Markley’s Fevered Brain: Mad Apes at the Border

Wayne Markley

Wayne Markley


by Wayne Markley

There has been a trend in recent years for different publishers to mine the rich history of comic books by issuing collections of reprints of material from the past. I am going to review three such books this time. All three are very different though. One if a historical and informative look at the mad dash of humor and parody books that came out in the ‘50s and ‘60s following the success of Mad Magazine. The second book collects an unfinished story from the 1980s that was great but never really found the audience it deserved, partially I think because it was too complex for the fan base at the time. Now, where graphic novels are more common and European style storytelling has become more excepted, this is a perfect time for this underrated series to be re-issued. Plus, it features a story that has never been seen before wrapping up the storyline. Finally, there is the first collection of stories from a Marvel magazine back in the ‘70s that have never been collected before and I am thrilled they are finally available in a deluxe format. The three books I am talking about are, Behaving Madly from IDW and Yoe Books, Border Worlds by Don Simpson from Dover Publishing, and the Planet of the Apes Archives Vol. 1: Terror on the Planet of the Apes from BOOM! Studios.

Behaving Madly

Behaving Madly


Behaving Madly is the newest book from comic book historian Craig Yoe. This time out Yoe turns his team to all of the various magazines and artists that were inspired, and often, just ripped off, Mad Magazine. Most of us know Crazy, Cracked, Spoof, etc, but there were a ton of parody magazines through the years that most of us have never even heard of. This book is a mix of reproductions and examples of the art and stories that appeared in these magazines, as well as a very good history lesson about the background of the titles, their publishers and the artists that worked on them. A number of the artists are well known to comic fans, with such greats as Will Elder, Jack Davis, John Severin, Al Jaffee, Russ Heath, Joe Kubert, Steve Ditko and many more. This book is co-written by Ger Apeldoorn, who adds a whole new depth to Yoe’s normally insightful writing. This hardcover book is full color and comes in at a little over 200 pages and features as array of little known comic titles such as Snafu, Lanatickle, Cockeyed, Thimk, Frantic, and many more. A great read from a historical perspective plus it is just down right funny.

Border Worlds

Border Worlds


Border Worlds was a science fiction series done by Don (Megaton Man) Simpson back in 1986/1987. It originally ran for seven issues and was published by the late, great Kitchen Sink Press. This was a great science fiction story that was for adults. It did not reach its planned conclusion as it only ran seven issues and had a one issue of a follow up series called Border Worlds Marooned which was intended to be a four issue miniseries that would offer a conclusion but ended after the first issue. Border Worlds’ seven issue run was preceded by Megaton Man #6-10 where it was a backup feature before the ongoing series started. Now, Dover Publications has published a beautiful hardcover collection with everything mentioned here, the Megaton Man stories, the seven issue series, and the one-shot plus an all new story by Don Simpson that finally wraps up the story after all of these years. This collection includes a color section (a short story) as well as sketches and background material as well as an afterword by Stephen Bissette. The basic story is about Jenny Wordlore who joins her brother’s trucking company on an outpost that is in the furthest reaches of the galaxy and finds herself in the middle of an unexpected conflict. The Megaton Man stories are printed in their original full color, which is a nice treat, and the newer material that concludes the book shows how much Simpson’s art has evolved over the years. This is a mix of science fiction and mystery that is for adults due to nudity and storylines, but it is a very well told story that flows from page to page and it is so nice to read the conclusion finally. If you are a fan of Simpson’s other work, be it Megaton Man or his adult work as Anton Dreck, you will enjoy this book due to the fact that the art style is still classic Simpson. If you are not a fan of his other work, you will enjoy this book as it is nothing like his other work in terms of story content and subject matter. A very good book.

