Thursday, 27 July 2017


From 1974: The first issue of Marvel's PLANET OF THE APES magazine.

It's safe to say that Marvel, along with most other Apes merchandisers, were very late to the Apes party.  FOX really started to push the franchise when reruns of the movies became a TV hit, leading to the launch of the short-lived POTA live-action TV series.

The show was something of a missed opportunity.  The weekly format left the door wide open to further explore the future but - instead - the producers (imported - rather tellingly - from Saturday morning animation) opted to graft the familiar FUGITIVE formula (beloved of Seventies SF shows for no good reason and with little success) onto a neutered version of the first film.

Ironically, despite being tempted by the ratings bonanza promised by an Apes ongoing series (it didn't happen... the show was cancelled after only 14 episodes... and there has always been some question about whether all fourteen ever played... officially they didn't), Marvel's license covered strip adaptations of the movies, and new stories set within their universe, but not the TV show itself.  Although they covered that in text features within the magazine.

Marvel hit some last-minute licensing problems with this first issue and had to pulp some of the already printed pages.  The terms of their license - as was industry standard - did not include the right to portray the actors in print.  Fox, at the last moment, got cold feet that - despite being deliberately generic - Charlton Heston (apparently notorious for calling in the lawyers) might still sue.  So, with the first pages already rolling off the presses, Marvel had to call a hault whilst the pages were reworked by the Bullpen and then reprinted.

The strips and articles that appeared in the US magazine were - of course - ported across to the British weekly edition.  Publishing the two editions created all sorts of deadline headaches with the British edition always running close to exhausting the supply of unpublished US strips.  Some material appeared in the UK before the States (and individual pages were sometimes reworked - with panels cut - for the US edition) and - infamously - Apeslayer was created, from old Killraven pages, just to plug a gap for a few weeks.

The American magazine ultimately ran to 29 issues between 1974-77.  It spun off a regular colour comic, ADVENTURES ON THE PLANET OF THE APES, which coloured and reprinted the adaptations of the first two movies, in 1975.

The British weekly clocked up 123 issues, also between 1974 to 1977.  It absorbed the British edition of DRACULA LIVES from issue 88 and continued as a double-header for the rest of the run.  The POTA strip then moved across to THE MIGHTY WORLD OF MARVEL (from issue 231) where the remaining US material ran through to 246.  At which point Marvel surrendered the license.  The Apes slot on MWOM was taken by Dracula reprints, on hiatus since the merger.

Malibu Comics picked up the license in 1990 and mixed some Marvel reprints into their publishing schedule.  They reissued Marvel's adaptations of the first three movies (ESCAPE is interesting as it opens with a deleted scene that doesn't appear in the finished film but was - it seems - filmed and subsequently lost) and a four-issue limited series that reran the TERROR ON THE PLANET OF THE APES storyline.  All of the Malibu editions are now pretty hard to find.

This year should see the first reprints of the Marvel strips in book form... and I'm looking forward to finally seeing them widely available again.

The Marvel magazine always boasted the most wonderful covers.  These were mixed into the British run alongside a lot of specially-commissioned, and mostly not-as-good, new covers.  STARLOGGED has published a full UK POTA Apes gallery in the dim-and-distant past.

The Apes returned to British newsagents in 2001 for a brief run of a tie-in magazine/ comic pegged to the Tim Burton revival.  The terms of the licesne restricted any crossover with the classic Apes saga.  The lackluster response to the movie quickly sealed the fate of the tie-in.


  1. I remember Boom Studios soliciting a collected edition of this a few years ago but it never materialised. Seeing your aside here, I found they plan a whole run of archives this year and so I've pre-booked Vol 1! Awesome stuff, thanks for the tip off.

  2. And if I may, a pointer to my APES archive:


  3. I finally came across an issue of SCI-FI ICONS in my local newsagents.

    A SPIDER-MAN special, this is number 5 in the overall series even though its listed as number 3 on the spine. In actual fact, its number 3 in the ' tv and film ' subset.

    The other subset is ' timewarp '.

    In order then :

    1 X-MEN
    2 ALIEN

  4. In the UK all 14 episodes of the POTA TV show were broadcast beginning on Sunday, October 13th 1974 and ending on Sunday, January 19th 1975. The show was dropped for one week on December 29th 1974 due to Christmas programming. I know all this because I was a huge apes fan and I watched all 14 episodes.

    By the way, the first merged issue of POTA & Dracula Lives was No.88 not No.60 - both comics were launched in the same week, dated October 26th 1974.

  5. Thank you. I have updated the body of the text to correct the DRACULA LIVES information (that will teach me not to look back on my own previous posts) and also used the opportunity to add more information about the Marvel adaptation.

    Was the POTA series networked across all the ITV regions or do your dates relate to an individual company or partial networking? The UK DVD packaging is always misleading because they ported across the text about the unscreened episode (which may have - according to at least one site I've seen - actually played on some CBS affiliates) from the US edition even through it doesn't apply to episodes screened in the UK or sold overseas generally.

  6. SR, those dates are for the HTV region (Wales and the South-West of England) but I think POTA was shown on the same dates across the UK except Scotland where the show wasn't broadcast (I only discovered that fact a couple of years ago).


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