Tuesday, January 23, 2007

More Newtons: Planet Of The Apes

Planet Of The Apes. One of the best selling of all the Newton titles, one of the longest running not to mention probably the most still in-demand. I don't have a full run of this title, and going on the silly money being thrown around on eBay recently for near complete (albeit advertised as complete) runs of the regular series, sans the specials, I doubt I'll be getting a full run in a hurry.
The series Planet Of The Apes was, naturally, spawned from the movie of the same name. Marvel initially wanted to do a straight adaptation but soon ran into snags with actor Charlton Heston over his likeness. Here's how inker Mike Esposito remembers it;

We did a Planet Of The Apes series in a black and white book. 20th Century Fox did not want us to use the face of Charlton Heston as the hero, so we had to alter it slightly. I don't know why this happened, but when we first started it I was up at Marvel. George Tuska did the pencils, I was going to ink it and put some great tones on it to give it that black and white look. Then they said, "No you can't use Heston". I guess it was a money thing because then Heston might have wanted to be paid, or maybe his agent wanted to be paid, or 20th Century Fox wanted to be paid, it was one of those things. So we had to alter his face, I don't remember exactly. I think we gave him a moustache, changed his hair colour, but it was very successful and we did quite a few issues.
Mike is right with his memories there. The main character was clearly altered and looks nothing like Charlton Heston, and the inking is some of the best of his career, as he used ink washes, something he rarely did.

By the time Newton was launched and got a hold of the book, the television series was in full swing in Australia. Newton decided to capitalise on that and plugged the comic on Channel 9 and also in the Sunday Observer tabloid. As has been pointed out Kevin Patrick, and confirmed by Robert Thomas, Newton also issued a promotional comic with the Sunday Observer (1st July, 1976). I can't find anyone who's ever seen this comic, let alone anyone who actually owns a copy, and I doubt that many people would have it. I'm trying to track down a scan at least, if I ever do then it'll be here for all to see. Newton plugged the book extensively in the Sunday Observer, running ads for it on several occasions, running full colour ads and generally plugging the hell out of it. It must have worked because the title remained in print and probably had the most material published, with seventeen issues, an annual, two special editions and two un-numbered editions, which may or may not be the special issues. That's a total of twenty two issues all up, a record for Newton.

An interesting fact that has come to light is that this title came very close to seeing some of the only local content published by Newton Comics. Phillip Bently, publisher of the excellent fanzine Word Balloons, recently made made the following comment on the Pulp Faction forums:

John Corneille did canvass the idea of doing all-new strips of Marvel characters at Newton, but it was quickly hit on the head, although whether here or by Marvel I'm not certain. But it always seemed like a big ask, especially when he wanted the work to be Planet of the Apes, as they were the biggest sellers apparently. Not only would he have had Marvel to contend with, but the film studio as well. Greg Gates, Colin Paraskevas and myself gladly put our hands up and had already plotted out a strip when the plug was pulled after a few weeks.
No great shock there as in the UK equivalent of the POTA they were chopping up, re-wording and re-drawing Marvel Killraven strips, titling them Apeslayer and presenting them as all new Planet Of The Apes material once the existing POTA material had dried up. As the demand for new material ran higher than the existing stock it comes as no surprise that Newton explored how to get more into circulation. I expect that the refusal was more to do with Newton having to actually pay the Australian creators than any veto coming from Marvel, as Maxwell Newton clearly had very little respect for Marvel during the entire time he dealt with them. Perhaps Newton were more afraid of the fall-out with 20th Century Fox, a corporation with some serious clout behind them, not to mention a presence in Australia.

Onto the comics. As I've mentioned, I don't have the entire run, so I'll only show/index the issues I have on hand. If anyone out there has the missing issues and the details then let me know and I'll complete this.

#1

Date: May 1975

Contents:
The Lawgiver by Doug Moench & Mike Ploog (Planet Of The Apes #1)
Planet Of The Apes by Doug Moench, George Tuska & Mike Esposito (Planet Of The Apes #1)

I have no details on the poster for this issue.

