King Kong… the storybook!

This is another one of those short pieces where I look at a movie-related book/comic book, following Marvel’s adaptations of For Your Eyes Only, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, and a loveably goofy vintage Batman annual.

I picked this one up in a charity shop for the whopping sum of £1.99, pretty much on a whim. I love the original, but it’s a film I haven’t revisited in a long, long time (though probably more recently than the Peter Jackson version).

The book’s from 1994, but this edition was published in 2005. I found Anthony Browne’s illustrations pretty striking and the text is fine too – guess I’m a sucker for a story that begins “once upon a time…”

The first thing I noticed was it’s pretty clear who Browne based his leading lady on… and I don’t think it’s Fay Wray.

I mean, you look at that and tell me it’s not Marilyn Monroe! Maybe less so here, mind…

Still, while I appreciate a stylised Kong, I think Ann got off slightly better than the giant ape did…

The book does include some lovely, moody scenery work…

… and this haunting image, which I think might be my favourite of any of the illustrations in any of the books I’ve looked at on here.

And the wildlife on Skull Island gets a great showing too, even if it’s usually during a tangle with the big guy…

While we’re looking at the island’s residents, the locals somehow manage to be drawn as both more and less racially insensitive than the original and the Peter Jackson films. Check out those filed teeth…

We get a lovely, full page and text-free shot to really hammer home Kong’s loneliness after he captures Ann…

Oh, and it’s probably just me being very juvenile, but there was something about this image of Kong shaking the rescue party off a log that made me grin like an idiot…

Not many laughs to be had once he gets to New York of course, though there are some great illustrations showing Kong’s public display and subsequent escape and tragic end.

Obviously, we all know how the film ends, but the illustrations of Kong on top of the Empire State Building really work for me. Not just the skyline, but the way the biplane breaks through the frame to indicate motion – simple, but a really nice touch.

His final fall is a really beautiful image too, just a small square in a blank white page, again breaking the frame of the drawing.

And last but by no means least, we get the immortal line which, to be honest, I’ve never felt was perfectly delivered, and I don’t think works that well in print either. But that’s just me.

There we are then, King Kong in pictures and words. Better than most of the remakes for the bargain price of £1.99.

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