Reprint This! is a new, periodic feature where I will talk about some out-of-print comic book gems that are not presently available in collected form for readers to enjoy. You might consider it a companion to my Weekly Comics Hype, which is taking a short summer vacation, except while that's preaching to a potential audience, this is hoping to let rights owners know that, yes, readers are out here, and we'd like to buy the things we can't get at this time!
Despite such an enormous variety of books available these days, and genuine efforts to present the material in reasonably-priced, archival volumes, there are still countless fabulous series from the US, Britain and Japan which are overdue for new editions. I've selected two dozen titles which should be on bookshelves, but at this time are not.
One missing gem is ANGEL AND THE APE by E. Nelson Bridwell and the late Bob Oskner, who passed away in February. This is a kid-friendly comic that DC tried out in the late 1960s, featuring an incredibly competent, super-cool private eye, and her partner, a gorilla who is usually happier drawing comic strips for his egomaniac boss, Stan Bragg.
Angel and the Ape first appeared in the September 1968 issue of Showcase before immediately moving to its own bimonthly title. However, the wacky hippie-era antics didn't find an audience. After six issues, it was retitled Angel for a final issue. Sam Simeon didn't even appear in one of that issue's two stories. What a revoltin' development. An eighth issue was in the works; a story from that shelved issue appeared a few years later in the large-format Christmas With the Super-Heroes collection.
DC's released a couple of Angel and the Ape trademark-holding miniseries since the duo was put out to pasture. The first one was by Phil Foglio, and it was pretty entertaining, despite an obnoxious, unnecessary mandate to tie the characters into DC's superhero continuity. There was another which came out under the Vertigo banner which I never read, but I understand Philip Bond drew it, so I should probably check that out.
But it's the original series which has all the charm, because it's full of incredibly silly, wow, happening, go-go goofiness. The plots are outlandish and wild, and the overall feel is that you're reading a groovy tie-in companion to one of Hanna-Barbera's better late 60s Saturday morning cartoons. It's definitely recommended if you like The Banana Splits or Josie & the Pussycats. It's absolutely charming, a fun mix of slapstick and light mystery, incredibly silly and cute.
I believe that a complete run of 1960s Angel and the Ape would come to less than 180 pages. DC has been a little more willing to revisit the wackier parts of its back catalog lately (Metamorpho, the Super-Sons, etc), so it's not completely out of the question. I'd love to have a full collection on the shelves for me and my kids to read. I've only got a single, stapleless issue currently. Back issues aren't that pricy -- you can obtain reasonable-quality copies for under $10 each -- but they're kind of scarce. So how about it, DC?
(Originally posted June 08, 2007, 10:30 at hipsterdad's livejournal.)