#2

Date: June 1975

Contents:
The Forbidden Zone Of Forgotten Horrors by Doug Moench & Mike Ploog (Planet Of The Apes #2)
Planet Of The Apes by Doug Moench, George Tuska & Mike Esposito (Planet Of The Apes #1)

This issue saw the first ad for the 'Ape Survival Kit'. The kit, costing a whopping $1.80 (including postage) contained a 44 page POTA comic (presumably the first issue) along with a poster, two bumper stickers, a writing pad and a note-pad. I'm still trying to track one of these down, but I fear I'll have no luck at all. The poster was a great Spider-Man vs Dr Doom image by Steve Ditko.

It's highly possible that a variation on this issue was released as a promotional comic with the 1st of June, 1975 issue of the Sunday Observer, which was Maxwell Newtons main tabloid and flagship publication of the time. If so then the comic would have been smaller in size and not had any cover details (price, issue number).

#3

Date: June 1975

Contents:
Spawn of The Mutant Pits by Doug Moench, Mike Ploog & Frank Chiarmonte (Planet Of The Apes #3)
World Of Human Captives by Doug Moench, George Tuska & Mike Esposito (Planet Of The Apes #2)

The back-up stories (movie adaptation) by Moench, Tuska and Esposito were stretched out to run over several issues and often didn't feature any identifying details such as splash pages or credit boxes.

The poster for this issue was of The Fantastic Four.

#4

Date: July 1975

Contents:
A Riverboat Named Simian by Doug Moench, Mike Ploog & Frank Chiarmonte (Planet Of The Apes #4)
World Of Captive Humans by Doug Moench, George Tuska & Mike Esposito (Planet Of The Apes #2)

The poster for this issue was of the Black Panther.

#5

Date: July 1975

Contents:
Malaguena Beyond A Zone Forbidden by Doug Moench & Mike Ploog (Planet Of The Apes #6)
World Of Captive Humans by Doug Moench, George Tuska & Mike Esposito (Planet Of The Apes #2)
Manhunt by Doug Moench, George Tuska & Mike Esposito (Planet Of The Apes #3)

This issue hilarious. The final story appears tacked on, as evidenced by the use of a hand-written page number on page 35 and page 38 is printed in reverse, showing the dialogue as backwards (mirror image). A classic example of Newton's 'quantity over quality' policy of the time.

I have no details on the poster contained in this issue.

#6

Date: August 1975

Contents:
Planet Inheritors by Doug Moench & Mike Ploog (Planet Of The Apes #8)
Manhunt by Doug Moench, George Tuska & Mike Esposito (Planet Of The Apes 3)

The poster in this issue has become a classic. It features Captain Marvel in a red uniform, looking all the world like Shazam! Not very subtle.

#7

Date: August 1975

Contents:
Trial by Doug Moench, George Tuska & Mike Esposito (Planet Of The Apes #4)
Into The Forbidden Zone by Doug Moench, George Tuska & Mike Esposito (Planet Of The Apes #5)

I have no details on the poster for this issue.

#8

Date: September 1975

Contents:
The Secret Of The Apes by Doug Moench, George Tuska & Mike Esposito (Planet Of The Apes #6)

This issue would have to be one of the most common Newtons there is. I see this one everywhere, but rarely with the poster and swap card intact (mine is still missing both). I suspect that this issue, along with the Avengers #6, was used in a showbag of sorts and given away in bulk.

#9

Date: September 1975

Contents:
Beneath The Planet Of The Apes by Doug Moench & Alfredo Alcala (Planet Of The Apes #7)

The poster in this issue was of Ghost Rider, and the swap card was The Hulk #3.

#10

Date: October 1975

Contents:
Beneath The Planet Of The Apes: Part Two: Enslaved by Doug Moench & Alfredo Alcala (Planet Of The Apes #7)
The Warhead Messiah by Moench & Alcala (Planet Of The Apes #8)

Interestingly enough this issue was un-numbered (or at least the issue I own is). I have no idea what the swap card was in this issue, the poster was Dracula #1.

#11

Date: November 1975

Contents:
Kingdom On An Island Of The Apes by Doug Moench & Rico Rival (Planet Of The Apes #9)
The Warhead Messiah by Moench & Alfredo Alcala (Planet Of The Apes #8)

The poster for this issue was Conan #6.

