Strange Adventures #100 Poster (1959) by Gil Kane


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A new era of DC Comics covers dawned in May 1951, when Win Mortimer’s cover for Strange Adventures #8 depicted an evidently sentient gorilla in its cage at the zoo, holding up a sign that read: “Please believe me! I am the victim of a terrible scientific experiment!” “Evolution Plus,” billed as “The Incredible Story of an Ape with a Human Brain,” sold like hotcakes, and DC suits thought they knew why: simian power. Pursuant to an edict from DC editorial director Irwin Donenfeld, gorillas were soon popping up on covers across the publishers fictional universe. Intelligent apes could be seen performing experiments, pracicing medicine, appearing on talk shows and even- as on this Strange Adventures cover from 1959- pleading their case in a courtroom. Eventually the trend got so out of control that a new editorial policy had to be laid down: no more than one “gorilla cover” a month- except, that is, for the occasional “gorilla month,” when every title had to have a gorilla on its cover. “Every editor wanted to use a gorilla on the cover. Even on Wonder Woman!”- Strange Adventures editor Julius Schwartz. Strange Adventures was the title of several American comic books published by DC Comics, the first of which began in 1950. Strange Adventures ran for 244 issues and was DC Comics’ first science fiction title. It began with an adaptation of the film Destination Moon. The sales success of the gorilla cover-featured story in Strange Adventures #8 (May 1951) lead DC to produce numerous comic book covers with depictions of gorillas. The series was home to one of the last superheroes of the pre-Silver Age of Comic Books era, Captain Comet, created by writer John Broome and artist Carmine Infantino in issue #9. A combination of the “Captain Comet” feature with the “gorilla craze” was presented in issue #39 (December 1953). Gil Kane (April 6, 1926 – January 31, 2000), born Eli Katz, was a comic book artist whose career spanned the 1940s to 1990s and every major comics company and character. Kane co-created the modern-day versions of the superheroes Green Lantern and the Atom for DC Comics, and co-created Iron Fist with Roy Thomas for Marvel Comics. He was involved in such major storylines as that of The Amazing Spider-Man #96–98, which, at the behest of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, bucked the then-prevalent Comics Code Authority to depict drug abuse, and ultimately spurred an update of the Code. Kane additionally pioneered an early graphic novel prototype, His Name is…Savage, in 1968, and a seminal graphic novel, Blackmark, in 1971. In 1997, he was inducted into both the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame and the Harvey Award Jack Kirby Hall of Fame.