Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, March 10, 2018


Who doesn't like a giant ape story?  I assume that was the question asked by American International Pictures when they produced their 1961 movie Konga.  Well it turns out that not everyone loves a giant ape movie; at least, not one with a poor plot, poor direction, poor acting, and poor effects.  The film was so bad it has become a camp classic (think such films as The Terror of Tiny Town and Bill and Coo).  Luckily, as part of the film's publicity, Charlton Comics issued a tie-in comic book in June 1960 (the film came out nine months later with a March 1961 premiere) with a decent script by Joe Gill and artwork by Steve Ditko.  the comic was far superior to the film.

The comic book, issued prematurely, was an unnumbered one-shot, but it had garnered enough interest to become a series.  So, in August 1961, Charlton issued Konga #2.  The title ran for a total of 23 issues through November 1965, sort of -- issue #24 was issued as Fantastic Giants #1.  (It supposedly brought the saga of Konga to an end, and included the final story about another Charlton giant monster, Gorgo.)  There was also a special unnumbered issue in 1962 titled The Return of Konga.

But Nothing Is Final In Comic Books, three years later Konga was back in a three-issue run titled Konga's Revenge

SPOILER ALERT:  Konga was killed at the end of the film and, thus, at the end of the movie tie-in comic.  Following the NIFICB rule, he was brought back to life in issue #2 -- don't ask me how because I haven't read that issue.  END SPOILER ALERT

So what about the saga of Konga?

Biologist Dr. Decker is the lone survivor of a small plane crash in the Congo.  He wakes on the jungle floor with a small monkey trying to wake him.  The monkey leads him to a native village populated by giants.  The tiny monkey, BTW, is called Konga and is sacred to this particular tribe.  Because Konga obviously likes Dr. Decker, the tribe of giants take him in.  The gigantism is due to an essence extracted from the seeds of a giant man-eating plant.  Obviously (??!!??) this is the "link" between plant and animal evolution.  (The theories of evolution in this comic book are so wack they could be included in a Kansas high school textbook.)

After a year in the jungle, Decker returns to England, accompanied by Konga.  (Why the native tribe allowed their sacred animal to go with Decker is unexplained.)  Decker is determined to prove his off-kilter evolutionary theory by experimenting on Konga.  Once injected by the mysterious man-eating-plant-seed-extract, Konga not only instantly grew but he also evolved into a chimpanzee -- the next step in the evolutionary process (??!!??).  The next dose turned him into a gorilla, but with a difference.  The formula also changes the brain so that "thought transference" is possible.  Yep, Konga is able to read Decker's thoughts and Decker happened to thinking bad thought about his boss with whom he had argued earlier that day.  

It's not nice to make Konga's best buddy mad, especially when Konga has no idea of right and wrong.  That evening, Konga reached through his cage, grabbed the keys, let himself out, went and brutally mauled Decker's boss, left the mangled body, went back to Decker's lab, and locked himself back in his cage.  Easy peasy.  No one would suspect.

Then Decker meets a visiting professor (Professor Tagore) who is researching the same thing he is and would probably publish before him.  Konga reads Decker's thoughts and decides the visiting prof is a threat to Decker.  Once more, the ape goes a-roaming at night and Tagore ends up dead.

The next, while silently celebrating Tagore's death, Decker is told by Sandra, his beautiful, blonde, pneumatically enhanced student assistant, that she will not longer be working with him; she has accepted a marriage proposal from her Joe college boyfriend Bob.  This doesn't set right with Decker and it certainly doesn't set right with Konga.  This time however, Konga injects himself with the formula -- a dosage 50 times greater that Decker had been using -- and grows into a gigantic ape-thing full of rage with no coping mechanisms.  Destruction follows

SPOILER ALERT AGAIN:  Kong dies.  Decker dies.  Decker's wife dies.  (Oh, didn't I mention her before?  Sorry.)  Sandra lives.  Bob lives.  The end.  END SPOILER ALERT REDUX

And there you have it.  Somehow Gill and Ditko managed to make a silk purse out of an ape's rump.


P.S.  It's no coincidence that the cover of this issue uses the phrase " big as KING KONG!"  Konga -- Kong, get it?  Of course you do.  Just as you get that Konga came from the Congo.  Konga -- Congo.  Aben Kandel and Herman Cohen, the script writers for the original movie were nothing if not heavy-handed.

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