#12

Date: November 1975 (cover dated)

Contents:
The Horror Inquisition by Doug Moench & Alfredo Alcala (Planet Of The Apes #9)
Kingdom On An Island Of The Apes by Doug Moench & Rico Rival (Planet Of The Apes #9)

The poster for this issue was a grossly coloured rendition of Conan #5.

#13

Date: November 1975 (cover dated)

Contents:
Kingdom On An Island Of The Apes by Doug Moench & Rico Rival (Planet Of The Apes #10)
The Island Out Of Time (?)
The Children Of The Bomb by Doug Moench & Alfredo Alcala (Planet Of The Apes #10)

Not sure what the poster for this issue was. This was the last standard sized issue. Clearly sales were increasing on the title as the move to the larger format was made earlier than it had been on other regular titles.

#14

Date: December 1975 (cover dated)

Contents:
Kingdom On An Island Of The Apes by Doug Moench & Rico Rival (Planet Of The Apes #11)
On Location: Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes by Al Satian (?)
The Children Of The Bomb by Doug Moench & Alfredo Alcala (Planet Of The Apes #10)
The Hell Of Holocaust by Moench & Alcala (Planet Of The Apes #11)
Finding The Future On Fox Farm by Sam Maronie (?)

The first of the giant-sized issues. No poster or other freebies came with this issue.

#15

Date: January 1976 (cover dated)

Contents:
When The Lawgiver Returns by Doug Moench & Mike Ploog ( Planet Of The Apes #11)
Planet Of The Apes: Fashions by Ed Lawrence
The People Who Are The Planet Of The Apes by Jim Whitmore
City Of Nomads by Doug Moench & Tom Sutton (Planet Of The Apes #12)
Outlines Of Tomorrow by Jim Whitmore

This issue has an ad for the rarely seen Monsters Unleashed #1. I've never seen an actual copy of that comic by Newton, and I know several others in the same boat. Still it's nice to see the cover at least, even if it is in black and white. Still no freebies with this issue.

#16

Date: March 1976.

Contents:
Last Gasp Purple Light Show by Doug Moench, Mike Ploog & Rico Rival (Planet Of The Apes #13)
Two People Who Are The Planet Of The Apes by Jim Whitmore
Upward To The Earth by Doug Moench & Rico Rival (Planet Of The Apes #12)
Strangers In A Strange Land by Doug Moench & Rico Rival (Planet Of The Apes #13)

Despite the cover advertising a poster it appears that one wasn't included. The iron-on transfer was a Kirby drawn Captain America.

#17

Date: August 1975 (cover dated)

Contents:
Up The Nose Tube To Monkey Trash by Doug Moench & Mike Ploog (Planet Of The Apes #14)
Shaping A Simian World by Sam Maronie (?)
Trouble In Paradise Lost by Doug Moench & Rico Rival (Planet Of The Apes #14)
Dreamer In Emerald Silence by Doug Moench & Tom Sutton (Planet Of The Apes #15)

With this issue the regular, numbered, series came to an end. Two more issues would be released, both without numbers and at least one would be reprinting what had come before it. The lead story contains a blurb advertising Planet Of The Apes #18. That comic wasn't printed, at least not with a number. The cover did advertise a poster but I have no details on if a poster was actually included.

Special nn (#18)

Date: circa 1976

Contents:
In The Cradle Of A Father's Sins by Doug Moench & Rico Rival (Planet Of The Apes #15)
When The Calliope Cries Death by Doug Moench & Rico Rival (Planet Of The Apes #16)
Man The Fugitive by John Warner
Interview With Dan Striepeke
But Who Shall Inherit The Meek? by Doug Moench & Rico Rival (Planet Of The Apes #16)
Slaves by Doug Moench & Alfredo Alcala (Planet Of The Apes #17)

No dates, no issue number, in fact no details at all to identify this issue. It could be one of the specials, but I suspect that it isn't. My best guess is that this could well be issue #18 of the series, never numbered (there is an ape head covering where the number would be) and put out towards the end of Newton's days in order to rake in some more cash.

