Ape Rule


DC Comics has a tradition of gorilla covers that was over a quarter-century strong by the time the cover below caught my 5-year-old fancy.



You'll find a gallery of sixty such covers, first published on this blog back in 2009, in all its four-color primate glory below — or, if you're coming at this post from the main page or a label search, after the proverbial "jump" — followed by an explanation of why it was gone for so long and why it's back up now.




The above scans are from The Grand Comics Database, source of all the issue links in this post. I've cropped and brightened some as well as slightly reproportioned most of them by a few pixels of height or width for a uniform grid. The content of the images, including those of Super-Team Family #3, DC Super-Stars #12, and Justice League of America #131 elsewhere in the post, is © 1938, 1951, 1953- 1967, 1971, 1973, and/or 1976 DC Comics, and features trademarks of same. 

Left to right and top to bottom, the covers in the grid belong to Action Comics #6, Strange Adventures #8, Batman #75, Strange Adventures #32, Strange Adventures #39, Adventure Comics #196, Strange Adventures #45, Superboy #38, Strange Adventures #55, Congo Bill #6, Wonder Woman #78, Adventure Comics #219, Strange Adventures #64, Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #10, Tales of the Unexpected #2, Strange Adventures #69, Action Comics #218, Strange Adventures #75, House of Secrets #6, Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #24, The Adventures of Jerry Lewis #41, Action Comics #238, Batman #114, Strange Adventures #88, House of Secrets #16, Strange Adventures #100, Superman #127, Tomahawk #61, Strange Adventures #108, Superboy #76, House of Secrets #26, Superman #138, Strange Adventures #117, Blackhawk #152, Strange Adventures #125, House of Mystery #118, Flash #127, Adventure Comics #295, Tomahawk #86, The Brave and the Bold #49, The Doom Patrol #86, Tomahawk #93, The Adventures of Jerry Lewis #86, Hawkman #6, Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #84, Detective Comics #339, Strange Adventures #186, Star-Spangled War Stories #126, Hawkman #16, Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #98, Showcase #66, Wonder Woman #170, Strange Adventures #201, Flash #172, Superboy #142, Plastic Man #7, Angel and the Ape #1, Tomahawk #107, Superboy #172, and Action Comics #424.



I haven't had the best of fortune on April 1st with this blog. 

Two years ago I put up a version of the above gallery after a series of increasingly detailed posts on the subject of DC gorillas mysteriously disappeared. It all began, oddly enough, with Purim, which led to a memory of the Saturday-morning cartoon Magilla Gorilla, which led to a memory of a particular comic book, which led to an explanation in another post of who Julius Schwartz was and what he had to do with great apes, which led to a time-consuming but short-lived adaptation to Blam's Blog of articles I'd planned to run in my magazine Comicology before I could no longer work with the publisher for whom I packaged said magazine.

Posts started disappearing from the blog with no rhyme or reason, and since I'd been having difficulty with Blogger I blamed the glitches on another quirk of the service. Giving up on the stories of sublime simian silliness I decided to just showcase an omnibus of images and forego the commentary — but that got booted offline in short order as well, leaving me, as good ol' Carl Pietrantonio used to say, confusered.

One year ago the blog got taken over whole hog, as every single post and sidebar element was removed with an April Fool's Day message left in its place. Luckily by then I'd begun saving the entire HTML of the blog to my hard drive on a regular basis, as the posting problems were not only persistent but curiously centered around comics content in such a way that led me to suspect not hiccups in the host itself but holes in its security that were allowing vandals to mess with my stuff. I had (and have) a good idea who did it.

I'd already been fueled by these pains to search out an alternate blogging platform, both for Blam's Blog and some other endeavors including a site specific to my past, present, and future compositions on comics. While my ongoing Internet frustrations slowed that process down, I continue to regularly back up the blog and maintain mirrors of it on Blogger and elsewhere as promised, under my own account and the accounts of friends, should the vandals strike again. I almost hope that they will, since every action they take increases the chances that they'll slip up and expose their identities in provable fashion. Having to reload the blog would also probably force me to switch to a newer template that wouldn't make editing my older Blogger posts so darned difficult, if not just move already; I'm getting increasingly closer to finally shutting down for a spell to overhaul everything anyway.



Kicking off the gallery is DC's very first gorilla cover, from Nov. 1938's Action Comics #6 — a year before Superman, introduced in the first issue of that title, began his near-permanent reign as cover subject. It's followed by the cover to May 1951's Strange Adventures #8, which is recognized as launching the "gorilla cover" phenomenon as a fixture throughout DC's science-fiction and superhero series well into the Silver Age, and then by nearly every gorilla cover from the publisher for the next baker's dozen years. 

To keep the gallery at a mere sixty covers, I left out covers to reprints as well as limited Congo Bill and Angel and the Ape to just one cover apiece. Ending with the cover of June 1973's Action Comics #424 provided some coincidental series-based symmetry at the close of the gorilla cover's heyday, with most — although certainly not all — of those that followed specifically starring Gorilla Grodd, nemesis of The Justice League of America and of The Flash in particular, rather than the largely anonymous beasts on which the marketing model had been built. The cutoff date and the no-reprints policy means that the very cover that prompted all this isn't here, but I did throw in a few bonus entries from a bit later that are meaningful to me nostalgia-wise, including the cover to June 1976's Justice League of America #131 above.

DC Comics reprinted a sampling of the stories behind its gorilla covers in a softcover collection a few years ago, and there are scads of websites offering surveys of this treasured trend. Once I finally get my comics-article archive up, I'll be running the stuff that I'd begun to publish here in 2009; until then, if a picture really is worth a thousand words, this gallery is a graphic novel all its own.

1 comment:

Arben said...

Yes!
I mean, "Ook! Ook!"