I should start things off by being clear that I am a voracious reader of reference books for things that don’t exist. I can still remember the day when I finally tracked down a copy of the original Star Trek Technical Manual, which at that time was long out of print and cost me many saved allowances and birthday gift checks. That was my gateway drink into the realm of fictitious reference guides and I have quite a large collection to this day. A recent addition has been From Aldo to Zira: Lexicon of the Planet of the Apes by Rich Handley and published by Hasslein Books. This may be my favorite fictional encyclopedia ever.
Lexicon runs over 400 pages and has a staggering amount of information in it. To be honest, the scope of my Apes knowledge encompassed the five original films, the TV series and the Tim Burton remake. I was aware that here were comic books based on the property, but surely there couldn’t be much more than that. I was wrong. This book includes everything that has had anything to do with the Apes franchise, including a vast array of things that were never produced, yet written in some form or another, like unpublished comic book scripts and screenplays for proposed feature film remakes that never took off. My favorite is the inclusion of information from filmstrips based on the TV series and released for kids in the UK. Yeah, I didn’t know that existed either. Oh, and I would love to see the unpublished Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes comic that was proposed to Dark Horse Comics by Lovern Kindzierski.
At over 3200 entries there is no way I have read this book in its entirety. That will take a very long time. But I have had a blast flipping through it and following up on references mentioned in other entries. The end result of all of this is that I not only want to desperately want to rewatch the films and TV series, but now I feel a compulsion to track down the various comic books, cartoons and other ephemera that has cropped up over the nearly 50 years since the Pierre Boulle novel that started the whole thing. Speaking of that first novel, I find it interesting that out of all the films, cartoons, adaptations and remakes there has never been a straight adaptation of the original Boulle story. That’s a film I’d really like to see. But i digress.
Mention must also be made of the extraordinary cover and interior artwork by Patricio Carbajal. The cover itself is pretty staggering in its quality and the fact that he did several other black and white pieces for the inside is pretty amazing. If there is any way to get Carbajal on a Planet of the Apes comic book, I hope that someone does so very soon (I’m look at you BOOM! Studios!). Check out his blog to see how he created these masterpieces. If you only purchased this book for Carbajal’s artwork alone you’d be getting a terrific deal, but, really, the unprecedented amount of information contained herein will leave you speechless. Pick up this amazing tome as soon as possible! Check out an excerpt here and purchase this book here.