Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Third Anniversary! Black and White Wednesday: "Terror on the Planet of the Apes Part 1" by Conway, Moench, and Ploog

What it is, Groove-ophiles! I'll tell ya what it is--it's DotGK's THIRD ANNIVERSARY! Man, does time ever fly when you're having fun! And let Ol' Groove tell ya, fun is what it's been! It all started with a kooky title and a whim, and now we're well past 1,000 (nearly) daily posts, sitting on the back side of 1.7 million (!) hits, and starting the day for over 1,700 subscribers/followers! Sounds like bragging, I know, but really, Ol' Groove is nothing but humbled by the thought of all'a you Groove-ophiles who read and respond to what we do here in Groove City! Thanks everyone! Ol' Groove loves ya, baby!

To celebrate this momentous occasion (well, it's momentous to somebody!), Ol' Groove thought he'd share a post about one of the most requested topics in our three year history--Planet of the Apes!

Anyone who has cable or satellite knows that the 1968 Michael Wilson/Rod Serling film adaptation of Pierre Boulle's 1963 novel is one of the all-time sci-fi classics. It led to a series of flicks that became extremely popular once they began running on CBS-TV circa 1973. By 1974, monkey-mania was hitting hard, with tons of PotA merchandise hitting the stores, a live-action TV series (on CBS, natch) and cartoon (in 1975 on NBC), and of course mighty Marvel's magnificent b&w mag, and that's what we're gonna focus on right now!

Like many of the highlights of the Groovy Age, PotA came to Marvel through the efforts of visionary editor Roy Thomas. Before PotA-mania hit, Roy had a discussion with his pal (and comicbook creator, and Wally Wood disciple, and TOPPS trading cards genius, and namesake of T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents' Dynamo) Len Brown about how Marvel should get the rights to do APES comics. Roy thought it was a great idea and took it to publish Stan Lee (who?). Stan dug the idea, but wasn't sure it would really be a hit, but told Roy to pursue the idea if he liked. Roy actually put it on the backburner, but got the ball rolling so the mag would be out before the TV show hit the airwaves. Being too busy to write it himself, Roy enlisted his pal (comicbook and sci-fi writer at the time, now TV writer) Gerry Conway to develop a brand new APES series that would serve as a sequel to the movies to lead off the mag. For the rest of the mag, they'd fill it with tons of photo-articles (by guys like Tony Isabella and Chris Claremont) and back it all up with adaptations of all the APES movies, beginning with PLANET. Cool idea, huh?

As it worked out, Conway didn't have time to write TERROR ON THE PLANET OF THE APES, so those chores fell to Doug Moench, freshly arriving at Marvel after wowing us over in Warren's b&w mags. The art would be supplied by none other than Mike Ploog, ensuring that TERROR would be one of the best-written and best-drawn b&w strips since Thomas teamed with Barry (Windsor-) Smith on Savage Tales' Conan! Moench would also write the adaptations, with the art on PLANET coming from Marvel mainstays George Tuska and Mike Esposito.

The path to ape-magdom wasn't primrose. Marvel had to scrap it's first PotA #1 print-run because the folks at Fox felt George Tuska's depiction of Taylor was too close to looking like Charlton Heston (gotta keep the lawyers off yer back!), even though Tuska had purposefully tried to stay away from Heston's likeness. Tuska had to re-draw all of Taylor's figures, Fox's suits were satisfied, and the mag went to the printers one more time.

When PotA #1 hit the magazine racks in June 1974, it was a sensation, of course! It looked great and it certainly gave us our money's worth at 84 pages for a buck. Now, Ol' Groove doesn't wanna fire all his guns at once, so I ain't gonna run the entire mag here today, but I do wanna give you a glimpse of the sheer, flat-out awesomeness of Moench and Ploog's TERROR. (Don't shed a tear! I'll get to the PLANET adaptation eventually, honest!)

Marvel's PotA mag outlasted ape-mania, both the TV shows, and most of the merchandising, running a whopping twenty-nine issues (in a time when most mags never made it to ten!) ending in December 1976--just a few months shy of the next big sci-fi event--the biggest of all--Star Wars, which Roy, again, nabbed the rights to for Marvel (but more on that another day). Moench stayed on for the entire series, Ploog eventually left comics and was replaced with Tom Sutton, while the adaptations/back-ups enjoyed a merry-go-round of artists.

Marvel also published a color comic, Adventures on the Planet of the Apes, reprinting and coloring their adaptations of PLANET and BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES, that ran for 14 issues. And somehow, they managed a staggering 123 weekly issues of PotA in the UK. I suppose that they chopped the strips up into shorter chapters--and I read they actually transformed their Killraven/War of the Worlds strips into an APES series called Apeslayer. (Thanks for that info, Pete Doree--and come back to bloggin' buddy--we miss ya!)

Whew! Ol' Groove's getting long-winded again, ain't he? I'm gonna go now, but come back tomorrow as we say hello to YEAR FOUR! Pax!


