In 1933, RKO (the studio that produced King Kong and The Son of Kong) created comic strips for each respective film in their press books. These strips were published by newspapers across the country weeks leading up to each film's release as part of a pre-release publicity compaign and were illustrated by Glenn Cravath. When The Son of Kong strip was published in Spain, it featured additional artwork not seen in the American strip by Tomas Porto. These were published in Movies Celebs (Famous Movies) #12 by Editorial Swan in 1942.
A mini story (called "Kong Joins the Circus") which was based on the King Kong from The King Kong Show was published in the one-shot comic America's Best TV Comics by Marvel Comics in 1967.
In Japan, the cartoon version of King Kong appeared in a comic strip in issue No. 34 of the Japanese magazine Shonen Magazine. In this issue published in 1967, Kong battles a living version of the Statue of Liberty brought about by Dr. Who. This strip was based on the American cartoon series which was animated in Japan by Toei Animation. Shonen Magazine would publish numerous strips based on the 1960s King Kong cartoon throughout the shows run in that country featuring adaptations of various episodes but also original stories. Hikari No Kuni Comics from Japan had comic magazines based on the series as well.
In 1965 a Mexican comic company called Editorial Orizaba published a series based on King Kong. The series was published with fully painted color covers but with sepia and white interior artwork. A new issue was published every Wednesday and the series would run 185 issues. In 1972 the series was reprinted (only 118 issues) by a company called Ediciones Joma.
In 1980 the series was reprinted yet again by a company called Ediciones Mexico. For these reprints the series was renamed The Gorilla (El Gorilla) for the first 15 issues before being renamed to The Gorilla of the Jungle (El Gorilla del la Selva) when a company called Nama took over publishing. The series ran to issue #131.
The next King Kong comic from Latin America was King Kong in the Microcosmos. The publisher of the series was Editorial America and it was published in 1979, and lasted roughly 35 issues. This comic was about a group of aliens who live in the Microcosmos that are facing a war on their planet. Searching for a warrior to help them in this war, they find a gorilla being chased by a group of hunters in the macro-world. They take the gorilla and some of the hunters to their planet. After reducing the gorilla and the others to enter their micro-world, they reversed the effects making the gorilla (now called King Kong) gigantic. Kong would help them win the war.
Gold Key Comics, a subsidiary of Western Publishing, put out an adaptation in 1968, drawn by Alberto Giolitti with a cover painting by George Wilson (other credits are unknown), while Golden Press also released the comic (with the Whitman logo) as part of a Treasury Edition release. This oversized comic was commissioned by Merian C. Cooper and was based on the 1932 novelization by Delos W. Lovelace, (of which Cooper owned the copyright) rather than the 1933 film. It was reprinted a few times ultimately upon the release of the 1976 remake, not just in the U.S (by Golden Press), but other countries as well, translated into Dutch, Swedish, German and Norwegian editions.
In 1964, the British comic company IPC Media created a character in the pages of Valiant Comics called Mytek the Mighty. This character was a giant robot ape that was built by a Professor Boyce. He appeared in various issues published by IPC well into the 1970s. When these comic strips were published in France from 1972–1974, the character's name was changed to King Kong the Robot. When the 32-issue comic was reprinted as various collections it was renamed Super King Kong.
Monster Comics, an imprint of Fantagraphics Books, produced a six-issue black and white comic book in 1991, adapted and illustrated by Don Simpson, and authorized by Merian C. Cooper's estate.
It is not, in fact, based on the 1933 film, but instead on the 1932 novelization by Delos W. Lovelace, and thus differs from the movie in numerous places. Notably, the ship is called the Vastator instead of the Venture and the characters of Charlie the Chinese cook and Second Mate Briggs are absent, replaced by a character from Lovelace's novel named Lumpy. The comic also contains several scenes not found in the film including the infamous "spider pit" scenes and extra encounters with dinosaurs by the search party. Other notable changes include the addition of a character totally original to this comic, Denham's assistant Wally, and an extended sequence of several dinosaurs joining Kong in attacking the native village.Part 1: Denham's Quest with cover by Dave Stevens.
