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Special Collections at the Movies: Planet of the Apes

Released today is the eighth film in the Planet of the Apes franchise, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”  Set ten years after its predecessor “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” this film promises a darker, more engaging science-fiction world than any other Apes film before it.  In honor of the new movie, Special Collections is proud to bring you “Books of the Planet of the Apes”!  If you’ve got a monkey on your back, swing in to Special Collections and check out some of our simian stuff!

Gorilla-Hunter

This is a scan from one of the opening pages of “Paul Du Chaillu: Gorilla Hunter,” the noted French-American explorer and zoologist.  Du Chaillu is credited with confirming the existence of gorillas, and worked extensively with indigenous Pygmy tribes in Africa.  His exciting life of adventure and discovery is chronicled in “Gorilla Hunter,” and while some today might find the subject matter offensive, Du Chaillu’s legacy in ape history is unquestionable.

Tarzan

Up next we have a graphic novel adaptation of one of the most famous apperances of apes in popular culture, Tarzan the Ape Man.  Tarzan was created by Edgar Rice Burroughs and introduced in the 1912 short story, “Tarzan of the Apes.”  In Burroughs’ origin story, a family is marooned on the African coast and only their young son survives.  He’s adopted by a tribe of apes and raised as their own.  Burroughs continued to publish stories about Tarzan until his death in 1950.  Since then, Tarzan has been adopted once again, this time into popular culture.  Over 200 movies have been released that feature the Ape Man. 

Jungle-Book

Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” introduced the character of Mowgli, an inspiration for Burrough’s Tarzan.  It also inspired this graphic novel by Harvey Kurtzman, also called “The Jungle Book.”  Kurtzman’s work is a social commentary on the nature of man in society, and how quickly humanity can descend back into its more primitive forms.  Kurtzman satirically dedicates his novel to a half-man, half-ape creature. 

Classification

Lastly, and perhaps slightly less aesthetically pleasing, is a chart from former University of Missouri professor James Gavan’s “A Classification of the Order Primates,” which details the line of descent of different species of apes.  It’s interesting to note which species Gavan cites as being nearest to man – according to his work, gorillas, orangutans and chimpanzees are just one evolutionary step away from us.  Published in 1975, more than a century after Charles Darwin pioneered his Theory of Evolution, Gavan’s work still caused controversies.  He participated in a creationism/evolution debate in October, 1975, against a famous creation scientist called Duane Gish, author of several anti-evolution books, including 1972’s “Evidence Against Evolution” and 1986’s “Evolution: The Fossils Say No!”  According to audience reaction, Gish outperformed Gavan in the debate.  A “rematch” was scheduled, but never occurred.  Professor Gavan passed away in 1994, and Gish in 2013.

That’s just a small sample of our simian stockpile.  Don’t wait for the apes to take over – take a look at these (and other great monkey materials) today!

 

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Posted in Comic Collection, Rare Book Collection, University of Missouri Collection

Special Collections at the Movies: Days of Future Past

Marvel Comics' winning streak continued in 1963 when they debuted the X-Men, a group of teenage superheroes who received their powers through mutation.  Originally going to be called the “Merry Mutants,” creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby settled on the title “X-Men” since their characters had “EX-tra power.” 

However, this group of mutants isn’t the only one to ever call themselves X-Men.  As we’ve seen in “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” sometimes completely different generations of mutants must band together under the same moniker.  To start of our Special Collections at the Movies blog series, we’ll highlight several different incarnations of those Merry Mutants that we have in our collection.

1

This is a reprint of the first X-Men issue, published in September, 1963.  It introduces the original five-man team – Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman and Marvel Girl – and the X-Men’s most hated archenemy, Magneto.  We can see the team meeting Jean Grey, their newest member, and her amazing power of telekinesis.  Hardcore comic fans might notice something strange about this image – Cyclops’ name is Slim Summers, but we know him better as Scott Summers.  It wasn’t until the third issue of X-Men that Cyclops points out that Slim is just a nickname.

