A couple years ago, I splurged and spent ten bucks to buy a copy of “Giant Classic King Kong” on eBay. It is a comic-book adaptation of the classic adventure film. Apparently, Gold Key released it first in 1968, as some copies have the GK logo in the upper left-hand corner. My copy looks like the one shown above, with the Whitman logo in place of Gold Key. I believe Gold Key was an imprint of Western, so it wasn’t (and isn’t) surprising to find the two logos interchanged on comics covers of the ’60s, ’70s and early ’80s. Apparently, the Gold Key version is standard comic size, while this Whitman edition is a larger treasury size, released to coincide with the 1976 remake of “Kong.”
Anyway, back in the days before DVDs were released within six months of a movie’s theatrical release, options for fans to relive a favorite sci-fi or fantasy film — short of seeing it again — were limited: You could read the novelization, collect the trading cards, or buy the comic adaptation.
As a kid, I never had a copy of “Giant Classic King Kong,” although I sure wish I did. It’s a fun read, albeit one that appears to have been written and drawn without access to the original film itself. The dialogue reads like the uncredited writer cribbed bits and pieces from the 1930s Kong novelization, and the artist (Alberto Giolitti is credited with interior art, while George Wilson did the –superlative, in my opinion — cover) doesn’t appear to have used any stills to help him with characters or settings. I’m not knocking Giolitti; sometimes, rights were bought that did not allow for actors’ likenesses to be used, hence movie-adaption artists have taken a lot of unfair lumps over the years.
Kong himself looks a little silly, and Giolitti gives him a lower back … protrusion that looks painful. It doesn’t help that the colorist slaps a bluish-purple hue all over the big ape, making him more silly than frightening.
Nevertheless, this adaptation is fun, the sort of thing I would have spent hours poring over as a kid, tracing the ape and dinosaur panels and staring at the back cover, which has the same image as the front, but without the distracting logo. Good stuff!