Special nn (#19)

Date: circa late 1976?

Contents:
Kingdom On An Island Of The Apes: The Trip by Doug Moench & Rico Rival (Planet Of The Apes #10)
Kingdom On An Island Of The Apes: Arrival by Doug Moench & Rico Rival (Planet Of The Apes #10)
Kingdom On An Island Of The Apes: The City by Doug Moench & Rico Rival (Planet Of The Apes #10)
Kingdom On An Island Of The Apes: The Island Out Of Time by Doug Moench & Rico Rival (Planet Of The Apes #11)
Kingdom On An Island Of The Apes: Battle by Doug Moench & Rico Rival (Planet Of The Apes #11)
Simian by Jim Whitmore
The Man Who Sold The Planet Of The Apes by Gary Gerani
Exclusive Interview With Marvin Paige by Susan Munshower
The Remaking Of Roddy McDowall by Abbie Bernstein
Knowing Your Place On The Planet Of The Apes by Gary Gerani

I have serious doubts as to if this issue was ever mass released. I found my copy in a pile of comics from a dealer in Melbourne who couldn't recall where he got it from, only that it 'suddenly appeared'. No big deal, I bought it, brought it back to my dealers table and opened it up for a very nice shock. First off the price has been snipped from the top right hand corner of the issue, a common ploy for returns or when a newsagent wants to increase the price. However markings on the splash page show that the cover wasn't cut, it was sliced.

On the indicia things get really interesting. My copy has the POTA details crossed out in pen and the following written in; "DAREDEVIL ANNUAL 6PT H/Lx36EMS" I'm not sure what that all means, but I'm wondering if a Daredevil annual was prepared and perhaps scrapped before publication. There are other minor markings throughout the issue, and the paper stock is of extremely high quality. Hence I believe that this issue either wasn't released and as such this is a proof copy, or that it was released in altered format. As I've yet to see another copy with the same cover and insides I haven't anything to compare it to. As it reprints the entire Kingdom On An Island Of The Apes story-line it's a great volume to have.

Annual #1

Date: July 1975

Contents:
Evolution's Nightmare by Doug Moench, Ed Hannigan & Jim Mooney (Planet Of The Apes #5)
A Visit With The Fantastic Four by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby (Fantastic Four #11)
The Hulk vs. the Thing by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby & George Bell (Fantastic Four #25)
The Avengers Take Over by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby & George Bell (Fantastic Four #26)

The first annual came out on the same date as POTA #4 and contained more Fantastic Four material than it did Apes. Again, this annual is fairly common.

5 comments:

darren turner said...

Kingdom on an Island of The Apes was released, I bought it as a kid in the 1970's. I was living in Brisbane at the time.

robert thomas said...

Daniel, Some of the missing posters and cards are:

POTA#1: A striking Hulk poster. Not a cover from any issue I have ever seen but just the Hulk, painted, and on a stark yellow background.

POTA#5: Poster is Conan The Barbarian.

POTA#7: Poster is Dr Strange.

POTA#8 Poster is Dr Strange. The swap card is POTA#1 (at least in my copy - I don't think the swap cards were the same even in identical numbered issues)

POTA#10: Swap card was Spider-Man #9. Daniel, check your copy/scan closely and you may actually see the issue number under the Apes head. It is black on a dark background and hard to spot.

POTA 13: The poster was Man-Thing

POTA#17. I wonder who drew the ape's head in the corner? Look's like an in-house job!

Pat said...

I have exactly the same 18 issues in perfect original condition as on this sight. Bought them all in the mid 70's in Melbourne. Don't know what happened after 18 as no more were able to be found in news agents. I did have another seperate issue but it was not numbered & sfter reading your comments, it could well have been another annual. All that survives of this mag is the front cover (slightly cropped) it ended up in a POTA scrap book. I could upload or email this cover if you like
Thanks for all the info on this page, it has brought back many happy memories.

spiros xenos said...

Just happened to pick up POTA numbers 10 and 11 and noticed the letters pages are exactly the same in each issue, even though the posters are different.

tony c said...

POTA#12: Poster is "Conan The Barbarian".