2Next we have an updated version of the same group of mutants, called the First Class.  We can see by the illustration on the cover that the lineup hasn’t changed, but the stories and events have been redesigned for modern readers.  It was this comic book line that was partially adapted into 2011’s “X-Men: First Class.”

3Our third incarnation is also an origin story.  A young Scott Summers is shown receiving his ruby visor, which holds in his optic blasts.  This series is meant to tie in with the animated TV show “X-Men: Evolution,” which focused on the very early years of the team.

4Finally, we have a collection of issues from the Generation X storyline.  Generation X ran from 1994 through 2001, and focused on an entirely different group of mutants.  This group, made of up primarily of Jubilee, Chamber, Husk, Gaia and Synch, often found itself in a moral grey area, often fighting for and against the X-Men. 

These four titles are just a sampling of the various X-Men series we have in Special Collections.  If “Days of Future Past” got you itching for more than the run-of-the-mill mutants, stop on by and check us out!

 

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Posted in Comic Collection

The X-Men Turn 50!

On September 1, 1963, fifty years ago this week, youngsters were greeted by a new comic book series on the shelves. Marvel Comics, after finding success in creating individual characters like Spider-Man, Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, decided to take a chance on telling the story of a group of heroes. These heroes were teenagers who, through no action of their own, developed powers through genetic mutations. After being ostracized from society for merely being different, they banded together under the leadership of Professor Charles Xavier and became…
…The Uncanny X-Men! To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the mutant menagerie, Special Collections has put together a list of fun facts and trivia about the superhero squad, both in print and on film.
Did you know that…
…the original five X-Men were Cyclops, Angel, Beast, Iceman and Marvel Girl? Only Beast was in X-Men: First Class, the film adaptation about the formation of the X-Men.1
…Professor Xavier named his students “X-Men” because of the “extra power” their mutation gave them?
…because of the way the X-Men are shunned for being different, mutants have been used as an ongoing allegory of minorities in society, such as African Americans and homosexuals?
…the character Wolverine first appeared in a 1974 issue of The Incredible Hulk?
…the entertainment website IGN lists X-Men arch nemesis Magneto as the greatest comic book villain of all time? He ranks above (or below, depending on your perspective) the Joker, Lex Luthor and Loki.

2
…Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine has appeared in six movies (X-Men, X2, X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men: First Class, The Wolverine), and he will make his seventh appearance in next year’s X-Men: Days of Future Past? He holds the record for most film appearances as the same comic book character, followed by Robert Downey, Jr.’s five appearances as Tony Stark (Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, The Avengers, Iron Man 3).

4

…X-Men Origins: Wolverine star Ryan Reynolds has appeared on film as three different comic book characters? He’s portrayed Wade Wilson (X-Men Origins: Wolverine), Hal Jordan (Green Lantern) and Hannibal King (Blade: Trinity).
…the X-Men film franchise has grossed $2.2 billion worldwide, beating out the Indiana Jones, Superman and Star Trek franchises?
…Hugh Jackman has expressed interest in Wolverine joining The Avengers in an upcoming movie? Unfortunately, that’s unlikely to happen, as Fox owns the film rights to Wolverine and the X-Men, while Disney owns the film rights to The Avengers.  However, Fox also owns the rights to the Fantastic Four, and comic book author and screenwriter Mark Millar has hinted at a Fantastic Four/X-Men crossover film.

3
…the cast of X-Men: Days of Future Past contains three Academy Award-winning actresses? Jennifer Lawrence, Anna Paquin and Halley Berry have all taken home an Oscar.
…when Patrick Stewart (Professor Xavier) was married in 2013, he asked his friend Ian McKellen (Magneto) to officiate the ceremony? McKellen obliged.
…all of the pictures on this page were taken from comics and graphic novels contained in Special Collections? We encourage everyone, mutant and human alike, to come in and take a peek at what we have to offer!

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Posted in Comic Collection
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