strangers during Internet lulls. Yea, he will politely ask his work-mate to borrow his work-mate's Planet of The Apes Weekly collection. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will spend most of his time washing, cleaning and generally running about to little result before finally sitting and staring dully into the far distance. Shun him; drive him back into his new-build lair, for he is the harbinger of death." Thus spaketh The Lawgiver. And so Part Three of the Planet of The Apes Weekly cover gallery begins:  photo PART2B_zps2c2498fd.jpg Anyway, this...

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Ape Shall not borrow and then forget to return ape's - COMICS!!!

"What The Hell Would I Have To Say To A Gorilla?!?" COMICS! Sometimes It Is Christmas On The Planet of The Apes (Part 2)

Well, Christmas The Holidays are almost upon us! Now, if you do knock back the old grape juice plus please refrain from driving. This isn't the Nineteen Seventies, you know! Although you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise as we plummet into the second part of our gallery of Planet of The Apes Weekly (very old but VERY GOOD!) covers. It ain't Nostalgia, it's History. (Okay, it's nostalgia).  photo bombB_zps4ea6ac7c.jpg

BONUS**BONUS***: Fool your friends! Baffle your enemies! Be hunted by the Government and shot in a ship yard with our Amazing Like-Life Ape Mask! (Never use scissors unless supervised by an adult.)

Anyway, this...

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Oh, apes might talk but they don't make - COMICS!!!

“…There Must be A Creature Superior To Man.” (Slight Reprise) COMICS! Sometimes It Is Christmas On The Planet of The Apes!

It is with no small amount of shame that I note it has been over a year(!) since I promised to take a look at Planet of The Apes Weekly. Um. Prizes for the best excuses! Er, I mean reasons. Look, we're all adults so let's all just put it behind us and move on. As a special Christmas Treat, and as a small act of atonement, please find the covers to the first 31 issues of Planet of The Apes Weekly. If you like 'em I'll do some more. And, okay, we'll see what we can do about, y'know, going on about the contents in word form. No promises, mind. Special BONUS: from hereonin I (mostly) shut my mad yapper and let the pictures speak. Merry Christmas!  photo Heck01B_zps7e3b137e.jpg

Anyway, this...

Oh, context: Planet Of The Apes Weekly was a repackaging of Marvel's PoTA material for the British market. It was spurred by the enormous popularity of the PoTA TV show. The PotA strips were hacked into episodes of about six pages and backed up by whatever mad sci-fi based stuff Marvel had to hand. Turned out Marvel had plenty. The weekly schedule really burned through the scant PoTA material and filling each issue must have been quite an adventure. The movie adaptations constantly rotated in and out and the Killraven strip was rejigged from a disco themed continuation of H.G. Wells' War of The Worlds into a disco themed continuation of PoTA via the genius of the addition of badly drawn ape heads on anything that wasn't moving. PoTA began in 1974 and ran under its own title for 139 issues before being subsumed into other Marvel reprint titles and finally expiring in 1977. Which is when the children's entertainment Star Wars hit...Anyway, we'll get into all that later. Maybe. For now, the singular visual magic that was 1970s Marvel reprint comics covers:

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And a fond farewell for now from The Planet of The COMICS!!!

“…There Must be A Creature Superior To Man.” COMICS! Sometimes Hasslein Was RIGHT!

This isn't actually a post about comics it’s a post about the posts about comics which are to follow. See, I had an idea…oh dear. Click “More” to enter…The Planet of the Nostalgics! Photobucket (Art by George Tuska)

For a while now I've wanted to write about the experience of comics reading during the ‘70s. I thought this might be of interest as it is now 2012 and some of your parents weren't even born then. I thought it might be of even more interest as, and the keener minds among you will have already noted this, I live in Great Britain. Which isn't that Great but it is certainly called Britain. Alack, alas, I had a great deal of difficulty figuring out where to start, I’ll spare you all the hemming and hawing and just say that I think I've found a solution…

Photobucket Yeah, stick a flag in it, pal. That'll solve everything! (Art by George Tuska)

What I’m intending (intentions!) to do is look at the entire run of PLANET OF THE APES WEEKLY published by Marvel Comics International Limited. Well, issues #1 (Oct 1974) to #123 (Feb 1977). (Following this it was folded into THE MIGHTY WORLD OF MARVEL.) By having a focal point I am hoping that I will be able to touch on a multitude of areas of historical comical periodical interest. Not only will I be moaning about George Tuska’s inert art but I’ll hopefully go wider and give some idea of the ‘70s via many words on the content, availability, price and format of comics. Most of the words will concern content, I imagine. Largely though I will be hammering home the important sociological point that using comics as surrogate parents ends up with your kid turning out like me. This is certainly what I would call a warning from History.


A really quite significant moment for Tiny me was when Taylor (AKA "Tay-LAH!") just said, "Aw f*** it and f*** you all too!" in the most final of manners. (Art by Alfredo Alcala)

I suppose I could claim some measure of relevance as POTA is back on the radar in the form of the current licensed comic from Boom!, so there’s that and also the UK comic had, aside from the early issues, back ups that maybe(?) represent some of the more varied and perhaps under loved strips Marvel published. I was going to say overlooked but since the advent of the Internet I guess there’s no such thing as an overlooked strip anymore. (Personally I think Atlas’ POLICE ACTION FEATURING LOMAX should get more attention. Get right on that, Internet!). Should worse comes to worse (i.e. I remain true to form) and I never actually say anything of interest or relevance about the ‘70s I can promise you that we will at least have covered a great many creators and bizarre series. Some of which you may never have heard of! (Gullivar Jones, anyone?) I think you’ll like it! And if you don’t I imagine you’ll tell me about it! Possibly using inventive invective. The kind that back in the ‘70s you would have had to deliver in person and probably got a pop on the nose for your troubles. Because things were different back then. They were better. (Of course they weren’t, they were Godawful but for a second you thought I was serious and I, personally, found that second hilarious. Oh, your face!).


Taylor (AKA "Bright-Eyes") was my first hero what with his smoking in a pressurised oxygen environment, heroin addiction and misanthropic attitude. The ideal role model for four year olds everywhere! (Art by George Tuska)

(Oh, who am I kidding, my actual reasons for this are selfish as a bloke at work lent me these comics about two years ago and I imagine he’ll be wanting them back soon. So if I have to tell you lot about them I guess I’ll have to read ‘em!)

I’ll still be posting about other stuff but this should be a nice regular thing I can try and build some consistency around. It's a little bit ambitious but I'll see how I go with it. Trust me, no one will lose out because If all else fails I can just post stuff like this:



So why not join us next time on Planet of the Nostalgics (aside from the fact it will be sh**) when we hear: "APES! Apes On Horseback!" or PLANET OF THE APES WEEKLY #1 (w/e Oct. 26th 1974) In which I say, “Look, I’m sure George Tuska was a boon to the lives of all who knew him BUT…