I am a child of the 1970s, and like owning a vinyl copy of Frampton Comes Alive!, an Evel Knievel stunt set, and a Farrah Fawcett poster – being a fan of Planet of the Apes was mandatory. I love the Planet of the Apes, and so did everyone my age. Imagine the thrill for a comics geek like me when I found out about Planet of the Apes comic books. Now there’s a book from Sequart that examines those comics, meet me after the jump when I take a look at The Sacred Scrolls: Comics on the Planet of the Apes.
The Planet of the Apes
The phenomenon began with Pierre Boule’s novel La Planete des Singes roughly translated to Monkey Planet or Planet of the Apes, later sold to Hollywood where it was transformed by master scripter Rod Serling with a perfect “Twilight Zone” twist, and became the film sensation of the late 1960s and 1970s. The first movie spawned several sequels, TV series – both live action and animated – tons of merchandising, and of course comics.
The premise is that somewhere out there in space is literally a fairly advanced planet of apes. Separated into three strata of society – gorillas in the military, chimpanzees in science, and orangutans in administration – with mute wild humans as cattle, slaves, pets, and for experimentation. The Serling twist on the story is that that planet is actually the post-nuclear future of Earth – as demonstrated by one of the most memorable visuals in film history, the wrecked Statue of Liberty at the end of the first film.
The Sacred Scrolls: Comics on the Planet of the Apes edited by Rich Handley and Joseph F. Berenato was not just a joy to read, but also a very easy read, full of nostalgia and detailed thoughtful essays by over a dozen Ape experts, fans, and professionals. As I perused the two introductions, one by each of the editors, I found kindred souls in my love of PotA, they knew my passion for the franchise in all media, and especially for the comics, as do all of the contributors to this essay anthology.
All of the contributors were kindred souls to this PotA fan, and I learned so much reading. From the foreward by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman, to the look at the adaptations by Zaki Hasan, to the original comics days I remember at Marvel by Sam Agro, John Roche, and Joe Bongiorno, to even those wonderful Power Records and other goodies reviewed by Dan Greenfield, this was a treasure trove of nostalgia. From there the passion was carried on into Ape comics and adaptations I was unaware of or had never picked up by folks like Jim Beard, Lou Tambone, Edward Gross, Joseph Dilworth Jr., Dayton Ward, and Defna Pleban.
As I said, as a child of the seventies, I was a huge fan, and read ragged the Planet of the Apes comics from marvel at the time. Sacred Scrolls, cleverly named after a sort of religious ape-centric Ten Commandants and Bible passed down by the Lawgiver, not only covered those comics, but also taught me things I was unaware of. Now I have to hunt down and re-read those ‘Apeslayer’ comics, for good or ill. Apparently not everything ape is gold…
Sacred Scrolls also explores the comics world of PotA since Marvel – the stories of Malibu, Dark Horse, and BOOM!, as well as the little companies in between. The Ape property has been around the world and through various licensed hands. The essayists do their best to convey these new adventures over the years to this reader, leaving me with a conundrum – how now to find all these comics? I now have a mission.
I loved this book, an entertaining, informative, and well-thought out exploration of the Planet of the Apes phenomenon. I will be hunting down comics until the second volume of this two-book package comes out, Bright Eyes, Ape City: Examining the Planet of the Apes Mythos. In the meantime, you can purchase The Sacred Scrolls: Comics on the Planet of the Apes from Sequart right here. For Ape fans and newbies alike, this is a terrific read.