As you’d expect from one of the most indelible characters in pop culture, King Kong has a long history in comics. Longer than you might guess, in fact — newspaper comic strips were released back in 1933 to promote the original “King Kong” film.
The classic movie monster is back in comic books in a big way this summer, with the six-issue BOOM! Studios miniseries “Kong of Skull Island,” announced Thursday evening at Emerald City Comicon in Seattle. It’s set to debut in July, from the creative team of current “All-New Inhumans” writer James Asmus and artist Carlos Magno, a BOOM! veteran known for his work on a diverse selection of books including multiple “Planet of the Apes” projects; with covers by Felipe Massafera, Nick Robles, Eric Powell, Ryan Sook and Paul Pope. It’s a prequel to the original “King Kong,” unrelated to 2017’s “Kong: Skull Island” film. Here’s the official plot description: “Two fractured and combative civilizations are forced to band together as they venture into Skull Island — their new home.”
CBR caught up with Asmus for his exclusive first comments on the series, including what drew him to the world of King Kong and working with Magno on his latest project illustrating highly intimidating, primate-derived creatures. Plus, a look at promotional art for the series from “Goon” creator Eric Powell, certainly no stranger to drawing monsters.
CBR News: James, we’ve been talking since the earliest days of your comics career and I think it’s fair to say I don’t know if there’s a “typical” James Asmus Comic — you’ve written a lot of different characters and genres. “Kong of Skull Island” certainly appears different than say, most of your superhero work — what about the premise appeals to you?
James Asmus: Well, both BOOM! and the Cooper estate have been incredibly gracious and basically laid out their whole mythology and timeline with the open question of, “What story would you want to tell anywhere in here?” I very quickly zeroed in on a moment of their Kong mythos that seemed especially intriguing and rich. Then, honestly, the themes, story, and characters all started to fly out of me faster than I could type! Those moments are rare for me, but they usually wind up being among my best work. And here, the very personal stakes and social themes I get to explore feel like the satisfying heft of writing theater again — but with giant battling apes and vicious dinosaurs! So basically, the badass best of comics mixed in stunningly by Carlos Magno!
As a “King Kong” prequel, how do humans get involved with the various creatures of Skull Island?
It’s got a very human story at the core. In reading the Cooper estate’s history of all things Skull Island, it said the natives (from the first film and writer/director Marion Cooper’s novelization) actually fled to Skull Island. There wasn’t much established about that time, so I was very intrigued about the false hope, horror and chaos that must hit these people when they discover their new home is teeming with dinosaurs!
But pushing further, I wanted to explore the way that fear and desperation creates a haze in which some people will use fear to grab power, while good people might make dangerous choices they could come to regret. And the Kongs are a big point of leverage at the core of these power games and key survival.
Given Carlos Magno’s prolific history illustrating “Planet of the Apes” comics, a “King Kong” comic seems like a natural fit. How are you enjoying collaborating with him on this book?
He delivers! I have been absolutely floored at the level of care, craftsmanship, and detail he puts into each and every page! You will be able to easily get lost in the world of the Skull Island — and he makes it so much easier to care about these characters when you see them so fully and empathetically rendered. He’s incredibly talented and putting in the kind of work I guarantee comics fans will want to pick up and pour through again and again. I’m so grateful to Dafna [Pleban] and Alex [Galer] (my wonderful editors) about everything so far — but getting to collaborate with Carlos is at the top of that list.
“Kong of Skull Island” #1 is scheduled for release on July 13.
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