Moviemaker Carl Denham hires a down-on-her-luck woman named Ann Darrow to be the star of his latest picture. During the voyage to their destination aboard the Vastator, Ann falls in love with first mate Jack Driscoll, and is given as a sacrifice to the god of Skull Island, a giant gorilla known as Kong. The cover by Stevens depicts Ann cupped in Kong's palm.
Part 2: Kong's Island! with cover by Mark Schultz and Tom Luth.
Driscoll, Denham, and some of the Vastator's crew mount a rescue operation to save Ann. Instead, they find themselves fighting for their lives against Skull Island's population of fierce dinosaurs. The party fights heroically onward. Meanwhile, Kong battles a herd of dinosaurs, and then the search party catches up to him while crossing a log bridge over a chasm. The cover by Schultz and Luth shows Kong shaking the men off the log (even though this does not actually occur until the next issue).
Part 3: Death in Devil's Chasm! with cover by William Stout.
Kong shakes most of the sailors off the log bridge and into the chasm, where they are eaten by a swarm of giant spiders. Kong's efforts to catch Driscoll are interrupted when Ann is attacked by a large meat-eating dinosaur, an Allosaurus. Kong fights and kills the dinosaur, then picks up Ann and moves on with Driscoll in pursuit. Denham, meanwhile, is sent back for reinforcements. Stout's cover shows Kong battling a Tyrannosaurus (when it is clearly an Allosaurus in the actual story).
Part 4: Beauty and the Beast! with cover by William Stout.
Kong fights and kills a giant python en route to his lair atop Skull Mountain, then settles down to begin toying with his new "bride." He strips her of her clothes, leaving only her bra and panties, but is interrupted when a Pteranodon attacks. While Kong is busy with the dinosaur, Driscoll arrives and he and Ann escape together. The cover by Stout shows Kong's battle with the Pteranodon.
Part 5: The Wrath of Kong with cover by Al Williamson, Mark Schultz, and Tom Luth.
Driscoll and Ann return to the native village, and Denham and Captain Englehorn. Denham begins plotting to capture Kong alive, betting that he'll come for Ann. He is proven right, as the giant gorilla, along with a swarm of dinosaurs, attacks the village. Kong and the other prehistoric beasts are brought down with a load of gas bombs, and Denham reveals his intention to take Kong back to New York. Possibly the oddest of all the covers, Williamson, Schultz, and Luth's cover shows Kong fighting with a Plesiosaurus. While this happened in the movie, it not only does not occur in this issue, but is absent from the comic entirely.
Part 6: The Eighth Wonder of the World with cover by Ken Steacy.
Kong is revealed to the public in chains, but soon escapes, recaptures Ann, and runs amok throughout New York. He ultimately climbs to the top of the Empire State Building where he does battle with a squadron of military biplanes. He loses the battle, and falls to his death from the skyscraper, and Driscoll and Ann are reunited once more. Steacy's cover shows Kong fighting with the biplanes and includes the notation "For Obie!"
In the 1990s, Dark Horse Comics was publishing comics based on popular movie monsters such as Alien, Predator, Gamera, and Godzilla. They wanted to base comics on King Kong as well. There were plans on doing a comic adaptation of the 1933 film, as well as pitting King Kong against the Aliens, the Predators and even the Rocketeer (in a story written by Dave Stevens). Furthermore, there were plans on producing a Tarzan vs King Kong (aka Tarzan on Skull Island) story as well by Frank Cho. But the problems over the complicated and muddled rights to the King Kong character killed these plans. Comic book artist and King Kong fan Arthur Adams, lamented years later in an interview published in the book Comics Gone Ape by Michael Eury,
"Well we talked about that. The rights were a horrible mess. Dark Horse couldn't find a way to do it. Someone held rights for the music, someone for the movie, someone for the story, and were ready to sue each other whenever anyone wanted to do anything with it."
