Wednesday, March 08, 2017

The Giant Classic King Kong (1968; Whitman Giant Classics)



“A king in his own world, a captive in civilization! But the strongest chains and the heaviest bars cannot hold mighty Kong…”


In the summer recess of 1979, my family embarked on a six week cross-country trip by Ford van.  We traveled a northern route, from New Jersey to California and back, camping all the way. 

It’s an experience I’ll always treasure, tenting on the banks of the Great Lakes, and exploring the Great Pacific Northwest.  It was on this trip, for instance, that I first visited John Muir Woods and first saw Mount Rushmore.  

And it was in San Francisco that I first purchased some great metal Japanese sci-fi toys (especially one from Jak Q, a Super Sentai series from 1977).

At a Ben Franklin store in Wisconsin, early on the trip, however, I came across another subject of interest. There, on a book rack, was an over-sized comic book from Whitman. 

It was The Giant Classic King Kong adaptation from 1968, or “The Original Version of the Greatest Story of All Time,” officially-authorized by Kong creator Merian C. Cooper.


This Whitman Giant Classic featured terrific cover art by George Wilson of King Kong atop the Empire States Building. And the excellent interior art was by Alberto Giolitti. 

The familiar story itself was split into seven short chapters, and all the familiar characters are present, from Carl Denham (here with gray streaks in his hair, and a moustache), and Captain Englehorn, to Ann Darrow, Jack Driscoll, and Kong himself.

In Chapter Two, the voyagers reach Kong’s island, and the adventure really begins.  Interestingly, the comic version features some sequences deleted from the film.  For instance, a Styracosaurus chases several sailors onto the log over the chasm, a moment not in the final cut.   

And also, in the comic-book version of the tale, Englehart’s ship is named The Wanderer, not Venture.


I must have read this terrific Giant Classic comic fifteen or twenty times during the six week drive from coast-to-coast and back in 1979. It became an absolute favorite, especially since King Kong was always one of my favorite monster movies. 

I think it's a testament to the original film's success that Whitman created a comic-book in almost 1970...of a film made in 1933.  

That's proof right there, even before the remakes, that King Kong had become a permanent and indisputable part of the American pop culture landscape.

1 comment:

  1. I love all of these Whitman/Gold Key comic books. I'm amazed I've never seen this one. Original copies in decent condition look like they're going for high prices! Hope you saved your copy, John!
    Steve

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