Jack Kirby Collector Edited by John Morrow Jack Kirby Collector celebrates the life and career of the "King" of comics through interviews with Kirby and his contemporaries, feature articles, and rare & unseen Kirby artwork. Now in tabloid format, the magazine showcases Kirby's art at even larger size.

Behind The Planet Of The Apes

by Eric Nolen-Weathington

From Jack Kirby Collector #32

Kirby's 1980s art for the POTA proposal.
Planet of the Apes is a trademark of 20th Century Fox. Art is © Ruby-Spears.

It appears this is the Year of the Ape, with the release this July of Tim Burton's take on the popular sci-fi epic Planet of the Apes. The original movie was released in 1968 and quickly spawned a slew of sequels. In 1970, The POTA concept crossed over into comics with a Gold Key adaptation of Beneath the Planet of the Apes; and it is certainly likely Kirby saw the potential of the concept when he developed Kamandi. I can almost hear him say, "Yeah, after the big war, apes evolve into the superior life form—but why stop with the apes? Why not tigers and snakes and pigs and everything else, too?"

More of Kirby's 1980s art for the POTA proposal.
Planet of the Apes is a trademark of 20th Century Fox. Art is © Ruby-Spears.

Anyway, Marvel cashed in on the concept when, in 1974, they started The Planet of the Apes as part of their new b-&-w line of magazines. Many of you probably remember 1974's Planet of the Apes TV show, as well (I do, and I have the Mego action figures to prove it) but you may not recall that the very next year there was an animated cartoon entitled Return to the Planet of the Apes which ran on NBC. It, like the live-action show, only lasted one season. It was produced by DePatie-Freleng which, of course, was later bought out by Marvel. The director and associate producer for the 'toon was none other than Doug Wildey, who, not unlike a baseball player trade, was soon to be shipped with Godzilla to Hanna-Barbera for Jack Kirby and Fantastic Four.

Now, the astute reader of TJKC #30 will have noticed that Kirby did some POTA presentation art, presumably while working at Ruby-Spears. As it happens, Joe Ruby and Ken Spears were story editors on the POTA live-action TV show, so it makes sense they would want to develop a new POTA animated series. It seems to be a project Kirby was destined to work on. Alas, as with most of Kirby's animation work, it was not to be.

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