Planet of the Apes Archives Vol. 1: Terror on the Planet of the Apes

Planet of the Apes Archives Vol. 1: Terror on the Planet of the Apes


BOOM! recently released the first volume of the Planet of the Apes Archives. This is a beautiful hardcover collection of the old Marvel magazine, Planet of the Apes. First off, let me get out my complaint. This collection does not collect the magazines as they first appeared (that is issues 1-10) like Dark Horse’s Creepy and Eerie reprints do, like Dynamite’s Vampirella collection did, or even Marvel’s Deadly Hands of Kung Fu Omnibus did. Those reprints feature the magazines as they originally appeared complete with all of the text articles and extras, and even the odds and ends at times. What BOOM! has done is reprint the complete stories that were serialized in the Planet of the Apes magazine. Alas, the stories would not appear in every issue due to deadlines. This meant one story may run in 15 issues over the first twenty nine issues. This first volume is called the Planet of the Apes Archives Vol. 1: Terror on the Planet of the Apes, and as the title suggests, it reprints the story, Terror on the Planet of the Apes, which ran in the Marvel magazine #’s 1-4, 6, 8, 13-14, 19-20, 23, 26-28. Also, while all of these stories have been “remastered” I found at times the art was too faint as Ploog’s work really does not shine as the pencils are so light, but in the later stories that seems to have been corrected. First though, a little background. The Planet of the Apes magazine ran from 1977-1979 and started after the last movie in the series in the ‘70s, Battle for the Planet of the Apes and before the TV show. There were two (at least) comic stories per issue, one being an adaptation of one of the films and one being all new story written by Doug Moench, with that first story being Terror on the Planet of the Apes. Each issue was padded out with articles about what was going on with the Apes, the television show, toy news, interviews with the actors and creators of the films, etc. This was in the days before the internet or the geek’s bible before the internet, Starlog Magazine, or any sort of mainstream access to what was going on with the Apes franchise, which had a large and devoted following. The Terror story is a sign of the times as it focus on race relations between human and ape, which at the time was still a major social issue (which seems to have come around again) and the story is long and winding and at times is plodding. On the other hand you have an all new Apes story that has amazing art by the always great Mike Ploog, and later Tom Sutton and Herb Trimpe. When you throw in cyborgs, simian-human hybrids and all sorts of strange creatures, these stories are actually quite fun to read. Another nice touch that Moench did was create a cast of apes and humans that were similar to the movie characters so they feel real within the world of Planet of the Apes. The two lead characters are a teen human and his best friend a teen ape (well, maybe they are young men) and the story starts out with the Lawgiver, which was such a big part of the movies. For the most part this book really does read like the sixth Planet of the Apes movie that was never made (and this is all original, not based on an unproduced movie). I really enjoyed this book and I am looking forward to the second volume, Beast on the Planet of the Apes. I am also really hoping that BOOM! goes back and releases the movie adaptations and the articles and interviews from the magazines at some point.

I for one am really glad to see so much of this classic magazine material being collected into archival format. There are Dark Horse ongoing collections of Creepy and Eerie, as well as a separate collection of the Rook stories (which are also great). Dynamite did 15 volumes of the Vampirella Archives reprinting 112 issues of Warren’s run of the magazine (the complete run). Plus there is Marvel’s recent two volume Omnibus set of the Deadly Hands of Kung Fu which featured Shang-Chi and Iron Fist, but also introduced the Sons of the Tiger and White Tiger and had a lot of great art by George Perez. Plus, we cannot ignore Fantagraphics stunning collection of Warren’s Blazing Combat, their war magazine from the late 1960s which has some of the best art and war stories ever done in comics. Now if only someone would collect Warren’s little seen romance magazine, Teen Love Stories!

That is all I have to say this time. I have always enjoyed collections of historical material from the world and history of comic books and these books are no exception. Have you read any of these? Did you enjoy them? What books have you read lately and enjoyed, be it monthly books or collections? I am always interested in what other people are reading and I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at MFBWAY@AOL.COM or on Facebook at Wayne Markley. All the words, and mistakes, in this blog are mine and do not reflect the thoughts or opinions of Westfield Comics or their employees (But who does not enjoy apes drawn by Mike Ploog? Really). Till next time, as always…

Thank you.

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