The above book has various sketches from the planned Tarzan vs King Kong project that never materialized. The most Dark Horse was able to do was feature King Kong in a one-page segment in the one shot comic Urban Legends published in 1993 that dispels the dual ending myth from the film King Kong vs Godzilla.
In 2005, Dark Horse Comics and DH Press were able to strike a deal with Universal to license and produce tie-in comic books in connection with King Kong. This included King Kong: The 8th Wonder of the World a direct comic book adaptation of the 2005 remake. This adaptation was planned to be a three issue mini-series. While issue No. 1 was published, Dark Horse decided than rather publish issues No. 2 and No. 3 on their own, they would publish them along with issue No. 1 again as a collected Trade Paperback in 2006. They also published a mini-comic called Kong: The 8th Wonder of the World that was shipped with the various toys from the Playmates toy line based on the film. As well, Dark Horse published a mini-comic called King Kong: The 8th Wonder of the World Special Edition that was packaged with the Target Corporation exclusive DVD release of the film in 2006.
They also were able to strike a deal with Joe DeVito a year earlier, to publish an illustrated novel (in both hardcover and softcover editions with differing cover art) called Kong: King of Skull Island. This story, by Joe DeVito, was an authorized sequel to the original King Kong story commissioned by Merian C Cooper's estate.
Kong: King of Skull Island is an illustrated novel labeled as an authorized sequel to King Kong (1933) and was published in 2004 by DH Press, a subsidiary of Dark Horse Comics. A large-paperback edition was released in 2005. In 2011, it was released as an e-book for iPad. Authorized by the family and estate of Merian C. Cooper, the book was created and illustrated by Joe DeVito, written by Brad Strickland with John Michlig, and includes an introduction by Ray Harryhausen. The novel's story ignores the existence of Son of Kong (1933) and continues the story of Skull Island with Carl Denham and Jack Driscoll in the late 1950s, through the novel's central character, Vincent Denham (Ann Darrow does not appear, but is mentioned several times). The novel also becomes a prequel that reveals the story of the early history of Kong, of Skull Island, and of the natives of the island. On the novel's official website; it has stated that it would become a major motion picture. It does not have a release date yet. A six-issue comic adaptation of the novel was published by Markosia in 2007 that was eventually collected as a trade paperback.
Gaw and the Death Runners
An interesting addition to the main storyline is the appearance of a new type of dinosaur species called the "death runners" by the natives. They are clearly evolved dromaeosaurs with an intelligence that easily surpasses that of the Venatosaurus. They are incredibly intelligent and crafty enough to create complex traps and plan strategies long beforehand. they "serve" a gigantic lone dromaeosaur named "Gaw". Gaw was originally the beast that the Skull Islanders appeased with human sacrifices instead of Kong. She is a monstrous raptor-like theropod with some dragon-like features in her face and a flat, almost Godzilla-90's-like snout. One day, she apparently went on a rampage and killed Kong's parents in a brutal fight, leaving him the last of his kind; the two titans grew up with a bitter hatred until Kong killed Gaw in battle and he was then crowned "king" of the island, leading to the sacrifices to him currently.
From July through December 2016, Boom! Studios published a 6 issue series called Kong of Skull Island. Working with the Cooper estate and Joe DeVito's company, the series tells the origins of King Kong and the denizens of Skull Island. It was announced after the second issue that the series will be ongoing. In February 2017, Boom began reprinting the series as a multi volume trade paperback.
Legendary Comics announced plans to do a ongoing comics series based on the film Kong: Skull Island.
