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365 Reasons to Love Comics #112

Ape-ril concludes here! It’s certainly been a rip-roarin’ ride. Some readers dig it, others have clearly been worn down by too much awesome– but all good things must come to an end, and hence, we come to today’s column. Who will be the last ape standing!?

4/22/07

112. Sky Ape

Sky Ape 1.jpg

It could’ve been King Solomon from Tom Strong, or the Weeping Gorilla from Promethea, or Ape-X from Squadron Supreme, or Man-Ape or the Gibbon or the JLApes or Big Max or Cy-Gor (not really) or Man-Ape or Sock Monkey or, hell, I could’ve stretched the definition of comics to fit Gleek in there, but no. There can be only one more, and it’s got to be Sky Ape.

Sky Ape was a little mini-series published by Slave Labor that was later picked up by AiT/PlanetLar and spawned a few sequels, like Sky Ape: Waiting for Crime, Sky Ape: All the Heroes, and Sky Ape: King of Girls, seen above. Created and written by pals Phil Amara, Michael Russo, and Tim McCarney, and drawn by Richard Jenkins, Sky Ape is a Pythonesque, madcap tale of, you know, an ape. With a jetpack.

Kirk Madge is our ape in question, and he’s a millionaire crimefighter with a mysterious past who happens to be a talking gorilla. He’s accompanied by people like Ms. Francis Bird, Paper Bob, Smashing O’Hara, Peyton Fenway, and Mister the Fake Lion. There is even a Pirate Steve who pre-dates Steve the Pirate from Dodgeball. These guys were ahead of the pirate comedy curve. Oh yeah.

If things like talking gorillas, randomness, pop culture references, and angry fire hydrants amuse you, pick up one of the trades. You get get ‘em off Amazon or find them cheap at a con or something.
Sky Ape 2.jpg

The internet presence of Sky Ape isn’t massive, but it’s there. Visit the Official Sky Ape Website for art and profiles and random stuff, read this fantastic review of the first book which includes some sneaks at interiors, or check out these pages from King of Girls.

What have we learned from this ape escapade? I’ve learned that apes, gorillas, monkeys, or whatever the hell you feel like calling them, despite what science tells you, are engines through which laypeople can be informed and entertained. If it weren’t for gorillas, would we know anything about the horrors of Nazism, Communism, or France? Would we know about brain transplants, interdimensional travel, pheromones, or zoot suits? Would we have some of the best detectives in comics? Would we have comics’ greatest love story? Would we have a gorilla firing off automatic weapons? Who knows? Maybe we’d have some of that. But it wouldn’t be as great. If I know one thing, it’s that everything is better with monkeys. Or apes, or whatever.

I’ve taken you through a grand tour of apes the comics world has to offer, and even then, only the relatively big names. There are hundreds of others lurking out there in the pages of comics you never knew existed, and I urge you to dive into the bins and find them.

My work here is done. (Until tomorrow, anyway, when I launch into more wacky hijinks.)

21 Comments

I’ve been curious ever since seeing this title: what gives Sky-Ape a monarchical dominion over girls?

Your not seriously telling me that the Weeping Gorilla didn’t make the cut for Ape-ril?

Come on, Dan K; pretend that’s not appropriate.

“I suppose there’s always next year,” WG might me seen to think.

I’ve always wanted Sky Ape to square off against Mantooth. That pairing would bring tears of awesome to my eyes.

I’m ready to get back to the more varied 365 Reasons posts.

AMEN Apodaca. I want to go through all of May without any theme weeks.

Unless, of course, Bill’s theme happens to be “Comics that make Apodaca cream his jeans”.

You got my letter, right , Bill?

No!!! Ape-ril can’t end yet!!!

::sob::

Did I miss Grodd’s entry, or did he not get any 365 love?

My favorite Grodd story was many years ago when he got all bad-ass and seized control of the Secret Society of Super-Villains and recruited Sinestro, Poison Ivy, Bizarro and Angle Man. Together they nearly took down the JLA’s Big Five. (I don’t remember how their plan was barely thwareted … Captain Comet maybe?)

