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How Planet of the Apes Visionaries Graphic Novel Adapts Rod Serling’s Unused Script

by  in CBR Exclusives Comment
How Planet of the Apes Visionaries Graphic Novel Adapts Rod Serling’s Unused Script

In 1968, Twilight Zone writer and creator Rod Serling was hired by 20th Century Fox to adapt Pierre Boulle’s 1963 science fiction novel La Planète des Singes into a movie. When Serling’s script proved too costly to film, the studio hired British novelist Xan Fielding to do a paired down rewrite that kept many elements of Serling’s script, but excised the expensive parts of Boulle’s novel. And thus, the original Planet of the Apes was born.

Now, 50 years later, Serling’s screenplays are finally being utilized in BOOM! Studios’ Planet of the Apes Visionaries, a graphic novel adaptation by comedian and former Simpsons writer and producer Dana Gould and Avengers Origins artist Chad Lewis.

To learn more about this unique adaptation, we spoke to Gould, Lewis and BOOM! editor Dafna Pleban, who oversees all things Apes.

CBR: Dafna, what prompted the decision to adapt Serling’s script into a graphic novel?

Dafna Pleban: When I came on to The Planet of the Apes books seven years ago, I hadn’t seen any of the movies. I then had this moment of deep stupidity after watching the first one where I said, “That was like a great episode of The Twilight Zone,” to which Alex Galer, the assistant editor at the time, responded by telling me how Serling had written the original script, which he then he gave me a copy of to read. I immediately thought it would be a great opportunity for the comics. Especially after we saw the success Dark Horse had with The Star Wars [a comic adaptation of George Lucas’ original and radically different Star Wars script].

So how did you think of Dana Gould to write it?

Pleban: We wanted to wait until we found the right people to do this, but Dana’s name always came up whenever you’d ask someone if they knew a big fan of Planet of the Apes. So we talked on the phone first, and I knew immediately that he was the right person. He knew Serling’s work, Serling’s scripts, he knew Planet of the Apes, he knew what made Planet of the Apes such a compelling story, that it’s a very human story and a very character-driven story, and that Serling’s script really tapped into the tragedy of a person coming face to face with their own obsolesce. It was exactly the approach we wanted for this story.

Dana, why did you want to do this? And, more importantly, why did you think you were the right person to do this?

Gould: I didn’t and I’m not. [laughs]

Planet of the Apes was my baseball when I was a kid. And my passion for it has never abated. So my first thought when BOOM! approached me was, “How much do I have to pay you to do this?” I was very familiar with both of Serling’s drafts, and am not only an Apes fan but also a Rod Serling fan, so I humbly felt that, as a writer, I could serve Rod’s words well. I didn’t think I was the person to do it so much as someone smart enough to preserve what Serling did, which was always my motivation.

Is the comic based on both scripts or just one of them?

Gould: It’s an amalgam of both, but more the March revision than the original December one because the first draft was very long, as first drafts usually are. Though there were times when we went back to the December draft because we wanted to tell as different a story from the movie at every turn.

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