Publication Dates: October 26, 1974 – 23rd February 1977
Number of Issues Published: 123 (#1 – #123)
Dimensions: Magazine Size
In the UK, Marvel Comics launched a weekly Planet of the Apes comic in October 1974, using material recycled from the recently-launched US Planet of the Apes Magazine. ‘Marvel UK’ at that point wasn’t really a separate company – all covers, splash pages, etc. were produced in the US, with only the letters page done in the UK for each of the weeklies.
The British edition was a huge success, but as it was a weekly, the reprinted strips quickly caught up with the American monthly originals. The writer of all the original US strips, Doug Moench, recalled: “I used to get these calls like, ‘Can you do a one-part Apes story?’ and I’d ask when they needed it, and that would be that. I think England went Planet of the Apes crazy. Marvel UK started doing a weekly and they actually got ahead of us at one point. We couldn’t keep up with their weekly schedule.
They asked me to do this original stuff for England that we later put in the American version. That later happened with ‘Master of Kung-Fu’ and ‘Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu’ as well. It didn’t last very long… and I couldn’t keep up with their weekly schedule.” To solve the problem, Marvel UK continued the title by running the Marvel strip Killraven from the American “Amazing Adventures” comic but changed his name to ‘Apeslayer’ and stuck ape heads on all his opponents so he was fighting apes instead of Martians
Another unique feature of the UK version was that included many panels which had been edited out of the original US magazine strips to save space – once the ‘Apeslayer’ issues had been published, Marvel UK was able to keep up with it’s US counterpart, and the stories were edited for the two publications almost simultaneously in the same offices, meaning each team could tailor the original strips to their own needs. And as many of the US stories were split across two or three UK issues, new chapter titles and splash pages were specially drawn, along with completely new cover artwork (often by pencillers Bob Hannigan and Ron Wilson, and inker Mike Esposito; and also including Ernie Chan, Frank Thorne, Herb Trimpe, Larry Lieber, and Pablo Marcos – who can be found across the bulk of covers following issue #100). Because of the great following the Apes comic and TV series attracted, a UK-based Apes fan club was set up by a company called Television Character Promotions (TCP). The fan club published an intermittent newsletter and both the newsletter and the UK comic promoted each other’s publications and ran competitions jointly. Marvel’s UK comic churned out an impressive 139 issues altogether. It survived by being combined with other Marvel titles – as “Planet of the Apes & Dracula Lives” from #88 (June 1976) to #123 (February 1977), and as part of “The Mighty World Of Marvel (featuring Planet of the Apes)” from #231 (March 1977) to #246 (June 1977), when it finally disappeared.