B Movie Giants Gorgo & Konga Return in Ditko’s Monsters
Written by Joe Gill
Art by Steve Ditko
Edited by Griffin Yoe, with assistance from Craig Yoe
Reprints Gorgo #1 & 8 (Charlton Comics, 1961-65);
Konga #5&6 (Charlton Comics, 1960-65)
Published by IDW Publishing with Yoe! Books
The British-American sci-films Gorgo and Konga aren’t original sci-fi movies from the Atomic Age. The pint-sized (for his species) Gorgo is a cousin of Toho’s Godzilla. Meanwhile, Konga is a descendant of the long-line of giant apes that evolved from RKO’s King Kong. Yet despite their cookie-cutter appearances, both Gorgo and Konga have developed cult followings.
The reason why both are mainstays in the schlock B-movie community of fans is because of their reign as kings of the comic book in the early 1960s. Charlton Comics was able to snag licensing rights to both properties at a time when both Godzilla and Kong were noticeably absent from the spinner rack.
The two titles continued the adventures of Gorgo and Konga long after the credits had rolled. The first issue of both series were adaptations of each character’s solo films. Then for the next 5 years, Charlton released 56 issues (23 issues per character) that pitted Gorgo and Konga against mutated prehistoric creatures, unsavory businessmen and the occasional nuclear bomb! Leading the charge in both titles was the yet unknown Steve Ditko.
Ditko’s time with Charlton occurred just prior to his co-creation of his most iconic characters such as Spider-Man, Doctor Strange and Doctor Octopus. Along with writer Joe Gill, with whom Ditko created Captain Atom and Blue Beetle at Charlton, Ditko took readers on masterful adventures of giant creatures without being credited. But now thanks to IDW Publishing and Yoe! Books, the master is finally getting his just due!
Yoe! Books has been known as a rising leader in publishing lost comic gems from the 1940s-60s. However, most of the books edited and compiled by Craig Yoe, while stunningly beautiful and remastered, aren’t very cheap. But in Ditko’s Monsters, fans of kaiju-like giants and Steve Ditko can enjoy a Yoe! quality edition in comic book format for a wallet friendly price. Plus, you get informative forewords from Tony Isabella and Steve’s nephew Mark Ditko, just like in a hardback Yoe! publication!
Ditko’s Monsters reprints a total of 4 issues from Steve Ditko’s time at Charlton. Issue #1 of Gorgo recounts the events that took place in the 1961 live-action feature in which the junior dinosaur is kidnapped by deep-sea scavengers. The second adventure has Gorgo being kidnapped again, this time by Soviet agents! In both stories, Gorgo’s momma is mad and ready to destroy entire cities just to get her baby back!
The Konga stories are from later in the comic adaptations run. Here in issues 5-6, scientists try to revert the giant ape back into his original form as a chimpanzee. I’m going to need Charles Darwin’s help to figure out how a chimp can change into a gorilla. But that sort of plot gaff is actually the fault of the 1961 John Lemont movie and not the team of Gill and Ditko.
All of the stories chosen for Ditko’s Monsters were selected by Giffin Yoe. Young Griffin is already showing signs of the mastery and love of classic comic books like his father Craig has for the medium. I liked the issues the editor choose for this book. But I preferred the Gorgo stories to those of Konga. The artwork is more alive with an explosive palette of colors. Plus, the Konga tales seem a little disjointed, with some scenes of action getting a bit repetitive in the transition from issues #5 to #6. Unfortunately, unlike what it says on both sides of this flip-book comic, Gorgo and Konga never fight each other, except for a place in fans hearts.
Ditko’s Monsters is a book that I hope to see more of from IDW and Yoe! They don’t have to be about Gorgo or Konga. It would be amazing to have more 100-page specials devoted to lost comics of my dad’s youth. Maybe one could be of the Lonely War of Captain Willy Schultz or a special on the lost Captain Marvel character from M.F. Enterprises! If such occurs, here’s hoping that young Griffin Yoe will get more chances to oversee the editing process!
Relive the exploits of B Movie Giants Gorgo and Konga