King Kong has appeared in other comic publications as well, whether it be cameos or in mini comic strips/adaptations (most of these are foreign publications). He had a couple of cameos in both Marvel Comics and DC Comics. For Marvel, a giant robot ape called "Kong" appeared in Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #2 in 1969, drawn to look exactly like the famous movie monster. The character Warlock from The New Mutants turned into Godzilla and then King Kong during a rampage through New York City in Web of Spider-Man Annual No. 2 from 1986. In Webspinners: Tales of Spider-Man No. 1 from 1999, Peter Parker is seen watching the film King Kong at a cinema alongside Quentin Beck. He would return to watch the film again in issue #3. For DC, he appeared via a poster in 1961's Adventure Comics #289. In that comic's back-up strip called Tales of the Bizarro World, Bizarro encounters Titano on Earth's prehistoric past. When he returns to his home world, he's inspired to make a TV series based on the character only to be accused of ripping off King Kong. King Kong appeared as a statue in Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane No. 73 in 1967 and as a robot brought to life (among other giant robots in an amusement park created by Toyman) to fight Superman in Adventures of Superman No. 475 in 1991. In issue No. 226 of Superman in 1970, Clark Kent is seen watching the film King Kong at a Metropolis cinema and after being exposed to Red Kryptonite (as Superman) grows into a giant who rampages through the city in a story called When Superman became King Kong!. In issue No. 120 of Weird War Tales from 1983, G.I. Robot encounters a giant female ape referred to as "Mrs. King Kong" on Dinosaur Island who saves him and his allies from a Tyrannosaurus. In 1985's Blue Devil No. 15, Blue Devil battles a giant robot King Kong that malfunctions at the "King Kong Attraction" located at the "Verner Bros" studio in Hollywood.
Outside of these major comic book companies, King Kong was featured in various smaller publications as well. In 1933, an adaptation of the original film was published in Spain in the magazine Bowling by Josep Alloza. That same year an adaptation appeared in issues #320-#336 of Rin-tin-tin by Marco Publishing by Casals and Arlet. King Kong was also featured in a Japanese comic in 1947 that was illustrated by Osamu Tezuka and published under the "Red Book" banner by Fuji Shobo. In 1951, in the free comic The Adventures of the FBI #57 (Rollán Publishing), an adaptation of Son of Kong called The Son of King Kong was done by M. Gonzalez and L. Bermejo. He also appeared in short promotional comic strips promoting the King Kong banana and toffee flavored Ice pop manufactured by Wall's (ice cream) in England in 1977/78 . He was featured in a spoof story in issue No. 106 of Mad House from Archie Comics in 1977. He's featured in issue No. 41 of the Elvifrance comic series Green Series (Serie Verte) in an issue titled The Secret of King Kong. He was also featured in issue No. 6 of the Italian comic series Erotic Comic Selections, and appeared in issue No. 215 of the New Tintin (Nouveau Tintin) comic in 1979. A comic strip adaptation of the original film appeared in issue No. 887 of the French magazine Pif gadget in 1986. As well in 1996, both the 1933 film and King Kong vs Godzilla were briefly featured in the hardcover manga about Eiji Tsuburaya's life called Eiji Tsuburaya: The Film Director Who Made Ultraman (円谷英二 : ウルトラマンをつくった映画監督). This book was published by Shogakukan. Avatar Press featured King Kong as a metaphor for Willis O'Brien in Cinema Purgatorio #4. As well in 1948 (from February to July), Edmond-François Calvo illustrated a King Kong comic strip in France that ran 13 issues. However this King Kong was just a regular sized gorilla. In 1954, King Kong makes a brief cameo in the story "The Monster Maker" from Baffling Mysteries #19.Outside of these cameos and one shot appearances, King Kong has been spoofed and has influenced other giant apes in comics for many years.
These include:Anthony Browne's King Kong art and script by Anthony Browne. 92 pages, hardcover, 1994, ISBN 157036107X. (2005 reissue. Paperback, 96 pages ISBN 0552553840)
Kong: King of Skull Island (art and script by Joe DeVito with co-writers Brad Strickland and John Michlig, 160 pages, softcover and hardcover, 2004, ISBN 1-59582-006-X)
King Kong: The 8th Wonder of the World (by Christian Gossett, with art by Dustin Weaver and Dave Dorman, 2005, tpb, 96 pages, 2006, ISBN 1-59307-472-7)
Doc Savage: Skull Island by Will Murray. 410 pages, softcover, 2013, ISBN 9781618271136