  1. Happy Anniversary, Groovy-One! I just recently found your blog, and I look forward to working through that thousand-post backlog. Those are some impressive blog stats ... my hat is off to you!

  2. Happy anniverary, Groove! I've been with you since your third week and its been a daily (nearly) blast all along. Thanks for LOADS of great reading and many pleasant trips down memory lane (as well as the occasional exposures to things I missed "back in the day."

  3. Love to restart my blog, groovester, but at the moment I have a printer but no scanner, and a computer that won't let me alter anything on my blog once I've uploaded it!
    ( windows, I hate you! ) Once I get past these issues, I'll do my best to start up again, promise.
    And while we're here, a cheeky bit of self-promotion: Another reason is lack of time, as I've been writing scripts like a demon, and have just sold Dark Horse on a Conan script, to be illustrated by my old pal Sean Phillips! Look out for it, it's a doozy!

  4. Congrats on three great years! Hope we see many more. Thanks for the POTA post. I love that mag.

  5. Holy Moley!
    Has it been three years already! It just seem like I started dropping in here yesterday. Ok a year ago, I think I've been here since about 9 months after you started this great blog.

    The only reason I wasn't here from the start was I didn't know about it fast enough. Keep up the great work! Man what a way to celebrate! Monkeys! Ploog! As you know B & W Wednesdays are my favorite part of your blog. I always loved the PotA's too! especially those covers, Ploog & Trimpe issues!

    Hey how about a Mike Ploog & Herb Trimpe week? Two Too far out greats of the 70's! Love the new banner also! Iron Fist, Nighthawk,Jonah Hex, & HTD! WWAAAUUGGHHH!!

    Love to see a banner one day. Using Wood-God, the 3-D Man, Nova, Omeaga the Unknown, Firestorm & Black Lighting! As well as a Groovy Ghoulie 70's banner & Cosmic hero banner with Capt.Mar-vell, the Silver Surfer & Adam Warlock. Congrads! I'm looking forward to year $ & many more!

  6. Happy Anniversary!

    Not to be corny -- but I almost wept when I saw today's post. I was a HUGE fan of the POTA mag, often buying multiple copies of each issue. I thought Terror on the POTA would've made a much better film than Battle, and was staggered by both the writing and the art. Ah..... I just recaptured a bit of my youth and I'm in your debt.

  7. Groove, congratulations on your anniversary, and hundreds more--I'll have you know that yours is the fifth blog I go to everyday, after some political ones so I can know what's going on.
    One question--what happened to your blogroll?--I can no longer get their usual websites, but instead get invitations to subscribe to a "feed"; I loved it the way it was!

  8. Thanks for the anniversary wishes, Groove-ophiles! I'll do my best to make Groove City worth coming back to!

    Hey, Pete, congrats on the Conan sale! I do buy all of DH's REH comics, so I'll be looking forward to that'un! And if you get itchy about blogging before you can get your pc issues fixed, you can always guest post here!

    Mike, you've been supportive from the beginning--back to our days at Retroland. Thanks for all the support, Aparofan #1!

    Mike M., your header suggestions are awesome! I'll see what I can do about bringing them to life in the future!

    Bob, stories like yours are WHY I do this blog! Thanks for sharing!

    Wordsmith, I'm proud to be a regular part of your day. Means a lot to me! Oh, and as for the blog-links, that's blogger/google glitching. Did it to me for a while the other day. It goes back to normal, soon, but sometimes you can hurry it up by closing the page and re-opening it.

    Hang loose, heroes! The best is yet to come!

  9. Groove --

    Congrats on three great years! Here's to three more -- as Chicago sang, "you're the inspiration!"



  10. Thanks, Doug! What a nice thing to say. Your looks back at the good OLD DAYS over on BAB sure MAKE ME SMILE!

  11. I was a great fan of the planet of the apes weekly here in the UK. Most of the issues had an eight to 10 page portion of an ape story, with I think purpose drawn recap pages, and back ups of anything marvel had that was in anyway science fiction. That meant, if memory serves, anything from Colan Captain Marvel to Byrne Starlord and stuff from the b & w mags that fitted. I remember Apeslayer very well, I was quite disgusted to discover it had been rewritten as Killraven. ( I was only about 12 at the time). Great post on what was, even then, my favourite strip.



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Special thanks to Mike's Amazing World of Comics and Grand Comics Database for being such fantastic resources for covers, dates, creator info, etc. Thou art treasures true!

Note to "The Man": All images are presumed copyright by the respective copyright holders and are presented here as fair use under applicable laws, man! If you hold the copyright to a work I've posted and would like me to remove it, just drop me an e-mail and it's gone, baby, gone.

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As for the rest of ya, the purpose of this blog is to (re)introduce you to the great comics of the 1970s. If you like what you see, do what I do--go to a comics shop, bookstore, e-Bay or whatever and BUY YOUR OWN!