Grodd was #94; I’ll get around to updating the archive pretty soon.

It’s okay, Tom; we’ve still got each other. And something pretty exciting is starting tomorrow, so…

Awww….no Ugly Monkey? I supposed Man-Ape can come back later as an example on how a villian can go from cool to maligned and back to cool. Besides, N’Baku isn’t an ape…he’s a chieftain who worshipped the white gorilla (taboo in Wakanda, I think), and who filled in for T’Challa while he was galavanting with the Avengers.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

April 23, 2007 at 1:03 am

I’ve never seen the appeal (ape-eal?) to gorillas in comics.
Much like I do with any book that’s big draw is that it has an ape in it, I skipped most of this weeks columns.
I just don’t dig them that much.
Only series with an ape I’ve enjoyed was Vertigo’s Congo Bill and that’s cause I got it from the cheap bin at a comic store, and mainly for the look at congo politics the series had – I didn’t dig the end of it which was all about a big ape.
I think Steven Grant once wrote a column asking why comics keep putting apes in their books when there is no sales benefit to be seen.

Unless, of course, Bill’s theme happens to be “Comics that make Apodaca cream his jeans”.

Infinite Crisis, House Of M and Marvel comics with Bill & Joe 2003?

Sky Ape looks like something I’d enjoy, I’ll probably give it atry if I ever find it at a con but…

How can Ape-ril be over without an entry for Dmitri-9 ?!?

I really wanted to like Sky Ape, but I thoroughly hated the first graphic novel. Unfunny and confusing.

Between that and Nevermen I’ve given up on Phil Amara

Its the end of April? Its not the end of April; what the Hell?

Mobelius Rodelius

April 23, 2007 at 11:42 am

I know a lot of people thought that Ape-ril went on too long, or that devoting 1/12 of the 365RtLC’s to apes overstated their relative importance, but I thought it was great. Thanks.

It seems like there have been so many ape characters in comics, featured so consistently and for so many decades that there has to be some kind of reason that comics creators are so drawn to apes. Apes are physiologically close enough to people that we can project all manner of human characteristics onto them, yet they have incredible size and strength (relative to people) and are seemnigly unbound by human social or ethical norms that would prevent us from exercising that power freely even if we had it. In the popular conception, Apes have the power and the freedom to act out their basest desires. Where does a 500 pound gorilla sit? Wherever he wants to. That’s definitely a fantasy scenario for a lot of people, including people that read and/or create comics, and that’s probably why apes and ape-like characters are such a fixture in comics.

Anyway, big ups to 365RtLC for throwing some light on one of the fundamental archetypes of comics literature.

Very cool analysis, Mobelius. Thanks!

Flush it all away

April 23, 2007 at 5:02 pm

So the logo from the Alternative Press Expo gets recognized, but Red Ghost and the Super Apes get ignored? There is no justice.

Dude, Red Ghost was last Thursday. I would never ignore my Communist ape brethren!

This column has reminded me once again that DC really needs to issue a book called: “DC Goes Ape” or “The Greatest Ape Stories Ever Told.” Imagine this one with a Brian Bolland cover. How would such a book not do well sales wise?

FunkyGreenJerusalem

April 24, 2007 at 12:54 am

This column has reminded me once again that DC really needs to issue a book called: “DC Goes Ape” or “The Greatest Ape Stories Ever Told.”

Well I think Marvel is planning/talking abbout an ape themed Marvel Zombies type series, so DC better be quick unless they want to be accused of apeing the competition.
It’s drive everyone banannas, and there’s too much of that sort of monkeying about going on as it is.

Imagine this one with a Brian Bolland cover. How would such a book not do well sales wise?

My least favourite Brian Bolland cover is the one he did for the Swamp Thing annual with an ape on the cover.
Also, the story was kinda disturbing – little was left to the imagination as to why Angel hangs around with the Ape.

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